MARINE CORPS AIR STATION KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii -- The oldest flying squadron of Marine Aircraft Group 24, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 (HMH-463), “Pegasus,” cased its colors and deactivated during a ceremony here today.
HMH-463 first activated July 20, 1944, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina as Marine Bombing Squadron 463. Since the original activation, the squadron has operated on both coasts of the continental United States and in Hawaii. It has also served in all three of the Marine Corps’ Marine Aircraft Wings. After three deactivations, the last occurring on June 30, 1959, the Squadron has remained active since March 1, 1966. In 1971, HMH-463 relocated to Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Since then, and for the last 51 years, it has provided unparalleled aviation support to Marine ground forces, the joint force, and allies and partners throughout the Pacific.
“Marines, sailors, families, and alumni of Pegasus, tonight is about you and what you’ve been able to accomplish,” said Col. Brian T. Koch, commanding officer, Marine Aircraft Group 24. “What you’ve demonstrated over the past two years with the deactivation on the horizon, operating day in and day out and seeing what you were able to accomplish is truly amazing.”
Pegasus has fought in every clime and place from Vietnam and Cambodia to Saudi Arabia during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom; and Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Most recently, the squadron returned from a 9-month rotation with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, based out of Japan, in May 2021.
“When you think of every clime and place, you must think of the Marines and Sailors of Pegasus,” said Maj. Gen. Brian W. Cavanaugh, commanding general, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. “During my time in 1st MAW, which spans across three decades, I've witnessed HMH-463 operate across the entirety of the range of military operations."
HMH-463's honors include the Presidential Unit Citation Streamer, Navy Unit Commendation Streamer with three bronze stars, Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer with one silver and two bronze stars, World War II Victory Streamer, National Defense Service Streamer with two bronze stars, Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer, Vietnam Service Streamer with two silver and one bronze star, Southwest Asia Service Streamer with two bronze stars, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Streamer, and the Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Civil Actions Streamer.
At the ceremony, Lt. Col. Kelly B. Allen, commanding officer, HMH-463, addressed the audience, “While our time here at Pegasus may be coming to an end, the bonds, memories, and achievements that we have live forever. Be proud of everything we’ve done, because I know the Marine Corps is.”
The squadron is deactivating in accordance with Force Design 2030, the Marine Corps’ current modernization effort to build a lighter, more lethal force to compete, deter, and fight in contested maritime spaces. The deactivation sees 12 Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters departing Hawaii for other aviation units across the Corps.
Going forward, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing will continue to evolve to be ready to “fight now” as part of III Marine Expeditionary Force. This implementation shows the Marine Corps' continued effort to uphold the Marines’ capability to improvise, adapt, and overcome in order to continue fighting and winning on the battlefields of the future, should the need arise.