3rd MAW welcomes HMLA-469 into fight

1 Jul 2009 | Lance Cpl. Christopher A. O'Quin

Marines, sailors and their families gathered at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton’s flight line to witness the birth of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, July 1.

The Marine Corps activated the squadron to support constant deployments and bring more dwell time to the light attack helicopter squadrons in 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

As an HMLA, the squadron’s mission is to support the Marine Air Ground Task Force commander by providing offensive air support, utility support, armed escort and airborne supporting arms coordination. The squadron can accomplish this day or night, under all weather conditions, during expeditionary, joint or combined operations.

The squadron’s first commanding officer, Lt. Col. Christopher Patton, chose “Vengeance” as the squadron nickname.

“I saw the roots of the squadron in the Sept. 11 attacks and wanted to tie the nickname to that,” said Patton. “Vengeance - defined as punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense or retribution with great force or vehemence - was chosen for this reason.”

The squadron’s patch bears the image of a winged warrior with a helmet, shield and sword, explained Patton. The warrior signifies the Marine Corps as an institution dedicated to the defense of freedom and the protection of those unable to defend themselves. The sword signifies that the squadron is an instrument of destruction for the enemies of the United States. The shield with scales of justice indicates readiness to repel attack and deliver a measured, just, and victorious response. The wings signify the unit’s identity as a light attack helicopter squadron.

The Marines had to plan and prepare for months to create the HMLA.

“Like any unit, HMLA-469 has been short on manpower and equipment,” said Maj. Christopher A. Krajacich, the operations officer for Vengeance. “The limited manpower has meant that many Marines have had to fill multiple billets, often including billets of a higher grade.  The hard work and professionalism of Vengeance Marines has allowed the squadron to reach this point despite its limited assets.”

The squadron currently has 140 Marines and sailors but will reach full strength of 513 service members in the coming months. Vengeance has three AH-1W “Super Cobras” and three UH-1N “Hueys” and will continue to add more helicopters to support 3rd MAW. 

“It has been a wonderful experience to be a part of something that is so unique, that does not happen often in the Marine Corps,” said Sgt. Maj. Keith Massi, the squadron sergeant major. “I am honored to be the first sergeant major of the squadron.”