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Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263
VMM-263 Unit Logo
Marine Aircraft Group 26
MCAS New River, NC


Lieutenant Colonel Sean F. Rafferty
VMM-263 Commanding Officer

Lieutenant Colonel Rafferty is a native of New Jersey.  After graduating from The Citadel, he was

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Major Kristoffer P. Ljunggren
VMM-263 Executive Officer

Major Ljunggren hails from Austin, Texas. He attended Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

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Sergeant Major Justin M. Crawn
VMM-263 Command Senior Enlisted Leader

Sergeant Major Justin M. Crawn is a native of Hampton Township, New Jersey. He entered the Marine

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Support the MAGTF Commander by providing assault support transport of combat troops, supplies and equipment, day or night, under all weather conditions during expeditionary, joint, or combined operations.


Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263
PSC Box 21025
Jacksonville, NC 28545-1025

Commercial: (910) 449-6000
DSN: 752-6000


New River Voter Registration Program

Voting Assistance Officer
 Capt. Sean Dzierzanowski
(910) 449-5947


Press 3 then 8


LT Brandon Hood
(910) 449-7180


Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 was activated initially as Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron (HMR) 263 on 16 June 1952 and was outfitted with HO-5S helicopters. For its first two years of operations, the squadron was home based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. During these early months the squadron was occupied in proficiency training, which contributed to the growing body of knowledge of rotary wing aircraft and their employment and ultimately became the basis for the doctrine of vertical envelopment then being developed by the Marine Corps.

On 7 July 1954, HMR-263 relocated to Marine Corps Air Facility New River, North Carolina, where it remained home based for the next eleven years. During this time the squadron participated in over fifteen major exercises and deployments including disaster relief in Tampico, Mexico (Oct 1955) and operations from the submarine USS SEA LION (Mar 1956). During December 1956 the squadron was redesignated HMR(L) 263 and reequipped with new HOK-1 helicopters. Six Caribbean deployments and numerous local training exercises ensued. During February 1962, the squadron was reequipped with the HUS-1 (UH-34) helicopter. In October 1962, HMM-263 was deployed to the Caribbean when the United States initiated a large-scale response to the Soviet Union’s deployment of ICBMs to Cuba. In June 1964, the squadron was a participant in Exercise STEEL PIKE off the coast of Spain, then the largest amphibious exercise since World War II.

During April and May 1965, HMM-263 was deployed to the Dominican Republic in support of the United States’ assistance operations there. On 23 August 1965, HMM-263 was transferred to the Far East and placed under control of the First Marine Aircraft Wing. On 11 October 1965, the squadron moved from Futenma, Okinawa to Marble Mountain Air Facility, Vietnam. For the next two years HMM-263 served in Vietnam participating in over twenty-four named combat operations.

During November 1967, HMM-263 was transferred to Santa Ana, California where it was reequipped with CH-46D helicopters before redeploying to Vietnam in January 1969. The squadron remained in Vietnam until April 1971 and then transferred to Marine Corps Air Station, Quantico, Virginia and began flying the CH-46F helicopter. The four years in Vietnam earned the squadron numerous unit awards and a reputation as a hardworking, can-do unit. HMM-263 remained home based at Quantico for four years and participated in several cold weather exercises, two Mediterranean cruises, and one Caribbean deployment in addition to numerous smaller training exercises.

During August 1975, HMM-263 relocated to Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina. While home based at New River, the squadron completed the transition to the CH-46E helicopter over the summer of 1980. For the next seventeen years the squadron deployed in four major NATO exercises, made six Mediterranean cruises, and deployed on Goodwill cruises to Africa, South America and the Caribbean. During the squadron's NATO/Landing Force Sixth Fleet 2-84 deployment, it participated in Exercise TEAMWORK ‘84 in Norway and then served with the Commander Joint Task Force Lebanon in support of Marine Security Forces ashore in Beirut. The squadron first served in Lebanon from October 1982 until March 1983, then again from April 1984 until August 1984.

During the LF6F 1-86 deployment the squadron served as the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) of the 26TH Marine Amphibious Unit, the first Special Operation Capable MAU, which operated in support of Combined Task Force - 60 during operations in Libya. HMM-263 deployed in May 1987 as the ACE for the 24TH MAU during LF6F 3-87. Contingency operations in the Persian Gulf necessitated splitting the squadron into three sections, operating from CONUS, the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. While deployed, squadron aircraft participated in the seizure of the Iranian mine laying ship "Iran Ajar".

In August 1990 the squadron again found itself headed for the Persian Gulf region. As a part of the 4TH Marine Expeditionary Brigade, HMM-263 was quick to respond to the aggression of Iraq against its Kuwaiti neighbors. Squadron aircraft flew countless hours in support of the amphibious task force, participated in numerous amphibious assault exercises, and conducted a flawless Non-combatant Evacuation Operation of the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia. The squadron also assisted in the interdiction of two Iraqi vessels in support of the United Nations mandated embargo of Iraq. In March 1993, the squadron was called upon to support a USCENTCOM deployment to Somalia participating in Operations RESTORE HOPE and CONTINUE HOPE.

During its Landing Force Sixth Fleet 2-95 deployment, the squadron deployed aboard the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) as the ACE for the 24th MEU(SOC). During this deployment, the squadron participated in six largescale, multinational exercises while providing Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) support for NATO operations DENY FLIGHT and PROVIDE PROMISE in the Adriatic Sea. The squadron distinguished itself by conducting the successful TRAP rescue mission of Air Force pilot Captain Scott O'Grady on 8 June 1995. In July 1996 the squadron was selected as the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s "Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron of the Year" for its efforts during LF6F 2-95.

Continuing to support the Marine Corps’ Air-Ground team and Joint/Combined forces in a variety of operations and exercises, in 1997 HMM-263 went on an LF6F deployment, providing a U.S. presence in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea, as well as participating in operation JOINT GUARD in the Adriatic Sea, and operation SOUTHERN WATCH in the Arabian Gulf. During its deployment in 2000, HMM-263 flew 3780.1 flight hours in support of the 24TH MEU(SOC) from Spain to the Ukraine and Israel. "IN EVERY CLIME AND PLACE" is a phrase that the "Thunder Chicken" team considers the norm.

During deployment as the ACE for the 24TH MEU(SOC), LF6F 3-02, the squadron broke new ground for the Marine Corps in operational support and force integration. Becoming the first squadron to deploy with a Reserve CH-53E detachment, HMM-263 (REIN) led the way in the “Total Force” concept of the Marine Corps. During the nine-month deployment, the “Thunder Chickens” flew an unprecedented 9568 hours and participated in Operation DYNAMIC RESPONSE in Kosovo, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in the Horn of Africa, Exercise IMAGE NAUTILUS in Djibouti, Exercise EDGED MALLET in Kenya, Exercise Iron Magic in U.A.E, and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM in and around Baghdad, Tikrit, and Al Kut, Iraq. From KFOR to JTF-HOA and combat in Iraq, the Marines of HMM-263 continue recording “firsts” in Marine Corps history.

In June and July 2004, HMM-263 (REIN) deployed on the USS Kearsarge as the ACE for the 24th MEU’s short notice deployment in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 2-1, 2-2, and 3-1. During the deployment, the squadron was based at Al Taqqadum Air Base, Iraq. As a helicopter-only composite ACE, they once again engaged in support of combat operations. While participating in Operations like AL FAJR, CITADEL II, RIVERWALK, and PLYMOUTH ROCK, HMM-263 (REIN) totaled 7,472.5 combat flight hours, of which an amazing 4,664.9 hours were on NVG’s. During this tour, the squadron executed the first all-Iraqi heliborne assault in support of the newly created Iraqi Security Forces, adding once again to the lengthy list of firsts the squadron has accomplished. The squadron re-deployed in February of 2005 with only seven CH-46E’s in anticipation of the transition to the MV-22.

Upon return to CONUS, the squadron redistributed three more CH-46E’s and still participated in exercises and public relations events. In May of 2005, HMM-263, along with the 24th MEU, participated in Fleet Week in New York city. The squadron and its Marines were highlighted by numerous public events and television broadcasts. On 3 June 2005, HMM-263 stood down and entered a training phase in order to prepare for the transition to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM-263), the first operational MV-22 squadron in the fleet. On 3 March 2006, the squadron was redesignated as Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263.

Upon return from Iraq, in September 2008, VMM-263 became the first MV-22B composite ACE to deploy on a Marine Expeditionary Unit. Operations with the 22nd MEU included 5th and 6th fleet support and exercises in Jordan, Greece, Spain, Pakistan, Djibouti, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Egypt. In November 2009, VMM-263 (REIN) flew the first Ospreys into Afghanistan for turnover with VMM-261 at Camp Bastion in the Helmand Province.

