Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 769 (HMH-769) was a United States Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter squadron. Nicknamed the "Titan", the squadron was based at Edwards Air Force Base, California and fell under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 46 (MAG-46) and the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing (4th MAW). Due to a re-organization within Marine aviation, the squadron's assets were redistributed throughout the fleet and was deactivated on August 2, 2008.
In April 1959, HMR-769 transitioned to and begun flying the Sikorsky built HSS-1/SH-34G.
On April 1 , 1961, HMR-769 was redesignated Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 769 and relocated to NAS Alameda, CA in July of that same year. The squadron continued to fly the H-34 until 1971 when it transitioned to the Sikorsky built CH-53A "Sea Stallion" and on September 1, 1971, was redesignated Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 769.
The squadron remained HMH-769 until June 1, 1980 when they were deactivated. They were then consolidated into one large squadron with two other Marine Reserve Heavy Helicopter Squadrons, redesignated HMH-772 Detachment A and given the callsign, "Roadhogs".
Upon conclusion of hostilities in the Persian Gulf, HMH-772 Det A embarked aboard the USS Tarawa (LHA-1) for the return back to CONUS. While enroute, the Roadhogs were called upon to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) to the country of Bangladesh during Operation Sea Angel.
Detachment A was deactivated on April 1, 1993 and HMH-769 was activated on the same date.
On May 1, 1996, the Roadhogs relocated from NAS Alameda to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA. While there, the squadron received its first CH-53E "Super Stallion" on August 23, 1996, replacing its aging RH-53D with the newer, more powerful airframe.
In July 1998, the Roadhogs were the recipient of the Marine Corps Aviation Association's 1998 Pete Ross award for 4th MAW safety.
The Roadhogs were activated for a third time on January 27, 2002 and deployed two aircraft and 17 Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC) to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. This deployment marked the first time that a reserve squadron augmented an Active Forces MEU.
Activated for their final time on January 5, 2004, the Roadhogs commanded by LtCol Rick Mullen deployed in March of that same year to Bagram air base, Afghanistan for seven months in support of Combined Joint Task Forces 180/76 for Operation Enduring Freedom 4 and 5.
Midway through their deployment to Afghanistan, the Roadhogs were selected as the Marine Corps Aviation Association's 2005 Keith B. McCutcheon Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron of the year.
On April 2, 2007, Headquarters Marine Corps directed the deactivation of the squadron, with a completion date of no later than September 2008. The following year saw a flurry of activity as the squadron marched toward this milestone, transferring aircraft and personnel consistently throughout the year while still maintaining a rigorous schedule.
On July 23, 2008, aircraft 45 commanded by Major Jodi Maroney departed Edwards AFB for MCAS New River. Major Maroney and her crew arrived MCAS New River on July, 27 2008.
On the night of Saturday March 22, 2008, the Roadhogs had begun their last Annual Training period by executing section High Level Light (HLL) Night Vision Device (NVD) Confined Area Landings (CAL) in the local training area. Upon the sections return to base, the aircrew were informed that there was an injured climber located approximately 90 miles north on Mount Whitney. The aircrew gathered and reviewed all available information to include location and weather. After conducting deliberate planning and briefing the hop, the aircrew boarded their aircraft and took off for the injured climber.
Once airborne, the aircrew flew direct to Lone Pine Airport, landed and conducted a face-to-face brief with the ground rescue coordinator. When complete with the brief, the aircraft took off and headed direct for the 12,000 MSL plus landing zone (LZ) that had been identified by rescuers at the injured climbers location.
With both aircraft climbing to 14,000 MSL, the section was able to identify the LZ due to GPS coordinates and the headlamps that the ground rescuers were wearing. As lead started setting up to land, dash 2 remained in the overhead to provide coverage and radio relay.
After lead had been in the LZ for roughly 15 minutes, the aircraft departed the LZ with the injured climber aboard and both aircraft returned to Lone Pine Airport to execute the patient transfer to civilian medical services. Once transfer complete, both Roadhog aircraft took off from Lone Pine and headed south to return to Edwards AFB landing around 0300. Due to the quick actions and professionalism of the aircrew, the injured climber reportedly survived his traumatic injuries.
On Monday July 14, 2008, the Roadhogs launched their last two aircraft (section led by Col Phillips) from Edwards AFB for MCAS New River, NC. On Friday July 18, 2008 the section landed at MCAS New River and were transferred to HMH-461, Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
On August 2, 2008 at 1200, the Decommissioning Ceremony for HMH-769 was held at Edwards AFB.
A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 769 has been presented with the following awards:
Joint Meritorious Unit Award Meritorious Unit Commendation with one bronze service star National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star Southwest Asia Service Medal Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal