MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. -- As the final hours of the day passed on the flight line, Marines stowed supplies, logged aircraft records, and stood in formation for the last time as members of Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron 467 at Marine Corps air Station New River at June 16.
“When 467 gets called upon again, they’re going to have to pry these colors from my cold, dead hands and I’m going to get to come out and pass these off to the next great leader of this squadron,” said Lt. Col. Moore, the commanding officer of HMLA-467, as he addressed the Marines before securing for the day.
HMLA-467, known as the Sabers, was activated in October 2008 to form up in support of the global war on terror. After eight years and many missions, the Marines and sailors with the squadron marched past family and friends before the final dismissal command was received during the deactivation of the squadron.
“I remember, we were a group of about six officers and four enlisted back in ’08 and they came to us and said that we were going to be a squadron in four months,” said Maj. Lee Hemming, an aircraft maintenance officer with the squadron. “We started from the ground up.”
Hemming says that the squadron was formed to help build and maintain the mission capacity on the east coast and to provide support in the global war on terror.
“As the squadron grew and came together and built up its own capabilities, we were ready to leave the nest,” Moore said. “We became self-sustaining by 2010 and we were ready to go wherever they sent us.”
The squadron has operated in many theaters, to include supporting Unit Deployment Programs, attachment to Marine Expeditionary Units, and serving a successful tour in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2014.
“We actually had troops take contact on our very first day in theater,” Hemming said, recalling the squadron’s deployment during OEF. “It was a testament that regardless of our experience at the time, we worked a lot of long and hard hours and we were professional and successful because of it.”
As an HMLA in Afghanistan, the unit fulfilled a broad spectrum of roles to include attack and support roles for the troops on the ground.
“If the ground troops come across direct fire from the enemy, but they cannot make it to them and they feel their safety is in jeopardy, they’ll call us to provide close-air support,” said Gunnery Sgt. Charles Skibo, the flight line chief and quality assurance chief with the squadron. “We can reach out and touch the enemy that they can’t.”
Hemming says that the squadron executed exactly what it was supposed to do and served as an expeditionary unit, executing contingency operations around the clock.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to see colors cased and to see it happen here, it was emotional for me,” Hemming said.
In the days to come, most of the Marines and sailors will work only a short drive from where their hangar once was, down the road at HMLA-167 and HMLA-269.
“Every Marine is an essential part of the team,” Moore said. “Innovation and adaptability played a huge part in this squadron’s success.”
Skibo, a recently retired Marine says that he’ll always be a skid guy. “I’m sure when I’m home and I look out the window and see a [UH-1 Hellicopter] or [AH-1Z Super Cobra] in the sky, it’s going to give me goosebumps,” he added.