History of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364
1 September 1961 - Present
Updated 12 November 2016

Originally commissioned as Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron (Light)- 364 [HMR(L)-364] on 1 September 1961, the squadron was stationed at MCAF Santa Ana, California as part of MAG-36, Air FMFPac with Capt. F. E. Allgood as Commanding Officer, six officers and 30 enlisted men were initially assigned.

The first aircraft were delivered on 28 November 1961, and by the 1st of December 1961 the squadron had taken custody of five HUS-1 (UH-34) aircraft. On 1 February 1962, the designation of the squadron was changed to its present title.  The squadron operated in a limited status till early February 1962, at which time it was selected to deploy late in the spring.

On 8 February 1962, Maj. Manning T. Jannell relieved Capt. Allgood as the Commanding Officer.  By 17 February 1962 the squadron had a full complement of twenty four aircraft,  43 officers and one hundred forty six enlisted assigned and engaged in specialized training in preparation for "Operation Dominic".

On 10 April 1962 the squadron departed for Long Beach to board the USS Iwo Jima.  The following day they left for the Mid-Pacific.  From 24 April until 14 November 1962, the squadron participated in "Operation Dominic" with the primary mission of recovering special instruments used in the 1962 nuclear test series.  There was a "nuclear incident" during this time frame and Johnston Island was evacuated.  The squadron and the Iwo Jima returned to the United States.  A short time later the squadron boarded the USS Princeton out of San Diego and returned for the conclusion of the operation.  HMM-364 was the first helicopter unit assigned to the USS IWO JIMA and also supported its first deployment of Marines on board.

On 3 January 1963, LtCol. John H. Lavoy relieved LtCol. Jannell as Commanding Officer.  From January to December of 1963, HMM-364 underwent a year of intensive training participating in operations "Steelgate" and "Desert Winds".

During November 1963, the squadron embarked on the USNS BRETON ( a World War II "Jeep" carrier) and sailed for Okinawa.  In December 1963, the squadron arrived at MCAF Futema, Okinawa and remained there for six weeks.  The aircraft which had been brought to Okinawa stayed on Okinawa as all UH-34s in the Western Pacific remained at their geographical locations and the personnel to operate and maintain them were rotated in and out on a regular basis as complete squadrons by definition of personnel but none of their equipment.  On 31 January 1964 HMM-364 personnel were flown to the Republic of Vietnam via C-130s.

Arriving at the city of DaNang, the squadron flew missions in support of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), referred to as "Operation Shufly", amassing in excess of 9,000 hours and transporting over 900,000 pounds of supplies during the period February to June 1964.  During this period seventeen Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry were awarded to squadron pilots. There were 1 Navy Cross, 2 Sivler Stars and 17 Single Mission Air Medals during this same time frame.

During July 1964, the squadron embarked aboard the USS VALLEY FORGE as part of the Special Landing Force of Task Force 76.   The squadron did not expect to go right back to Viet Nam but that is exactly where Task Force 76 was headed.  The squadron spent more than two months operating in the waters off the coast of Da Nang and Saigon.  During this period the USS VALLEY FORGE steamed 56 consecutive days without going into port.  The squadron was relieved from duty with Task Force 76 on 22 October 1964 and enjoyed a brief sojourn at MCAF Futema,  Okinawa.   The squadron earned the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Safety Award for Fiscal Year 1964.

During December 1964 the Marines of HMM-364, who were still in Okinawa, were given individual orders to their new duty assignments.  LtCol Lavoy's orders, in part, directed him to return the squadron colors to MCAF, Santa Ana, California.

On 7 December 1964 LtCol W. C. Watson relieved LtCol Lavoy as Commanding Officer.  It was during the tenure of LtCol Watson that the squadron became known as the "PURPLE FOXES".

During February 1965, the squadron participated in operation "Silver Lance" but only limited flying was conducted due to light support commitments.  In June 1965, Maj. M. J. Needham relieved LtCol Watson as Commanding Officer when HMM-364 was designated as the new training squadron for MAG-36 and started transitioning pilots from aircraft they had previously flown to the UH-34.

July 1965 brought LtCol W. R. Lucas in to relieve Maj. Needham as Commanding Officer.

