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Five former commanding officers and the current commanding officer of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 and their families pose in front of "Lady Ace 09," a CH-46E helicopter during a ceremony at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum here April 30. The ceremony was an unveiling of "Lady Ace 09," as the helicopter was repainted to look exactly the way it did during the evacuation of the American ambassador during the fall of Saigon April 30, 1975.

Photo by Cpl Aubry L. Buzek

"Lady Ace 09" unveiled at aviation museum

30 Apr 2010 | Compiled by Flight Jacket staff

Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (Reinforced), the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar joined forces commemorating the 35th anniversary of Operation Frequent Wind and the unveiling of "Lady Ace 09," the CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter that evacuated Ambassador Graham Martin from the South Vietnamese Embassy in 1975.

Hundreds of Marines, their families, local veterans and other guests gathered at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum to view the aircraft that flew the historic mission exactly 35 years ago today. The pilot who flew the mission in 1975, Col. Gerald L. Berry USMC (Ret.) was also on hand to celebrate the event.

The aircraft, bureau number 154803, entered service in February 1968 and flew with several squadrons until April 2004 when it was retired and given to the Leatherneck Museum. There it sat with its traditional paint and last squadron’s markings.

Lieutenant Col. Todd J. Oneto, commanding officer of HMM-165 (REIN), noticed the aircraft and its markings in the museum and decided that the aircraft needed to be restored to its Vietnam-era appearance to commemorate the historic mission. Four HMM-165 (REIN) "airframers" were commissioned to repaint and restore the aircraft to its current condition. All paint and markings are exactly the way the aircraft flew in 1975.

After being unveiled, Lady Ace 09 goes back on display in the museum, surrounded by more than 30 other historic Marine Corps aircraft.

Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (REIN), part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, will complete its final deployment with the CH-46E airframe. Upon its return, Oneto will personally oversee the squadron’s transition to a Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron with the MV-22 Osprey airframe.


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