VMM-364 History

History

Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 was originally commissioned as Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 364 on 1 September 1961 at Marine Corps Air Facility Santa Ana, CA.  In November 1961, it received delivery of its first Sikorsky H-34 helicopter and in February of 1962, the designation of the squadron was changed to HMM-364 in 1962.

In the spring of 1962, the squadron participated in Mid-Pacific operations to assist in recovering instruments that had been used in the atomic test program.  In November 1963, the squadron deployed to Okinawa and subsequently to Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam.  The squadron served in Vietnam until July of 1964.  Eight months later the squadron was back in South Vietnam, this time conducting operations with the Special Landing Force of the Seventh Fleet.  HMM-364 remained in Vietnam until September of 1966.  The squadron was then placed in cadre status at Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, CA, and consisted of three officers and 12 enlisted Marines.  In March of 1967, the squadron was reorganized and began receiving delivery of the then-new Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter.  In October of that year, HMM-364 re-deployed to the Republic of Vietnam, initially to Phu Bai and eventually to Marble Mountain.  HMM-364 participated in Operations Osceola, Kentucky, Mameluke Thrust, and Hue City and finally in the evacuation of the embassy in Saigon.  For almost half of its short 10-year existence, HMM-364 had served in the Republic of Vietnam.  It was at this time that the squadron adopted the "Purple Fox" name.  During the three tours in Vietnam, the squadron's pilots and crewman flew almost 70,000 hours in combat and combat support missions and were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for meritorious conduct in the performance of duty.  As our nation briefly stepped-down from its wartime posture in the early 1970s, so did the Foxes.  On 22 March 1971, the squadron folded its colors and was decommissioned.

On 28 September 1984, HMM-364 was reactivated at Marine Aircraft Group 24, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.  Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the squadron enjoyed many Western Pacific deployments.  The Foxes participated in Team Spirit 1986 and 1988 at Pohang, Korea in support of III Marine Amphibious Force.  In February 1990, the Purple Foxes deployed to Okinawa, participating in numerous Special Operations Capable (SOC) missions and supported Team Spirit '90 together with a detachment of six CH-46s.  From August 1990 to March 1991, HMM-364 was placed in reserve during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, becoming the sole supporting squadron for 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade.  In June 1991, the Purple Foxes once again deployed to Okinawa.  During the deployment, the squadron supported Marine Air Ground Task Force 4-90 in the Philippines, assisting with the relief efforts following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and participating in joint exercises in Korea and Japan.  Early the following year, the Purple Foxes headed for the Hawaiian island of Kauai, performing humanitarian relief due to the devastation left by Hurricane Iniki.  From January to July 1993, the Purple Foxes again deployed to Okinawa.  The squadron participated in exercise Team Spirit, Korea, as well as serving as the Aviation Combat Element of the 35th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Belleau Wood during Cobra Gold 1993.

In August 1995, the Purple Foxes packed up and embarked upon USS Tarawa to move to MCAS El Toro.  That same year, HMM-364 was selected to be the Aviation Command Element for Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force Experimental [SPMAGTF (X)] SEA DRAGON.  This very important and high visibility project was an exercise conceived by the Commandant's Warfighting Laboratory (CWL) to develop and test methods and techniques for the 21st century battlefield.  In February 1996, the Purple Foxes again made headlines by providing Executive Transport for President Clinton and other dignitaries while they toured flood-damaged Portland, Oregon.  This marked the first time in history that a U.S. President had flown in a Fleet Marine Force helicopter.  In July 1998, HMM-364 (REINFORCED), 13th MEU ACE, participated in RIMPAC 1998 while conducting the pre-deployment work-up schedule associated with a MEU(SOC) squadron.  On December 5, the squadron embarked aboard USS Boxer, participating in Operation Southern Watch and various split-ARG operations off the Horn of Africa, as well as supporting exercise EAGER MACE, Kuwait.

In June of 1999 the Purple Foxes returned from deployment and moved into their current home at Marine Aircraft Group 39 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, CA.  The Purple Foxes began training to their new core competency as part of 3d MAW's "Fly-In" echelon for contingency operations.  With the new focus of deploying by strategic lift and naval shipping, the Purple Foxes spent much of the next two years supporting Combined Arms Exercises, participating in Combat Readiness Evaluations, and supporting Marine training aboard Camp Pendleton.  In October 2000, the squadron embarked aboard USS Peleliu to maintain proficiency in shipboard operations; later in the deployment, the squadron was also a guest of both USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Peleliu in support of Operation KERNEL BLITZ.

