Dragons join 31st MEU as air combat element

Dragons join 31st MEU as air combat element 23 Jun, 11, Source: US Marine Corps

CAMP HANSEN, Japan — Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (Reinforced), known as the “Dragons,” became attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force, June 13, as the MEU’s air combat element.

“Our mission will be to provide the best possible service for 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, and the 31st MEU,” said Sgt. Maj. Russell A. Strack, the HMM-265 (Reinforced) sergeant major. “We will complete every mission that we are tasked with to the best of our abilities during our time spent supporting the MEU.”

HMM-265 (Reinforced), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, was last attached to the MEU in August 2009, and participated in multiple exercises and a humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations after an earthquake struck the Republic of the Philippines.

The Dragons also participated in Operation Tomodachi throughout March and April, flying hundreds of relief efforts over an eight-week period.

“This is the second deployment with the MEU for a lot of Marines,” said Strack. “For some, it’s even the third, but even with that in mind, every Marine going on this deployment will have the opportunity to better themselves within their profession, and broaden their skill sets.”

“I am really looking forward to the experience,” said Lance Cpl. Nekorey A. Moorer, a supply clerk with HMM-265 (Reinforced). “I’ve never been on ship before, and I’ve never been to a lot of the other places we’ll be going. It’s going to be a good way to gain experience.”

In addition to giving the Dragons valuable experience, this deployment will also be a historical one for the squadron.

“This is the final deployment this squadron will make as a Marine medium helicopter squadron,” said Strack. “Once we complete this and come back to Okinawa, we are scheduled to transition into becoming a [Marine medium tiltrotor] squadron.”

As a tiltrotor squadron, HMM-265 (Reinforced) will operate the new MV-22 Ospreys, which will greatly increase their capabilities.

Until the transition to the Osprey occurs, the squadron will continue operating the CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters.

For the upcoming deployment with the 31st MEU, the unit is reinforced with additional aircraft types that bring additional capability to the squadron. Additional aircraft include CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, UH-1N Twin Huey helicopters, AH-1W Super Cobra Attack helicopters and AV-8B Harriers.

“This squadron has a proven performance record in expeditionary operations. Now, we are looking forward to serving as the ACE of the 31st MEU. Our reinforcements come from excellent squadrons on the east and west coasts, and across Japan. Together as an ACE, we plan to become the standard bearer of amphibious readiness,” said Lt. Col. Damien M. Marsh, the squadron commanding officer. “As we begin this deployment, I am confident every Marine and sailor will work hard to hold the legacy of the Dragons and the MEU.”

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