LEGENDS PAST & PRESENT A lso in this i ssue : P e P DePloyment An D s AR Postu Res o n l eADeRshi P, l egen Ds , An D l egAcies Rethink mine counte RmeAsu Res B uil D exPeDition ARy As W A iR - c omBAt elements Re- i mAgining the osPRey
2023 Number 160
Naval Aviation has never been more relevant, or in demand, than it is today, and the Rotary Wing / Tilt Rotor communities play a vital role across the spectrum of warfare - providing lethality, maneuverability, and networked warfighting capabilities. The National Defense Strategy states that "the surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one." Therefore, Naval Aviation's priorities of Warfighting, People, and the Readiness of both, together with an increased and stable military budget through FY24, has positioned us well to maximize readiness and "be prepared to win."
This year's NHA Symposium theme, "Forging Legacy - Legends Past and Present,” celebrates the tremendous contributions of helicopter aviators, maintainers and support personnel to our nation and our Navy. The Rotary Force stands on the shoulders of these individuals who preceded us without a doubt. The focus of this Symposium is about storytelling and the sharing of unique experiences of NHA members (Vietnam era to present) who have had an impact upon culture and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). We learn from the past and use experience to master our warfighting craft. It is clear that forces operating both manned and unmanned rotary wing / tilt rotor aircraft, embarked in Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESGs), as well as those performing expeditionary operations around the world, will be front and center in all future conflicts.
The health of the Rotary Force is encouraging and impressive, providing Fleet commanders with an on-call capability to protect U.S. and allied capital ships, sink enemy ships and submarines, and find, identify, and engage undersea targets and mines. Our squadrons support SOF forces from bases around the world and train with vital coalition and joint partners to hone their skills and improve our interoperability and joint warfighting effectiveness. If that were not enough, the logistical support helicopters and tilt rotors provide, including SAR and CSAR, is critical to our ships and strike groups' current and future successes. The contributions that Navy rotary wing aviation provides our nation cannot be overstated. We cannot operate as a modern Navy without the vitality, lethality, and diversity of the Rotary Force.
The Department of Defense operates as a Total Force, and the Naval Aviation rotary wing is no different with Reserves at HSM-60, HSC-85, SAUs, and TSUs augmenting as vital force multipliers. Executing missions that take an incredible level of skill and experience, our reserve component capability is unquestioned and continually adds to the undeniable legacy of rotary wing aviation. Also part of that Total Force are our civilian Sailors. Navy civilians who support our community at various activities and in numerous roles. To them, we owe a debt of gratitude and like us, they also stand on the shoulders of giants who preceded them.
Today's rotary wing and unmanned rotary platforms enjoy leading-edge technologies, but it is our high level of training that provides the asymmetric advantage in combat. Regardless of how capable our equipment and the equipment of our adversaries, experience teaches us that highly trained warfighters win in combat. As Naval Aviators, we also understand that in combat, we do not rise to the level of our expectations. Rather, we fall to the level of our training. Therefore, we owe it to our Aircrew and Sailors that they receive the best and most realistic training possible.
I encourage you to engage with our industry partners at Symposium. Challenge them to improve the equipment we currently have and to incorporate technology into future designs that enhance mission success. New technology should be operationally effective, provide improved lethality, be totally interoperable with existing CSG and ESG systems, and easy to use and maintain. Our Naval Aviation Enterprise relies on the ingenuity of Fleet operators and the creativity of the private sector to transition great ideas into warfighting reality
Enjoy Symposium and bring your hard questions to the Flag Panel!
We Fly, We Fight, We Lead, We Win!
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy
Symposium - from
the Air Boss
About the cover: The Warlords of HSM51 and Golden Falcons of HSC-12, both stationed at NAF Atsugi, Japan as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF) conducting a formation flight for a USNA Spirit Spot for the 2022 ARMY NAVY Football Game. Photo by: MC2
Ange Olivier Clement
Rotor Review (ISSN: 1085-9683) is published quarterly by the Naval Helicopter Association, Inc. (NHA), a California nonprofit 501(c)(6) corporation. NHA is located in Building 654, Rogers Road, NASNI, San Diego, CA 92135. Views expressed in Rotor Review are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the policies of NHA or United States Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. Rotor Review is printed in the USA. Periodical rate postage is paid at San Diego, CA. Subscription to Rotor Review is included in the NHA or corporate membership fee. A current corporation annual report, prepared in accordance with Section 8321 of the California Corporation Code, is available on the NHA Website at www. navalhelicopterassn.org.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Naval Helicopter Association, P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578.
Rotor Review supports the goals of the association, provides a forum for discussion and exchange of information on topics of interest to the Rotary Force and keeps membership informed of NHA activities. As necessary, the President of NHA will provide guidance to the Rotor Review Editorial Board to ensure Rotor Review content continues to support this statement of policy as the Naval Helicopter Association adjusts to the expanding and evolving Rotary Wing and Tilt Rotor Communities .
FOCUS: Forging Legacy - Legends Past & Present
The Legacy of the Navy’s Helo Master Plan, Circa Early 2000’s.........................................24
By VADM Dean Peters, USN
Radio Check - Legends...................................................................................................................26
The 1986 Gander Medevac.........................................................................................................30
By RADM Steve Tomaszeski, USN (Ret.) and CDR Roy Resavage, USN (Ret.)
Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company, Celebrates 100 Years of Innovation..................34 Forging a Legacy of Naval Helicopter Capability
By Shawn Malone, Strategy and Business Development Principal Analyst for Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company
A Long Way, and Not So Long Ago.............................................................................................44
By CAPT Joellen Drag Oslund, USN (Ret.)
Fly to Fight, Fight to Win ..............................................................................................................46
By LCDR Robert E. Swain III, USN
CAPT Joellen Drag Oslund: Paving the Way for Female Aviators.........................................52
By LT Elisha Clark, USN
Build Expeditionary ASW Air - Combat Elements.....................................................................56
By CDR Matt Wright, USN and CDR Jamie Powers, USN
Re-imagining the Osprey: The Impact of the CMV-22B Osprey on the United States Navy............................................................................................................60
By Robbin Laird
Rethink Mine Countermeasures - A Get Real Get Better Approach................................62
By CDR Nick “TRON” Schnettler, USN and LT Charlie “Handy Man” Thomas, USN
PEP Part 5 - PEP Deployment & SAR Postures.......................................................................64
By LCDR Randy Perkins, USN
Read Rotor Review on your Mobile Device
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Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 2
Executive Director's View.........................................................................................................8
Vice President of Membership Report.................................................................................10
From the Editor-in-Chief........................................................................................................12
On Leadership .........................................................................................................................14
On Legacies and Legends By VADM Jeffrey W. Hughes, USN
We Have the Potential to Be Legendary By CAPT Chris “Jean-Luc” Richard, USN
NHA J.O. President Update....................................................................................................17
Scholarship Fund Update ......................................................................................................18
View from the Labs ...............................................................................................................22
By CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
Industry and Technology........................................................................................................68
Time for the Navy To Set a Clear Course for Rotorcraft Modernization
By Carl Forsling and Chris Misner; Senior Managers at Bell
Change of Command..............................................................................................................70
Mules and War Bears By LCDR Brian "Frommers" Strong, USN
Book Review: Helicopter Heroine by Charles Morgan Evans
Movie Review: Devotion
Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
LT Annie "Frizzle" Cutchen, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
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©2023 Naval Helicopter Association, Inc., all rights reserved
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Chairman’s Brief .......................................................................................................................6 National President's Message.................................................................................................7
Thank You to Our Corporate Members - Your Support Keeps Our Rotors Turning
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Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 4
Gold SupporterS executive SupporterS
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Naval Helicopter Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578 - (619) 435-7139
President....................................CDR Emily Stellpflug, USN
Vice President ........................................CDR Eli Owre, USN
Executive Director...............CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
Business Development..............................Ms. Linda Vydra
Managing Editor, Rotor Review .......Ms. Allyson Darroch
Retired Affairs ..................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Legal Advisor...............CDR George Hurley, Jr., USN (Ret.)
VP Corp. Membership..........CAPT Tres Dehay, USN (Ret.)
VP Awards.................................CDR Philip Pretzinger, USN
VP Membership ...............................LCDR James Teal, USN
VP Symposium 2023 .............................CDR Eli Owre, USN
Secretary..........................................LT Jimmy Gavidia, USN
NHA Branding and Gear...............LT Shaun Florance USN
Senior HSM Advisor.............AWRCM Nathan Hickey, USN
Senior HSC Advisor..................AWSCM Shane Gibbs, USN
Senior VRM Advisor........AWFCM Jose Colon-Torres, USN
Directors at Large
Chairman...............................RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Gene Ager, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Chuck Deitchman, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Dennis DuBard, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Tony Dzielski, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Greg Hoffman, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Mario Mifsud, USN (Ret)*
CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Matt Schnappauf, USN (Ret.)*
LT Alden Marton, USN*
AWRCM Nathan Hickey, USN*
*Also serving as Scholarship Fund Board Members
Junior Officers Council
Nat’l Pres............................ LT Alden "CaSPR" Marton, USN
Region 1........................LT Ryan "Shaggy" Rodriguez, USN
Region 2 ......................................LT Rob "JORTS" Platt, USN
Region 3 ..............LT Harrison "Dusty Bottoms" Pyle, USN
Region 4 ................................LT Rochelle "PG" Balum, USN
Region 5................................LT Chris "BOTOX" Stuller, USN
Region 6....................................LT Robert "DB" Macko, USN
NHA Scholarship Fund
President .............................CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)
Executive VP/ VP Ops ...CAPT Todd Vandegrift, USN (Ret.)
VP Plans................................................CAPT Jon Kline, USN
VP Scholarships ..............................Ms. Nancy Ruttenberg
VP Finance ...................................CDR Greg Knutson, USN
Treasurer........................................................Ms. Jen Swasey
Webmaster........................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Social Media .............................................................VACANT
CFC/Special Projects ...............................................VACANT
Region 1 - San Diego
Directors ......................................CAPT Chris Richard, USN
CAPT Ed Weiler, USN
CAPT Justin McCaffree, USN
CAPT Nathan Rodenbarger, USN
President ............................ CDR Dave Vogelgesang, USN
Region 2 - Washington D.C.
Director ........................................ CAPT Andy Berner, USN
President ...........................................CDR Tony Perez, USN
Co-President.................................CDR Pat Jeck, USN (Ret.)
Region 3 - Jacksonville
Director...................................CAPT Teague Laguens, USN
President........................................CDR Dave Bizzarri, USN
Region 4 - Norfolk
Director...................,........................CAPT Ed Johnson, USN President ............................ CDR Santico Valenzuela, USN
Region 5 - Pensacola
Director ...........................................CAPT Jade Lepke, USN President .........................................CDR Annie Otten, USN '23 Fleet Fly-In Coordinator...............LT Chris Stuller, USN
Region 6 - OCONUS
Director ...........................................CAPT Mike O'Neil, USN President ....................CDR M. E. Kawika Chang, USN
NHA Historical Society (NHAHS)
President............................CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.)
VP/Webmaster..................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Secretary................................LCDR Brian Miller, USN (Ret.)
Treasurer...........................CDR Chris Fitzgerald, USN (Ret.)
S.D. Air & Space Museum.....CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
NHAHS Committee Members
CAPT Dennis DuBard, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mike Reber, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Jim O’Brien, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Curtis Shaub, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mike O’Connor, USN (Ret.)
CDR John Ball, USN (Ret.)
CDR Chris Fitzgerald, USN (Ret.)
CDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
Master Chief Dave Crossan, USN (Ret.)
CDR D.J. Hayes, USN (Ret.)
C.B. Smiley, USN (Ret.)
J.M. Purtell, USN (Ret.)
H.V. Pepper, USN (Ret.)
CAPT A.E. Monahan, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mark R. Starr, USN (Ret.)
CAPT A.F. Emig, USN (Ret.) Mr. H. Nachlin
CDR H.F. McLinden, USN (Ret.)
W. Straight, USN (Ret.)
P.W. Nicholas, USN (Ret.)
Navy Helicopter Association Founders
NHA Symposium 2023
By RADM D.H. “Dano” Fillion, USN (Ret.)
his book, "The SOUL of a Team," NFL Hall of Fame, Super Bowl winning Coach Tony Dungey is asked to help a friend figure out why the fictional Orlando Vipers are not performing to the level that everyone believes the team should be reaching. Excerpt from The SOUL of a Team: “After meeting with the coaching staff and observing the team throughout the off-season, Tony quickly realizes the problem: The Vipers lack ‘SOUL.’”
InRelax, I am not going to deliver a sermon here, but I could! Coach Dungey defines the acronym “SOUL” as Selflessness, Ownership, Unity, and Larger Purpose.
The theme of this year’s National Symposium is “Forging Legacy - Legends Past and Present.” The women and men we as the membership of NHA will hear from by sharing their respective stories will epitomize the tenants that Coach Dungey describes in his book as the absolute pillars required to build a successful team! We, the current membership of NHA both active and retired, have all in some way benefited from the accomplishments of our past legends and are seeing first hand how the rotary wing current leaders are Forging a Legacy for the entire Rotary wing component of the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). The membership, comprised of our pilots, AWR/S/F’s, our amazing maintainers / support teams / industry partners, and retired Legends (all in our own minds) have in some way over the years contributed to building a team with SOUL!!!
"Forging Legacy - Legends Past and Present” is a theme for Symposium that we have never explored with this much granularity and focus. It promises to be interesting, entertaining and inspiring for sure. See you there and if you can't be with us at Harrah's, then watch our Facebook Live page so you won’t miss any of our Legends Past and Present; bring your SOUL!!!
As always, I am, V/r and CNJI (Committed Not Just Involved), Dano
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 6 Chairman’s Brief
“Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”
President Abraham Lincoln
By CDR Emily “ABE” Stellpflug, USN
Irecently had the privilege of hosting CAPT Joellen Drag Oslund, USNR (Ret.) and her husband, CAPT Dwayne Oslund, USN (Ret.), at VRM-50 for our Women’s History Month Celebration. CAPT Oslund was one of the first six women enrolled in Naval flight training as part of an “experiment” in 1973 and the FIRST woman helicopter pilot! Her bravery and fortitude proved that women are capable of being aviators and challenged law that prevented women from landing on or serving aboard Naval vessels.
In 1978, her efforts opened the door to shipboard duty for women. Her husband provided critical support and allyship along a difficult path as she was doubted by many along the way. Their story is remarkable and has had long-lasting impacts to where we are today as a rotary force and greater Naval Aviation Enterprise. We are thrilled to have CAPT Oslund attending this year’s NHA Symposium as the speaker at Friday’s breakfast— Celebrating 50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation.
This year marks many important milestones, 100 Year Sikorsky Aircraft Co. Anniversary, 80 Years of Sikorsky Helicopters, and 50 years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation, all of which were part of the inspiration for the theme for our NHA Symposium: "Forging Legacy—Legends Past and Present." The NHA Symposium will be packed with legends from Vietnam era and beyond as well as present leaders who are forging the path for the future of Naval Aviation.
The following are some key events:
• Annual Golf Tournament
• Members’ Reunion
• Flight Suit Social
• “The Challenge” – a physical fitness team competition
• Keynote Speaker – CDR “Willy” Driscoll, USN (Ret.), a Vietnam Ace
• Past Legends Panel – featuring rotary legends of our past
• Forging Legacy Panel – featuring rotary leaders of today and the future
• Breakfast Celebrating 50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation
• JO Call with Air Boss
• Captains of Industry Panel
• Commodore / CAG Panel
• Flag Panel
Please make your room reservations and register now! We look forward to seeing you at Harrah’s for a phenomenal Symposium!
V/R ABE, NHA Lifetime Member #481
National President's Message
2023 NHA National Symposium “Forging Legacy - Legends Past and Present”
By CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
Itseems appropriate that the JOs and Aircrew have anchored in on this as the theme for the 2023 NHA National Symposium. We have all benefited from the legends who preceded us and are better for it. To say that we “stand on their shoulders” is a wonderful acknowledgement. This Symposium is a chance to reconnect with community legends, recognize them for leading the way, and say thank you.
Every day, I am privileged to interact with active duty and retired members of the Rotary Wing / Tilt Rotor Community – pilots, aircrewmen, and maintainers, all of whom are past and present legends among us. The legends I am talking about are all those folks who took each of us to sea: Detachment LPOs, Det CPOs, Det HACs, and Det OICs who guided, shaped, mentored, and forged who we are as leaders and aviators.
In fact, there are several legends from my first two detachments who proved foundational in my Navy career – these individuals shaped me as a Naval Officer and Aviator. Their mentorship and example enabled me to excel first as a Detachment Admin / Operations / Aircrew DIVO and then as a DETMO. I owe a debt of gratitude to these following legends:
• HSL-37 Det1C OIC, LCDR Dick Sears, & Det Chief, AECS Shotwell
• HSL-37 Det 4 OIC, LCDR Jack Coyne, & Det Chief, ADC Lanny Cornell
And you might say that NHA is forging its own legacy by single siting the Annual Symposium at Harrah’s Resort for 2023, 2024, and 2025. We have a lot in store for you so REGISTER and MAKE YOUR ROOM RESERVATIONS. Milestones we will be celebrating include:
• 50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation
• 55 Year Anniversary of the Clyde Lassen Medal of Honor Rescue
• 80 Years of Sikorsky Helicopters
• 100 Years of Sikorsky Aircraft
Additionally, NHA is returning to a printed Rotor Review Magazine for those who want it. The catch is that every member needs to update their magazine preference, mailing address, and region. Otherwise, you will continue to default to an electronic copy. I hope you enjoy reading some truly great columns in the Pre-Symposium Issue of Rotor Review that include:
• “On Leadership Column” by VADM Jeff Hughes, USN
• “The Legacy of the Navy’s Helo Master Plan” by VADM Dean Peters, USN (Ret.)
• “The 1986 Gander MEDEVAC” by RADM Steve Tomaszeski, USN (Ret.)
• “Commodore’s Corner” by CAPT Chris Richard, USN
• “Sikorsky Celebrates 100 Years of Innovation” by CAPT Shawn Malone, USN (Ret.)
IN CLOSING, WE ARE A RELATIONSHIP ORGANIZATION. Meaning that the relationships we make at the squadron and aboard ship on deployment are lifelong, enriching, and purposeful. These same relationships continue downstream and remain powerful in our military careers, as well as when we transition to our next adventure outside of the service. We look after one another and pay it forward continuously. This is why we are members of our professional organization. And this is why we gather once a year at Symposium.
So, please keep your membership profile up to date. If you should need any assistance at all, give us a call at (619) 435-7139 and we will be happy to help – you will get Linda, Mike, Allyson, or myself.
Warm regards with high hopes, Jim Gillcrist.
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 8 Executive Director’s View
Every Member Counts / Stronger Together
LT Madalyn Thompson, USN / HSM-41 LTM #712
CAPT Bob Doane, USN (Ret.) LTM #696
LCDR Brittany Nelms, USN / HSM-75 LTM #235
LT Elias Ney, USN / HSM-49 LTM #710
LT Zoe MacFarlane, USN / HSC-3 LTM #693
LT Gabby Feldman, USN / HSM-49 LTM #646
Congratulations and Thank You to our Newest Lifetime Members!
Whiting Field: The Past and the Present
By LCDR Bill "WYLD Bill" Teal, USN
I’mblessed to work with the future of Naval Aviation everyday at South Whiting Field. And with the arrival of the TH-73 Thrasher, I get a front row seat to forging a new legacy of Helicopter Aviation. But even with all of that, I’m very excited for this issue to learn about all the legends who have impacted our community over the years. I’m also excited to learn about some of the living legends among us shaping the future.
When I think of someone who is a legend in a sport or field, it is not just for his or her talents. A true legend is someone who leaves an impact past his or her time on the field or in the cockpit. They make a change to the sport or community that is undeniable. A true legend reinvents the sport or creates such a cultural shift that the “old-way” just can’t compete anymore.
I know each and every one of you reading this is the "best pilot" the Navy has seen since Chuck Yeager. But, if it’s been a hot minute since you’ve wiggled the sticks, or your AFCS OFF approach can be confused for FAM 2 at Spencer Field, fear not, you too can be a legend. You can leave a lasting legacy on the community by strengthening its reach. Encourage your wardroom to join, talk to your former Naval Helicopter Aviator co-workers - encourage them to join. Tell those Osprey pilots that they landed vertically and they should join too, I mean after all, everyone was once that FAM 2 at Spencer.
Your Legacy is to continue to spread the fellowship that can be found in NHA. We are 3,000 members strong and growing. Captain Gillcrist signs off every column, “We are stronger together and every member counts.” And he hit the nail on the head. Help build our legacy by reaching out to those old squadron mates and encouraging them to join. And seriously, if your approaches can be confused with a FAM 2, reach out to me and let’s see what we can do for you!
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 10 VP of membership Report
Forging Legacy - Legends Past & Present
By LT Annie "Frizzle" Cutchen, USN
The Naval Helicopter Association team developed what has already been proven to be a wonderful theme for symposium 2023. “Forging Legacy—Legends Past and Present” has resulted in so many truly inspiring submissions for this issue of Rotor Review. Even ten years ago, I don’t know that we would have the buy-in from leaders outside of the community that we do today.
So, how did we get here? We got here because of the legends that paved the way for us and continue to grow our sphere of influence and legacy through the involvement of the readership. This year marks many milestones for Naval Aviation, including the 100-year anniversary of Sikorsky Aircraft Co., 80 years of Sikorsky Helicopters, and 50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation.
Celebrating 50 years of women flying in Naval aviation feels particularly meaningful to me. When I joined the Navy in 2014 (not all that long ago), there were career women pilots still on active duty who had no choice in the aircraft they flew based on the combat restrictions imposed on them. This was shocking to me. Now I go to events like the NHA Symposium, look around the room, and there are people that look like me. They are not just in the crowd, but on the panels and in leadership positions. We have come so far and are still growing.
We were fortunate enough to have CAPT Joellen Drag Oslund author an article in this issue about the first few women helicopter pilots and some of the trials and tribulations they faced. How incredible to have one of the women who made history speak to this community on such a personal level. Additionally, CAPT Oslund was kind enough to take the time to be interviewed by LT Elisha “Grudge” Clark. Grudge wrote up the interview in a way that truly tells the story of CAPT Oslund’s personal journey. I look forward to highlighting more incredible legends in future issues this year to continue to celebrate this milestone.
I hope to see you all at Harrah’s for NHA Symposium this May and continue to learn and grow through our interactions and learn about the growing legacy that is Naval Rotary Wing Aviation.
V/r, LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 12 From the Editor-in-Chief
Letters to the Editors
It is always great to hear from our membership! We need your input to ensure that Rotor Review keeps you informed, connected, and entertained. We maintain many open channels to contact the magazine staff for feedback, suggestions, praise, complaints or publishing corrections. Please advise us if you do not wish to have your input published in the magazine. Your anonymity will be respected. Post comments on the NHA Facebook Page or send an email to the Editor-in-Chief. Her email is email@example.com, or to the Managing Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can use snail mail too. Rotor Review’s mailing address is: Letters to the Editor, c/o Naval Helicopter Association, Inc., P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578.
Tell Us What You Think!
The Rotor Review team will be keeping an ear to the ground at Symposium to develop a theme for our next issue (#161) that reflects what our NHA members are passionate about. Symposium brings many thought provoking and informative events, opportunity for mentorship, a chance to connect with friends and colleagues from the past, and quite a bit of fun.
What was the most impactful event at NHA Symposium and why? What new connections did you make?
With the theme “Forging Legacy–Legends Past and Present” in mind, what legacy has already been forged in Naval Aviation or your respective community? What is the legacy we are still forging? Are we on the right track or is there opportunity for a course correction?
We want to hear from you! Please send your responses to the Rotor Review Editor-in-Chief at the email address listed below.
V/r, LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen Editor-in-Chief, Rotor Review email@example.com
Articles and news items are welcomed from NHA’s general membership and corporate associates. Articles should be of general interest to the readership and geared toward current Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard affairs, technical advances in the rotary wing / tilt rotor industry or of historical interest. Humorous articles are encouraged.
Rotor Review and Website Submission Guidelines
1. Articles: MS Word documents for text. Do not embed your images within the document. Send as a separate attachment.
2. Photos and Vector Images: Should be as high a resolution as possible and sent as a separate file from the article. Please include a suggested caption that has the following information: date, names, ranks or titles, location and credit the photographer or source of your image.
3. Videos: Must be in a mp4, mov, wmv or avi format.
• With your submission, please include the title and caption of all media, photographer’s name, command and the length of the video.
• Verify the media does not display any classified information.
• Ensure all maneuvers comply with NATOPS procedures.
• All submissions shall be tasteful and in keeping with good order and discipline.
• All submissions should portray the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and individual units in a positive light.
All submissions can be sent via email to your community editor, the Editor-in-Chief (firstname.lastname@example.org), or the Managing Editor (email@example.com). You can also use the USPS mail. Our mailing address is Naval Helicopter Association
Attn: Rotor Review
P.O. Box 180578
Coronado, CA 92178-0578
On Legacies and Legends
By VADM Jeffrey W. Hughes, USN
IthoughtI would begin with my take on the theme for Symposium this year. “Forging Legacy - Legends Past and Present,” it seems obvious and in looking at the definitions for legacy and legends I offer the following assessment. Legacy is something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past, where a legend is a person or thing that inspires. The confluence is how we are inspired by those with whom we serve, have served or have preceded us in charting the course for our development and that of the community. How this inspiration manifests itself among us is both broad and potentially unique to each of us individually, but I believe there are elements of this that determine who we are as a community. Things that collectively define us and make us proud. Things that are core to who we are and will transcend our time to those who follow us. Enough philosophy, what’s the so what. I see three themes for us to consider during this upcoming Symposium. First, recognition and celebration of those legends that have guided our individual and collective journeys. Second, a reflection on the evolution of the community to provide the ready forces necessary to conduct missions uniquely suited to naval rotary wing aviation. Third, given that there is an action word that precedes legacy – forging – this is our call to action to accelerate the preparation necessary for us to succeed in competition against comprehensive adversaries – now and in the future.
History is replete with stories of aviators, aircrewmen, and technicians who enabled the conduct of or flew daring missions that yielded consequential outcomes. But, I would contend that we should also recognize those legends that inspire us daily to be the very best versions of our professional selves. So who are these legends – maybe your on-wing instructor in HTs, the FRS instructor who flew night DLQs with you for the first time, your fellow H2Ps grinding it out with you during the initial stages of your first tour, the HAC with whom you were paired for extended periods on cruise, your Detachment Officer-in-Charge (Det OIC), your first Leading Chief Petty Officer, the junior crewman who made the difference during a varsity mission, the list could go on forever and never stops.
I recently assumed the prestigious honor of serving as the Golden Helix – the naval aviator on active duty with the earliest date of designation as a naval helicopter pilot. What made it more special than what appears at face value is that I replaced a legend – per the criteria above – in the former Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Lescher. Then LCDR Lescher was a Department Head/Det OIC in HSL44 in the early 1990s when I was a nugget. I learned much from him, both in the air and on deck, and this developmental
(and personal) relationship continued on for three decades where I most recently served for him as Vice Chief. It is also noteworthy that during this same timeframe, my second CO went on to serve as one of the community’s first Vice Admirals. Not too many rotary wing flag officers back in the 1990s - that tide has turned.
There are many ways to define what success looks like in reference to your personal legends, but take the opportunity periodically to reflect on those special people who made you great. Seek them out and tell them – the NHA Annual Symposium is always a great venue to do this. Also, never forget that YOU are a legend to many with whom you serve. Bear the standard and raise our collective game.
When I think of the legends of the community, and their tremendous legacy, I find a common theme over the nine decades of Naval Rotary Wing Flight – that being the adaptation and deliberate evolution to bring our warfighting capabilities to the fore in ever-changing and dynamic security environments. As I ponder the breadth of missions we have performed throughout our rich history, I assess that what they all have in common is the need for a machine/weapons system to possess certain flight attributes to accomplish a mission that few others could perform. From timely SAR, to open ocean spacecraft recovery, to riverine warfare, to overthe-horizon targeting and extended electronic warfare, to precision ASW weapon employment, to combat logistics – we bring results that have proven decisive for decades. While the actual mission outcomes are the stuff of legend, I will contend that the forethought and deliberate force development of the Rotary Wing Community warrants celebration. This doesn’t just happen. Legends in the past have brilliantly predicted warfighting capability gaps and opportunities and drove the evolution, and in some cases transformation, of our community to meet validated needs. As I look at the current and likely future security environment, I see another inflection point where the Naval Service will look to its
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 14
Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2
rotary wing community to bring capability to naval core missions like Sea Control/Denial, Power Projection, Maritime Security and Safety, and Sealift. Much like we did during the incredibly successful implementation of the Navy Helicopter Master Plan / CONOPS that delivered tangible mission outcomes via the evolved HSM/HSC/HM Communities, we find ourselves in position to define the needs for the coming decades. What made the last transition so successful is that we focused on much more than just the evolution of our platforms. We looked at the best ways to organize, train, and equip. We put mission focused community expertise in positions of great influence to drive outcomes. We charted the course for the development and employment of manned-unmanned teaming. Many legends of our community – to include names you probably have not heard – were responsible for the most comprehensive and successful transition in the history of Naval Aviation.
It’s now our turn – we have the controls to forge the legacy of the future of the community, where we will arguably face the greatest challenges across the spectrum of conflict in history. So here is the call to action – tell us where you see the community in the coming decades. How to use existing kit differently or employ more creatively today? What are the capabilities that we design, develop and deliver to meet the six CNO NAVPLAN defined force design imperatives – distance, deception, defense, distribution, delivery, and decision
advantage? How do we best experiment, learn, and adjust to enable our naval capstone concept – Distributed Maritime Operations – to yield the warfighting and deterrence outcomes we must deliver for the Joint and Combined Force. We rely on your thoughtful and well informed contribution and must incorporate it into the community design for future vertical lift (FVL).
My charge to us all – active, reserve, retired, industry – is to be legendary in what it is you do right now, but help us find that next gear as a learning and adaptive organization to appropriately posture for the future. The upcoming Symposium in the new venue is the opportunity for us to celebrate our legends and forge our legacy!
Squadronmates from a few different tours at the NHA 2022 Symposium.
We Have the Potential to Be Legendary
By CAPT Chris “Jean-Luc” Richard, USN, HSMWP
AsI thought about the theme of our upcoming Symposium, “Forging Legacy—Legends Past and Present,” I struggled a bit with what to write. Most of us have not been privileged to personally know any aviation heroes (from the historical perspective), but we know their stories. Our profession is rich in their exploits. They represent the best of us, and they exemplify the courage under fire that we all hope to exhibit if tested. At the most basic level, they show us what is possible when preparation and discipline collide, head first, with adversity. Nevertheless, heroes like Clyde Lassen, Stephen Pless, and Charles French are not part of our first-person experiences, and none of them need a neophyte like me retelling their stories (Google is your friend).
At an uncharacteristic loss for words, I did what I often do in cases like this: I went back to the definition. In reality, our lives are full of people who qualify as legends. In fact, we are all exactly one catastrophic event away from being legendary ourselves. Captain “Sully” Sullenberger did not wake up on January 15, 2009 planning to heroically ditch his Airbus A320 in the Hudson River. He and his copilot were confronted with an extraordinary challenge, and they instinctively relied upon the quality of their training. There was precious little time for debate; they processed the information that their jet was giving them, made a quick risk decision, and fell back upon their preparation to safely ditch their plane in the Hudson River. It was extraordinary airmanship to be sure, but I submit that decisiveness and exceptional Crew Resource Management (CRM) were key to the outcome.
Whether courage under fire or the disciplined procedural execution, many of us have had experiences in the aircraft in which—were it not for preparedness—the outcome could have been catastrophic. I personally know people who have autorotated to the water, landed single-engine on small ships, fought in-flight engine fires at night, egressed from a sinking aircraft, and dealt with total AC power failures in instrument conditions—just to name a few. These professionals remained calm, executed their procedures, and relied upon sound CRM to land (or ditch) their aircraft. Events like these do not make the evening news, but they should be celebrated as they illustrate preparedness and disciplined execution in the face of exceptional adversity. Viewed through that lens, there are legends all around us! By sharing their stories, we reinforce the principles that make Naval Aviation great.
There are also legends among us who have never flown in an aircraft. I have come to realize that once we hang up the flight suit, it will be the impact we had on people’s lives that is remembered—not the programs we managed, our tactical qualifications, or the hours we flew at sea. Those things matter in limited contexts, but they do not change lives. Did you help someone reach his or her potential? Did you create opportunity that would not have existed were it not for your intervention? Did you exude qualities that others chose to emulate? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then you are a legend to someone.
As a young Sailor in the early 90’s, I was lucky enough to cross paths with a Chief Petty Officer who—despite my insufferable arrogance—saw something in me that was worthy of his time. He took a personal interest in my development, and he taught me some important lessons: How to be productive in the workplace, how to set and accomplish goals, and the value of one’s professional reputation. I had nothing to offer him in return other than my admiration, but he set me on a path that led to college, a commission, and a career that continues today. Chief Wells remains a legend in my life.
The profession of arms celebrates the accomplishment of objectives; our legacies, however, will have less to do with the tasks we accomplished and more to do with whether we were honest, forthright, and caring as leaders. It is both poetic and ironic that we often achieve this clarity just as the window to our influence begins to close. As we approach the Symposium in May, we should continue to pay homage to the giants who went before us…the heroes, heroines, and true legends of Naval Aviation. We should also realize that the potential to be legendary exists in all of us—whether inside or outside the aircraft. We must not lose sight of our potential to meaningfully change the lives of others; it requires little more than conscious effort. Given that most of us will never do anything truly heroic in the aircraft, I think it is a legacy worth pursuing.
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 16 Commodore's Corner
By LT Alden “CaSPR” Marton, USN
Typicalscuttlebutt revolves around our growing pains without deference to the amazing work currently being done to increase the scope and influence of the U.S. Navy. Let’s all take a pause to recognize the talent in which we find ourselves. All of us can be pioneers of our platform. Every time you strap into a gray war machine, fire up the APU, and cut through the skies you are searching for perfection in flight. If that means seeking perfection in execution, you’re pioneering excellence. If your goal is to attempt something new (within limits of course!), you’re pioneering innovation. If your goal is operational success, you’re making history. Given the right amount of opportunity combined with the passion for flight, we all have the ability to make waves through generations of pilots and aircrew. A few of our peers have done just that and have been able to make a lasting impact on the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). Take a reflective moment to ask yourself “am I making my own legacy?”
If you get the opportunity to take a job that “hasn’t been done before,” take it. See how far you can run with it. See what you can create. Pilot and aircrew tactics are being developed for emerging platforms in the V-22, TH-73, MQ-8, etc. Squadrons are being stood up as we speak. One day, 50 years from now your name might not be plastered against the walls (except at the OClubs!), but what you develop today will save aircraft and save lives. It will become part of the community’s bedrock and THAT is our legacy.
If you don’t know where to begin your own journey, use NHA Symposium to find those opportunities. You’ll get face-to-face time with legends from the Vietnam War and the Navy’s rich cultural history. You’ll have a chance to hear from Naval leadership about the state of the NAE, from titans of industry on the forefront of technology, and your peers. Focus on those candid discussions. Can you identify soft spots in our capabilities? Is there something that needs to be done better? With a little bit of proactivity and a little bit of timing, you can be the one to turn that weakness into a strength and start solidifying your own legacy. It starts by getting the right people in the room and having open discussions, and that’s what this Symposium aims to do.
The 2023 NHA Symposium: Forging Legacy – Legends Past and Present is now open for registration. Can’t wait to see you all there at Harrah’s Casino in May!
Fly Navy! CaSPR
NHA JO President Update
Naval Helicopter Association Scholarship Fund
Donate and Apply
By CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.), President NHASF NHA LTM #4/RW#13762
Greetings from the Scholarship Fund. We are in the middle of our 2023 scholarship selection process with 52 eligible candidates from a field of over 70 total applicants. With candidates from each geographic region, including a special category for active duty military members and spouses, we have one of the strongest competitive fields of applicants in recent memory. This year, following our 5-year strategic plan, we ratcheted up the scholarship value to $4,000 for each of the 15 scholarship awardees.
Since the selection results will not be available before this issue goes to print, we will announce the 15 scholarship awardees at the National NHA Symposium and post the winners, along with their corresponding scholarship and destination university, in our follow-on Rotor Review Summer Issue. Stay tuned.
2022/2023 Fundraising May Have Been Our Best Year Yet
Categories for funding continue to show the generosity of both past and present donors. This year we have already exceeded our fundraising goals for 2023. Our sources of income have grown, particularly in the memorial and legacy categories.
Individual donations increased with the focused Day of Giving Campaign and the Annual Golf Tournament. Our individual donor list continues to grow to over 90 donors, with the average gift exceeding $250.
Corporate sponsorships (annual and in perpetuity) include Leonardo Helicopters (U.S.) (new), Lockheed Martin (new), Naval Helicopter Association, Raytheon STEM (in perpetuity), Teledyne FLIR, and the USS Midway Museum.
Legacy donations and Memorial passthrough gifts were based upon generous donations in perpetuity made years ago. Others are just starting, including Big Iron (HM/HC Heavy Lift) Legacy, HS-5 Night Dippers (CAPT Root and CAPT Resavage Memorial Scholarships), Charles Kaman Memorial, Friend of Navy Helicopters Dominic Sargiotto, NHA Historical Society (Mark Starr), Ream Family Memorial, and Teledyne FLIR Memorial.
The Investment Income portfolio, generated from the initial donations of Don Patterson Associates, remains strong enough to skim and fund a few full scholarships or add plus-up funds as needed. However, since the market remained unpredictable, and with the strong performance of other categories of donations, we did not need to tap the investment portfolio.
I look forward to your support in the 2023-2024 scholarship rounds and at the upcoming NHA Symposium, 17-19 May 2023 at Harrah’s Resort, Southern California.
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 18
The End of an Era Farewell to the Vanguard of HM-14
12 May 1978 - 30 March 2023 and Remembering 40 years of Heavy Lift HC HC-4 Black Stallions
6 May 1983 - 28 September 2007
Donate to NHASF’s Big Iron Legacy/Memorial
With the disestablishment of the historic HM-14 Vanguard fresh in our memories, take a moment to recall the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Navy’s first Heavy Lift Helicopter Squadron, the Black Stallions of HC-4 on 6 May 1983. Arriving at NAS Sigonella, Italy on August 25, 1983, the "Black Stallions" established themselves as the "prime movers" of air-delivered cargo in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The Black Stallions provided heavy combat support throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East in every conflict, major naval operation, and exercise throughout the squadron’s service. HC-4 redeployed to Naval Station Norfolk in 2005–2006 and was disestablished on 28 September 2007.
As veterans and former HM / Heavy Lift HC / H-53 Bubbas, linking back to the earliest days of HM in 1970, I request your support to grow our scholarship fund. Through a generous gift from a former shipmate, a fund has been established to provide one of the NHA Scholarship Fund’s 15 scholarships each year. As you reflect on the legacy of the Vanguard and the Black Stallions, please consider donating to the newly established “Big Iron” Memorial Scholarship (RH-53D 158759 DH-25) to preserve the legacy of our community and its heroes with either an annual “pass-through” scholarship or in time, establishing a “Big Iron” scholarship in perpetuity.
Also, consider re-joining or extending your current membership in the NHA as a new Lifetime Member.
Arne Nelson, Captain, U. S. Navy (Ret.) President, NHA Scholarship Fund
NHA LTM #4 Rotary Wing # 13762
P.O Box 180578
Coronado, California 92178-0578
(619) 435-7139 Office / (619) 607-0800 Cell
The NHA Scholarship Fund is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit charitable California corporation: TAX ID # 33-0513766. Thanks for your support!
Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society
Happenings at NHAHS
By CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.), President, NHAHS LTM#46 / RW#16213
Welcome to the Symposium Edition of the Spring 2023 Rotor Review. The Symposium theme is “Forging Legacy - Legends Past and Present.” This year’s Symposium, I am sure, will prove to be bigger and better than those in the past. I hope that you will enjoy the professional and social events that are planned.
I am pleased to announce that NHAHS has received the approval to go forward with the CDR Clyde E. Lassen, USN (Ret.) SH-60F Memorial Medal of Honor Display Aircraft at the NASNI Front Gate from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and the Environment (ASN EIE). Click here (https://sh60fhoas.navalhelicopterassociation.org/nasni-helicopter-on-a-stickpowerpoint-brief/ ) for the project background.
CAPT “Bomb” McKissick (CO, NASNI) has signed the transfer document and I have paid Davis Monthan to have the aircraft moved out of the Bone Yard to North Island to be inducted into the USS Midway Restoration Hangar 805. The transfer is scheduled to happen April 24, 2023.
I would encourage your support getting the word out about the project and assisting with the fundraising efforts. I am meeting with contractors this week and will obtain more accurate cost estimates; however, it looks like we will need ~$150K+ to complete the project. What I am asking is for you to reach out to your contacts who may be willing to help. Sikorsky and GE have already made donations. Please consider writing a check to NHAHS or make a secure donation via the web HERE to help with the project. Get your name on a brick (and encourage others) that will be built into the base of the stanchion so your contribution will live on this memorial to Clyde Lassen and his crew well into the future.
Checks can be mailed (preferred donation method) to:
NHA Historical Society, Inc. (NHAHS)
P.O Box. 180578
Coronado, CA 92178-0578
NHAHS will appreciate your support in helping with the fundraising efforts and making a donation toward the project. In the future, everyone who passes through the front gate will enjoy seeing the aircraft when the project is completed and do so for many years to come. Consider having a brick with your name and a logo on it built into the base of the display. After all, NASNI is a Master Helicopter Base and there should be a helicopter at the front gate recognizing a Rotary Wing Medal of Honor Recipient and Hero like CDR Lassen across the street from VADM Stockdale’s A-4 Skyhawk.
I look forward to hearing from you and receiving your donation and hopefully seeing you at the NHA Symposium 17-19 May.
NHAHS is working with the Scholarship Fund to host the Golf Tournament, present the Mark Starr Pioneer Award, Gold and Silver Crew Chief Awards and man a booth paying tribute this year to:
• 50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation
• 55 Year Anniversary of the Lassen Rescue
• 80 Years of Naval Helicopters
• 100 Year Anniversary of Sikorsky Aircraft
Stop by Booth # 104 and see us!
Keep your turns up!
CAPT USN (Ret.) LTM-#46, R-16213 President
Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society (NHAHS)
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 20
PayPal Donation Link
Computer Rendition of NASNI Stockdale Entrance with SH-60F on a Pedestal
Mail Checks to: Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society, Inc. (NHAHS) NASNI SH-60F Project PO Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578
To donate with PayPay visit https://www.nhahistoricalsociety.org/indexphp/donations/ and click on the PayPal icon or copy and paste this link in your browser https://www.paypal.com/donate?token=dUz7iSsDDUkFxuXCIsSpZE5lRrmAZ7M5diK1LRJ315ULqrsnyvU3nuz4WHPu0z4ZBCW7xiw34NubTIs
Accelerating Rotary Wing Innovation Through Unmanned Systems
By CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
One of the great things about working at a Navy Warfare Center, such as Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, is that you have the opportunity to see new technologies envisioned, created, and, in many cases, implemented into the Fleet or Fleet Marine Forces. With over 5,500 government employees, and an equal number of contractors, our warfare center is involved in a breathtaking number of projects.
Increasingly, given the U.S. Navy‘s commitment to unmanned systems and the Chief of Naval Operations’ vision of a hybrid fleet comprised of 350 manned vessels and 150 Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS), a great deal of our work has focused on unmanned systems in all domains: air, surface, subsurface and ground.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan accelerated the development and use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Unmanned Ground Systems (UGS), however, the development of unmanned systems in other domains has fallen behind. The Navy has now shifted focus to the development and fielding of multi-mission UMS. To aid in that development, Fifth Fleet established CTF-59 to experiment with UMS and UAS and accelerate their development and fielding.
In late 2022, CTF-59 orchestrated Exercise Digital Horizon. This multinational exercise featured 12 Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) and three UAVs, linked using artificial intelligence, to push the boundaries of these platform’s contributions to important naval missions, especially Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). The importance of Digital Horizon 2022, and a view of what would be accomplished, was highlighted by one naval analyst this way:
Despite the cutting-edge hardware in the Arabian Gulf, Digital Horizon is far more than a trial of new unmanned systems. This exercise is about data integration and the integration of command and control capabilities, where many different advanced technologies are being deployed together and experimented with for the first time.
The advanced technologies now available and the opportunities that they bring to enhance maritime security are many-fold, but these also drive an exponential increase in complexity for the military. Using the Arabian Gulf as the laboratory, Task Force 59 and its partners are pioneering ways to manage that complexity, whilst delivering next-level intelligence, incident prevention and response capabilities.
Digital Horizon 2022 brought together emerging unmanned technologies with data analytics and artificial intelligence in order to enhance regional maritime security and strengthen deterrence by applying leading-edge technology and experimentation in unmanned and artificial intelligence applications for the Navy. A key goal of Digital Horizon 2022 was to speed new technology integration across Fifth Fleet, and seek alternative, cost-effective solutions for conducting MDA missions.
Digital Horizon lived up to the high expectations of all involved. Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. Fifth Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces described what was accomplished during Digital Horizon 2022 thusly:
We are creating a distributed and integrated network of systems to establish a “digital ocean” in the Middle East, creating constant surveillance. This means every partner and every sensor, collecting new data, adding it to an intelligent synthesis of around-the-clock inputs, encompassing thousands of images, from seabed to space, from ships, unmanned systems, subsea sensors, satellites, buoys, and other persistent technologies.
No navy acting alone can protect against all the threats, the region is simply too big. We believe that the way to get after this is the two primary lines of effort: strengthen our partnerships and accelerate innovation. One of the results from the exercise was the ability to create a single operational picture so one operator can command and control multiple unmanned systems on one screen, a Single Pane of Glass (SPOG). Digital Horizon was a visible demonstration of the promise and the power of very rapid tech innovation.
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View from the Labs
Elbit Systems Seagull unmanned surface vessel operates in the Arabian Gulf, Nov. 29, during Digital Horizon 2022. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brandon Murphy)
The results of Digital Horizon 2022 could change the way the world’s navies conduct maritime safety and security. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are able to amalgamate the sea of data created by unmanned systems into actionable, realtime intelligence for use by commanders, which enables U.S., allied and partner nations to dedicate their crewed vessels to other missions.
Using a two billion dollar ship and a crew of 300 officers, chiefs, and sailors to conduct surveillance operations is not a cost effective solution when a medium-sized commercial offthe-shelf (COTS) USV (such as a MARTAC Devil Ray T-38, one of the participants in Digital Horizon) can be bought or leased in a contractor owned, contractor operated (COCO) arrangement for a relatively modest cost and equipped with state-of-the-art COTS sensors to provide persistent surveillance. During Digital Horizon, the T-38 provided AIS, full motion video from SeaFLIR-280HD and FLIR-M364C cameras, as well as the display of charted radar contacts via the onboard Furuno DRS4D-NXT doppler radar. These were all streamed back to Task Force 59’s Robotics Operations Center (ROC) via high bandwidth radios. The force multiplying potential of unmanned systems demonstrated during Digital Horizon has already been recognized by the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) and the rotary wing community.
So why is this important to us? For those of you who attended the 2021 NHA Symposium and listened to the Flag Panel, you heard that Naval Aviation is on a glideslope to be approximately 40% unmanned circa 2035. Though exact timelines and percentages are impossible to predict, the unmanned future is coming, spearheaded by the MQ-25 Stingray, the MQ-4C Triton and MQ-8C Fire Scout leading the way.
The Fire Scout is currently the Rotary Wing Community’s only “skin in the unmanned game,” and though the MH-60S Knighthawk and MQ-8C Fire Scout are currently embarked onboard Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), where Rotary Wing Aviators and Surface Warfare Officers are developing CONOPS for their use together, the Navy is scaling back its inventory of LCS. This will shrink the opportunities for our community to explore tactics, techniques and procedures to develop man-machine teaming or to develop Fire Scout “smart wingman” in the same fashion that the U.S. Air Force is doing with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and emerging UAVs.
In remarks at the December 2022 Reagan National Defense Forum, Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, said that the Navy intends to stand up additional unmanned task forces around the globe modeled after Task Force 59, noting:
We’ve demonstrated with Task Force 59 how much more we can do with these unmanned vehicles—as long as they’re closely integrated together in a [command and control] node that, you know, connects to our manned surface vehicles. And there’s been a lot of experimentation, it’s going to continue aggressively. And we’re going to start translating that to other regions of the world as well. That will include the establishment of formal task forces that will fall under some of the Navy’s other numbered fleets.
The Naval Rotary Wing Community needs to be part of this emerging technology development, lest we be left behind as the Navy and NAE place huge bets on a force increasingly populated by unmanned systems. As to how we can do this, those of you wearing flight suits are best-qualified to develop new concepts for how our community can leverage rapid developments in unmanned systems in all domains to ensure that we have a warfighting advantage in future conflicts.
In this issue: No legends started out that way and most never intended to be legends at all. Some are world renown, while others are only recognized in their own spheres of influence.
Who are those individuals that made our naval rotary wing community what it is today? What qualities make a legend? Have the qualities we value in those we hold at the highest regard changed over the years? Who are our modern-day legends and how do they differ from our legends of the past?
The Legacy of the Navy’s Helo Master Plan, Circa Early 2000’s
By VADM Dean Peters, USN (Ret.)
Whoare those individuals that made our naval rotary wing community what it is today? What qualities make a legend?
I’ve thought long and hard about this radio check. It’s so true that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before –and indeed many have been foundational in making the rotary wing community what it is today. Our forebears broke many glass ceilings and forged viable paths to flag officer and master chief petty officer that allowed others to follow. Along the way, they developed new tactics and innovative ways to employ rotary wing assets. Our enlisted rescue swimmers transformed a secondary occupational specialty into one of the most revered career fields in the world. With recognition of strong leadership, opportunities at the senior levels of the Navy began to emerge: ship CO’s; key BUPERS positions; OPNAV Financial Management positions; Expeditionary Strike Group Commanders; and Carrier Strike Group Commanders.
One important aspect of our Navy legacy involves the aircraft and weapons systems employed by the rotary wing community. Aircraft programs in and of themselves won’t deter would-be competitors or win in combat. But capability and readiness start with aircraft programs and the budgets that enable them. In essence, having the right equipment gets you into the fight in a direct role and makes your community relevant. The man, train, and equip mission enables combat effectiveness. In keeping with the theme of this quarter’s focus, and subject to the limitations of memory, I’d like to provide a few notes on this aspect of our legacy and call out one leader who truly transformed Navy rotary wing aviation and put us in a position to be relevant for decades.
Since the early days of rotorcraft, aircraft have been adapted for emergent needs, from crew-served weapons and mine sweeping equipment during the Vietnam era to the Middle East Force mods for Persian Gulf operations in the late 1980’s. Recognizing the versatility of rotorcraft, the Navy began procuring rotorcraft for specific operational missions in the 1970’s, such as the MH-53E for Airborne Mine Countermeasures and the SH-2F and SH-60B for the Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS). LAMPS was developed specifically for integration with surface combatants, effectively enhancing and extending the ship’s sensors. The SH-60B was the successor to the SH-2F LAMPS platform, although both platforms were operated concurrently for about a decade. The SH-2G was developed in the late 1980’s and tested for employment on nonRAST surface combatants. It would ultimately be fielded with the Navy Reserves. Other aircraft types provided specific mission capabilities such as inner zone ASW, combat logistics support, search and rescue (land and sea), combat search and rescue, and special warfare support. At certain times in the 1990’s, Navy active and reserve squadrons were operating, or preparing to operate, a variety of helicopters: HH-1N’s, SH-2F’s, SH-2G’s, SH-3H’s, UH-3H’s, CH-46D’s, MH-53E’s, SH60B’s, SH-60F’s, and HH-60H’s. The squadrons were distributed under HC Wings, HS Wings, HSL Wings, and an HM Wing, each with peculiar purviews and differing cultures. These many type wings were further organized under separate east and west coast command structures, again with differing purviews and mission responsibilities.
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 24
Radio Check - Legends
With the massive drawdowns of the 1990’s, maintaining such a large number of communities and platforms became unsustainable, especially considering available manpower. And because of the dispersed organizational constructs, developing a single Navy rotary wing voice was nearly impossible, creating an environment where the helicopter communities could be inadvertently (or intentionally) picked apart in the competition for resources. This was a crucial time for the rotary wing community writ large, and happily, our forebears put aside their platform-specific biases (for the most part) and banded together to develop a vision for the future. Joining them were several dynamic resource sponsors who would authenticate this vision through rigorous analysis, and then carry it forward into budget deliberations, campaigning relentlessly throughout the OPNAV Surface Warfare and Air Warfare Directorates. This was the Helicopter Master Plan, commonly known as the Helo Master Plan, and it was supported by the Helicopter Concept of Operations. The Helo CONOPS was itself visionary, involving a rigorous technical analysis of future fleet operations that required rotary wing assets. It was future-leaning and included strike group requirements, expeditionary requirements, and forward deployed requirements. The Helo Master Plan was informed by the Helo CONOPS and provided an agile, schedule-based transition plan to consolidate Type Wings and reduce seven T/M/S to two, while satisfying fleet needs in an efficient and effective manner. Specifically, the following T/M/S would be retired: SH60B, SH-60F, HH-60H, CH-46D, SH-3H, SH-2G, and HH-1N. Missions performed by these aircraft would be performed in the future by suitably-configured multi-mission helicopters, the MH-60R and MH-60S. In addition, the MH-53E would either transition AMCM mission responsibilities to other T/M/S and minesweepers, or require development of a new aircraft. Part of the beauty of the Helo Master Plan was the simple messaging: consolidation of seven T/M/S to two T/M/S and parallel consolidation of type wings and associated staffing, while increasing combat capability. The construct allowed the number of squadrons to evolve with carrier airwing, surface combatant, and expeditionary requirements. This messaging was incredibly important because it would be used to frame the largest investment in rotary wing assets in the Navy’s history, the Programs of Record for the MH-60R and MH-60S, including Block upgrades.
In keeping with the themes of legacy and legends, I want to call out one leader who was particularly responsible for the ultimate success of this vision. It was his articulation of the problem and tireless coordination that galvanized his peers across many communities to produce a single voice. The leader I’m talking about is Captain George Barton who was then Commander, HSL Wing Pacific. As a Commodore in San Diego, he was in close proximity to his HC and HS counterparts, allowing frequent engagements. He also made numerous trips to Norfolk, Jacksonville, Mayport, and the Pentagon to engage the east coast communities and resource sponsors. Importantly, he made sure that everyone in the community was informed. Commodore Barton exhibited several qualities that were critical to the success of the Helo Master Plan:
(1) He described the problem and asked for help determining the solution, seeking feedback from all stakeholders. There was no ego, no pride of ownership, and the plan was continuously refined to achieve convergence. This would be a team effort.
(2) He understood the importance of underpinning the plan with rigorous analysis and used the analytical results to build compelling warfare-related arguments. In this regard, he was ahead of his time.
(3) He prioritized the human element and ensured that transitions would be accomplished in a way that maximized career progression and command opportunities.
The complexity of this transformation was unprecedented in rotary wing history and as mentioned, it also involved a historic investment in aircraft and weapons systems. The above qualities, capably exuded by Commodore Barton, created the tide that raised all boats. Although many were involved in crucial roles, Commodore Barton was our quarterback.
