The Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774 (HMM-774), stationed out of Norfolk, Va., is currently in the process of retiring their CH-46E Sea Knight transport helicopters, whose service spans 50 years, while transitioning to the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
“Most of the Marines in my squadron, myself included, have mixed emotions about this transition,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Willie Orosemane, Maintenance Chief with Helicopter Squadron HMM-774. “It’s always hard for the people that have flown on platforms, such as the CH-46E, to see an aircraft go, especially when you have flown on it for so long.”
The first CH46-E Sea Knight was first delivered in 1964, and has been in every U.S. military conflict from Vietnam to recent action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I will miss the resilience of this aircraft. It can do anything! It can come back with holes in it and still can make the mission,” said Orosemane. “We can fly it very heavily and still have no issues with it. It is a very resilient aircraft.”
Orosemane said that even though he will miss the CH46-E, he looks forward to the future, to the better, faster aircraft, and believes the transition to the V-22 will go smoothly.
“Due to active duty and our reserve sister squadron already doing the transition, we have a template to go by. Now, we have a lot of lessons learned about how to do this evolution, especially since we are the last to be transiting over. I personally don’t believe there will be many issues, but with that said, every squadron is different,” said Orosemane.
At the end of February, two of the HMM-744’s 12 helicopters will leave for Danis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon, Ariz., to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group for retirement, signaling the end of an era of service that spanned six decades.
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