On 11 August 1965 the squadron embarked aboard the USS PRINCETON and once again sailed for Vietnam.  Approximately 20 days later, on 31 August, HMM-364 arrived in the Republic of Vietnam for the second time at Ky Ha near the town of Chu Lai.  Initially, most of the aircraft were kept in Da Nang with a four plane detachment in Ky Ha.  By the 17th of September all the squadron aircraft were at Ky Ha.  From 18 September 1965 to March 1966 over 9,000 hours were flown to transport over 2,000 tons of supplies.

On 27 March 1966 LtCol D.A. Sommerville relieved LtCol Lucas as Commanding Officer.  On 8 April the squadron was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 13, 9th, Marine Amphibious Brigade and embarked aboard the USS PRINCETON as part of the Special Landing Force.  The squadron quickly adapted to operating on and from the deck of the carrier in support of operations"OSAGE"," DECKHOUSE I" and  "NATHAN  HALE".  On 4 July 1966 the squadron returned to operational control of Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and returned to Ky Ha.

On __ September 1966 LtCol R.L. Cover relieved Ltcol Sommerville as Commanding Officer.

On 1 October 1966, HMM-364 was placed in a cadre status under MWSG-37, 3rd MAW, MCAF Santa Ana, California, with Capt. R. K. Thompson reliving LtCol Cover as Commanding Officer.  On 1 May 1967 the squadron was removed from cadre status with LtCol L. Gulling reliving Capt. Thompson as Commanding Officer.  The squadron went from a total of 3 officers and 7 enlisted men with no aircraft to thirty one officers, one hundred thirty two enlisted men and four CH-46 (Sea Knight) helicopters by the end of the month.

During June 1967 the squadron received seven more aircraft, now the total complement of aircraft was 32.  A crash during this month (Cpl. Paul Sousa's YK-22), attributed to metal fatigue in the quill shaft between the mix box and aft transmission, led to the suspension of all CH-46 flights.

Beginning in early August 1967, all 32 aircraft underwent extensive modifications ( aft transmission deck and new aft transmission configuration being primary).

On 28 October 1967 the main body of HMM-364 departed California, by air, and arrived at Phu Bai, Republic of Vietnam on 1 November 1967 and was attached to MAG-36.  The rear echelon flew the last of the squadron's CH-46's to the deck of the USS VALLEY FORGE ("Happy Valley" as she was referred to my those aboard) at Long Beach, California around the first of November, arriving at Phu Bai on 23 November 1967.

During the month of December 1967, the squadron initiated flight operations by participating in operations "OCEOLA" and "KENTUCKY".  During January 1968 operations "SCOTLAND" and "LANCASTER" were supported.

During April 1968  LtCol. J. R. Dobbratz relieved LtCol. Gulling as Commanding Officer.  February also saw the squadron supporting operation "HUE CITY" while simultaneously contributing aircraft on a daily basis in support of the besieged troops at Khe Sanh until the siege was ended in the middle of April.  During the month of May 1968 operation "MAMALUKE THRUST" received the squadrons support.  HMM-364 finished the fiscal year in June by flying 1,344 hours, the highest total monthly hours for the year.  In July 1968 the squadron began participating in operation NAPOLEON/SAION and ALLEN BROOK. 

During September 1968 LtCol M.V. Statzer relieved Lt.Col Dobbrats as Commanding Officer.  Up to December 1968 the squadron continued to support combat operations in the Phu Bai area.  On 10 December 1968 HMM-364 was relocated to Marble Mountain Air Facility (MMAF), DaNang and was reassigned to MAG-16.  During the month of January 1969 over 1,000 flight  hours were logged to transport over 300 tons of supplies. 

On 4 February 1969 LtCol. Eugene R. Brady relieved LtCol. Statzer as Commanding Officer.  From February through August 1969 over 8,000 hours were flown to transport over 3,500 tons of supplies.
 
On 22 August 1969 LtCol. C. R. Dunbaugh relieved LtCol. Brady as Commanding Officer.  President Nixon initiated a unilateral withdrawal of troops shortly after LtCol. Dunbaugh assumed command.  This action shortened the tour of some of the squadrons members from thirteen to twelve months in the Republic of Vietnam.  The Marine Corps position however had not changed and those Marines who were going home early were placed aboard Navy ships headed back to the United States.  This transit time took approximately twenty six days.  This meant that their tour from the Marine Corps point of view had only been shortened a few days.  From the Marines point of view it was twenty six days they were not in harms way.