Looking across the current fleet, I contend that these qualities are evident and still valued in today’s rotary wing leadership. Our warfare communities work together collaboratively to determine and present budget priorities, applying analytical rigor to determine mission needs. I’ll go so far as to say that no other community in Naval Aviation is as analytical as the rotary wing community, and no other community is as articulate in describing proposed solutions to evolving mission requirements. Lastly, the rotary wing community continues to prioritize people. As unmanned systems are integrated and as squadrons stand-up, transition, or sun-down, you can be sure that every effort is made to take care of our most precious resource – the men and women who serve in the rotary wing community.
So, as you look up and down the rows of aircraft on the flight line and consider the myriad of capabilities that our squadrons bring to the fight, I hope you’ll be aware of the foundation that made it happen. And think about leaders like Commodore George Barton, a true legend in the rotary wing community.
CAPT George Barton, USN (Ret.)
From Ralph Deyo
Okay, have I got a True Legend for the readers. This man not only made me look forward to a new assignment and a really sucky one at that, but he made me look forward to a total change in my career. But let’s start from the beginning of this tale of a True Legend.
In June 1971, I left wonderful Oahu, Hawaii and the greatest Patrol squadron in the Pacific Fleet, VP-17, and headed for FASOTRAGRUPAC at beautiful NAS North Island
I was assigned to VS Acoustic Analysis Training and performed well during the first six months, and was even awarded an Instructor of the Quarter Letter in 1972. So, I am feeling pretty good about myself and how I am doing as a new instructor. By the way, I finished the five week instructor training course in five days.
About a week after I received the recognition letter, I was summoned to the CO’s Office. I arrived at the appointed time and was invited to sit down alongside another Captain. This Captain asked me how things were going, my job, my new wife, and how I liked the San Diego area. Somehow I knew that there was something up his sleeve and he pulled out a good one. The Legend at the time was on staff at COMASWWINGPAC.
“Petty Officer Deyo, have I got a deal for you. How would you like to assist in setting up a new training program?” My response, “Oh sure Captain, what is it and when does it have to be online?”
Now comes that career changing part.
It is going to be at Ream Field, and it will be the Aircrew Training Facility for LAMPS MK I. LT Jerry Bunch will be your OIC (a great OIC who did get me a lot of SH-2F flight time and many emergencies).
So, here I am in a dilapidated WWII building with AW1 Neal Brown and AW1 Smith, rehabbing the building with a couple walls, new tiled floors, and several gallons of paint. We begged and borrowed enough equipment to set up a Lab for the ASA20, MAD Recorder, and even had a live radiating LN-66 Radar on a 40 ft pole. All in a six-month time frame.
I instructed Aircrews in the operation of this equipment for three years and then the most horrific event in my naval career happened.
I was instructing an officer class in ASW tactics and one gentleman, Commander Douglas Huff, was so impressed that he offered me a slot in his soon to be commissioned HSL-37. Of course, being a VP type, I informed him that I was already spoken for and had orders to the Tactical Support Center in Misawa Japan.
About 4 weeks later, I was informed that my orders had been changed and I would be reporting to HSL-37 at the completion of SAR School and complete a special four week SH-2F Fam Course. As for all of the other training, I had been teaching for three years and was considered qualified.
So, there I was in HSL-37, the last LAMPS MK I squadron and then seven years later in HSL-41, the first LAMPS MK III squadron all because a Legend convinced me this was a good deal.
Who was this Legend, well anyone who is a member of this organization should know his name, you see it in every magazine and there is an award named after him. Most of all, I am proud to say, I personally was in the presence of the greatness who was CAPT Mark Starr.
Radio Check - Legends Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 26
CAPT Mark Starr and CDR Mengle with an HO3S
From CAPT Randy Abshier, USN (Ret.)
Time for one of my lengthy sea stories:
Back in the late 70s, the HS/SH-3 Community was starting to work off the decks of the new Spruance-DDGs/Perry-FFGs when HSL couldn’t fill all the requirements-no fault of theirs. Day ops only for the HS folks. I was the Ops O and Doug Yesensky was my assistant in HS-7. Our skipper, CDR Dick Sidney, decided we needed to be able to do night ops. Doug and I were sent out to practice night ops as copilots for the skipper. We practiced night landings on our replenishment ship (SLQs) then DLQs on the actual Spruance. After the skipper felt we were ready, we then moved to practicing night HIFR. He made Doug and I the squadron’s Night DLQ/SLQ/HIFR “Stan Pilots” and we qualified the rest of the squadron. We formalized a squadron policy for day/night currency requirements to be able to do night landings/HIFR once you were originally qualified, similar to the go-faster’s CV landing currency policy. This forced CAG/CARGRU to get us deck time to stay current and be a force multiplier. Remember this was all new to the HS Community in the late 70s. I moved over to the Maintenance Officer job and Doug became the OPS O. We then made a Med cruise and the CAG/CARGRU used our night DLQ/HIFR capability regularly during the deployment. Definite force multiplier. Our aircrewmen did a fantastic job and were definitely a key factor in our success.
Now to the early 80s, the West Coast HS Community was not doing these types of ops. Some limited night SLQs. I became the CO of HS-8 and Doug was my XO. I met with RADM Rich, COMASWWINGPAC, and discussed doing night DLQs/ HIFR. He told me if I felt so strong about it, I should set up a program like we had in HS-7 and go for it. He was familiar with the program from when he was CO of NAS Jax. A couple of the more senior HS COs and the AIRPAC HS Rep were adamantly against doing them and said it wasn’t operationally necessary. We had RADM Rich’s blessing, so Doug and I felt good about it. Doug and I took our two best qualified DH’s, Chuck Finney and Mike Brattland, and went through a day/night training program for DLQs/SLQs/HIFR. We flew with both through the qualification program. We then designated them as our squadron’s “Stan Pilots” and let them qualify the rest of the squadron pilots. We used the HS-7 currency policy. During our WESTPAC, we made a couple MEDEVACs at night from our BG DDGs and had a couple short duration detachments that operated at night from our accompanying DDGs/FFGs. A couple times we had to do actual operational requirement night HIFRs due to the CV operational tempo. CAG/CARGRU loved us having this capability and supported our currency requirements, ensuring we got deck time to maintain our capability.
I know in today’s HSC Community these ops are probably routine. When I was the CO of VX-1 doing the OPEVAL for the SH-60F, I made sure the test crew were day/ night DLQ/HIFR qualified and a few were NVG qualified for these ops. All pilots/ aircrew were NVG qualified.
Just another story of when flying was fun and a CO wasn’t worried that big brother was looking over his shoulder. In other words, the good old days.
Thanks for listening to this old rotorhead,
From CAPT Mike Middleton, USN (Ret.)
Helicopter Legends I was Blessed to Follow
As I recount those leaders who stand out during my 27 years in active duty helicopters, these names and faces jump out of my memory like the legends that they are:
Admiral Big Bill Terry was always bigger than life, a pilot's pilot, and a helicopter legend. Got hours left over at the end of the quarter, man up a flight of four and burn some JP-5 until there was no time left. His favorite quote, “why have power if you can’t abuse it.” Spoken by a larger than life man and Naval Officer. You just wanted to follow Admiral Bill Terry wherever he went.
CAPT Steve McDermaid was a kind and gentle Naval Officer, who you just didn’t want to disappoint. He was smooth, professional, and as good in the CV Wardroom as he was in DC. Gone too soon, but will always be remembered well as what a Naval Officer should be.
CAPT Jeff Wiant always scared the hell out of you. You just didn’t want to cross him. But if you were on his side and performed, a more loyal Boss you could not ask for. Head down and make stuff happen. A young LT learned a bunch by watching him work. But walk a straight line, and don’t disappoint the Boss.
CAPT Vern Von Sydow, sadly, the only one left standing. The JO’s called him “the pulling guard of life!” Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way, if Vern was at the helm. Always remember the picture of President John F. Kennedy and Midshipman Von Sydow together pictured in Vern’s USNA football uniform. That’s all you needed to know about Vern as a Naval Officer and a man. Bigger than life, but still so approachable.
We were blessed to have leaders like these and many more like them, who led from the front, provided a grand template to mold our own leadership style, and who serve as a lasting memory. We were all blessed to have walked in their footsteps.
Radio Check - Legends Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 28
The 1986 Gander Medevac
By RADM Steve Tomaszeski, USN (Ret.) and CDR Roy Resavage, USN (Ret.)
This article records what is recognized as the longest open ocean medevac in U.S. Naval Aviation rotary wing history. It is “Legendary” as it showcases decisive team and individual leadership supported by precise, coordinated execution by all naval forces involved. The airmanship, seamanship, medical and aircrew expertise, coupled with superb assistance at Gander, Newfoundland International Airport, saved a shipmate’s life.
Place yourself in these helicopters as they fly a mission far more demanding than anticipated. Would you be up to such a challenge? Below, “The Past Informs the Present” to be ready for any contingency.
In the late evening of 20 August 1986, USS Chester W. Nimitz (CVN 68), underway in the North Atlantic, received an emergency transmission from USS Iowa (BB 61). Iowa requested an emergency MEDEVAC. A young radio man was scalded with 1200 psi of steam from a pipe that ruptured directly above his workstation. He suffered severe second degree burns over 75 percent of his body.
This medevac was complicated in that the Nimitz Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) was tracking along the Great Circle route in total EMCON (emissions control). The CVBG was enroute to the northern fjords to participate in the multinational NATO Exercise Northern Wedding. Northern Wedding was a Cold War exercise designed to test NATO’s ability to re-arm and supply Western Europe during times of war.
The CVBG was THE centerpiece in this important exercise. It could not deviate from its Path of Intended Movement (PIM). When the MEDEVAC (medical evacuation) request was received Nimitz was over 400 miles east of Gander, Newfoundland, the nearest international airport capable of transporting the Sailor to the National Burn Clinic in San Antonio, Texas.
Tasked with developing possible courses of action (COA) to support Iowa’s request, Carrier Air Wing Eight’s Carrier Air Group (CAG) Commander, Captain Fred Lewis, summoned the commanding officers (COs) of both VS-31 and HS-9 to his stateroom. CAG needed options. Could a helicopter retrieve the patient with a night landing on Iowa then return to Nimitz where an S-3 Viking would fly him to Gander? This plan was scrapped when Nimitz’s senior medical officer determined the Sailor could not withstand the trauma of the catapult shot.
Skipper Roy Resavage, CO, HS-9, informed CAG that HS-9 could medevac the Sailor to Newfoundland then return to Nimitz if we acted immediately. This plan required focused, precise coordination between staffs, ships, and helicopters. This bold COA, determined to be the only viable life-saving
option, was to launch as soon as possible, reducing total transit distances as the CVBG was rapidly moving east. Ships had to be positioned at 200 nautical mile “point of no return” intervals for necessary refueling. Skipper Resavage insisted on a two-plane flight for medevac redundancy and self rescue capabilities. The second helo would have maintenance technicians onboard in case repairs were required. It was understood and reiterated that the CVBG would continue on PIM, in EMCON, without regard to their return.
Aircrew were assembled, briefed, and prepared for an arduous flight. Air Wing and Cruiser Destroyer Group Staffs burned the midnight oil with the Battle Group Staff to coordinate ship positions and brainstorm contingencies. EMCON would not be broken. The CVBG would slip - undetected - into the fjord for a planned amphibious landing in Norway.
The mission began at 0400, Thursday, 21 August. Two SH-3H Sea King helicopters launched from the Nimitz with aircrew augmented by medical and maintenance personnel. A night landing was executed on Iowa with the burn victim placed in a body bag filled with saline solution. He was administered intravenous therapy the entire flight. After refueling on Iowa, Skipper Resavage launched, circling Iowa while his wingman landed and refueled. The medevac helos were hand delivered vectors to their next rendezvous point, USS Kidd (DDG 993), several hundred miles to the west (you can appreciate the operational discipline and urgency this mission had with hand delivered vectors in EMCON. They even received Iowa’s famously generous “Presidential” box lunches with a note from Iowa’s CO). No ship was allowed to transmit any radio or radar equipment as the entire CVBG was transiting in EMCON trying to elude Soviet intelligence gathering satellites, shipping, and long-range reconnaissance aircraft.
To remind the 2023 reader, this was before GPS navigation. The SH-3H had no internal navigation equipment. They did have a TACNAV (tactical navigator) that provided Doppler solutions, but it was only as accurate as the aircrew’s “best guess” concerning wind direction and speed. Essentially, they were navigating in EMCON, with MK-6 plotting board technology. “Seat of the pants aviating.”
As the medevac mission flew further west, it encountered an unforecasted low-pressure weather system, later classified as a gale. That forced them to descend to a very low altitude where they still flew into strong headwinds and heavy precipitation. You can imagine the ride in the aft cabin, where our Flight Surgeon struggled to stabilize his patient.
Without the benefit of radio, navigational aids or radar vectors, finding Kidd in these conditions became problematic. A one-degree error in maintaining track could become a large
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Legends and Legacies
offset 200 nautical miles out. However, USS Kidd was exactly where she was assigned to be. And the crew’s wind estimations were sufficiently accurate to dead reckon their refueling rendezvous. After two “sporty” landings and refueling, the medevac mission proceeded on to Gander, fortified by more box lunches and piping hot “Kidd Koffee.” Most importantly, the patient remained stable.
After what seemed like an eternity the medevac sighted Newfoundland but they didn’t know exactly where they were. They presumed the winds had pushed them south of their intended track, and they decided to try their luck turning north. They were able to fix their position on the coastline spotting railroad tracks (a secret helo pilot trick) and set a direct course for Gander International Airport. They hoped to terminate the flight with a VFR approach to Gander, but as they entered the mountainous region the ceilings dropped to the surface with about 1⁄4 mile visibility. Skipper Resavage had his flight execute a 180-degree course change to find a hole (not a “sucker hole”) that would allow them to climb high enough to establish radio communications with Gander. And there it was…enough blue sky that provided the necessary altitude for radio contact with Gander. As soon as they received their IFR clearance, they proceeded again to Gander. The next hurdle was to land safely.
Unfortunately, Gander’s only precision approach was an ILS (Instrument Landing System). And like most Navy aircraft, the Sea King was not equipped with a VOR (Very High Frequency Omni - Directional Range) or a glideslope indicator. Gander did not have an operable ADF (Automatic Direction Finder)
approach, so the flight had to rely on a UHF/DF (Ultra High Frequency-Direction Finding) approach, normally only used as a last resort. The Gander controllers gave the flight recommended altitudes as they attempted to fly the average between major swings in their navigational aides.
Fortunately, the lead helo’s co-pilot achieved visual contact with the ground at a very low altitude. Skipper Resavage continued their descent, sweat pumps on, and followed ground references until they were over the approach lights to the runway…and they landed.
Their wingman was not as lucky. After three unsuccessful approaches from the south, Gander re-routed them to come in from the north. With their fuel state low and weather almost “zero, zero” the wingman was relieved to land on the fourth try.
Gander personnel, acutely aware of the critical nature of the medevac flight, rushed to the lead helicopter. Under the supervision of the Flight Surgeon, they immediately offloaded the burn victim into an ambulance. With police escort and sirens blaring, he was at the Gander hospital in record time. Our shipmate was medevaced via DC-9 to the National Burn Clinic in San Antonio, Texas, when the weather improved the next day.
Our “marathon” medevac helicopters never shut down upon landing, not wanting to risk their engines not starting up again. They had already logged over five hours of intense flying at maximum speed into the wind the entire inbound leg…in
SH-3H Sea King (BuNo 149898) from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 9 (HS-9) "Sea Griffins" in flight. HS-9 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
Legends and Legacies
wetsuits. The co-pilots never had a chance to get out of the cockpit during the hot refueling and aircraft inspection. The aircraft commanders gave their helicopters visual pre-flights. Then, with proper clearance, they took off into blustery IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) weather.
Enroute to Nimitz the weather thankfully improved. They had an expected tailwind that helped make up the distance the Nimitz CVBG had covered on her PIM eastward. Skipper Resavage’s helo was running low on fuel relative to his wingman because of their extra fuel burn on deck while they were waiting for them to land. It turned out to be fortuitous that they landed first on Kidd to refuel. Their wingman suffered an auxiliary hydraulic failure and had to fly his helicopter against considerable aerodynamic pressures. He executed a flawless “AUX OFF” emergency small deck landing as soon as the fueled lead helo cleared Kidd’s deck. ”AUX OFF” landings are challenging enough on a runway. On a pitching destroyer deck, that’s superb airmanship.
The wingman remained on Kidd another day for successful repairs. Had his wingman landed first, Skipper Resavage’s crew would have been hard pressed to receive HIFR (Helicopter InFlight Refueling) fuel from Kidd given the rough sea state.
After ensuring his wingman was “safe on deck,” Skipper Resavage returned to Nimitz without further incident. They had flown almost 11 hours and over 700 nautical miles in wetsuits. The wingman safely returned the next day. The marathon medevac was offically over.
Lead Helicopter: Pilot: CDR Roy Resavage, Co-Pilot: LT Jim Patterson, Aircrewmen: AW2 Douglas Haag and AW3 David Klunk. Medical personnel: LT “Doc” Livenstein and HM3 Mike Evertson.
Wingman: Pilot: LCDR Steve Weir, Co-Pilot: LTJG Mark Deardurff, Aircrewmen: AW2 Hugh O’Neill, and AW2 Andrew Baker. Maintenance personnel: AMH2 Steven Woicik, AE2 Kevin Warren, and AD3 Michael Reyes-Felicianol.
1: The Iowa Sailor survived this traumatic experience. He was treated for several months at the Burn Clinic. He and his family later had personal communication with Skipper Resavage.
2: Northern Wedding was a success. The CVBG arrived undetected in the fjords.
3: After a mission debrief with CAG in CVIC (Carrier Intelligence Center), the Lead Crew peeled off their wetsuits, headed for the showers and a well-earned rest. They all had been up for over 24 hours.
The next day, Skipper Resavage went to the “Dirty Shirt” (aircrew) wardroom for some chow with his co-pilot. Word of the successful marathon medevac spread quickly on the carrier’s 03 level. Upon entering the “Dirty Shirt,” a fellow CO spotted Skipper Resavage. This CO stood up and began applauding. He was quickly joined by the entire wardroom mess in cheering the Skipper and LT Patterson. Skipper Resavage told me he never forgot that moment. He remembered it as just another “Great Navy Day.”
4: Captain Resavage retired from the Navy after 27 years of service in 1998. He logged over 6,000 hours in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Yes…he was “a stick.” He began his second career as President of Helicopter Association International in Alexandria, Virginia. The Skipper passed away February 19, 2007 at age 61.