In August of 2001, having been assigned to support I MEF, HMM-364 was tasked to support exercise RSO&I/FOAL EAGLE 2002.  As this concept unfolded, a pre-deployment work-up cycle took place at an expeditionary Forward Operating Base at Fort Hunter-Liggett, CA in support of exercise SEAHORSE WIND.  Further workup training was conducted in the form of a combined MCCRE with HMLA-369 at NAF El Centro, STRATMOBEX from March ARB to Edwards AFB, and cold-weather training at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, CA, all while concurrently standing by for immediate tasking resulting from the events of 11 September 2001.  The capstone event was the deployment to the Republic of Korea to participate in the annual RSO&I/FOAL EAGLE Exercise from January to April 2002.  HMM-364 was the first Marine Helicopter Squadron to deploy using contract Russian AN-124 aircraft, as well as USAF C-5 Strategic Lift.  The squadron flew missions in support of Special Warfare Command and the Korean Combined Rescue Coordination Center.

With a desert deployment looming on the horizon, the Purple Foxes sent detachments to Yuma, AZ and Fallon, NV to perfect desert-flying skills in both day and night regimes, as well as to support CAX 02-03.  Following CAX, the squadron deployed twelve CH-46Es and all squadron personnel to Kuwait.  In January 2003, all twelve aircraft were flown from MCAS Camp Pendleton to NAS North Island, "shrink-wrapped," and craned into the hull of USS Pollux, a USNS Fast Surface Shipping vessel, another first for the transportation of CH-46Es in Marine Corps history.  Several squadron Marines were assigned as the security force for the vessel while the Main Body was flown to Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.  By the end of February, USS Pollux had reached Kuwait and the off-loaded aircraft were flown to Ali Al Salem.  In conjunction with MAG-39 and its augments, HMM-364 began mission planning and rehearsals for combat operations against Iraq.

Operation IRAQI FREEDOM commenced on the evening of 20 March 2003, following preliminary strikes by coalition forces.  HMM-364 was involved from the first night, supporting attacks by the 1st Marine Division's Regimental Combat Team 7 and the British 42nd Commando.  Squadron aircrews conducted Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) missions in direct support of RCT-7 for the duration of the war, traveling with the 1st Marine Division from Al Basra to downtown Baghdad.  With the conclusion of hostile operations in Iraq on 17 April 2003, HMM-364 continued to fly CASEVAC and Logistical Support for Marine Corps humanitarian aid on behalf of the Iraqi people.  After nine months of successful operations in its first combat theater since Vietnam, HMM-364 returned to MCAS Camp Pendleton in October of 2003.

The Purple Foxes were destined to see the Iraqi deserts again.  On 1 March 2005, the squadron effected a relief-in-place with HMM-268 at Al Taqaddum, Iraq, thereby assuming duties as the primary CASEVAC squadron for the troubled Eastern Al Anbar province, during OIF III.  Over the course of their seven-month deployment, the Purple Foxes saved over 300 Coalition and civilian lives and performed several multi-aircraft raids in conjunction with various Recon units to seek out insurgents traversing the rural highways south of Fallujah.  The uncompromising speed and determination with which the Foxes answered every CASEVAC bell and conducted every raid revived the squadron’s decades-old motto, “Give a Shit,” which adorns the squadron patch the crews wear in combat.

During OIF 05-07.2, HMM-364 once again assumed the primary CASEVAC role as they conducted a relief in place with HMM-268 on 29 August 2006.  Throughout the deployment, HMM-364 answered the bell to the toll of 3,911 combat sorties, 2,307 Casualty Evacuations and 6,373 flight hours in a mere seven months.

HMM-364’s relentless devotion to duty was displayed during the October 2007 California wildfires.  Operating with minimal personnel due to base closure and prior to requests for assistance, HMM-364 readied all squadron aircraft for firefighting operations.  The squadron’s perseverance helped contain multiple base fires, saved livestock boarded at base stables, and prevented millions of dollars of damage to the San Luis Rey Base Housing community. 

