Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 (HMH-465), the “Warhorse”, was established at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Tustin, Orange County, CA on 1 December 1981 as the first West Coast squadron to fly the CH-53E “Super Stallion”. It became the Marine Corps’ second and Marine Aircraft Group 16’s first CH-53E squadron. The “Warhorse” has demonstrated a proficiency in all mission capabilities of the CH-53E to include low level, terrain flight, night vision goggle flight, aerial refueling, troop transport, and external transport of cargo. These missions have been accomplished during combat operations throughout routine training and under every environmental condition.
The “Warhorse” deployed and flew in combat for the first time during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. On 15 September 1990 the squadron arrived at Jubail, Saudi Arabia in support of all joint forces in theater. The squadron provided heavy lift support for I Marine Expeditionary Force throughout the entire conflict.
HMH-465 returned to MCAS Tustin on 15 March 1991. In October 1991, the squadron packed up all personnel and aircraft, on board five C-5’s and two C-141’s and deployed to MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan for a seven month Unit Deployment Program (UDP). The squadron supported numerous exercises in this period throughout the Pacific theater. Then on 6 May 1992, the “Warhorse” returned to MCAS Tustin.
While supporting operations at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, CA in April 1994, the squadron surpassed 10,000 mishap free flight hours. From 1996-1997, HMH-465 participated in 11 separate exercises and made the transition from MCAS Tustin to MCAS Miramar, San Diego, CA. This high training tempo led the “Warhorse” to reach 20,000 mishap free flight hours in January 1998.
In March of 2001, the “Warhorse” deployed in support of the UDP Okinawa, Japan. It was during this deployment that the events of September 11, 2001 occurred and though located thousands of miles away, HMH-465 was tasked with assistance in the defense of Guam.
The “Warhorse” was called into action in January of 2003; the squadron participated in a 16 plane deployment aboard 4 different naval vessels in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Once in the Northern Arabian Gulf, the “Warhorse” supported operations ashore during the build-up of forces, and during the operation itself. The “Warhorse” participated in missions to secure the Al-Faw Peninsula, the operation of Umm-
Qasr, and the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch. In 2005, the “Warhorse” distinguished themselves as the premier heavy lift squadron surpassing 40,000 mishap free flight hours.
Over the next nine years, the “Warhorse” executed multiple deployments and detachments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Okinawa in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). In November of 2014, HMH-465 deployed to Okinawa, Japan in support of the Unit Deployment Program and the 31st MEU. With a detachment joined to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 in support of the 15th MEU, this marked the first time the squadron was deployed in its entirety in nearly a decade. In November of 2016, HMH-465 deployed to Okinawa, Japan in support of the Unit Deployment Program 17.1. with a detachment joined to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (VMM-163) in support of the 11th MEU.
Most recently, HMH-465 deployed again with a detachment to VMM-163in support of the 11th MEU and to Okinawa in support of UDP 19.1 in 2018. During UDP 19.1, HMH-465 executed the first F-35 Fixed Wing Forward, Arming and Refueling Point operation in support of Distributed Short Take Off Vertical Landing Operations from a CH-53 and the first AH-1Z Viper external lift by a CH-53.