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Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463
HMH-463 insignia.png
HMH-463 Unit insignia
  • July 20, 1944 - July 28, 1945
  • July 15, 1945 - March 20, 1946
  • September 1, 1958 - June 30, 1959
  • March 1, 1966 - present
Country United States
Branch USMC
Type Heavy Helicopter Squadron
Role Assault Support
Part of Marine Aircraft Group 24
1st Marine Aircraft Wing
Garrison/HQ MCAS Kaneohe Bay
Nickname(s) "The Pegasus"
Tail Code YH
Engagements Vietnam War
* Operation Eagle Pull
* Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom
LtCol Richard Matyskiela

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 (HMH-463) is a United States Marine Corps helicopter squadron consisting of CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopters. The squadron, also known as "Pegasus", is based at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 24 (MAG-24) and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW)


Provide assault support transport of combat troops, supplies and equipment during expeditionary, joint or combined operations. Be prepared for short-notice, worldwide employment in support of Marine Air-Ground Task Force operations.


Early years

The squadron was originally activated as Marine Bombing Squadron 463 (VMB-463), a fixed-wing bombing squadron, on July 20, 1944 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina and assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 62, 9th Marine Aircraft Wing. In November 1944, the squadron was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 34. The following February, the squadron was reassigned to Marine Operational Training Group 81 only to be deactivated on July 28, 1945. On July 15, 1945, the squadron was reactivated at Marine Corps Air Station Santa Barbara, California as Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 463 (VMTB-463) and assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 51. The following year, on March 20, 1946, the squadron was once again deactivated and would remain so until 1958. The squadron was reactivated on September 1, 1958 at Marine Corps Air Station Santa Ana, California as Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 463 and assigned to Marine Air Group 36, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and then deactivated again less than a year later on June 30, 1959.

Vietnam War

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 was reactivated on March 1, 1966 at MCAS Santa Ana and assigned to Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing flying the CH-53 Sea Stallion airframe. A four-plane detachment from HMH-463 deployed to Marble Mountain, Vietnam in December 1966. HMH-463 was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16. The remainder of the squadron would deploy during May 1967 to Marble Mountain where they participated in combat operations during the Vietnam War for the next four years.[1] One of the more different flights taken by the squadron occurred in 1968 when they participated in Operation Bahroom. This entailed delivering an elephant via helicopter from the airstrip at Chu Lai to the Special Forces camp at Tra Bong to work at a local saw mill.[2][3] 1970 saw the squadron start to delve into bombing missions or what they termed "barrel bombing." During this time they would fly 2 - 4 ship flights at low altitude to draw enemy fire. Once they encountered enemy contact they would then fly over the area again and drop 55 gallon drums of gasoline and napalm that were sling-loaded to the bottom of the aircraft. Usually the force of impact would ignite the barrel mixture but they would occasionally need machine gun fire from the helicopter door guns or rockets from an OV-10 Bronco or AH-1 Cobra. On a mission over "Charlie Ridge" just west of Danang the squadron dropped over 400 tons of the fuel mixture against entrenched North Vietnamese Army positions.[4] After the Vietnam War, HMH-463 relocated to Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii in May 1971 and was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Brigade.

In 1973, HMH-463 returned to Vietnam and participated in minesweeping operations in the Haiphong/Hon Gai Area of North Vietnam from February through July.

On 26 March 1975, HMH-463 embarked on the USS Hancock (CV-19) at Pearl Harbor and the Hancock proceeded to Subic Bay and then on station in the Gulf of Thailand.[5] On 12 April 1975, the squadron participated in Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation of Phnom Penh and 17 days later it participated in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon.[6]


A CH-53 Sea Stallion from HMH-463 taxing in Iraq in June 2006.

In August 1990, HMH-463 deployed to Saudi Arabia to take part in Operation Desert Shield. The squadron remained in Southwest Asia to participate in Operation Desert Storm before returning to MCAF Kaneohe Bay in March 1991.


In March 2006, HMH-463 deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), making it the first individual CH-53D unit to be deployed to Iraq, but not the first CH-53D to enter country for OIF/OEF. The squadron returned to MCAF Kaneohe Bay in October 2006.

In August 2009, HMH 463 deployed to the Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. They are currently stationed at Camp Leatherneck and fly in general support of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Unit awards

A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. HMH-463 has been presented with the following awards:

Ribbon Unit Award
US Navy Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.png
Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg
Navy Unit Commendation with three Bronze Star
Meritorious Unit Commendation .jpg
Meritorious Unit Commendation with one Silver Star and two Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
National Defense Service Medal with two Bronze Star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg
Vietnam Service Medal with two Silver Stars and one Bronze Star
Southwest Asia Service ribbon.svg
Southwest Asia Service Medal with two Bronze Stars
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Streamer
Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Civil Action Medal
Iraq Campaign ribbon.svg
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global war terrorism service ribbon.gif
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

See also


  1. Fails (1978), p.163.
  2. Operation Bahroom
  3. Dumbo Drop "Operation Bahroom"
  4. Barrel Bombing; a CO's View
  5. Dunham, George R (1990). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Bitter End, 1973-1975 (Marine Corps Vietnam Operational Historical Series). Marine Corps Association. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-16-026455-9. 
  6. "Chapter 5: The Final Curtain, 1973 - 1975". 2000. Retrieved 2007-12-17. 


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  • Fails, William R (1978). Marines and Helicopters 1962-1973. History and Museums Division - Headquarters Marine Corps. ISBN 0-7881-1818-8. 
  • Rottman, Gordon L. (2002). U.S. Marine Corps World War II Order of Battle - Ground and Air Units in the Pacific War, 1939 - 1945.’’. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31906-5. 
  • Sherrod, Robert (1952). History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Combat Forces Press. ISBN 0-89201-048-7. 

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