MALS-16 History


The squadron was originally activated on 1 March 1952, as Headquarters Squadron 16 at Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF), Santa Ana, California. The primary mission was to provide logistical and administrative support to units attached to the newly formed Marine Aircraft Group 16.

The squadron remained at MCAF, Santa Ana until the end of July 1953 when all of MAG-16 began movement to Japan and became part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. On 14 August 1953, the squadron commenced operations at Hanshin Auxiliary Air Base, Honshu, Japan.

On 15 February 1954, the unit was redesignated as Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 16 (H&MS-16) and given the additional mission of providing intermediate level aviation maintenance support to MAG-16 units.

During April 1954, the squadron moved to Naval Air Facility, Oppama, Japan. During the squadron’s seven-year stay in Japan, elements of the unit participated in numerous operations and exercises including “Strong Back” in 1958, “Sea Turtle” in 1959, and “Blue Star” in 1960.

In April 1962, elements of Marine Aircraft Group 16, including some H&MS-16 personnel, deployed to South Vietnam and Thailand to provide support for the Vietnamese in their struggle against the Viet Cong. On March 1965, the squadron left Okinawa and was stationed at Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam. While in Vietnam, it provided support for MAG-16, one of the largest Marine Aircraft Groups in the history of the Marine Corps. For its Vietnam Service, the squadron was awarded one Presidential Unit Citation, two Navy Unit Commendations, and two Meritorious Unit Citations.

In June 1971, H&MS-16 returned to Marine Corps Air Station, Helicopter (MCAS{H}) Santa Ana, California.

During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the squadron lived up its motto of the “Best Supporting the Best” by earning numerous awards. They include 10 consecutive V. C. Sledge Awards for T-64 engine support and the DOD Maintenance Excellence Award for 1988 and 1991.

On 1 October 1988, H&MS-16 was redesignated as Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 (MALS-16). This change provided a new organizational structure to better serve the requirements of MAG-16’s squadrons and to meet the challenges of Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) deployments.

On 20 August 1990, MALS-16 established a significant number of firsts in Marine Aviation: the first MALS to deploy, first MALS to deploy in support of combat operations; the first MALS to deploy aboard an Aviation Logistics Support Ship (T-AVB), SS CURTISS T-AVB 4.

On 17 January 1991, Operation DESERT STORM began as the U. S. launched on offensive attack to drive the Iraqi army from Kuwait. MALS-16 provided logistical support to over 106 aircraft that were dispersed at several sites and operated in a tremendously harsh environment. On 18 January 1991, MALS Marines landed at El Jabbar airfield during a firefight and started EOD clearing operations to prepare the airfield for flight operations. The squadron returned to MCAS Tustin, California on 18 March 1991.

MALS-16 was the first MALS in the Marine Corps to receive the prestigious Department of Defense “Phoenix Award” for the period of October 1990 to September 1991. MALS-16 was also the first MALS in the Third Marine Aircraft Wing to receive the local chapter of the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Mike Yunck Award for superior performance from July 1990 to June 1991.

In December 1992, MALS-16 deployed elements in support of Commander, Marine Forces Somalia during Operation RESTORE HOPE. These Marines supported all Marine aircraft used in Somalia while providing base and convoy security.

In November 1995, MALS-16 established dual site operations in support of MAG-16 CH-46E squadrons being re-located to MCAS El Toro while maintaining support for the CH-53D/E squadrons still located at MCAS Tustin. In September 1998, MALS-16 moved from MCAS Tustin to MCAS, Miramar.

MALS-16 led the planning and execution of the FY-01 activation exercise of the SS CURTISS (T-AVB 4). Named PACIFIC PROVIDER 21, this was the largest activation of the T-AVB since DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM.

Between 4 January 2003 and 14 March 2003 MALS-16 deployed 249 Marines in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. They were assigned to various detachments to include the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Arrival & Assembly Operations Element/Offshore Preparation Party, Fly In Echelon, Amphibious Task Force West, T-AVB SS CURTIS, Black Bottom Remote Expeditionary Support Package, Force Protection and expeditors in Bahrain. In August, they redeployed to Miramar.

In October 2003, MALS-16 began planning to take over aviation maintenance and aviation supply operations in Iraq as part of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II. During February 2004, MALS-16 became the lead MALS Aviation Combat Element in Iraq, consolidating units from all over the Marine Corps for support operations. As the lead unit in this operation, MALS-16 helped transfer control and infrastructure from the Army to the Marine Corps.

During this extraordinary chapter of its history, MALS-16 was awarded the 2004 Marion Carl Award for its superb performance in operational safety. The Forerunners were awarded the 2005 Marine Corps Aviation Association’s “Donald E. Davis Award” as the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron of the Year. The squadron was awarded the 2005 Marion Carl award for operational safety for the second year in a row.

In January 2006, the Forerunners once again deployed to Iraq in support of Third Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) during OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM 05-07. In January 2007, MALS-16 (REIN) returned to CONUS and resumed daily operations supporting MAG-16 squadrons at MCAS Miramar and deployed detachments around the globe.

The Forerunners and the Devilfish of MALS-11 were awarded the 2007 Marine Corps Aviation Association’s “Donald E. Davis Award” as the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons of the Year. This was the first time two MALS received a joint award. MALS- 16 was also awarded the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award.

In January 2008, the Forerunners deployed to Iraq for a third time in support of Third Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) during OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM 08.1 and 08.2. In January 2009 the Forerunners returned to CONUS and resumed daily operations supporting MAG-16 squadrons at MCAS Miramar and deployed detachments around the globe.

In February 2010, the Forerunners deployed for a year-long deployment in support of Oversea Contingency Operations (OCO) during OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) 10.1 and 10.2 in Afghanistan. This time around, the Forerunners operated out of three (3) Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) to include Camp Bastion, Camp Dwyer and Kandahar Airfield providing aviation logistics support in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) environment. In the same period, MALS-16 assisted the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in aviation logistics support during the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in Pakistan. The Forerunners flawlessly had a profound and positive impact on the successful deployment of aircraft in support of Ground Combat Elements (GCE) under the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in and around the Helmand River Valley.

In September 2011, post OEF 10.2, MALS-16 was the recipient of yet another Marine Corps Aviation Association’s “Donald E. Davis Award” as the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons of the Year. The Squadron continues to be relentless in pursuit of a heightened level of professional excellence while providing systematic aviation logistics support to the nine (9) tactical Squadrons under MAG-16 to include a multitude of MEUs and training exercises.

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