In January 2011, VMM-263 (REIN) composited as the ACE for the 22nd MEU and deployed in April 2011, three months ahead of schedule and with a truncated pre-deployment training program. While deployed, they supported Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, Operation ODYSSEY GUARD, contingency operations in Central Command, and theater security cooperation in both 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility. After more than 10-months deployed, the squadron returned to North Carolina in February 2012.

The Squadron later deployed on the 22d MEU in February of 2014 as part of the ACE. During the deployment, the ACE participated in Exercise PHIBLEX in Spain, bilateral training with Israeli military forces, re-supply flights out of Morocco, and bi-lateral training in Djibouti with the French Air Force Mirage aircraft. The ACE also participated in the French L’Ecole de Feu Fire Officer’s Course, exercise Eager Lion in Jordan, and conducted operations in Iraq and Kuwait. In September, VMM-263 (REIN) was tasked to reinforce the embassy in Iraq. During the deployment, VMM-263 became the first MV-22 squadron to land on Israeli soil and conducted the longest blue-water MV-22 flight to date.

In February of 2016, VMM-263 deployed with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 16.1 (SPMAGTF 16.1) as the ACE in support of contingency operations in Northern Africa until August of 2016. During the deployment, the squadron conducted bi-lateral training with numerous countries to include France, Portugal, Spain, England, Morocco, Bulgaria, and Romania. Exercises included African Lion in Morocco, Assault Support training for Platinum Lion in Bulgaria and Romania, and Exercise Homesite in Spain. The squadron also conducted an amphibious exercise with the Spanish Navy and Marine Corps.

Another first for VMM-263 was the Trans-Atlantic flight along the southern route of the Atlantic Ocean through Bermuda en-route to SPMAGTF-18.2 in Moron, Spain. By becoming the first MV-22 squadron to complete this flight, VMM-263 paved the way for a new route across the Atlantic, providing flexibility for military planners during the harsh North-Atlantic winters. During SPMAGTF 18.2, VMM-263 stood alert in support of multiple operations in Northern Africa, participated in numerous training evolutions in Spain, Italy, and Greece, and conducted casualty evacuations for U.S. Naval Vessels throughout the Mediterranean Sea. VMM-263 returned to North Carolina in October of 2018.

In May of 2020, amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, VMM-263 deployed to Moron, Spain as the ACE for 22nd MEU in support of SPMAGTF-CR-AF-20.2. Due to a quickly developing situation on the African continent, the squadron underwent an early Transfer of Authority (TOA) with VMM-774, and immediately stood the Crisis Response-Africa watch. In total, the squadron supported four real-world crisis response operations in theatre. The “Thunder Chickens” also participated in combined training at the Spanish Tactical Leadership Program (TLP), Rescue Mission Commander’s (RMC) course in Albacete, Spain and conducted multiple Trans-Mediterranean flights to Sigonella, Italy and back. Additional highlights on deployment included long-range, Low Attitude Tactics (LAT), Air-to-Air (AA) missions with the squadron’s KC-130 detachment from VMGR-252 in the French Alps and Joint Training with the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Airborne (IBCT(A)) for exercise Sabre Junction 2020 in Grafenwöehr, Germany. The “Thunder Chickens” were the first MV-22 squadron to participate in this large-scale Army exercise. In October of 2020, the squadron returned home to MCAS New River.

In September 2021, VMM-263 (REIN) attached to the 22nd MEU as the ACE and deployed in March 2022, A series of four major pre-deployment training plan events would see the squadron embark on three separate occasions with the USS Kearsarge, USS Arlington, and USS Gunston Hall. The squadron set sail for the 6th Fleet’s AOR only weeks after the historic Russian invasion of Ukraine. Over the following six months of intensifying combat operations in Eastern Europe, VMM-263 (REIN) would regularly operate near Russian territory and have dozens of encounters with Russian aircraft, surface vessels, and submarines during a tense and uncertain period of European geopolitics. Battling adverse weather and cold temperatures, the MEU was the first in the North Atlantic in recent history. While deployed VMM-263 (REIN) supported Operation NEPTUNE SHIELD, and Exercises Alexander the Great in Greece and African Lion. After 8 months deployed, the squadron returned to North Carolina in October 2022.


2nd Marine Aircraft Wing