The squadron deployed to Yuma, Arizona in December 2007 for a Detachment for Training (DFT) prior to participating in Desert Talon 1-08, as a final preparation for the squadron’s return to Al Taqaddum, Iraq.  The squadron’s main body departed Camp Pendleton on 10 March 2008 and arrived at Al Taqaddum, Iraq shortly thereafter in support of OIF 08.1.  The Purple Foxes returned stateside in October 2008, and immediately began preparing for another deployment in October 2009 by sending a Detachment for Training to Nellis AFB, NV, in December, less than two months after returning CONUS.

The Foxes continued preparations for their fifth OIF tour by deploying in August 2009 to Twentynine Palms, CA, for Enhanced Mojave Viper (EMV) 14/15.  At EMV HMM-364 received excellent reviews and set the bar yet again for other units to emulate.  With little downtime in September (the advanced party departed mid-month) HMM-364 deployed to Al Asad, Iraq in early October 2009 in support of OIF 09.2, the squadron’s last deployment to Iraq. 

The Purple Foxes took the medium lift mission from HMM-268 on 15 October 2009.  During a four month deployment, HMM-364 flew 2,253.0 flight hours, moving over 6,500 passengers and 147,000 pounds of cargo.  In January of 2010, HMM-364 sent the first five aircraft home from Al Asad.  With only eight remaining aircraft, the squadron continued to operate a full flight schedule.  The final eight aircraft were loaded onto Russian AN-124 aircraft for return to CONUS days after the last mission was flown in Iraq.  HMM-364 returned home to Camp Pendleton in early February of 2010 as the last operating Marine Aviation unit in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Once aboard Camp Pendleton, the squadron shifted its focus to shipboard operations.  In September of 2010, The Purple Foxes received the order to support the 11th MEU aboard USS Makin Island for San Francisco Fleet Week while at the same time, supporting WTI class 1-11.  In September, the squadron sent five aircraft to Yuma, AZ for WTI and a week later flew five more aircraft aboard USS Makin Island in support of San Francisco Fleet Week.  This marked the first time HMM-364 had conducted ship board operations in over 10 years. 

The overriding focus of effort during the beginning of 2011 was a DFT to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to support Third Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (3rd ANGLICO) by assisting in the training and evaluation of their Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs).  Not long after, the squadron participated in the Naval Aviation Centennial launching a division in a formation flight of eight CH-46Es, which flew among two-hundred total aircraft commemorating the Centennial of Naval Aviation.   Additionally, the squadron was tasked with flying several Pax, Mail, and Cargo (PMC) missions to USNS Curtiss in support of Operation Pacific Horizon, and this provided an opportunity to conduct initial and refresher day Carrier Qualifications. 

May 2011 began with the support of the Marines of Golf Company, under Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC), to execute MRX Raven 11-02 in preparation for an upcoming OEF deployment to Afghanistan. 

During June 2011, the squadron focused on its own internal training, specifically on Mountainous Area Training (MAT), with a DFT to the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC), located in Bridgeport, CA.  This DFT allowed the squadron to refocus on basic preflight planning and flying in demanding environmental conditions.

On 1 September 2011, the 50th Anniversary of the Purple Foxes, the squadron deployed eight aircraft and the squadron’s Marines to 29 Palms in support of Mojave Viper (MV) 8-11.  During the course of the three week combined arms exercise, HMM-364 was tasked with assault support missions in an austere environment. 

The month of October 2011 began with the squadron once again supporting San Francisco Fleet Week; this time aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).  Even after returning from Mojave Viper four days prior, HMM-364 embarked two aircraft and 42 personnel in order to participate in San Francisco Fleet Week and conduct shipboard training. 

On 21 February 2012, HMM-364 became a composite squadron and assimilated detachments from HMLA-367, HMH-361, MWSS-372, MWSS-374, and MACG-38 to become HMM-364 (Reinforced), the Air Combat Element of the 15TH MEU.  The next seven months were followed by the intense MEU work-up cycle including training ashore and afloat in areas ranging from Yuma, AZ; El Centro, CA; Pt Mugu, CA; Fort Hunter-Liggett, CA; San Clemente Island; Camp Pendleton; and the greater Los Angeles area. 

On 17 September 2012, the squadron embarked 29 aircraft including 12 CH-46Es, 4 CH-53Es, 4 AH-1Zs, 3 UH-1Ys, and 6 AV-8Bs onboard USS Peleliu and USS Green Bay and deployed as the 15th MEU ACE. From 10-16 October 2012, the 15th MEU executed Operation CROCODILO, a humanitarian relief operation in the country of East Timor. Upon completion of Operation CROCODILO, the 15th MEU sailed further west and split the Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) to support multiple tasks, where it remained for the rest of 2012.  The squadron detachment aboard USS Green Bay supported Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) exercises Iron Magic in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Following training in UAE, USS Green Bay steamed to Saudi Arabia for TSC Red Reef and Eager Mace in Kuwait. Aboard USS Peleliu, the squadron conducted sustainment and proficiency training in Djibouti, Africa.  The AV-8B’s conducted effective bi-lateral Air Interdiction training with the French Air Force.  In December, the battle proven CH-46E was tasked with providing VIP movement for the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps from Salalah, Oman to USS Peleliu.

The ACE continued to maintain its readiness before departing the 5th Fleet AOR on 4 April. On 12 and 13 May 2013, HMM-364 (REIN) disembarked all personnel, critical equipment, and 29 aircraft from USS Peleliu and USS Green Bay.

In September 2013, the squadron conducted a DFT to support 1st Battalion, 10th Marines at the MCMWTC in Bridgeport, CA.  In November, HMM-364 executed a DFT in support of Mission Rehearsal Exercise Raven 14-01 in Fort Irwin, CA (National Training Center)in support of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). 

     In March 2014, HMM-364 executed back to back DFTs.  From 3 – 11 March, HMM-364 deployed Four CH-46E aircraft to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, CA in support of Marine Special Operations Command Mission Rehearsal Exercise Raven 14-02. 

    On the heels of completing Exercise Raven 14-02, HMM-364 deployed a total of eight CH-46E aircraft in three waves to Mountain Home Airforce Base in Mountain Home, Idaho from 12 – 21 March in support of Exercise Gunfighter Flag, an Air Force training exercise that involved air-to-ground ordnance delivery from multiple types of aircraft, including Marine Light Attack Squadron 469 and F-15 fighters from Singapore.

    In May 2014, the squadron was tasked to support HMX-1 for a high priority presidential visit and movement in downtown Los Angeles, CA with four CH-46E aircraft.  Additionally, the squadron supported an Urban Search and Rescue FRAG in support of California Task Force Five.  Finally, the squadron conducted six consecutive days of firefighting in support of California Fire Authority as multiple fires raged through Southern California, both on Camp Pendleton and in neighboring cities. 

    In July through September, HMM-364 supported Partnership of the Americas (POA), a six week exercise in Chile.  HMM-364 partnered up with the Chilean Air Force throughout this exercise for training and building international relations.  Following completion of the exercise the squadron returned on board the USS America. 

Once back in San Diego HMM-364 continued retiring aircraft to the Boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.  On 9 October 2014 LtCol Paul B. Kopacz took command of the Purple Foxes signaling the official beginning of the transition to the MV-22B Osprey platform and transition to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364 (VMM-364).

Since the transition to a tiltrotor squadron, the Marines of VMM-364 have repeatedly demonstrated their exceptional dedication to duty and each other.  Through multiple site training evolutions on both MCAS Camp Pendleton and Miramar, working with five different squadrons, the enlisted Marines and officers have worked together to achieve Safe for Flight and Initial Operationally Capability designations as well as gaining great knowledge on their weapons systems.  In addition to the minimum required designations, the squadron also produced an additional two basically qualified copilots.  While only having half the required allotment for aircraft, the maintenance department was able to provide available aircraft comparable to a full squadron.  The operations department was able to capitalize on this and make significant progress in core plus training for all aircrew.

All of these significant achievements occurred while the squadron was operating in an austere setting of temporary buildings and without a hanger capable of supporting MV-22B specific maintenance.  The Marines of VMM-364 had again shown their dedication to the Marine Corps and each other by being successful under any condition.

