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Battle-tested Unit Returns - 1966

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  • Battle-tested Unit Returns - 1966

    Battle-tested Unit Returns
    Near-Year Tour is Outstanding

    One of the most battle-tested helicopter squadrons in South Vietnam has been rotated home, after chalking up an enviable record.

    Arriving in Vietnam June 21, 1965, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 has participated in some of the largest Marine Corps operations.

    HMM-261 made the first night strike against the Viet Cong.

    Operation Starlite, now famed as the first Marine Corps offensive operation from Chu Lai, found HMM-261 performing troop lifts, resupply missions, medical evacuations and strikes in support of Marine ground forces. Starlite was an unparalleled success and the U.S. Navy awarded the squadron the Navy Unit Commendation Medal.

    Squadron personnel received two Silver Stars, 22 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 12 Bronze Stars, 2,000 Air Medals, five Navy Commendation Medals and 45 Purple Hearts.

    The Vietnamese government awarded '261 personnel ten Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, the highest award given to an ally.

    The squadron earned its decorations with 11,859 combat flight hours with 121 aircraft being hit by enemy fire 273 times, medically evacuating 2,315 combatants, flying 38,090 combat sorties, ferrying 47,522 troops into combat, carrying 7,237,867 pounds of cargo expending 32,610 ammo rounds.

    Naval Aviation News
    July 1966, p.12