USS ESSEX, At sea --
Helicopters of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, landed on USS Essex (LHD-2) March 4, in preparation to support the MEU’s upcoming deployment.
Over the course of a few hours, HMM 265 (Rein) flew on more than 20 helicopters, ranging from the powerful CH-53E Sea Stallion’s, to the legendary UH-1N Huey’s, all ready to support the 31st MEU.
“The fly on went very well,” said Maj. Michael J. Acosta, the executive officer of HMM 265 (Rein), 31st MEU. “We had 23 aircraft to move today and all of the aircraft made it on the ship. This is our third consecutive movement of 23 or more aircraft, and we have had a 100% success rate every time, meaning there were no safety or mechanical failures, and we met all of our timelines.”
During its time with the 31st MEU, the squadron has provided unique capabilities the command can utilize in exercises or operational scenarios.
These capabilities include tactical recovery of personnel and aircraft, helicopter raids, noncombatant evacuation operation response, humanitarian aid and disaster relief response and a quick and efficient mode of transportation for the Marines.
“The squadron serves as the core of the air combat element of the 31st MEU,” said Lt. Col. Damien M. Marsh, the commanding officer of the Air Combat Element, 31st MEU. “We provide all the aviation support for the Battalion Landing Team, Combat Logistics Battalion, and headquarters elements of the 31st MEU.”
The squadron is now standing by to support the 31st MEU during its Amphibious Integration Training, and the upcoming Certification Exercise.
“Without the Air Combat Element, we would be restricted to just surface movement and amphibious landings,” said Capt. Travis Pugh, a pilot with HMM 265 (Rein), 31st MEU. “There would be no way to reach back and touch the enemy beyond the beach.”
According to Pugh, during CERTEX the squadron will be tested on their ability to deliver Marines to their objective on time.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.