The squadron conducted a Detachment for Training (DFT) in Navy Air Facility El Centro from 4 December to 10 December 2015.  Five aircraft departed Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton signifying another major achievement, the squadron’s first internal MV-22 flight of aircraft.  While on DFT the squadron conducted formation, tail gunnery, reduced visibility landings and ground threat reaction training.  Each shop in the squadron exercised their embark and movement plans while simultaneously preparing for the squadron move into Hanger 6, MAG-39s first MV-22 specialized hanger space.

In June 2016, the squadron operated out of Reno-Stead airport with support from the 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion in support of “Mountain Exercise” at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC) in Bridgeport California.  This was followed by a two week detachment to Mountain Home AFB in Mountain Home Idaho beginning on 16 August 2016.  Like the squadron’s previous detachment at MCMWTC, Mountain Home brought pilots and aircrew training environments and challenges far different from those regularly experienced in Southern California.  Preparation for deployment culminated in January 2017 with participation in Integrated Training Exercise 2-17 held in Twenty-nine Palms California.

From 4 April to 13 October 2017 VMM-364 departed Camp Pendleton for the squadron’s first deployment as a VMM to support Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) based at Al Jaber Airbase Kuwait.  During this period VMM-364 flights supported Operation INHERENT RESOLVE playing an important role in coalition efforts to defeat the Islamic State.  In total 545.9 combat hours were flown transporting 100,162 pounds of cargo and 1,803 passengers over Iraq, Syria, and other Arab nations.

Upon returning from Kuwait in October 2017, the Purple Foxes resumed operations at Camp Pendleton for the winter.  With lots of comings and goings, the squadron had a quiet fall but hit the ground running in the winter and spring.  From 8-18 May, the squadron operated out of Creech AFB in support of unit level training for Ground Threat Reaction training and Reduced Visibility Landings.  The DFT at Creech afforded the Foxes the opportunity to operate in a challenging environment for aircrew and maintainers.  During the DFT, the Purple Foxes worked closely with the 42nd Attack Squadron and Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines to execute a Long Range Raid from Twentynine Palms to the Creech range complex.

     After the Creech DFT, the Purple Foxes continued churning for the summer, producing flight leadership designations, instructor qualifications, and mission-qualified co-pilots at the cyclic rate, all while integrating with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines in order to prepare both units for their upcoming deployment in support of SPMAGTF-CR-CC 19.2 in the spring of 2019.  The highlight of the Purple Foxes support was a Commandant of the Marine Corps movement which also occurred in May of 2018.  The Purple Foxes executed many cross countries, travelling across the United States to Seattle, Denver, Palm Springs, El Centro, Austin, Boise, and San Francisco.  All of this training was done in preparation for the squadron’s upcoming deployment in support of SPMAGTF-CR-CC.

Between September and December 2018, the squadron’s maintenance department conducted an ALMAT inspection and finished with a 97.6%, a 3d MAW record.  CNAF inspection followed, which saw the maintenance department set another 3d MAW record with a 98.2% and finish in the top 10 of all Navy and Marine Corps squadrons.  The Purple Foxes conducted a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation (MCCRE) in Twentynine Palms, California in November and a Certification Exercise in Yuma, Arizona in December in preparation for the upcoming deployment.    

     On January 11, 2019, the Purple Foxes launched nine planes to Twentynine Palms, California in order to self-deploy the squadron to support Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 2-19.  In doing so, 364 was the first squadron to achieve the 3d MAW Commanding General Aircraft Readiness Show of Force Initiative.  During the 6 week exercise, the Purple Foxes focused on proficiency in Reduced Visibility Landings in a dynamic environment, as well as demonstrated the squadron’s ability to function as part of a MAGTF.  ITX provided an excellent opportunity to integrate with the MAGTF as the Purple Foxes worked with HMLA-369, VMGR-352, VMA-311, VMU-1, DASC, 6th Marine Regiment, their brother battalion 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, and other units from the GCE and LCE.  At ITX, the squadron flew 464.8 hours in support of the exercise and in order to prepare for the upcoming deployment to CENTCOM.