During the period September 1969 through February 1970, HMM-364 continued to operate from MMAF conducting operations in the I Corps area in support of III MAF.  Major operations that were participated in were PIPESTONE CANYON and VICTORY DRAGON.  "Kingfisher" missions carried out by the squadron were a significant factor in hampering enemy operations by executing small scale strikes on a daily basis at widely separated points in the Area of Operation (AOA).  The squadron flew over 7,500 hours in the six month period, much of it in adverse monsoon weather.  Over 45,000 troops and a daily average 28,000 pounds of cargo was carried.  Personal decorations and recommendations for awards during the period August 1969 to February 1970 included 5 Silver Stars, 23 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 5 Bronze Star Medals, over 200 Strike/Flight Air Medals, 59 Single Mission Air Medals, 7 Combat Action Ribbons, 20 Navy Commendation Medals, 30 Navy Achievement Medals and 15 Purple Heart Medals.  Nine squadron personnel were killed as a result of enemy action during the period. 

On 25 February 1970, LtCol. P.C. Scaglione relieved LtCol. Dunbaugh as Commanding Officer. During the month of March 1970 a very successful "Pacifier" mission was carried out supporting 1stBn, 5th Marines.  The mission resulted in seven enemy KIA, five POW's and several captured weapons.  During the months of March through June 1970 the squadron received visits by CG III MAF LtGen. McCutcheon, CG 1st MAW MajGen. W.G. Thrash and by BGen. Spanjer.  Secretary of the Navy J. H. Chaffee observed a squadron static display near the end of June 1970.

On 15 September 1970 LtCol. H. W. Steadman relieved LtCol. Scaglione  as Commanding Officer.  The squadron ended up flying 1,486.4  hours during this month making it the highest month of the squadron's Vietnam tour.

The month of October will be one long remembered by the pilots of HMM-364.  By the 28th of October the monsoons were in full swing and rivers were overflowing their banks.  The next three days saw the "Purple Foxes" rescue over 1,500 people during the worst flooding in the Da Nang area in the past six years.  Disregarding completely IFR weather, HMM-364 rescued 400 civilians on the 29th of October, the following day, the 30th of October the "Purple Foxes" flew 58.5 hours rescuing 988 people, despite flying in zero/zero weather without gun ships.  On the 31st of October the flood waters started to recede but there were many hours of emergency resupply to be flown.  The squadron finished with 1096.7 hours representing 4,130 sorties and  1,321 tasks.  The next two months HMM-364 flew 2,190.4 hours carrying 19,740 troops and 426.7 tons of cargo.

On the 19th of December 1970 an aircraft was lost to enemy fire resulting in eight emergency MEDEVACs.   Christmas Eve rolled around and HMM-364 had the honor of flying Bob Hope and his cast around Da Nang during his South Vietnam USO Tour.  The next day the "Purple Foxes" delivered Christmas Cheer in the form of containers of cold beer to the troops in the field.   The squadron provided a static display for LtGen Robertson, the new Commanding General, III MAF, on his visit to MAG-16.

The arrival of the New Year brought word that HMM-364 would be standing down and eventually deactivated.  As a result the squadron started losing personnel and aircraft to MAG-16 and other units.  With only sixteen aircraft an an average of only twelve flight crews the "Purple Foxes" flew 1,191 hours during the month of January 1971.

On the 23rd of January 1971 the squadron lost another aircraft, this time resulting in six Marines being killed, the crew escaped with minor injuries.

On the first of  February 1971 the Executive Officer, Maj. N. R. VanLeeuwen flying on a "Quick Reaction" mission, with the squadron Sergeant Major, SgtMaj. A. J. Rappold, as gunner captured three Viet Cong in a flooded rice paddy, one of which investigation proved to be a district political leader.

On the 16th of February HMM-364 stood down in preperation to return to CONUS and deactivation. 

From 10 December 1968, when the squadron joined MAG-16, to 16 Feburary 1971 the "Purple Foxes" have flown a total  of 119,309 sorties for 33,413 hours performing 39,167 tasks carrying 243,084 passengers over 10,000 tons of cargo and 16,368 MEDEVACs.  This gives the squadron over 45,000 hours on its third tour in Vietnam and a total of nearly 70,000 hours of flying in the Republic of Vietnam since its first tour in 1964.

On 22 March 1971, the squadron colors were folded and HMM-364 was decommissioned.  Finally, the "Purple Foxes" were out of country !

28 September 1984 - Present

On 28 September 1984, HMM-364 was reactivated at Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1 st Marine Brigade, Fleet Marine Force, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

On 12 October 1984, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. P.X. Kelley, publicly reactivated the squadron by presenting the unit colors to the Commanding Officer LtCol Thomas W. Holden.

Now joined in the deployment rotation in 1986, the squadron participated in Team Spirit ‘86 at Pohang, Korea in support of III Marine Amphibious Force and Republic of Korea Marines. In January 1988, HMM-364 became the first squadron to receive and successfully deploy the CH-46 SR&M helicopter in the Western Pacific. This enabled the introduction of an entirely new aircraft model to the 1 st Marine Aircraft Wing. During this Western Pacific Deployment, in addition to Japan and the Republic of the Philippines, the squadron was deployed to Korea in support of Team Spirit ’88. The end of the year was highlighted by HMM-364 being awarded the Chief of Naval Operation’s Safety Award as well as FMFPac Aviation Safety Award.

In February 1990, the Purple Foxes deployed to Okinawa, Japan participating in numerous Special Operations Capable (SOC) missions as well as supporting Team Spirit ‘90 with six CH-46 detachments.

From August 1990 to March 1991, HMM-364 was placed in reserve during Operations Desert Shield/ Desert Storm becoming the sole supporting squadron for 1 st Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

In June 1991, the Purple Foxes once again deployed to Okinawa. During the deployment, the squadron supported Marine Air Ground Task Force 4-90 in the Republic of the Philippines before, during, and after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo as well as supporting exercise Valiant Blitz in Pohang, ROK and Forest Light in Akebano, Japan. While deployed, HMM-364 maintained the highest CH-46 aircraft availability/readiness in the Marine Corps.

Continuing into 1992, the Purple Foxes would find themselves on the island of Kauai, for operation Garden Isle, performing humanitarian relief due to the devastation left by Hurricane Iniki.

From January to July 1993, the Purple Foxes once again deployed to Okinawa. In addition to supporting the majority of III MEF’s Fragmentary Orders, the squadron participated in Team Spirit ’93 in the ROK, and also served as the Aviation Combat Element of the 35 th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Belleau Wood during Cobra Gold in the Kingdom of Thailand in 1993.

In August 1995, the Purple Foxes packed up and embarked upon the USS Tarawa to move to MCAS El Toro. That same year, HMM-364 was selected to be the Aviation Command Element for Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force Experimental [SPMAGTF (X)] Sea Dragon. This very important and high visibility project was an exercise conceived of by the Commandant’s Warfighting Laboratory (CWL) to develop and test the methods and techniques of the 21 st century battlefield.

In February 1996, the Purple Foxes provided Executive Transport for President Clinton and other dignitaries while they toured flood damaged Portland, Oregon. This marked the first time in history that a U.S. President had flown in a Fleet Marine Force helicopter. Beginning May 1996, the Purple Foxes began preparatory training with the assigned Ground Combat Element (GCE), 3 rd Battalion, 4th Marines and the newly formed CSSE Enterprise. In August, HMM-364 was supplemented by elements of HMH-462 who brought their personnel and six CH-53E aircraft to MCAS El Toro. In January 1997, HMLA-169 personnel completed the ACE. In fact, during preparations for Sea Dragon operations, crewmembers of an attached UH-1N took the squadron past 25,000 mishap free hours.

The Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) took place at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) at 29 Palms and Camp Pendleton. To facilitate this, HMM-364 deployed to MCAS Camp Pendleton in February, where it operated around the clock for three weeks in support of SPMAGTF (X). The AWE culminated in March 1997, validating and elaborating on the findings of the SPMAGTF (X).

In June of 1998, the Purple Foxes were designated the base unit for the ACE of the 13 th MEU. In July, HMM-364 Reinforced participated in RIMPAC ’98 while training to the pre-deployment work-up schedule associated with a MEU(SOC) squadron. On December 5, the squadron embarked aboard the USS Boxer and the 13 th MEU was underway. The squadron participated in Operation Southern Watch and then provided aircraft to support various operations in the Horn of Africa as the MEU was tasked to perform spilt-ARG operations. The USS Harpers Ferry went to Kenya for humanitarian assistance operations while the USS Boxer and the USS Cleveland were ordered to “modloc” off the coast of Eritrea for possible NEO operation in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti.

In February of 1999, the Purple Foxes reconvened as the MEU was brought back together and sent to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch and to conduct training for the Ground Combat Element in Kuwait. The squadron supported both requirements and the MEU began the long journey home in late April. Releasing the attached elements of the MEU composite squadron to their parent units, the Purple Foxes moved into their new home joining Marine Aircraft Ground 39 aboard Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Pendleton. The Purple Foxes, fitting right into their new surroundings at Camp Pendleton, supported Fleet Week, Steel Knight, and began training to their new core competency of being part of 3D MAW’s Fly in Echelon for contingency operations.

With the new focus of deploying by strategic lift and naval shipping, the Purple Foxes spent much of the next two years supporting Combined Arms Exercises, participating in Combat Readiness Evaluations, and supporting the training of Marines aboard Camp Pendleton. In October of 2000 the squadron embarked aboard the USS Peleliu to maintain proficiency in shipboard operations.

In February of 2001, HMM-364 deployed aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard for eleven days, in preparation for Exercise Kernel Blitz. Sailing to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico where the squadron once again honed their proficiency in shipboard operations. From 26 March to 6 April, HMM-364 deployed aboard the USS Pelelui in support of the MEB level exercise Kernel Blitz. Designated the Air Mission Commander and Assault Flight Leader for the final exercise, the Purple Foxes coordinated and led the Airfield Seizure mission in support of 3rd Battalion 5 th Marines.

In the summer of 2001, having been assigned to support I MEF’s OPLANs, HMM-364 looked toward supporting Exercise RSO&I/Foal Eagle ’02. As this concept unfolded, a pre-deployment work-up cycle was imitated by deploying to an expeditionary Forward Operating Base at Fort Hunter-Liggett, CA in support of Exercise Seahorse Wind. Further workup training was conducted in the form of a combined MCCRE with HMLA-369 at NAF El Centro, STRATMOBEX from March ARB to Edward AFB, and cold weather training at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, CA. The capstone event was a deployment to the Republic of Korea to participate in the annual RSO&I/Foal Eagle Exercise. HMM-364 successfully executed this work-up cycle from August 2001 through January 2002 and deployed to Korea from February 2002 to April 2002 in support of RSO&I/Foal Eagle ’02. During its execution, HMM-364 was the first Marine Medium Helicopter squadron to deploy using contract Russian AN-124 aircraft. The squadron flew missions in support of Special Warfare Command and the Korean Combined Rescue Coordination Center flying counter-SOF and CSAR missions. The squadron returned to MAG-39 in April validating 3d MAW’s HMM Time Phased Force Deployment Data and demonstrating a capability that directly supported I MEF’s OPLANS. In the fall of 2002 the Purple Foxes supported CAX 02/03.

In January 2003 the squadron received the order to deploy to Ali Al Salem Airbase in Kuwait in support of I Marine Expeditionary Force’s deployment to Operations Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom. Squadron personnel flew in waves into theater via contract air between 30 January and 11 February. The Purple Foxes flew for three weeks in preparation for the war, and on 20 March 2003 the squadron began flying combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the first 21 days of actual combat operations, the Foxes led all assault support squadrons in theater, flying 862.7 combat hours, evacuating 139 casualties from the field of battle, transporting 1,856 Marines and 98,350 lbs of equipment in direct support of the coalition’s overwhelming defeat of the Iraqi Forces. After hostilities ceased the squadron continued to fly humanitarian, logistics support, command and control, and Casualty Evacuation missions in support of I MEF. These operations continued through September of 2003. On 1 October 2003, the squadron returned to MCAS Camp Pendleton.

After a short stand down, the squadron began preparation for the next deployment in support of OIF. In January of 2004, the Foxes deployed in support of Desert Talon in Yuma, AZ for three weeks. On 14 May, 2004, the squadron’s colors changed hands as they bid farewell to LtCol Ronald Radich and welcomed LtCol Michael Hudson.

