View Full Version : Red Lions leading the pack

10-01-03, 06:02 AM
Submitted by: MCAS Iwakuni
Story Identification Number: 2003924202831
Story by Cpl. Robert W. Wynkoop

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan(Sept. 25, 2003) -- Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 Marines are packing up and moving out after more than six months of participating in the Unit Deployment Program here.

The Red Lions are heading back to Hawaii, according to Capt. Jade Steward-Campbell, HMH-363, quality assurance officer.

For half a year, this Sea Stallion squadron has participated in numerous Pacific Theater operations and training missions, as well as earning accolades on the Station as well.

"We have a climate of success around here," Campbell explained. "It's an attitude we bring with us."

One of their biggest accomplishments was a 6,000-mile flight to Thailand. The "J-hook," as the pilots call it, is a five-stop flight path shaped like a hook leading to Thailand. "Lucky Red," according to Steward-Campbell, was the first squadron to make the flight without any maintenance delays. This is a difficult task because there is minimal air crew support, he said.

"The pressure was on for the younger guys to step up to the plate," Steward-Campbell said.

The squadron had only two weeks to prepare for their flight, said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Jensen, HMH-363, crew chief. His Marines, mostly new to deployments, performed with great professionalism during this UDP, he said.

"We try to keep on the road and get some good training for these (Marines)." Jensen said.

Jensen, a veteran of three ship deployments from the East Coast, said most of his Marines haven?t seen anything besides Hawaii.

Getting "on the road" is a tougher task than one might think, according to Jensen. The Sea Stallions they?ve been flying are not their own. These helicopters stay in Iwakuni and are used by squadrons for the UDP.

"The real praise goes to our maintenance effort," Steward-Campbell said pointing out that his squadron once again made it into the history books. This time they were the first UDP squadron to pass the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing inspection, he said.

Inspection teams checked the condition of the aircraft, tools and maintenance records for both aircraft and their mechanics. Anything goes in an inspection like this one, Steward-Campbell said.

Strong leadership from staff noncommissioned officers are keys to a winning team, Steward-Campbell said.

"They breed that success into our new Marines. We?ve been successful for so long, we don?t expect anything less," he said.

In addition, the Red Lions received the Chief of Naval Operations safety award and were nominated for the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award for the small unit category.

As a whole, the squadron performed with flying colors, but Jensen also proudly described the individual work his Marines did.

Several work sections, to include the Squadron?s air framers, competed against other Station Marines for meritorious promotions.

In between training operations in Osan, Okinawa and Thailand, several "Lucky Red" Marines earned another stripe by showing their abilities on promotion boards.

With all the activity buzzing around their hangar, HMH-363 pilots and crewmembers did have a chance to experience Japan on their well-deserved liberty.

A typhoon prevented their planned trip to conquer Mount Fuji, but it didn?t stop them from "seeing the sites," Jensen explained ?noting several of his Marines have taken up the challenge to learn Japanese. "You?ll see a few of them toting around a handful of book and CDs, trying to learn as much as possible during their time here."

Earlier in the month, the Squadron sent an advance party back to Hawaii to get things ready for their much-anticipated return home, Steward-Campbell said. They are scheduled to board the "Freedom Bird," Oct. 1.