     On March 31, 2019 the Purple Foxes arrived in Kuwait for a six month deployment to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base.  On April 13th, 2019, VMM-364 conducted a Transfer of Authority (TOA) with VMM-165 and the Purple Foxes began providing the tiltrotor crisis response air mobility for Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) 19.2.   Like the previous deployment, the squadron provided vital medium lift support in direct support of combat operations for Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, while providing a CENTCOM theatre-wide alert, because of the strategic length of flight legs the MV-22 could provide.  In July 2019, the squadron sent a multi-aircraft detachment to Africa to maintain an alert in support of a Joint Task Force conducting a national level mission for the remainder of the deployment.  In doing so, the Purple Foxes became the first MV-22 squadron to provide sustained direct support to a Joint Task Force in the area of operations.   Overall, The Purple Foxes flew over 1,200 combat hours across Iraq and Syria, which directly contributed to coalition efforts to defeat the Islamic State.  Within those hours, the squadron moved over 3,000 passengers and over 450,000 pounds of cargo throughout Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, the Arabian Peninsula, and Jordan.  All of this was accomplished as the squadron became the first MV-22 squadron to fly combat operations in three separate countries from two continents simultaneously.

     VMM-364 finished fiscal year 2019 as the only VMM squadron to fly every one of their monthly, quarterly, and fiscal year flight hour goals.  In total, the squadron flew 3,463 hours for fiscal year 2019 and, by doing so, flew more hours than any other VMM squadron in the last 10 years.

     Following completion of tasking for Operation Inherent Resolve in October of 2019, VMM-364 returned to MCAS Camp Pendleton, California.  In the following months, VMM-364 settled into operations at home with the acceptance of aircraft, support of various exercises such as Winter Fury and Steel Knight, and progression of flight leadership qualifications within the squadron.

On March 13th, 2020, VMM-364 was awarded the Fred McCorkle Award for Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron of the Year.  This award positioned VMM-364 as the premier tiltrotor squadron within Marine Corps Aviation, and served as a testament to the Purple Foxes’ dedication to their mission.

     In October and November of 2020, the Purple Foxes participated in Service Level Training Exercise (SLTE), formerly known as Integrated Training Exercise (ITX), at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twenty-nine Palms.  Because of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, VMM-364 elected to support the exercise from MCAS Camp Pendleton in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.  This atypical method of support came with unique challenges including planning and execution alongside various units supporting from different locations.  Despite these challenges, VMM-364 supported a total of 21 events, flew 300.3 aircraft hours, as well as transported 944 passengers and 5,050 pounds of cargo in direct support of SLTE. Units supported included 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, 2d Battalion, 11th Marines, 2d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and the 10th Special Forces Group. The Purple Foxes also completed a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation (MCCRE) during SLTE in preparation for their upcoming deployment.

     In March of 2021, VMM-364 deployed to CENTCOM and AFRICOM areas of operation in support of SPMAGTF-CR-CC. After conducting transfer of authority from VMM-362 at Al Jaber Airbase, Kuwait, and Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, VMM-364 was tasked to move all assets and personnel from Al Jaber and Camp Lemmonier to Prince Sultan Airbase, Saudi Arabia. Upon movement of aircraft and personnel to Prince Sultan Airbase, VMM-364 demonstrated its’ ability to conduct long range missions from a new and austere location. Logistical and operational challenges involved with basing operations out of Prince Sultan Airbase were numerous. Despite these difficulties, VMM-364 was able to successfully support two Geographic Combatant Commands from a single location. During the deployment, the Purple Foxes conducted training aboard the USS Lewis B. Puller to include initial Carrier Qualification for aircrew. VMM-364 also participated in TRAPEX, a personnel recovery exercise involving ship-to-shore transport of a recovery team to an isolated person. This exercise demonstrated the SPMAGTF capability to conduct ship-to-shore, long-range personnel recovery missions in an austere environment, crossing multiple national borders. During the deployment, VMM-364 flew 1414.5 total hours in support of training and operations, including 458.5 hours of contingency support to Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa.

     VMM-364 returned from CENTCOM in October of 2021. Acceptance of aircraft and personnel continued through the year as the Purple Foxes settled back in to training operations at home. From December 2021 to May 2022, VMM-364 participated in various large-scale exercises to include Steel Knight, Winter Fury, and Jaded Thunder. On May 20, 2022, VMM-364 conducted Change of Command and welcomed the Purple Foxes’ newest Commanding Officer.

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