Throughout the spring and summer, the squadron continued to increase the instructor base and flight leadership designations as well as complete the refresher training for pilots returning to the cockpit. In July of 2004, the squadron sent a detachment to MCAS Yuma for Terrain Flight (TERF) training. In August the squadron again deployed a detachment to MCAS Yuma for the purpose of night systems qualifications. The detachment returned with six new Night Systems Instructors and three Aerial Gunnery Instructors. During these busy months the squadron continued to support I MEF with fragmentary orders involving troop lifts, helocasting, SPIE and SAR. In the last stages of preparation for the upcoming deployment, the squadron detached seven aircraft, aircrew, and maintainers to NAF El Centro from 15 to 22 November in the successful execution of the squadron’s Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation (MCCRE). The Foxes then participated in three weeks of desert training at MCAS Yuma during Exercise Desert Talon 1-05 in early December.

In the winter of 2005, the Foxes deployed to Al Taqaddum Airfield, Iraq for the primary mission of performing CASEVAC within the Second Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) Area of Operations (AO) in support of OIF 04-06. During the seven-month deployment the Foxes conducted 266 CASEVAC missions transporting 603 Urgent, 546 Priority, and 2623 Routine CASEVACs. The squadron also carried 442 Return-to-Duties (RTDs) back to their original units. Following the retrograde back to Camp Pendleton on 15 September 2005, the squadron maintained a high level of readiness and was able to assume FRAG responsibilities earlier than scheduled.

LtCol Sean Killeen took command of the Purple Foxes on 1 December 2005. During January and February of 2006, the squadron supported Exercise Mojave Viper at 29 Palms and other I MEF requirements. At the end of February the squadron detached a small contingent to MCAS Yuma to facilitate NSI designations prior to WTI. The Foxes later deployed seven aircraft to NAS Fallon for the MCCRE from 8 to 17 May. This allowed the squadron to qualify most of the ten new H2Ps as combat capable copilots. Finally, the Foxes participated in Desert Talon 02-06 during June 2006 at MCAS Yuma. In July, the squadron detached a small element to NAF El Centro in order to qualify new Aerial Observers prior to the deployment. In late July the advanced party deployed to begin the transition back to Al Taqaddum, Iraq while the main body completed aircraft and hangar transfers to HMM-268 at Camp Pendleton. On 19 August 2006, HMM-364 main body departed Camp Pendleton in support of OIF 05-07.2.

Throughout the deployment, the squadron supported Marines, soldiers, sailors, and our coalition partners with the “number one cannot fail” mission of OIF by maintaining a 30-minute alert status for CASEVAC, in addition to supporting other general support missions and VIP movements. By the end of the deployment, the squadron flew 6,373 hours lifting 25,516 passengers and 986,332 pounds of cargo. Included in these numbers were 715 Urgent, 187 Priority and 1317 Routine medical patients. The Foxes returned to Camp Pendleton on 13 March 2007.

HMM-364 conducted initial and refresher training on return from Iraq. In an effort to increase the instructor base, the squadron sent a detachment to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada in mid-May. The majority of the training focused on Aerial Gunnery, Ground Threat Reaction and included a simulated raid into 29 Palms.

On 29 June 2007, LtCol Mark Schrecker assumed command of the Foxes as the squadron prepared for its next deployment to Iraq. In July the squadron conducted its Aviation Logistics Maintenance (ALMAT) inspection while concurrently conducting NSI evaluations with MAWTS-1 support. A detachment of aircraft departed for MWTC Bridgeport for a four-day mission including paraops and Special Insertion and Extraction (SPIE) in August. Another detachment supported a static display for the Purple Fox reunion in Mesquite, Nevada in late September.

The squadron deployed to Yuma, Arizona in December 2007 for a Detachment for Training prior to participating in Desert Talon 1-08 as a final preparation for the squadron’s return to Al Taqaddum, Iraq. The squadron’s main body departed Camp Pendleton on 10 March 2008 and arrived at Al Taqaddum, Iraq shortly after in support of OIF 08.1.

The Purple Foxes returned stateside in October 2008. For the remainder of 2008 and the spring of 2009, HMM-364 busied itself by preparing aircrew and aircraft to support the spring 2009 Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at MCAS Yuma, while continuing the steady, deliberate preparation for combat of both refresher pilots joining the squadron from non-flying billets and new pilots reporting to the fleet from the fleet replacement squadron. In addition to flying aircraft, the maintenance department upheld its tradition of fixing aircraft in a highly efficient manner. Throughout this period of extremely high operational-tempo for the maintenance department, it demonstrated its commitment to excellence as it underwent three Aviation Maintenance Inspections (AMI) in as many months from MALS, CNAF, and 3d MAW, earning a mission capable rating on all functional areas and numerous awards for individual Marines.