5: Lieutenant Commander Jim Patterson retired from the Navy to pursue his dream of a legal career. Judge Patterson served as an elected Circuit Court Judge in Mobile County, Alabama. Jim passed away January 10, 2023 at age 62.
This story was transcribed from the original article written by Captain Resavage in 2006 and conversations with me. The original article was published in Rotor Review #107, Fall 2009, titled “So Others May Live.”
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 32
Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company Celebrates 100 Years of Innovation: Forging a Legacy of Naval Helicopter Capability
By Shawn Malone, Strategy and Business Development Principal Analyst for Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company
Igor Sikorsky’s Three Aviation Careers
Onehundred years ago in March 1923, Russian immigrant and aviation pioneer, Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky, founded Sikorsky Aero Engineering Company. He was 34 years old.
With great vision and talent, but little financial capital, Sikorsky began his second aviation career, setting up shop on a chicken farm near Roosevelt Field, on Long Island, New York.
Just four years earlier, Sikorsky had fled his Ukrainian homeland to escape the Russian Revolution. His crime: a perceived loyalty to the Czar forged by a successful first career designing and building fixed wing aircraft, including the world’s first four-engine bomber, for the Imperial Russian Military.
Now in the United States, Sikorsky and a small team of Russian immigrants built the 14-passenger S-29-A, a twinengine sesquiplane. Lacking a hangar, the all-metal aircraft was built entirely outside. Sikorsky, as both designer and chief test pilot, flew the plane for the first time in May 1924.
Although never mass-produced, the S-29-A attracted publicity and investors. The S-38 amphibian followed in 1928 and became Sikorsky’s first commercial success.
In 1929, the company became a division of United Aircraft Corporation with Sikorsky as chief engineer. Infusion of capital gave aviation a series of historic flying boats from the company’s new home in Connecticut.
The first 40-passenger Flying Clippers were built in 1931, followed by the first transoceanic flying boat, the S-42, which pioneered commercial air transportation across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
On the eve of World War II, Sikorsky was 50 years old. His second career was coming to an end as competitors built ever-better fixed wing aircraft. But Sikorsky held an ace card — years of notes on potential helicopter designs stemming from a boyhood dream to build and fly a vertical lift machine.
With funding from United Aircraft, he assembled a core team of 10 engineers to build a single main rotor helicopter with an anti-torque tail rotor — the VS-300. Sikorsky determined the configuration would best enable efficiency of hover and forward flight.
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The flying boat, the S-42
The S-38 amphibian
Igor Sikorsky flew the experimental VS-300 helicopter (tethered to the ground) for the first time on September 14, 1939. Years later, he told his eldest son Sergei: “The vibration was fierce, control was marginal, and stability was nonexistent.”
By 1942, his team had matured the single main rotor configuration. The Army Air Forces, Coast Guard and Navy placed Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation under contract for the first-ever production helicopter —the XR-4.
Sikorsky’s third (and best known) aviation career had launched.
Today, 95 percent of all helicopters are single main rotor machines aligned to the VS-300 configuration.1
There is no doubt the U.S. Navy’s multi-mission MH60R and MH-60S Seahawk® helicopters are the world’s most advanced and capable maritime rotorcraft ever fielded.
More than 500 MH-60 Seahawk aircraft operate today with the U.S. Navy and allied countries. Collectively, both aircraft types have surpassed well over two million flight hours since operations began in the early 2000s.
How the maritime services achieved this significant aviation milestone is worth a look back in time.
Laying the Foundation for Future Innovation and Service
In the midst of World War II, with the Battle for the Atlantic still raging, the Sikorsky R-4 entered full-scale production as the first fully controllable, single main rotor helicopter.
It was this design that led the Navy and Coast Guard to acquire the maritime service’s first YR-4B / XHNS-1 “Hoverfly” helicopters on October 16, 1943.2
Inspired by the tragic events of December 7, 1941, LCDR Frank Erickson, a Coast Guard seaplane pilot serving that day as the Pearl Harbor Air Station Duty Officer, immediately saw the need for more capable rescue capabilities after witnessing stranded sailors desperately trying to get ashore.
Coast Guard and Navy leaders advocated for the establishment of a test and evaluation program after visiting the Sikorsky facility in Stratford, Connecticut. Determined to make rescue helicopters a reality, they also had the vision to advocate for helicopters in the anti-submarine role — as German submarine attacks were becoming increasingly deadly in 1942.3
So That Others May Live
In a series of firsts, Erickson, along with Sikorsky engineers and a group of new pilots helped to develop equipment and procedures for search and rescue. They initiated the development of helicopter flotation systems, instrument flight capabilities, and autopilot systems, as well as rescue hoists and rescue baskets—all crucial steps that maximized the unique flight and rescue capabilities of the helicopter as a lifesaving platform.3
VS-300 with Igor Sikorsky at the controls
S-47 R-4 YR-4B shipboard landing SS Daghestan
LCDR Frank Erickson in the HNS Cockpit
The Navy continued to evolve its early experience with helicopters to create the service's first two designated helicopter squadrons: Helicopter Utility Squadron 1 (HU-1) and HU-2 on April 1, 1948. These became Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 1 (HC-1) and HC-2 following Navy redesignation in 1965 to reflect broader mission sets. 4
For recent movie goers, a notable example of the state of technology from this era is the tragic scene from the 2022 movie, Devotion, depicting an actual event from the Korean War. Marine First Lt. Charles Ward flew a Sikorsky S-51 / HO3S (depicted by an S-52 / HO5S in the film – the first helicopter with all metal rotor blades) in an attempt to rescue Ensign Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first African-American pilot, who was shot down on December 4, 1950 in his VF-32 F-4U Corsair. 5
Coast Guard Aviation Evolves to Become the Guardians of the Seas
Perhaps surprising today, but there was a time after World War II in which the nascent helicopter development program was terminated in favor of an air-sea rescue organization established by the Joint Staff in 1944. The Coast Guard had to fight to retain its helicopter capability as some questioned the future of these early aircraft.
Other visionaries, however, believed that the future of Coast Guard rescue operations would involve the establishment of small stations along the coasts, supported by helicopters, that would work with cutters and lifeboats. 6
Post-war improvements quickly followed such as the introduction of the Sikorsky S-55 / HO4S-2G / H-19 “Chickasaw,” the first helicopter able to carry multiple survivors in a cabin, and the first to be equipped in the 1960s for night and instrument flight which significantly expanded the Coast Guard’s previous rescue capabilities.7, 8
Sikorsky developed the S-62 / HU2S-1G / HH-52A
“Seaguard” as a commercial venture in the late 1950s. It combined the dynamic components of the S-55 with a boat hull-shaped fuselage and a single turboshaft engine. This was a relatively ambitious design for the era. Sikorsky funded its development as part of a "fly before you buy" test program, which promoted the helicopter as a viable solution for the Coast Guard. 9
By the late 1960s, the Coast Guard’s responsibilities were increasing to meet growing civil and commercial needs. Choosing the HH-3F “Pelican,” a variant of the Sikorsky S-61 / HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant” employed by the Air Force in Vietnam, the Coast Guard extended its ability to save lives, protect marine resources, and interdict narcotics. 10
The Eyes and Ears of the Fleet
In a milestone not well remembered almost 80 years later, Lieutenant Stewart Graham, USCG, along with a pilot from the Royal Air Force, sailed from New York to Liverpool, UK on January 2, 1944 on an Atlantic convoy with three Sikorsky R-4 / HNS-1 helicopters that deployed from a small platform mounted on the cargo ship Motor Vessel (M/V) Dagehstan.11
The proof of concept showed helicopters could conduct anti-submarine patrols from ships at sea. This demonstration also led to the establishment of the Navy’s first helicopter antisubmarine warfare squadrons, HS-1 in 1951, and HS-2 in 1952 after dipping sonars were developed. 12
To keep pace with the Soviet Union’s submarine advances during the Cold War, Sikorsky introduced the S-58 / HSS-1 / SH-34 “Seabat” as an ASW helicopter in 1954. As ASW helicopters at this time could only execute visual tactics during daylight and good weather, the Navy introduced HSS-1Ns
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 36 Legends and Legacies
(later SH-34Js) in the early 1960s with a Sikorsky equipped system designed to fly the helicopter in all weather and night conditions, which HS-5 put to good use in becoming the first “night dipping” capable squadron.13
Recognizing the need for additional performance and capability, Sikorsky in 1961 fielded one of the most iconic helicopter designs in aviation history, the Sikorsky S-61 / HSS2 / SH-3 “Sea King." As one of the first ASW helicopters to use turboshaft engines, the “Sea King” proved to be a popular design that combined the roles of both ASW hunter and killer, which had previously been carried out by two separate helicopters. 14
helicopters flying from aircraft carriers presented the optimum solution to the threat of nuclear weapons during the critical ship-to-shore movement phase of the service’s "vertical envelopment" doctrine. 15
Operating for decades, the SH-3 Sea King, and the armored combat search and rescue (CSAR) version of the helicopter, known as the HH-3A “Big Mother,” served with distinction during the Vietnam and broader Cold War. And the VH3D continues to give the President of the United States safe, reliable transportation pending a new ‘Marine One’ helicopter -- the Sikorsky VH-92.
Marine Aviation – in the Air, on Land, and Sea
The first Marine helicopter squadron, HMX-1, was established in 1947 following a recommendation that
Marine helicopters made their combat debut during the Korean War flying the Sikorsky S-51 / HO3S-1 and the Sikorsky S-55 / HRS-1 / H-19 after the service’s first helicopter transport squadron, HMR-161, was established in 1951.8 The development of the S-55 was initiated privately by Sikorsky without government sponsorship as the helicopter was initially designed as a testbed for several concepts intended to carry greater loads and make maintenance easier.
HSS-1 / SH-34 “Seabat”
HSS-2 / SH-3 Mighty “Sea King”
S-55, the H-19 "Chickasaw"
S-58 / H-34
The HRS / H-19 represented a significant advancement in helicopter design, but it was not the transport helicopter Marine planners envisioned to achieve doctrinal requirements. To lift fully loaded Marines over beachhead defenses from well off-shore, Sikorsky responded with the development of the S-56 / HR2S / CH-37 “Mojave” heavy lift assault transport helicopter. At the time of delivery in 1956, the HR2S-1 / CH-37 was the largest and fastest helicopter in the Western world. For shipboard storage, the main rotor blades folded automatically back on the fuselage, another first for Sikorsky, and the tail rotor mast folded forward on the fuselage.16
The Marine Corps also procured the Sikorsky S-58 / HUS-1 / UH-34 “Seahorse” in 1957 – its last piston engine helicopter – as an interim assault helicopter until more powerful turboshaft engines could be fielded.
The S-58 / HUS-1 / UH-34D served in Vietnam beginning in 1962 and became the Marine Corps' work horse flying troop transport, assault, cargo, and medical and casualty evacuation. True to its Sikorsky heritage, the “Huss” was tough, dependable, and adaptable. 17
Sikorsky next designed and built the S-65 / CH-53 “Sea Stallion” heavy-lift helicopter as a replacement for the CH-37 after the Marines and other services withdrew from a tiltwing experimental aircraft program in the 1960s.18
The six-bladed S-65 / CH-53 with twin General Electric T64 turboshaft engines leveraged automatic flight control and dynamic systems developed for the Sikorsky S-64 / CH54 “Tarhe” or “Sky Crane." Following initial deliveries in 1964, the CH-53A Sea Stallion deployed to Vietnam where it quickly proved its value moving heavy payloads – to include the recovery of damaged aircraft.19
Sikorsky then responded to a Marine Corps requirement issued in 1967 for a helicopter with a lifting capacity 1.8 times that of the CH-53D, which resulted in the Sikorsky S-80 / CH-53E “Super Stallion” featuring a third engine and a more powerful rotor system.
Throughout its flying career, the Super Stallion demonstrated the value of heavy lift helicopters whether supporting humanitarian relief and non-combatant evacuation operations or by rescuing a downed Air Force pilot from Bosnia. The longest amphibious raid in history occurred when CH-53Es flew over 500 miles from amphibious assault ships in the Arabian Sea to secure the first land base in Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.20
And now, Sikorsky and the Marine Corps are preparing to capitalize on more than 50 years of shared heavy lift experience as the Sikorsky S-95 / CH-53K “King Stallion” enters full rate production and begins to support fleet operations. Built to thrive on the modern battlefield, and marinized to support shipboard operations, the CH-53K will provide critical mobility while supporting contested logistics in a maritime environment. The CH-53K’s modern digital thread permeates
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 38
CH-53D “Sea Stallion”
CH-53E “Super Stallion" from HMH-464 landing on LHD 1
CH-53K “King Stallion" - First Flight on 27 October 2015
Early USMC CH-53E dual-point lift of HMMWV
design, build, operations, training and sustainment ensuring the King Stallion is intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable in the most austere and remote forward operating bases.
The new heavy lifter is built to lift up to 36,000 pounds – allowing the Marine Corps and international militaries to transport a 27,000-pound / 12,200-kilogram external load over 110 nautical miles / 200 kilometers in high altitude / hot conditions. This is more than triple the external load carrying capacity in the same environmental conditions as the legacy CH-53E aircraft.
Additionally, with its lighter, stronger composite airframe; powerful new GE T408 turboshaft engines; three separate external cargo hooks; digital interoperability / cyber resilience; upgradable avionics and mission equipment; integrated aerial refueling capability; and triple redundant fly-by-wire flight control system that reduces crew workload and enhances mission management, the King Stallion’s 21st century design makes the CH-53K especially well-suited for combat search and rescue, special operations, medical evacuation/transport, and the tactical movement of cargo, equipment, and personnel more quickly and effectively than ever before. The CH-53K will provide world-class heavy lift and multi-mission operations for the Marine Corps, Joint Force and our allies and partners for decades to come.
Initially utilizing modified Marine CH-53As, the Navy’s first dedicated Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) Squadron was established in 1971. From this AMCM Fleet Replacement Squadron cadre, the HM-12 “Sea Dragons” accepted the Navy’s first purpose built AMCM helicopter in 1973, the RH-53D, and went on to develop an entire community of AMCM squadrons (HM-14, HM-15, HM16, HM-18 and HM-19).
Recognizing the value of the RH-53D in the AMCM and long range Vertical Onboard Delivery (VOD) roles, and the increased performance of the Sikorsky S-80 / CH-53E Super Stallion, the Navy requested a version for the airborne mine countermeasures mission, which entered service as the MH53E “Sea Dragon” in 1986.23
The Seahawk Era – Adapting to Meet the Evolving Needs of the Maritime Services Today – and Tomorrow
The Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) was an outgrowth of the Navy’s focus in the 1950s on the Soviet Union’s rapidly expanding submarine force.
While investigation into a Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH) Program begun in the late 1950s was ultimately curtailed due to Vietnam War budget constraints and technical challenges, the Navy selected the H-2 Seasprite in 1970 to be the interim Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System platform.24
“Big Iron” Comes of Age to Counter the Asymmetric Mine Threat
In 1962, based on mine warfare lessons learned from World War II, the Korean War, and other regional conflicts such as the Suez Canal crisis in 1956, the Chief of Naval Operations directed that a few helicopters be configured for the Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) Mission. The Navy then turned to Sikorsky to convert a number of S-61 / HSS-2 / SH-3A Sea Kings to RH-3As. Although the RH-3A was an interim AMCM aircraft — given it typically flew at 30 feet in a 20 degree nose down attitude and the anti-torque tail rotor was never designed for the flight regime it operated in while towing AMCM gear — the Sea King nevertheless proved itself as a viable AMCM platform until it was replaced.21, 23
Referred to as LAMPS Mark I, the Navy envisioned these helicopters would enable surface combatants to attack submarines with lightweight torpedoes at extended ranges from the ship and expand situational awareness beyond lineof-sight limitations.
Following assessments in the 1970s of the SH-2D/F LAMPS Mark I and YSH-2E LAMPS Mark II Systems – as well as a YSH-3J modified Sea King utilized to carry larger prototype avionics – the Navy conducted a competition in 1974 to develop the LAMPS Mark III System, a concept integrating both the aircraft and shipboard sensors and systems into a single multi-axis weapons platform.
The MH-53E “Sea Dragon”
Legends and Legacies
The Navy selected IBM Federal Systems, now Lockheed Martin, to be the prime systems integrator for the LAMPS MK III concept given the company’s shipboard acoustic processor and sonar suite expertise.
Advances in survivability, supportability and commonality with Army aircraft led the Navy to also select Sikorsky's S-70-B design in 1978, which was designated the SH-60B “Seahawk." 25, 26
After the SH-60B entered service in the 1980s, the U.S. Navy selected the SH-60F “Oceanhawk” in 1986 to replace the SH-3 Sea King aboard aircraft carriers. Based on the Sikorsky S-70 family / SH-60B airframe with upgraded SH3H avionics and the AN/AQS-13F Dipping Sonar, the SH60F served as the carrier battle group’s primary inner zone anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft at the end of the Cold War and into the 2000s.25
For the Coast Guard, the HH-60J “Jayhawk” entered service in 1991 after being chosen to replace the HH-3F Pelican as the service’s long-range SAR, law enforcement, and marine environmental protection aircraft. Lighter, faster, and equipped with more sophisticated electronics and more powerful engines than the Pelican, the HH-60J was converted by the Coast Guard into the digital cockpit MH-60T in the 2000s as part of an upgrade that included the remanufacture of a few retired SH-60Fs into MH-60T “Jayhawks." 27, 28
In 1993, the Navy also began to develop a more capable multi-mission helicopter with Lockheed Martin (formerly IBM Federal Systems and Loral). Known originally as the LAMPS Mark III Block II Upgrade, the program envisioned advancing the capabilities of the SH-60B and SH-60F to meet maritime warfighting requirements for decades into the future. One airframe would include sonobuoys and a dipping sonar, multi-mode Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR), newest generation electronic support and countermeasures equipment, advanced acoustic processor, sensor operator assistance, integrated glass cockpit to minimize anticipated aircrews data overload, and the ability to employ both offensive ASuW and ASW weapons.
Based on the SH-60F, the HH-60H “Rescue Hawk” was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard’s HH60J “Jayhawk," and entered service in time to serve during Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East in 1990-1991. The HH-60H carried defensive and offensive sensors and weapons, and was one of the most survivable helicopters in the world. It was the fleet’s primary long range combat search and rescue (CSAR), naval special warfare (NSW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) helicopter.25
As the U.S. Navy adjusted to the reduced post-Cold War defense budgets in the 1990s, efforts to improve naval warfighting effectiveness and efficiency were proposed, which led to the adoption of a Helicopter Master Plan and Concept of Operations. The plan would reduce the Navy’s seven different helicopter types to a more manageable structure while expanding responsibilities for rotary-winged aircraft. By replacing the aircraft carrier-based S-3B Viking, improving direct access to the Carrier Strike Group, Carrier Air Wing and Warfare Commanders, and providing alternative offensive weapons deployment capability, the plan looked to increase capability and capacity while enabling overall savings through component commonality for training, maintenance, sparing and logistics.
The potential of this system became more apparent to Navy leaders. The SH-60R Program, as it came to be known, shifted from its original strategy of using “remanufactured” SH-60Bs to acquiring an increased number of “new manufactured” multi-mission MH-60R airframes.
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 40
HH-60H "Rescue Hawk"
SH-60B "Seahawk" from HSL-41 above San Diego
As part of the Helo Master Plan, the Navy replaced its CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters in 1997. After at sea demonstrations by a prototype, which combined the Army UH-60L airframe with features of a Navy SH-60F, the Navy awarded a contract to Sikorsky for the CH-60S in 1998. The CH-60S was subsequently redesignated MH-60S in 2001
Warfare support, to Airborne Mine Countermeasures and anti-surface warfare (ASuW). The community deploys in composite aviation detachments along with the uncrewed MQ-8C Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing air systems (VTUAS).25
to reflect its multi-mission versatility. Unlike all other Navy H-60s, the MH-60S was not based on the Sikorsky S-70-B / SH-60B platform. Instead, the MH-60S is an S-70-A / UH60 hybrid with sliding doors on both sides of the cabin and an aft-mounted tail wheel; and the engines, drive train, flight controls and rotors of the S-70-B / SH-60. It also includes the integrated glass cockpit developed by Lockheed Martin for the MH-60R and many of the same avionics and weapons systems.
Today, the MH-60S Knighthawk serves as the Navy’s modern work horse employed by the Fleet in a wide range of missions from combat logistics and VERTREP, search and rescue and personnel recovery / CSAR, and Naval Special
Looking forward, the Sikorsky Team is eager to build on this foundation to support the Maritime Services in the 21st century with transformational approaches that advance ship-based crewed and uncrewed vertical lift technologies with integrated and interoperable mission systems. Enabling evolving maritime strategies and roadmaps is key to meeting tomorrow’s global challenges.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants…
Reflecting on the last 100 years, it is clear to see the ardor for creativity and standards of excellence imbued by Igor Sikorsky into the company he founded, and the drive displayed by countless others who worked tirelessly by his side to design and manufacture helicopters that enabled aircrews all over the world to perform challenging missions and save lives.
Dec. 2016: a U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk in centennial colors lifts off from Sikorsky headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut.
“Igor Sikorsky demonstrated a passion for innovation and the grit to see his vision through to fruition,” said Paul Lemmo, Sikorsky President. “For 100 years, our employees have carried on the culture of innovation he started as we help customers around the world perform difficult and sometimes dangerous missions.”
Igor Sikorsky not only created a new aviation industry, but he inspired others to persevere in forging a lasting legacy that pioneered flight solutions designed to ‘bring people home everywhere, every time.’ … and it all started with Igor Sikorsky’s Dream.
1. Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company. 100 Years of Innovation. [Online] March 5, 2023. [Cited: March 21, 2023.] https://www. lockheedmartin.com/en-us/capabilities/sikorsky/sikorsky100.html.
2. Sikorsky Aircraft. Wikipedia. [Online] [Cited: March 21, 2023.] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_Aircraft.
3. Fardink, Paul J. Vertipedia. Frank A. Erickson. [Online] The Vertical Flight Society. [Cited: March 21, 2023.] https://vertipedia.vtol.org/ biographies/getBiography/biographyID/56.
4. Navy History and Heritage Command. Notable Squadrons. [Online] https://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/communities/navalaviation0/notable-squadrons.html.
5. Navy History and Heritage Command. Jesse Brown. [Online] [Cited: March 19, 2023.] https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/ nhhc/browse-by-topic/people/trailblazers/jesse-brown.html.
6. CAPT William Kossler, USCG (Ret). Coast Guard Aviation History. The Future of Coast Guard Aviation. [Online] [Cited: March 19, 2023.]
7. United States Coast Guard History. H-19 Chickasaw. [Online] [Cited: March 19, 2023.] https://www.history.uscg.mil/Browse-by-Topic/ Assets/Air/All/Rotary-Wing/Article/3051523/sikorsky-ho4s-2g3g-hh-19g-chickasaw/.
8. Sikorsky Historical Archives. Sikorsky Product History - S-55 / H-19. [Online] [Cited: March 19, 2023.] https://sikorskyarchives.com/ home/sikorsky-product-history/helicopter-innovation-era/sikorsky-s-55/.
9. United States Coast Guard History. HH-52 Seaguard. [Online] March 19, 2023. https://www.history.uscg.mil/browse-by-topic/Aviation/ Article/2390838/sikorsky-hh-52a-seaguard/.
10. United States Coast Guard History. HH-3E Pelican. [Online] [Cited: March 19, 2023.] https://cgaviationhistory.org/aircraft_/ sikorsky-hh-3f-pelican/.
11. United States Coast Guard History. Seagoing Development of the Helicopter. [Online] [Cited: March 19, 2023.] https://cgaviationhistory. org/1943-sea-going-development-of-the-helicopter/.
12. United States Coast Guard History. The ASW Helicopter Becomes a Reality. [Online] [Cited: March 19, 2023.] https://cgaviationhistory. org/1951-the-asw-helicopter-becomes-a-reality/.
13. Manningham, Dan. History Net. This is How Night ASW Started. [Online] February 21, 2020. [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https://www. historynet.com/this-is-how-night-anti-submarine-warfare-started/.
14. Sikorsky Historical Archives. Sikorsky Product History - S-61 / SH-3 Sea King. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https://sikorskyarchives. com/home/sikorsky-product-history/helicopter-innovation-era/sikorsky-s-61/.
15. Headquarters Marine Corps. The History of HMX-1. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https://www.hqmc.marines.mil/hmx-1/About/.
16. Sikorsky Historial Archives. Sikorsky Product History - S-56 / HR2S / CH-37 Mojave. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https:// sikorskyarchives.com/home/sikorsky-product-history/helicopter-innovation-era/sikorsky-s-56/.
17. Sikorsky Historical Archive. Sikorsky Product History - S-58 / HUS-1 / H-34 Seabat & Seahorse. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https://sikorskyarchives.com/home/sikorsky-product-history/helicopter-innovation-era/sikorsky-s-58/.
18. AHS International . Vertipedia - LTV XC-142 Experimental Tiltwing. [Online] [Cited: March 19, 2023.] https://vertipedia-legacy. vtol.org/aircraft.cfm?aircraftID=333.
19. Sikorsky Historical Archives. Sikorsky Product History - S-65 / CH-53 Sea Stallion. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https:// sikorskyarchives.com/home/sikorsky-product-history/helicopter-innovation-era/sikorsky-s-65/.
20. Headquarters Marine Corps. US Marines in Afghanistan - 2001-2009 Anthology. [Online] 2014. [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https:// www.marines.mil/Portals/1/US%20Marines%20in%20Afghanistan%20Anthology.pdf.
21. Global Security. RH-3 Sea King Minesweeping Helicopter. [Online] [Cited: March 18, 2023.] https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ systems/aircraft/rh-3.htm.
22. Thomason, Tommy H. Tail Spin Topics - Blog Post. A Brief History of USN Helicopter Minesweeping - RH-3A. [Online] December 24, 2022. [Cited: March 20, 2023.] http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2022/.
23. Naval Helicopter Association. Rotor Review Magazine - Issue 153 - HM-12 the Origin of the U.S. Navy's H-53 Operations. [Online] 2021. [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr_153_summer.2021/s/13150525.
24. GyroDyne Helicopters Historical Foundation. DASH History - The DASH Weapon System. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https:// www.gyrodynehelicopters.com/dash_history.htm.
25. Caniglia, Ken. Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society. SH-60F/HH-60H/HH-60J (Sikorsky S-70B) Seahawk Helicopter. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https://www.nhahistoricalsociety.org/sh-60f-sikorsky-s-70b-seahawk-helicopter/.
26. Sikorsky Historical Archives. Sikorsky Product History - S-70B / SH-60B. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https://sikorskyarchives. com/home/sikorsky-product-history/helicopter-innovation-era/sikorsky-s-70b/.
27. Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society. Operational History of HH-60 J Jayhawks. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https:// www.nhahistoricalsociety.org/coast-guard-hh-60j-jayhawk-helicopter/.
28. United States Coast Guard . Acquisition Directorate - MH-60T. [Online] [Cited: March 20, 2023.] https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/OurOrganization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Acquisitions-CG-9/Programs/Air-Programs/MRR-MH-60T/.
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 42
Afterword from Sergei Sikorsky
authorized the establishment of a Joint USCG/USN "Helicopter Training and Development Base." The base was activated on USCG Air Station Floyd Bennett Field on December 1, 1943. Two weeks later, fresh from "boot camp," I was assigned to the base.
As the first Sikorsky HNS-1 (R-4) helicopters arrived, we started putting them to work.
During 1944 and 1945, the Base trained several groups of pilots: USN, USCG, RAF, Royal Navy and CAA (now FAA). The base developed the helicopter rescue hoist, the "Erickson basket" and various litter combinations.
Following the end of WWII the Navy continued to develop the helicopter as an anti-submarine weapon. It has also created the large, cargo-carrying helicopters now used by the U.S. Marines and a number of U.S. and foreign services.
Often overlooked is the Navy's role in the development of a series of turbine engines specifically designed for the helicopter. These engines have had a great impact on helicopter evolution, both military and civil. From the HNS1 to today's MH-60, the U.S. Navy continues to play a major role in the development of the helicopter.
January 1945: Igor Sikorsky greets his son, Sergei, AMM3c, during a visit to Coast Guard Station Brooklyn, NY, where extensive tests and experiments with the helicopter were constantly in work.
About the Author
CAPT Shawn Malone, USN (Ret.) served with the HSL / HSM community with over 3,300 flight hours in SH-60B, SH-60F, HH-60H and MH-60R helicopters. He currently works for Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, as a strategy and business development analyst.
Sikorsky (AMM 2/c, Ret.)
A Long Way, and Not So Long Ago
By CAPT Joellen Drag Oslund, USN (Ret.)
You’vecome a long way, baby!” An advertising tag line from the late 1960’s. And for women in Naval Aviation, it is very true today—we have come a long, long way since the first 6 women began flight training in 1973, 50 years ago this year. But because it has been a long time and a long way, it is easy to forget the many hurdles and archaic attitudes that existed in those early decades. How did we get where we are today? Why did the Navy open flight training to women? What were the obstacles and attitudes that had to be overcome and how did those early pioneers deal with them?
As the Navy’s first woman helicopter pilot, and the fourth woman Naval Aviator, I helped make that history and pave the way along with five other pioneers. And while the topic could fill a book (and it has), I thought a brief history might be in order for the readers of Rotor Review.
The story of women in military aviation actually began long before 1973, in World War II. Manpower shortages in the military were acute in the early 1940s, and the services found the answer to those shortages by utilizing women more fully in the civilian workforce. You’ve all seen “Rosie the Riveter” posters used to recruit women from civilian life. But other women answered the call for a more daring effort, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs.
From 1942-1944, there were 1,074 WASPs who were trained to fly every aircraft in the military inventory at the time. They trained Army Air Force pilots, towed targets, and ferried aircraft wherever they were needed. And 38 of them gave their lives fulfilling the mission. But because they were not considered military members according to the guidelines at the time, a fallen WASP had to be buried at her family’s expense. Her fellow pilots often “passed the hat” to help cover those costs. There were no official letters acknowledging their sacrifice and the Army would not even allow the stars and stripes to be draped on their coffin.
The program was abruptly disbanded in December 1944 without even a handshake or a letter recognizing their service. They had no veterans status, no benefits and even had to pay their own way home. And with that, a brave new chapter in women’s equality ended.
Fast forward 29 years to the early 70s when the military, and the Navy in particular, was facing critical personnel shortages. For Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the answer to those shortages once again was women. ADM Zumwalt was a very forward thinking CNO and he didn’t like waiting around for studies or committees or Congressional (in)action. He was well known for sending out major policy changes directly to the Fleet in the form of Naval Operations (NAVOP) messages. They were nicknamed Z-grams.
With the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) all but certain to pass, the impending end of the military draft, and the imminent requirement for an All Volunteer Force, he issued Z-116 “Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women” in August of 1972. It was a huge step forward for women, both officer and enlisted, as it opened ratings, specialities and designators that had previously been closed to women.
The early 70s were an exciting time for women and a lot of barriers were coming down:
• The ERA looked like it would pass (we’re still waiting)
• Women were making advances in education and the workforce thanks to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibited employment discrimination “because of sex,” a phrase that was added almost as a joke to that historic legislation in hopes that it would lead to its defeat.
• The 1972 passage of Title IX also prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education or activity including sports.
But it wasn’t until November 1972 that ADM Zumwalt issued a follow up message and opened Navy flight training to women for a “trial program."
I think it is safe to say that the Navy as a whole hadn’t put much thought or study into the concept of women pilots. Women’s uniform options at the time consisted only of blazers, skirts, and heels. Our flight suits, helmets, and boots were often too big or too small in all the wrong places. There were grave doubts about women’s supposed lack of upper body strength, and the scarcity of women’s restroom facilities was often cast as an insurmountable obstacle and excuse to deny women duty assignments and career opportunities. There was also a WWII-era law that prohibited women from
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LT Joellen Drag, USN
being assigned to Navy ships and combat aircraft. Society as a whole and many Navy leaders considered women physically and emotionally unfit to fly. A prevalent attitude in the Navy was one of deep skepticism and even resentment. The first six of us were aware of these attitudes and perceptions, but we forged ahead regardless and were determined to prove that women could do the job and do it very well.
While still in flight school, we were told we would not be allowed to do carrier landings in the T-28 because a law (10 USC Sec 6015) prohibited us from “…being assigned to duty…” aboard Navy vessels. We found out that our duty assignments would be severely limited and that flying jet aircraft was completely off the table, again because of that federal law. Barbara Rainy, Judy Neuffer, and Jane Skiles immediately protested the restriction against carrier landing training in a letter to the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA), but were turned down. Rosemary Mariner had the best flight grades in primary training and basically served notice to the Navy that she would not accept assignment to helicopters. She was instead sent to a multi-engine propeller squadron that eventually afforded her an opportunity to transition to jets, thanks to a very supportive commanding officer.
I was assigned to a helicopter squadron in San Diego to fly the H-46, which I loved! But the federal law that kept women from flying jets was being interpreted so narrowly that even hovering over the back of a Navy ship anchored off the coast of San Diego was not allowed. And deploying on a ship was out of the question!
I sent a letter to SECNAV formally requesting sea duty assignment, but that letter never made it past the wing commander—forever “lost” in the chain of command. A few months later, I added my name as a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of five other women that challenged the constitutionality of 6015. I knew it was a risky decision career-wise, but it was a necessary one if women were to have any hope of a level playing field upon which to advance their career opportunities.
In July of 1978, Judge John Sirica (of Watergate fame) handed down his decision declaring 6015 unconstitutional. The Navy subsequently modified the law to allow for limited shipboard duty by women, but the restrictions regarding combat remained for another 15 years until 1993. I was able to get a ship landing qual in my last two months at North Island which enabled me to do a six day deployment aboard USS Vancouver during my next tour at NAS Pt. Mugu.
The other women among the first six continued to challenge restrictions and stereotypes at their duty stations. Jane Skiles was the first woman Naval Aviator to fly while pregnant with both of her daughters thanks to a supportive flight surgeon.
Judy Neuffer flew the P-3 with VW-4 “Hurricane Hunters” in her second duty assignment. Ironically, although women
were barred from flying in combat at the time, assignment to the Hunters was considered “the toughest non-combat flying job in the world.” Judy retired as a Captain from the Navy Reserve and also had a 35-year career at NASA. And tragically, Barbara Rainey, our very first woman Naval Aviator, was also the first to die in service to her country when she was killed in a training command accident in 1982.
Rosemary broke so many barriers and had so many Navy accomplishments that it is hard to list them all here, but the most significant include:
• First to fly tactical jets
• First to command an operational aviation squadron
• Qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer
• Served as Executive Officer, USS Lexington
Wherever she was assigned, Rosemary was a strong role model and mentor to all her personnel, and especially to women Naval Aviators. She opened doors and held them open for those who followed. From her first days in Women Officer School in 1973, she was adamant that what happened to the WASP would not happen to us. To that end, she was instrumental in making sure that combat restrictions in the Navy were finally and completely repealed in 1993.
I am very proud of the legacy of the first six women Naval Aviators. But all of our pioneering efforts would have been for naught if not for the thousands of talented, dedicated and courageous women who walked through those open doors and followed us into the skies for the last 50 years. It is the women who have flown aircraft in combat and fought for the right to do it. It is the one who now flies as the first woman demonstration pilot with the Blue Angels. It is the women who have commanded squadrons, air wings, battle groups, and ships, including a nuclear-powered carrier. It is the women Naval Aviators who have flown in space and who have been promoted to the most senior leadership positions in all the sea services. And it is the women who have given their lives in service to our country.
In the next few years, I believe we will see the first woman to land on the moon and the first woman CNO.
I recently came across a quote that seems especially wellsuited for the 50-year celebration of women flying in the Navy. It is from the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” and is spoken by Atticus Finch: “What good are wings,” he asked his daughter, Scout, “without the courage to fly?”
Women have proven over and over that they do, indeed, have the courage to fly. No doubt there will be new challenges and hurdles to overcome in the future, but as long as there are women with wings, we can look forward with much confidence to the next 50 years.
Legends and Legacies
Fly to Fight, Fight to Win
By LCDR Robert E. Swain III, USN
Originally Published in Proceedings, Vol. 144/10/1,388 October 2018
Lessons from helicopter gunship operations in Vietnam can chart the course for the future of expeditionary rotary-wing naval aviation.
Thememoirs of aviators assigned to Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three (HA[L]-3) during the Vietnam War reveal a chapter in naval rotary-wing history defined by tenacity and courage. From positions afloat and ashore, the HA(L)-3 “Seawolves” launched into enemy gunfire, in terrible weather, and on horizonless nights to provide fire support to beleaguered friendly units, insert SEAL teams, or retrieve wounded sailors and soldiers from the battlefield. With no naval precedent for rotary-wing multimission attack, assault, and rescue operations, the all-volunteer squadron rapidly developed the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to assist coalition efforts.
By the U.S. withdrawal in 1972, HA(L)-3 had helped transform the Mekong Delta into one of the most pacified areas of South Vietnam. Nevertheless, through the fog of time and with the operational departure from more aggressive rotary-wing missions, expeditionary naval aviation seems to have forgotten the Seawolves’ legacy.
