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Lance Cpl. Michael D. Pride and Gunnery Sgt. Yosef A. Levine, wounded warriors, look at San Diego's beautiful coastline during the flight. The flight aboard the CH-46D "Sea Knight" took the wounded warriors around San Diego.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

HMM-165 aircrew lift wounded warriors’ spirits

24 Jul 2009 | Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Marines from the Wounded Warrior Detachment, Balboa Naval Hospital soared above the San Diego sky-line, July 24 courtesy of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165.

The “White Knights’” mission was to show the wounded warriors a good time in a Fleet Marine Force environment.

“Today we took some time out to show appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifices made by the wounded warriors,” said Lt. Col. Todd J. Oneto, commanding officer of the White Knights. “This was a good experience for them because they interacted with other Marines, and we made them feel at home again.”

The day began with a steak barbecue for the wounded warriors, courtesy of the White Knights. The Marines shared lunch, stories and laughs. After the barbecue, the wounded warriors met Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Nate Quarry, who showed his gratitude by signing autographs.

“It was an incredible honor for me to be invited out here,” said Quarry. “I really wanted to show my appreciation to the men and women who defend our country because they are the ones who are providing us the ability to do what we want.”

After lunch, HMM-165 revved up a CH-46D “Sea Knight” and CH-53E “Super Stallion,” to take the wounded warriors on a one-hour flight over the coastline and downtown San Diego.

“The flight was a great and fun experience for everybody,” said Cpl. Dan T. Little III, a wounded warrior at Balboa. “It was awesome that these Marines took the time to show us their daily routine.”

The flight was more than just a free ride around town. For many of the wounded warriors, it was their first time in a helicopter since being medevac from a combat zone, said Gunnery Sgt. Yosef A. Levine, operations chief for the wounded warrior detachment.

After the helicopters landed and rotors stopped spinning, the wounded warriors thanked the White Knights for the experience and memories they will not soon forget.

                                           -30-


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing