MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif., --
Family and friends gathered at the Visiting Aircraft Line here April 14 to welcome more than 100 Marines from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 from their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Marines of HMM-161 and the MALS-16 Marines attached to them wrapped up their seven-month deployment supporting the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).
HMM-161, also known as the “Greyhawks,” operated from Al Asad Air Base, Iraq providing transportation for troops and cargo throughout Al Anbar Province. The squadron amassed more than 4,000 flight hours and 32,000 maintenance hours to keep the squadron’s CH-46E “Sea Knights” mission ready, according to Capt. John Fletcher, a pilot with HMM-161 who served on his first deployment to Iraq.
A detachment of maintenance Marines from MALS-16, also known as the “Forerunners,” helped HMM-161 with the maintenance requirements.
“The deployment went really smooth overall,” said Fletcher. “The maintenance department did an excellent job of ensuring no pilot waited on an aircraft for repairs.”
The Marines will receive a short break from their duties to catch up with their families.
“I left when my youngest daughter was only 5 weeks old so I have a lot to learn about her,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Johnson, an airframes mechanic with HMM-161. “I plan to focus my next few days on my family before getting back to business.”
The deployment marked the last time the squadron was designated as a Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron in a combat zone. The squadron will transition into the MV-22 Osprey and be renamed Marine Medium Tilt-Rotor Squadron-161 before 2010.