MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – (October 1, 2021) Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166, Marine Aircraft Wing 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, gathers one last time at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, as the colors were cased during a deactivation ceremony, October 1, 2021.
VMM-166 conducted its final flight on June 30, 2021. After 36 years of deploying in support of in many American military operations ranging from Desert Storm to Inherent Resolve, the VMM-166 “SeaElk” will deactivate as personnel and equipment are re-organized to various Marine squadrons throughout the continental United States.
“As part of the Force Design 2030, the Marine Corps is deactivating several units as a divestment to invest in other platforms,” said Lt. Col. James Clifford Ford III, the commanding officer of VMM-166. “We aren’t fighting in the Middle East, we are preparing for near peer adversaries with some of the same technology as us.”
Force Design 2030 is a plan that further prepares the Marine Corps to continue to stand as the nation’s naval expeditionary force-in-readiness, while simultaneously modernizing assets in accordance with the National Defense Strategy. Lightening the amount of Marine Corps squadrons that maintain and fly the MV-22B Osprey allows the Marine Corps to consolidate its resources while paving the way for emerging aircraft technologies. Force Design 2030 ensures the Marine Corps adapts to emerging tactics and technologies while maintaining its identity as the world’s premiere expeditionary force.
The Marines and machines of VMM-166 are being disbursed throughout the Marine Corps, while many will remain in Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
VMM-166 was activated on September 13, 1985. Since then VMM-166 has contributed too countless sea and land operations earning several honors and awards including the Iraqi Campaign Streamer with two Bronze Stars, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Streamer, and the National Defense Service Streamer with one Bronze Star.
“This has been the most difficult and most rewarding experience I’ve ever had,” said Lt. Col. Ford III, regarding his time with SeaElk, “It has been outstanding to see how hard and passionately Marines can work.”
3rd MAW continue to “Fix, Fly, and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.
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