Until 2011, rotary-wing naval aviators attached to amphibious ready groups/Marine expeditionary units (ARG/ MEUs) performed fleet logistics support operations, searchand-rescue (SAR) alerts, and vertical replenishment but were not expected to offensively engage hostile forces. Over the past seven years, however, ARG/MEU Navy helicopter doctrine has shifted from two-aircraft SAR detachments to three-aircraft Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) detachments flying the armed MH-60S Knighthawk. Expeditionary HSCs now train to “nontraditional” Navy helicopter missions such as armed escort, rotary-wing close air support, maritime interdiction, surface warfare, and the tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel. As expeditionary HSC personnel refine their tactical employment, they should look to the Seawolves for inspiration.
HA(L)-3 was the only Navy helicopter attack, assault, and combat rescue squadron operating in South Vietnam. The key to its success was its ability to build relationships with assets from other units and services to earn their trust while demonstrating a willingness to adapt to new missions and a warfighting spirit. By adapting the same approach to ARG/ MEU interoperability, today’s HSC detachments can elevate their participation in expeditionary operations.
A Call for Fire
In the early 1960s, the escalating Viet Cong insurgency in the Mekong Delta and Rung Sat Swamp threatened the livelihood and freedom of the region. South Vietnam was one of the world’s largest rice exporters, and “80 percent of its rice crop [was] harvested in the fertile Delta.” According to intelligence reports, when the Viet Cong could not obtain rice, “they resorted to extortion, theft, or confiscation” from civilians. The Rung Sat Special Zone (RSSZ) contained the Long Tau shipping channel, South Vietnam’s primary supply line from Saigon to the South China Sea. By 1966, U.S. leadership recognized that whoever dominated the channels of the Mekong Delta and RSSZ, “controlled the heart of South Vietnam.”
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River Patrol Escort
Seawolves HA(L)-3 Det 9
The U.S. Navy established Operation Game Warden (Task Force [TF] 116) in December 1965 to confront the growing communist presence. Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), called for patrol craft, SEAL teams, minesweeping units, and helicopters to operate together and establish government control of the Long Tau shipping channel and the main offshoots of the Mekong River. The 120 river patrol boat (PBR) crews assigned to TF116 bore the brunt of this task, engaging in an average of 70 firefights a month. Because of the limited mobility of ground reinforcements, it soon became apparent that “quick reaction close air support would be indispensable.” The proposed aerial force would help survey the winding waterways, stave off ambush forward of the surface patrols, and provide fire support and casualty evacuation.
Initially, Army aviation was the only local option. On 11 March 1966, two Army UH-1 Iroquois helicopters embarked on the USS Belle Grove (LSD-2) to determine the viability of shipboard quick-reaction air support. Fifteen days later, Operation Jackstay marked the first major inshore amphibious assault of the war, and the Belle Grove Army helicopters “made a significant contribution . . . until darkness precluded further accurate fire.”
As Game Warden’s tasking expanded, the “fair weather” pilots of the Army could not provide the dedicated coverage necessary for extended operations in remote areas of the Delta. Troops on the ground and crews on the rivers needed an air asset they could count on to arrive within minutes during the low-light and degraded environmental conditions (such as monsoonal rains) in which the Viet Cong operated. U.S. Naval Headquarters Saigon Chief of Staff Captain John T. Shepherd asked the Navy to provide pilots of the right dispositions and instrument training.
Navy Helicopter Combat Support Squadron One (HC-1) supplied the first cohort of Navy pilots for TF-116. Although HC-1 pilots did not have experience in armed helicopter tactics, they did have extensive instrument flying experience in low-light and marginal weather. Their early success came not only from their previous training, but also from their newly
-developed relationships with the other services operating in the Delta. Initially, Army UH-1B pilots would instruct HC-1 co-pilots during operational missions using “split crew” scheduling.
After just a few weeks of Game Warden tasking, Commander Naval Forces, Vietnam, reported HC-1’s “communication and coordination [with] waterborne units was outstanding.” HC-1 paid tribute to its Army predecessors by adopting (though slightly modifying) their “Sea Wolves” call sign.
HA(L)-3’s success in Vietnam stemmed from its ability to build relationships with assets from other units and services to earn their trust while demonstrating a warfighting spirit and a willingness to adapt to new missions.
In January 1967, a message released to all Navy squadrons requested volunteers to form a dedicated helicopter gunship unit based out of South Vietnam. On 1 April, HC-1 combined with three new detachments and received the designation, HA(L)-3. This larger squadron allowed HA(L)-3 to press deeper into the Delta. The Seawolves established forward operating bases ashore at Vung Tau, Binh Thuy, Vinh Long, Dong Tham, and Nha Be and afloat on tank landing ships and barges. With eight pilots, eight aircrewmen, and varying numbers of ground support personnel at each location, the detachments could maintain continuous 24-hour coverage with two four-person alert crews.
Success in the Delta
In five years of operations, the members of HA(L)-3 flew 78,000 sorties, sank 8,700 enemy vessels, destroyed 9,500 structures, and killed 8,200 combatants. The Seawolves achieved such impressive statistics by embracing their nontraditional Navy helicopter missions. The majority of personnel assigned to HA(L)-3 were “in [their] first tour out of the training command,” and the more senior members all were volunteers. Though some senior officers attempted to steer young pilots away from HA(L)-3, the squadron’s first executive officer, Commander Conrad J. “Con” Jaburg, remarked, “The warrior blood in our Seawolves said ‘volunteer’ anyway.”
In the 1960s, not only was employing helicopters in support of expeditionary attack, assault, and rescue operations unprecedented for naval aviation, but riverine warfare also represented a long-neglected mission for the entire Navy. Vice Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Commander Naval Forces, Vietnam, admitted, “Riverine warfare requires ingenuity and improvisation. There is no body of accepted doctrine on the subject.” HA(L)-3 aircrews capitalized on the lack of tactical manuals and procedures by adapting to the environment and tailoring their execution to the needs of the supported riverine patrols.
Operation Game Warden
In 1967, TF-116 sailors boarded more than 400,000 vessels searching for enemy personnel and contraband. South Vietnam had a sunset-to-sunrise curfew, so Game Warden forces could treat all vessels encountered at night as hostile. Former Seawolf, Tom Phillips, commented, “It’s like hundreds of Army birds went home by dark and nine two-plane detachments of Seawolves would go out and replace them.” This willingness to launch at night, when the Army “did not venture out,” proved invaluable to PBR crews vulnerable to Viet Cong ambush. For the Seawolves, launching quickly and reliably when the call for assistance came was “a matter of confidence building, and the Huey crews took on the challenge with startling vigor.”
HA(L)-3’s willingness to provide multimission air support in the Mekong Delta extended to “any friendly force in trouble.” For example, the Army often would conduct lowlevel patrols in the OH-6A “Cayuse” or the Air Force in the O-1D “Bird Dog.” The Seawolves accompanied these patrols, ready to assist with reconnaissance, on-call casualty evacuation, or rotary-wing close air support. Their professional and consistent support of all services earned the squadron a reputation for aggressive, sound decision-making. By 1969, the Seawolves could authorize fires without the supervision of forward air controllers or command ships. They had earned commanders’ “trust and most others had not.”
A willingness to scramble for any distress call sometimes required HA(L)-3 aircrews to assume substantial risk during a mission. In his memoir, Seawolf gunner, Thurman Hicks, describes encountering a beached fast patrol craft “Swift” boat damaged by enemy fire. Hicks explains, “We landed to medevac the wounded . . . the sailor who needed my space was shot in the stomach. I guess you can say I sort of volunteered to stay behind until they could come back for me.” Aircraft Commander, Bill McCamy, expanded on Hicks’ account: “The weather was real crappy—ceiling at a couple hundred feet. After a few runs back and forth and bringing a P-250 pump to the beached Swift, we remained in the vicinity while it pumped out the bilges, did some quick repairs, and got underway.”
By adapting HA(L)-3’s approach, integrating with amphibious ready groups/Marine expeditionary units at appropriate levels, today’s HSC detachments can increase their interoperability and elevate their participation in expeditionary operations.
The expeditionary nature of HA(L)-3 required each detachment to customize TTPs to the unique conditions of its environment. What the Seawolves were able to standardize across every detachment, however, was a fighting spirit and mission focus. Former Seawolves remember that upon arrival at HA(L)-3 headquarters at Vung Tau, veteran aviators “drummed into [them] ‘fly to fight, fight to win.’ [They] knew nothing else.” This ethos steeled the aircrews to persevere through enemy fire, terrible weather, or darkest night whenever the call for assistance came. The Seawolves fostered a tradition of “wanting to be the best,” and though they flew nontraditional missions, that ethos “gave [them] the drive and desire to do what had to be done despite sometimes overwhelming odds.”
One report of HA(L)-3’s exceptional courage is from a 1971 routine patrol out of “Solid Anchor” fire base in Nam Can. The Seawolves would fly deliberately through the middle of an altitude block known as the “avoid zone” because of its susceptibility to enemy fire. They would lure Viet Cong forces into engaging, then target the location of the enemy’s tracer rounds. Unbeknownst to aircraft commander, John Gana, and his two-aircraft “fire team,” the Viet Cong had staged an antiaircraft machine-gun trap. Gana recalls, “Our team quickly transitioned from a defensive move to an offensive attack directed squarely at the suspected enemy position. . . . We reached the treetops and turned to home base to ‘hot rearm,’ refuel, and jump back into the fight.”
The Seawolves invited enemy fire to flush out positions threatening friendly units on the ground. They accepted their assigned missions with tenacity and managed the risk by leaning on experience and training. Commenting on this disposition, the Center for Naval Analyses concluded, “The young U.S. Navy officers and enlisted men assigned to river patrols performed aggressively and responsibly on their own initiative. . . . Helicopters were essential to riverine operations in fire support, observation, and medical evacuation.”
HA(L)-3’s operational success was enabled by an equally motivated maintenance team. With only two aircraft to provide 24-hour alert coverage, Seawolf helicopter upkeep became an all-hands effort, with enlisted Navy door gunners attending a week of maintenance education in each workshop. To ensure expeditious and reliable alert launches, the whole aircrew would assist in reloading, fueling, and servicing the aircraft or performing more involved repairs while “off duty.” At Vung Tau, veteran aviators would fly with new copilots
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to test post-maintenance aircraft prior to certification for operational flight. These combat-tested Seawolves “all wanted to pass along what they had learned and all the tricks.” Passing lessons learned from peer group to peer group, maintainer to aircrew, and detachment veteran to new copilot provided continuity, preserved “trade knowledge,” and developed warrior pride.
The Seawolves’ adaptability and fighting spirit would have been inconsequential without the capacity to form cooperative relationships with friendly forces in South Vietnam. In response to the Seawolves’ first major operation in 1966, MACV recognized “the combination of imagination, initiative, careful planning, and close cooperation between services had overcome obstacles ranging from enemy fire to the improbable operating conditions” and allowed the Game Warden forces to achieve success.
Today, Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Detachment MH60Ss must integrate and work closely with Marine aviation assets to replicate the combat success HA(L)-3 achieved in Vietnam.
Early Seawolf detachments embedded themselves into the social and professional fabric of the shore facilities and afloat staging bases they shared with SEAL teams, minesweeping units, and surface craft squadrons. Phillips explained, “We could not have been closer to the SEALs. . . . the term ‘integrating’ was unknown to us. We planned, schemed, created tactics, tried them, modified them, exchanged ideas, it was personal.”
To tailor tactics to the needs of the supported assets, new Seawolves “would go aboard the PBRs on missions to get a better understanding of the role and working environment of these smaller boats.” On the ground, the Seawolves did not limit their relationships to the professional sphere. In offduty periods, they would regularly rendezvous with SEALs, patrol craft crews, and other collocated forces both formally and informally. They used this time to debrief previous missions and exchange lessons learned while establishing the camaraderie unique to service members forward deployed.
Reviving the Seawolf Legacy
Fifty years after HA(L)-3’s inception, the Navy again is evaluating how to incorporate armed helicopters into expeditionary operations. During the confirmation brief for a 2018 ARG/MEU exercise, Brigadier General Francis Donovan, Commander Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, commented, “I have seen different ways ARG/MEUs utilize their HSC detachments.” This statement reflects the lack of standardization and affirms the need for all expeditionary HSC squadrons to emphasize their nontraditional multimission capabilities.
The attack, assault, and rescue missions that HC-1 adapted from Army use, and that HA(L)-3 continued to hone throughout the Vietnam War, mirror the tactical syllabi all modern HSC squadrons train with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, these skills are rarely applied operationally on expeditionary deployments. HSC detachments can take steps in several areas:
Willingness to Adapt
By interfacing with ARG/MEU personnel at the appropriate level, HSC detachments can demonstrate the willingness and war-fighting spirit to invite greater ARG/ MEU integration and combat application. Emulating HA(L)-3’s interoperability with collocated joint forces, HSC aircrews today should learn the language of the embarked Marines and engage with them personally and professionally. Attending staff planning conferences, exchanging and comparing tactical manuals and procedures, and encouraging social opportunities in informal settings would promote the growth of Navy-Marine Corps trust.
The YRBM 20 as a Seawolf lands in Vinh Long. Photo courtesy of Matty Veneziano
LT “OG” Swain, LT “Chip” Fryer, AWS2 Murray, and AWS3 Rivera prepare to launch for a Bab al-Mandeb Straits transit armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and 2.75 inch HE unguided rockets.
HSC detachments need to mirror the Seawolves’ doctrinal flexibility and awareness of Marine TTPs to engage effectively as part of an ARG/MEU team. To create opportunities to hone this familiarity, HSC leaders should plan with the operations and future operations officers of the major subordinate elements of the MEU prior to formalized staff planning or predeployment exercises.
Internal Trade Knowledge
To aid future expeditionary HSC squadrons and assist in the community’s transition from logistics to combat multimission capabilities, after-action reports (AARs) should be used to encourage skill refinement, highlight effective practices, and foster a warrior ethos. Successful or unsuccessful integrations, obstacles, unfunded requirements, and shortfalls of the aircrew and maintenance personnel need to be discussed across all squadrons and pushed to higher headquarters. This requires wider post-deployment AAR dissemination and faceto-face pass down with future deploying units.
Effective Navy rotary-wing employment also requires awareness and advocacy outside the HSC chain of command. Producing storyboards and AARs for joint air and ground forces to push up their respective chains of command would increase Navy rotary-wing visibility in forward-deployed areas and improve supported commanders’ HSC capabilities and trust. By increasing discussion of AARs within outside units, the HSC community can help avoid each new ARG/ MEU detachment having to reintroduce Navy rotary-wing multimission tactical training so late in the deployment workup cycle that they cannot integrate effectively.
HSCs should look to the MEU predeployment training plan (PTP) as a platform for capabilities integration. Structured participation in the MEU PTP gives HSC detachments an opportunity for face-to-face development of TTPs, an opportunity that allowed HA(L)-3 to achieve success and earn the trust of collocated forces in South Vietnam. Active representation in the MEU PTP and standardized combat rehearsal participation could demonstrate to the amphibious squadron commander and MEU commander the combat interoperability of the MH-60S. This active involvement also would provide ARG/MEU leaders a way to validate to higher headquarters the proven benefits of MH-60S support in ARG/ MEU combat operations around the world.
While charting the way forward, present-day expeditionary HSC squadrons should reflect on both the historical example of HA(L)-3 and the words of Vice Admiral Dewolfe Miller, Commander, Naval Air Forces: “We are lethal military professionals. We are courageous, disciplined, and accountable.” By taking pride in the flexible capabilities of their multimission helicopter and demonstrating to ARG/ MEU leaders a willingness to conduct these trained-to missions, expeditionary HSC can establish the relationships required for sustained warfighting representation. The Navy Seawolves accomplished this 50 years ago; their successors need to do so again.
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HSC-28.4 participates in Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure training with reconnaissance Marines from the 26th MEU.
HSC-28 conducts casualty evacuation training with MK VI patrol boats from Coastal Riverine Squadron 4.
1. CDR Christopher E. Rew, “Sealords and Seawolves: An Analysis of U.S. Navy Riverine Forces in Vietnam 1968–1972,” dissertation (Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: 2008), 1.
2. History Branch, Office of the Secretary, Joint Staff, MACV, “United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Command History 1968,” vol. I (Department of the Army, 30 April 1969), 105.
3. “Task Force 116: The Mobile Riverine Force,” Mobile Riverine Force Association, 2.
4. U.S. Navy, “U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam Monthly Historical Summary, October 1966” (declassified 1978), 3.
5. John Darrell Sherwood, “Patrol Boat River Lethality in Vietnam” (Washington, DC: Naval History and Heritage Command, 2010), 2.
6. CDR Donald Nichols and CAPT Charles O. Borgstrom, USN, “The Seawolves: Past . . . Present . . . Future?” (declassified 25 October 1972), 1.
7. CAPT Frederick E. Brazee, USN, “The Mobile Riverine Force, Mekong Delta, Republic of Vietnam, 16 February 1967–10 January 1968 (Personal Experience of a Company Commander and Assistant Brigade S2),” U.S. Army Infantry School (23 September 1968), 11.
8. John Darrell Sherwood, War in the Shallows: U.S. Navy Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam, 1965–1968 (Washington DC: Naval History and Heritage Command, 2015) 124.
9. U.S. Navy, “U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam Monthly Historical Summary, April 1966” (declassified 1978).
10. LCDR Thomas L. Phillips, USN, “Scramble Seawolves!” www.seawolf.org, 3.
11. U.S. Navy, “Vietnam Monthly Historical Summary, October 1966,” 28.
12. Richard Knott, Fire From the Sky: Seawolf Gunships in the Mekong Delta (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2005), 20.
13. U.S. Navy, “HA(L)-3 Early History.”
14. Sherwood, War in the Shallows, 126.
15. Daniel E. Kelly, Seawolves: First Choice (New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 1998), back cover.
16. Bill McCamy, email message to author, 31 May 2018.
17. Knott, Fire from the Sky, 55.
18. ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., USN, On Watch: A Memoir (New York: Quadrangle/New York Times Book Company, 1976), 38.
19. Edward J. Marolda and R. Blake Dunnavent, Combat at Close Quarters: Warfare on the Rivers and Canals of Vietnam (Washington DC: Naval History and
Heritage Command in Partnership with the Naval Historical Foundation, 2015), 22.
