“Flying Tigers” celebrate change
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA — Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 was redesignated as Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 during a ceremony Aug. 30 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The “Flying Tigers” squadron formerly flew CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters. The ceremony signified the squadron’s transition to MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
VMM-262 is part of Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“As I look at (VMM-262), I see the tremendous opportunities for our nation, our defense of Japan, and our plans for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief around the Pacific,” said Brig. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, the 1st MAW commanding general. “I’m truly honored to be here at this point in history with this great squadron and its great commander.”
This is the squadron’s fourth redesignation since its activation in 1951. It has supported operations in Lebanon, the Dominican Republic and Vietnam from its duty station at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. It relocated to MCAS Futenma in 1992, going on to participate in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in Indonesia, the Republic of the Philippines and Japan.
“For more than 60 years, 262 has earned many honors … I’m confident that their great legacy will continue,” said Col. Brian W. Cavanaugh, the MAG-36 commanding officer. “I said 262, not HMM or VMM because in aviation units it’s the last three numbers that really matter. There are many units that transition to different aircraft, but it’s those three numbers that carry the full weight.”
The Sea Knight helicopter, nicknamed “The Phrog,” has served the Marine Corps since before the Vietnam War.
“What you see here today is the transition from the mighty battle Phrog, which earned its mettle in Vietnam and many engagements after, to the journey of another combat-proven aircraft, the MV-22B Osprey,” said Cavanaugh. “Today’s ceremony honors those who have gone before us, not only in the CH-46 community, but the pioneers whose dedication allows us to provide this great capability (of the Osprey), not only to our nation, but to our partners.”
The Osprey has a speed of 280 knots, an altitude ceiling of 24,700 feet, and a lift capacity of 20,000 pounds. The tiltrotor aircraft can carry 24 Marines with full combat load and can travel a combat radius of 325 nautical miles. These capabilities make the Osprey twice as fast, able to carry almost three times the payload, and have four times the range of the CH-46E.
While the squadron’s name and aircraft have changed, the unit’s most valuable asset remains the Marines, according to Lt. Col. Larry G. Brown, VMM-262’s commanding officer.
“No aircraft would land in a hot landing zone to support the Marines on the ground if it weren’t for Marines working (in various fields and jobs to get it there),” said Brown. “It’s these Marines who make all those things possible.”
Brown is certain that the “Flying Tigers” will continue to be an asset to III MEF and partner nations across the Pacific region and uphold the legacy the Marines who came before them built.
“As we begin the next chapter, and continue our transition from good to great, how we do things will continue to change, but why we do them and who we are shall remain,” said Brown. “One thing that hasn’t changed is our selfless service and sacrifice in support of the Marines fighting on the ground—it’s just what we do. The “Flying Tigers” will remain always faithful.”