AL ASAD, Iraq -- On their second combat deployment in as many years, the “Warriors” of Marine Light/Attack Squadron 167 decided to pay respect to the Marines who came before them and reinforce the traditions that make the squadron special.
To do this, the squadron decided to change the external markings on its helicopters to emulate those the squadron had in Vietnam. It’s a fitting tribute to a history that began in a combat environment.
Commissioned on April 1, 1968, at Marble Mountain Air Facility Vietnam, HML/A-167 was originally a Marine light helicopter squadron, because it only flew the UH-1 Huey.
In those days, the tail of the Warriors’ aircraft carried a red and black checkerboard pattern to distinguish them as property of the squadron. The logo was changed years after the war, but thanks to a couple of artistic leathernecks, it’s back.
“We’re trying to bring the history of the squadron to the Marines,” said Lt. Col. Lawrence E. Killmeier, the commanding officer of HML/A-167. “It gives our guys a little deeper appreciation for squadron history.”
That appreciation is important, he continued, because it sets a standard for the Marines to follow.
“It makes the squadron unique. Knowing the history of the unit makes you strive that much harder,” he said.
Corporals Jason P. McMillan and Cpl. Gary W. Rose, both airframes mechanics, were tasked with painting the helicopters. Like their commanding officer, the two see the value of honoring the squadron’s traditions.
“I was honored to do it,” Rose said. “It’s my way of paying respect to those in Vietnam who had it a lot harder than we do here.”
“It’s where we came from,” agreed McMillan. “Our squadron was founded in war.”
Rose and McMillan spend approximately six hours completing the artwork on each aircraft. They’ve completed six of the squadron’s nearly 20 helicopters.
“It’s a lot of work for the airframes guys,” Killmeier said. “But, they’re doing a great job.”
It’s work that hasn’t gone unnoticed. Killmeier said that many members of the squadron during the Vietnam era are excited about the newly displayed respect shown to the past.
Sergeant Maj. Mark W. Pauley, the squadron sergeant major, said tradition is what sets the Marine Corps apart, and he’s proud that despite the war and hard work, his Marines have kept that in mind.
“These Marines deserve all the credit. There’s a pride in this squadron and it all goes back to tradition,” he said. “Mission accomplishment comes before everything. But we never forget where we came from.”