During August 2009, the Purple Foxes of HMM-364 became the first Squadron to deploy to 29 Palms MCAGCC in support of EMV. HMM-364 deployed nine aircraft and completed 397 mishap-free flight hours in simultaneous support of 2d Battalion, 2d Marines and 3d Battalion 24th Marines. Overall, the EMV evaluators and MAWTS-1 instructors gave HMM-364 an outstanding mission-capable report, and reported that the Purple Foxes set the standard for future assault support squadrons during subsequent EMV operations.

From 15 October 2009 to 5 February 2010, HMM-364 was deployed to Al Asad Airbase, Al Anbar, Iraq in support of OIF 09.2, where the squadron's primary role was to provide lift for Very Important Persons (VIP), casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), and general support throughout the MNF-W Area of Operations (AO). This deployment occurred during the retrograde of Marine Corps forces from Iraq. Though a short deployment of only four months, the operational and logistical challenges that HMM-364 faced as ultimately the last Marine Aviation squadron in Iraq ensured it would hold a unique place in the squadron's history. In less than four complete months of flight operations from TOA to total retrograde, HMM-364 moved over 6399 passengers and 139,615 pounds of cargo while servicing 185 VIPs during 2219.7 flight hours. While meeting this steady tasking in the face of a dwindling logistical footprint-including parts and aircraft-the squadron maintained its exceptional safety record and never dropped a mission. Purple Foxes also took responsibility for a retrograde that included a sizeable amount of support equipment and luxury items accumulated over six years of operations by multiple squadrons in a mature theater of operations.

Operating until the end, down to an expeditionary footprint, it was a Purple Fox CH-46E that flew Major General Richard Tryon on 23 January 2010 to the transfer of authority ceremony with the U.S. Army marking end of mission for the U.S. Marine Corps in the nation of Iraq. The squadron then retrograded its aircraft within days via Air Force C-5s and Russian AN-124s, the process pioneered by HMM-364 a decade past.

Following the squadron's return from Iraq, the Marine Corps decided it would only use V-22 Ospreys in the Afghanistan Theater. As such, the Marines of HMM-364 began training to re-enter the MEU deployment cycle. The training focus immediately shifted from a desert focus, to a completely expeditionary mind-set. To achieve this, the squadron sent representatives to RIMPAC '09, continued desert training dets, deployed as a SPMAGTF ACE for San Francisco Fleet Week, did TRAP and desert training at Davis-Monthan AFB Tucson, AZ, supported MARSOC pre-deployment evaluations at Ft. Irwin, CA, and completed high-altitude mountain training at MCMWTC Bridgeport in Pickle Meadows, CA. The squadron simultaneously supported, two WTI evolutions, and completing, with mission capable- few discrepancies, Commanding General Inspections and MAG, MAW and CNAFF inspections.

The squadron currently is continuing to train for a possible 2012 MEU deployment.

On 9 October, 2014, had a change of command and redesignation ceremony on MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA. As the last squadron to still fly the CH-46 Sea Knight, the Purple Foxes transitioned from HMM-364 to VMM-364. They will now join the other, former HMM squadrons in flying the MV-22B Osprey. In addition to the redesignation as a tiltrotor squadron, the commanding officer, LtCol John Field, handed over command to incoming commanding officer, LtCol Paul B. Kopacz.

So begins a new era for Marince Corp Aviation with the retirement of the Phrog.

The first VMM-364 COMMAND CHRONOLOGY report that we have from the new squadron. Thanks to Capt. Edward "Special" Smythe, the current Squadron Historian.

The second VMM-364 COMMAND CHRONOLOGY report. Thanks to Capt. Edward "Special" Smythe, the current Squadron Historian.

2016 Change of Command

Excerpts from the article From Football to Flying Aircraft: A Career of Friendship
from DVIDS (Defense Video imagery Distribution System).

