17-Jan-2013 Source: US Marine Corps
Marine Forces Reserve has never had a V-22 Osprey squadron—until now. Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764 (HMM-764) transitioned into the Reserve’s first Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM-764) during a three-part ceremony here Jan 12, 2013.
“It was kind of one big last event to say goodbye,” said Lt. Col David A. Weinstein, commanding officer of VMM-764.
The event started with a change of command where Lt. Col. Scott A. Craig, a CH-46E Sea Knight pilot, relinquished command of HMM-764 to Weinstein, an Osprey pilot.
“It has been a busy two years supporting operations and executing the transition plan of action,” said Craig, about the tiltrotor transition. “But it’s opening doors with the Osprey and we did our best to set those guys up at Miramar.”
Weinstein gladly accepted the torch, and said he is very eager to demonstrate the capability the Osprey can provide for the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. After Weinstein took command, the re-designation ceremony began.
“Over the past 48 years, the CH-46 has flown every clime and place around the world,” said Brig. Gen. William Collins, commanding general of the 4th MAW. “It has supported our Marines literally everywhere. It served a mark in our legacy. It has been tested under fire in countless conditions. It’s delivered combat troops, supplies, MEDEVACs and has earned the title of the ‘battle frog.’ We will never forget.”
The CH-46 was flown in Vietnam … to Iraq to Afghanistan. It’s hardworking. It has saved a lot of Marine and sailor lives, said Navy Capt. Josh M. Lieberman, a Reserve flight surgeon.
The ceremony reflected on the history of the CH-46 and the future of aviation with the tiltrotor capability.
“This last year marked a significant milestone… as we just past 100 years of Marine aviation,” Collins said. “How fitting it is to go into this 101st year with another milestone, and that milestone is for this squadron to transition to a new aircraft.”
The Marines of the squadron agree.
“We were the last to fly on the CH-46 in the Reserves and the first to transition to a new aircraft,” said Sgt. Jacob L. Anthony, an Active Reserve aviation operations Marine. “It feels historical.”
According to Boeing, the Osprey is the first aircraft designed from the ground up to meet the needs of the Defense Department’s four U.S. armed services. The tiltrotor aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter. Once airborne, its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a conventional airplane configuration capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight.
Marines will get to see that the amazing capability the V-22 brings will revolutionize 4th MAW, Weinstein said. “We’re headed in the right direction.”
Sgt. Maj. David M. Dyess, sergeant major of VMM-764, said the transition has been a little tough, but the change opens a new door for a new generation of Marines.
“I had a Marine who is going to school to be a V-22 crew chief come up to me yesterday and say that he enjoyed the school and is looking forward to working on the Osprey,” Dyess said. “It is a learning curve for the Marines but once they get in, it will be an excellent opportunity to carry grunts around.”
After the re-designation ceremony came the official relocation of VMM-764 from Edwards, AFB to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, also in California. But they couldn’t leave without a thank you and goodbye to their brothers and sisters in the Air Force.
For over 13 years, the airmen here have provided Marines with outstanding overall support, said Collins. “We have established relationships that, at this point, we are sad to see go. But as always we will remain friends, and we look forward to seeing you all in the future.”
Weinstein said the Marines of the squadron are very excited to relocate, get started, get airplanes and get flying.
Although VMM-764 is officially a tiltrotor squadron, the unit has to establish programs, obtain qualifications and pass inspections before it can receive the V-22 Osprey — the first delivery is expected in November 2013. The unit plans to be a fully operational tiltrotor squadron by mid-2014. The Marine Corps will transition the one remaining Reserve CH-46 squadron, HMM-774, to a tiltrotor squadron by 2017.
“As we transition to the V-22, the airplane itself has a new capability…. that has taken us to the next chapter of Marine Corps history,” Collins said. “It, right now, is providing our commanders across the globe … an unprecedented level of performance in the tactical, strategic … and operational options for our commanders. We look forward to the transition of this capability within 4th MAW.”
The Marines that stayed with the squadron are Active Reserve Marines that lateral moved from CH-46 to V-22.
That only left VMM-764 with a fraction of what the unit needed. The tiltrotor unit now needs to fill 70 percent of their enlisted Selected Marine Corps Reserve slots.
Marine recruiters are looking for V-22 specialists for airframes, avionics, general support equipment, flight equipment and the seat shop to send to school over the next couple years, he said.