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CAMP PENDLETON, CA, UNITED STATES
10.06.2016 Story by Lance Cpl. Jake McClung
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar / 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

As the American Flag waved in the background and a formation of Marines stood at attention,
Lt. Col. Paul Kopacz passed the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 364 colors to his old friend,
Lt. Col. Stephen Conley, during a change of command ceremony on the flight line aboard Marine
Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 6. With a hand shake and hug they switched places,
affirming Conley as the new commanding officer of VMM-364.
...
Kopacz and Conley met during their sophomore year of high school where they played on the football team.
...
In February 1993, Conley took the first steps to joining Kopacz in the enlisted ranks but it wasn’t long
after when Kopacz earned his college degree and commissioned as a CH-46E Sea Knight pilot. Once again
influenced by his close friend’s career path, Conley also commissioned as a CH-46E pilot in 1999.
...
Nearly 24 years after enlisting and then becoming a commissioned officer in the Marine Corps, Kopacz
took command of VMM-364 on Oct. 9, 2014, and two years later, as is their tradition, it is Conley’s
turn to command the "World Famous Purple Foxes."


Chronological listing of Commanding Officers of HMM/VMM Squadron 364

Sep 1961 – Feb 1962 Capt Frankie E. Allgood
Feb 1962 – Jan 1963   Maj Manning T. Jannell
Jan 1963 – Dec 1964 LtCol John H. Lavoy
Dec 1964 – Jun 1965  LtCol Warren C. Watson
Jun 1965 – Sep 1965 Maj Michael J. Needham
Sep 1965 – Mar 1966 LtCol William R. Lucas
Mar 1966 – Sep 1966 LtCol Daniel A. Somerville
Oct 1966 – Mar 1967 LtCol Robert L. Glover
Mar 1967 – May 1967 Capt Richard K. Thompson
May 1967 – Apr 1968 LtCol Louis A. Gulling
Apr 1968 – Sep 1968 LtCol Joseph R. Dobbratz, Jr.
Sep 1968 – Feb 1969  LtCol Merlin V. Statzer
Feb 1969 – Aug 1969 LtCol Eugene R. Brady
Aug 1969 – Feb 1970 LtCol Charles R. Dunbaugh
Feb 1970 – Sep 1970 LtCol Peter C. Scaglione, Jr.
Sep 1970 – Feb 1971 LtCol Henry W. Steadman
Feb 1971 – Apr 1971  Maj Neil R. VanLeeuwen
Sep 1984 – Jun 1985   LtCol Thomas W. Holden
Jun 1985 – Jan 1987 LtCol Jerry A. Merrit
Jan 1987 – Jan 1989  LtCol Clarence T. Dunstan
Jan 1989 – Aug 1990 LtCol Gary L. Loomis
Aug 1990 – Jan 1992 LtCol E.E. Cade III
Jan 1992 - Aug 1993 LtCol Ray Beaulieu
Aug 1993 – Feb 1995 LtCol Paul P. McNamara
Feb 1995 – Jun 1996 LtCol G.H. Keating
Jun 1996 – Feb 1998 LtCol George A. Yingling, Jr.
Feb 1998 – Jun 1999  LtCol Thomas F. Qualls, Jr.
Jun 1999 – Apr 2001   LtCol Lon M. Yeary
Apr 2001 – Sep 2002  LtCol Michael W. Scott
Sep 2002 – May 2004 LtCol Ronald B. Radich
May 2004 – Dec 2005  LtCol Michael R. Hudson
Dec 2005 – Jun 2007 LtCol Sean C. Killeen
Jun 2007 – Feb 2009 LtCol Mark G. Schrecker
Feb 2009 – Jun 2010 LtCol Robert V. Boucher
Jun 2010 – Dec 2011 LtCol. Edward L. Jeep
Dec 2011 – Mar 2013 LtCol. Ned Biehl
Mar 2013 - Oct 2014 LtCol John "Bubba" Field
Oct 2014 – Oct 2016 LtCol Paul B. Kopacz
Oct 2016 – Present LtCol Stephen Conley
 

LAST UPDATED:  6 February, 2015

ADDITIONS, CORRECTIONS, COMMENTS
PLEASE ADVISE THE SLJNCO

CONTRIBUTORS AND EDITORS OF THIS PAGE INCLUDE:

Dean Cohoon, former Sgt. USMC
W.C. (DAD) Watson, Colonel  USMC(Ret)
"THE PURPLE FOX CRUISE BOOK '65 - '66"
Larry W. "Slick" Britton, LtCol USMC(Ret)
Michael W. Leitner, former Sgt. USMC

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