20. LCDR Thomas L. Phillips (SEAWOLF 98), email message to author, 1 May 2018.
21. LCDR Thomas L. Phillips (SEAWOLF 98), email message to author, 31 May 2018.
22. Knott, Fire from the Sky, 29.
23. Knott, Fire from the Sky, 37.
24. Airman Tom Olby, “Sampan Insertion,” Navy Seawolves War Stories.
25. Phillips, email, 31 May 2018.
26. Thurman Hicks, “Thurman L. Hicks,” Navy Seawolves War Stories.
27. Bill McCamy (SEAWOLF 12), email message to author, 11 May 2018.
28. Bill McCamy (SEAWOLF 12), email message to author, 31 May 2018.
29. McCamy, email, 31 May 2018.
30. John Gana, “Firebase Solid Anchor,” Navy Seawolves War Stories.
31. Victory Daniels and Judith C. Erdheim, “Game Warden,” Center for Naval Analyses (January 1976), 6.
32. Sherwood, War in the Shallows, 127.
33. Phillips, email, 31 May 2018.
34. U.S. Navy, “Vietnam Monthly Historical Summary, October 1966,” 12.
35. Phillips, email, 1 May 2018.
36. U.S. Navy, “HA(L)-3 Early History.”
37. Brigadier General Francis Donovan, video teleconference with author, 9 April 2018.
38. Nicole Bauke, “Navy Welcomes New Air Boss at North Island,” Navy Times, 12 January 2018.
CAPT Joellen Drag Oslund: Paving the Way for Female Aviators
By LT Elisha Clark, USN
Sometimesit only takes one voice to force a shift in perspective. At Cal State East Bay in 1972, a voice spoke out in the face of a 23-year-old woman’s trepidation, self-doubt, and the undercurrent of hundreds of years of status-quo:
The Lightbulb Comes On “No, you’re going to apply and you’re going to do this.”
This is how I imagine the friend of CAPT Joellen DragOslund removed any shred of doubt she might have had about her career in Naval Aviation.
In my interview with this trailblazing aviator, I had the privilege of discussing her life, career, and her pivotal role in making aviation a place for women to excel.
“By my senior year in 1972, I had already been accepted into the Air Force’s Officer Program and was set to do that,” she recounts. On August 7th, 1972, ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt would post a naval message that would send shockwaves through Naval Aviation.
In the post Vietnam era, the Navy was dealing with a personnel shortage. After 25 years of conscription, the draft was set to end in January of 1973. Men aged 18-25 were no longer seeking Naval service to avoid tours in the jungles of Vietnam.1 ADM Zumwalt, the Chief of Naval Operations from 1970-1974, was willing to get creative to fix the problem. He recognized a source of untapped potential both among the ranks of Naval Officers and among those who had not yet considered Naval service. He was going to allow women to serve in “the full spectrum of challenging billets.” He was going to allow women to be aviators.
He began the message with his own thoughts on the matter: “My position with respect to women in the Navy is that they have historically played a significant role in the accomplishment of our Naval mission. However, I believe we can do far more than we have in the past.” The reigning CNO was famous for his “Z-Grams,”2 which were directives on a wide variety of topics ranging from racism among naval ranks to liberty afloat policy. Z-gram #116, titled “Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women,” was the groundbreaking message that was handed to CAPT Oslund in the fall of 1972.
“In November of ’72, I heard about the Naval Message that opened flight training to women.” She recounts the moment destiny clicked for her. “A friend of mine handed it to me, he was in the Naval reserve, and I thought ‘oh that’s nice,’ and I handed it back to him. He quickly pushed it back to me and said ‘no, no, you’re going to apply for this,’ and it was like the lightbulb went on.”
Equipped with this new information, she marched down to the recruitment center, message in hand. “They questioned its authenticity…. when I came back the next day they had checked it out and welcomed me with open arms, and to my surprise I was accepted,” she recalls. “By the middle of January, I was in Officer Candidate School.”
A Different Kind of Girl
Even in this early stage in life, as a Senior at Cal State, Oslund was no stranger to overcoming unique challenges. Her father, a career Navy man himself, took his family to every duty station including an assignment in the Philippines.
“I got to sail on a navy transport ship and that’s how we got from San Francisco to the Philippines. It was a two-week
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The Naval Training Center Great Lakes’ newspaper posting news of ADM Zumwalt’s latest declaration
voyage and the first time I was allowed around a Navy ship, until I was actually in the Navy,” she recalls fondly. While other girls back in the states were learning about makeup and heels, Oslund’s time was spent watching Lone Ranger reruns and working in the stables with her siblings.
“I hadn’t really been exposed to American popular culture in the Philippines so I was kind of geeky when I moved to California… I discovered that all the girls were wearing heels and I was wearing flip-flops.” Her time overseas helped her realize she wanted to do something different with her life. “In many ways, I think that helped me [realize my path] because I hadn’t gotten the real message of what girls are supposed to be.”
“I always kind of knew I wanted to do something different. I couldn’t see myself in the traditional jobs that were mostly available to women then such as teacher, librarian, secretary, or nurse- that was not where I wanted to go. It wasn’t until that message was in my hand and someone said ‘you’re going to go for it’ that I said well yes I am.”
Challenging the Law
So off she went. And the challenges didn’t stop there. While ADM Zumwalt’s Z-Gram provided the pathway to a variety of unrestricted line officer career paths, there was scarce guidance given on how to execute the order. “When we started, no one quite knew what to do with us,” Oslund recalled. There were no studies or research teams or even congressional actions accompanying the order. Overlooked items disguised as minutiae on the surface turned out to have much deeper implications for these first six female aviators. CAPT Oslund was painfully aware of these: “So when we arrived, questions like "Is our flight equipment going to fit" and "Do we have shoes that are going to work for us" since our uniforms were still skirts and heels… they didn’t know if they were going to keep the same physical requirements.
One overlooked item that had more severe consequences was the restriction of women in combat. Congress had taken no action to align with the Navy’s policy at the time, so after completing flight training in 1974, Oslund described how surprised she was to find that she would be severely restricted in her ability to perform among her peers, as she had been trained to do: “They were just utterly confused about how they were going to handle things. No thought had really been given to a career path for us. I didn’t know there was a law against us serving on ships or flying jet aircraft, so that all came as a shock after I finished flight training. Nobody really knew what to do with us.”
Stymied by the restrictions at the time, the Commanding and Executive Officers of HC-3 supported their newest pilot any way they could. They got creative in the mission sets she could be part of, allowing her to finally make aircraft commander despite the difficulty in accumulating the flight time. During the time Oslund was attached to HC-3, their
main mission was Vertical Replenishment deploying aboard USN logistics ships. While working through these hurdles, Oslund wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy and never heard back. It was clear to her that something bigger needed to be done, and that’s when she contacted the American Civil Liberties Union.
Unbeknownst to Oslund, Petty Officer Yona Owens was another female Sailor who took issue with the policy. On November 10th, 1976, Owens contacted the Women’s Rights Project, co-founded by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who agreed to take on the case. When Oslund found out about it, she quickly added her name as a plaintiff. Four other female Sailors would join them. On July 27th, 1978, the D.C. District Court found that the law restricting assignments for female Sailors violated the 5th Amendment Right to equal protection.3 Rather than fight the ruling by pushing it up to the Supreme Court, the Navy quietly changed their policy, allowing women to serve on ships.
While it was progress, Oslund explains that it still wasn’t perfect: “They made it so that women could deploy for 180 days and opened up some jet aircraft. But they kept the combat restriction, which was a problem. At that point, everyone involved was exhausted. The ACLU didn’t want to file another suit against the federal government, so that’s how it stayed until 1991 until they completely repealed it. In 1993, all the combat restrictions were finally lifted.”
“We Thought it Was YOU, Ma’am!”
“The lawsuit was decided just before I left HC-3. I was set to do search and rescue up at Point Mugu. A few months before I left, I finally went out and got a ship qual, which helped at Point Mugu because they had a target recovery detachment for an exercise that was going on off the coast. I immediately volunteered to get a chance to board the ship.”
When asked to go into detail about her first and only deployment, she chuckled. “Well, we spent 6 days aboard USS Vancouver and it ended up being quite exciting because we lost an aircraft.”
The 1973 Cruisebook of the USS Sanctuary (AH 17)
On these short detachments, the squadron would fly two aircraft at a time to recover a series of targets that were being used for an exercise off the coast. The crew was required to fly in a very low hover to recover the target while the crewmen lowered a 12 foot cable with a hook attached to retrieve it. Hovering for this extended period at such a low altitude ran the risk of stalling out an engine due to salt ingestion.
Oslund and her crew had completed their target recovery and were flying at a high altitude overhead to look for the other overdue aircraft when she witnessed them plunge into the ocean.
“I said to my copilot, I think they just went into the water, and his immediate reaction was ‘No they didn’t,’ but they definitely had. That was my first five rescues.”
After the crew landed and dropped off their squadron mates, a Sailor approached Oslund in the passageway: “One of the members of the crew jumps out in front of me and comes to a salute saying, "Ma’am I owe you an apology," and I say, "Apology for what?" and he replies, ‘Well I was up on the signal bridge when your helo went down, and we all thought you did it.’ The entire crew, including the Captain, were pretty sure that somehow, I’d been able to touch the controls and promptly flew the helicopter in the water. It turned out there was a fairly large betting pool regarding [the mishap] and I gather the odds really didn’t favor me in any way.”
That was my first and only six days at sea, it was really quite something.”
Women and Leadership: How the Navy Adapted, and is Still Adapting
“I think there’s this pervasive feeling that women can’t do the job.”
When asked about the challenges women still face that were prevalent 50 years ago, this was one of the issues Oslund brought to light. While we have come a long way from blatant sexism in assuming the female pilot caused the mishap, we still have a ways to go.
“One thing I would like the 50-year celebration to bring out is that not only are women doing these things but they have been doing them for 50 years. So why do people still harbor these doubts? It’s just a mystery to me.”
A lack of confidence from the male peers of these early female aviators appeared more severely with each milestone and higher-ranking leadership position. “Every time a woman had gotten a job, it was somehow that she had taken it away from a guy,” Oslund explained as she recounted hearing CAPT Colleen Nevius was accepted into test pilot school, and the reactions from her male counterparts. “When Colleen was selected for test pilot school, you couldn’t believe the number of men who had claimed that she had taken their spot. It was ridiculous - she’s one person! She didn’t take 20 spots.”
While the above narrative might generate different reactions from today’s aviators, perhaps ranging from an eyeroll to a shrug, it’s easy to forget the progress we have made. Possibly the most illuminating part of our interview was the discussion on how women are treated in reference to the undeniable difference in the genders - anatomy. “At the time that I came in, they had lifted the requirement that women resign if they become pregnant, but you were still expected to resign and it
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CAPT Oslund preflighting an H-46 at HC-3
LT Oslund in her element at Ram Tap c. 1975
stayed true up until the late 70s,” Oslund recounted. This is somewhat appalling to modern aviators, who of course would never even consider such a thing. “Pam Krueger fought that tooth and claw to stay in the flight program. Jane Skiles [O’dea] flew pregnant in her first tour.4 The first six of us, we didn’t waste any time tackling the big issues right off the bat. This is real life, you can’t get around it.”
Not only was the aviation community riddled with doubts about the abilities of women - physical or otherwise- female aviators themselves carried these challenges on a daily basis in the back and front of their minds.
“Getting men to accept the leadership position of a woman was very difficult. You had to be low-key. I was not nearly as assertive as I would like to be, afraid it might backfire. On occasion it did backfire. No role-models, no one I could really go to for advice, we were out on our own. It’s amazing we did as well as we did sometimes.”
When asked if she could think of any powerful male role models she’d witnessed, CAPT Ray Lambert, the mentor of another trailblazing female aviator, CAPT Rosemary Mariner, came to mind. CAPT Lambert was the Commanding Officer of CAPT Mariner’s first squadron and helped her transition to jet aircraft.5 He was one of the very few black aviators at the time.
“He taught Rosemary about networking. Showed her he knew every black aviator in the Navy and the military at large and how they kept in touch with each other and navigated similar problems. They were able to consult with and enable one another. Networking wasn’t really a word used for [women] back then.” Women were not encouraged to selfadvocate, or encouraged to even believe the idea that they belonged in Naval Aviation. With racial minorities facing these same prejudices, it’s easy to see how an alliance was formed. “Women are getting good at it now,” she added.
Advice For the Next Generation
The question I came up with immediately upon learning I’d be interviewing CAPT Oslund was something all aviators strive to perfect: the perfect preflight ritual.
“I was always able to completely shut everything else out. As soon as I would go into the locker room and change into my flight suit, that’s when I would focus in and be ready for the flight and not think of anything else.” For her, compartmentalization was easy, as it related to her passion for riding horses. She speaks fondly of the experience and how it shaped her: “I had always loved horses ever since those days of the Lone Ranger. I think that was one of the things that helped get me in the Navy. When we were kids, we loaded our own hay and shoveled our own stalls. My sisters and I were pretty tough. That’s what saved me. That’s where I went when I needed to go somewhere.”
After 25 years of Naval Service, Oslund has two main pieces of advice for the upcoming generation of Naval Aviators. First, “it’s a big commitment. You’d better love the job, because if you don’t, you won’t make it. You’ve really got to commit to it because it’s worth it.” The second piece of advice comes back to networking and community. “Don’t take everything on alone. You have to have help. You can’t get along without support, so never turn down another opportunity to connect with other people in the same job.”
Throughout CAPT Oslund’s impressive record of accomplishments, one thing remains consistent. She has always stood tall and firm for what she believes. She is actively involved in her community, writing articles and making appearances to support women in Naval Aviation and the military at large. She is currently scheduled to speak at the Naval Helicopter Association Symposium in May 2023.
In Naval Aviation and in our lives as a whole, I think we discount the influence a single person can have on one or many lives. Whether it be our Sailors, peers, or superiors, we make impacts that we can’t fathom. CAPT Oslund is a shining example of this condition: “It’s amazing how only one person has to give you that little nudge to make the difference and make you put yourself in the picture.”
“In summary, we all must actively work together in order that we may more equitably include women in our one-navy concept.”
– ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt, Z-Gram #116
1. Zipkin, Amy. “The Military Draft Ended 50 Years Ago, Dividing a Generation.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 Jan. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2023/01/27/draft-end-conscription-1973/.
2. Payne Taira Payne was the Project Manager, Taira. “Admiral Zumwalt's Z-Grams.” U.S. Naval Institute, 15 Feb. 2022, https://www.usni.org/magazines/naval-history-magazine/2022/february/admiral-zumwalts-z-grams.
3. Krepp, Denise. “Owens v. Brown: How the Navy's Women Won the Right to Serve at Sea.” The Maritime Executive, 10 May 2021, https://maritime-executive.com/editorials/owens-v-brown-how-the-navy-s-women-won-the-right-to-serveat-sea.
4. Lt. Krueger had become pregnant during flight training, and Capt. O’dea had several children while on flying orders.
5. Goldstein, Richard. “Rosemary Mariner, Pathbreaking Navy Pilot and Commander, Is Dead at 65.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Feb. 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/01/obituaries/rosemary-mariner-dead.html.
Build Expeditionary ASW Air-Combat Elements
By CDR Matt Wright, USN and CDR Jamie Powers, USN
Originally published in Proceedings, used with permission.
"The undersea fight will be so critical in the High North and in the Western Pacific that the Marine Corps must be part of it."
– Commandant General David H. Berger
"I don't mean to be dramatic, but I feel like, if the Navy loses its head, if we go off course and we take our eyes off those things we need to focus on . . . I think we may not be able to recover in this century."
– Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday
"I suspect that, at best, the Pentagon’s budgets will start flattening out . . . There's a reasonable prospect that they could actually decline significantly."
– Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley
U.S.military leaders have clearly articulated the nearterm challenge posed by our main strategic competitors, China and Russia, alongside the stark reality that increased near-term defense spending will not be a viable option to meet that challenge. Both potential adversaries are investing heavily in their respective submarine forces, requiring a significant refocus on Navy antisubmarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.1 To meet this growing threat without relying on increased funding, the Navy will have to improve its operational employment of assets already at-hand instead of gambling on unproven and theoretical future forces.
The Navy can find inspiration from its past. The “Cactus Air Force” was thrown together at Henderson Field during the 1942 Battle for Guadalcanal. Disparate Marine Corps, Navy, Army Air Corps, and Royal New Zealand Air Force units melded together on the fly to form the key operational unit in a struggle that turned the tide of World War II in the Pacific. Notably, their main operating base resembled many of the aspects now incorporated in the modern expeditionary advanced base operations (EABO) concept in development by the Marine Corps.2 Just as Navy and Marine Corps forebears maximized the capabilities of F4F-4 Wildcats, SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers, P-400 Airacobras, and B-17 Flying Fortresses in the dark days of early–World War II, a modern naval force could form “Cactus21”—air combat elements (ACEs) comprised of MH-60R Seahawks, MH-60S Knighthawks, MQ-8C Fire Scouts, and MV-22B Ospreys.
Only one of these aircraft, the MH-60R, is currently used in an ASW role. However, the MQ-8C and MH-60S could join the ASW fight and significantly boost both the quantity and quality of the Navy’s ASW operational units with minimal investments, potentially offset by divestments of legacy capabilities. The Cactus21 ACE’s capabilities would fall neatly in-step with two burgeoning doctrinal and capability developments: the Chief of Naval Operations’ drive to build a robust naval operational architecture with Project Overmatch and the joint Navy–Marine Corps’ focus on potential EABO and littoral operations in a contested environment (LOCE) meant to control key “maritime terrain.”3
In traditional ASW operations, aircraft custom-built to track and target submarines launch from the same ships they are meant to protect and then play “defense” with a layered protection scheme around friendly units. The Cactus21 ACE could launch from advanced bases and littoral vessels and execute “offensive” ASW in pre-selected chokepoints, far in advance of the main naval force. Just as Marine Corps and Navy tactical aircraft destroyed threat warships advancing south from the Japanese base at Rabaul, the Cactus21 ACEs could form lethal ASW barriers in potential future conflicts against Chinese or Russian submarines in strategically relevant areas.
General Berger detailed the fundamental Marine contribution to that future ASW fight, “(through) forward logistics and support, as well as sensor and strike capabilities, Marine expeditionary advanced bases (EABs) could make a significant contribution to undersea warfare campaigns, including holding Chinese and Russian submarines at risk.” The Cactus21 ACE would constitute the preponderance of that ASW sensor capability and its entire ASW strike capability in the form of air-dropped Mark 46/54 Lightweight Torpedoes (LWTs). Captain and Commander Ilteris subsequently highlighted in their Proceedings article, “Resurrect the Hunter-Killer Group,” additional sea-basing options onboard LPDs and LHA/Ds, which they named “21st-century hunterkiller groups (HUK21).” The MH-60Rs, MH-60Ss, MQ8Cs, and MV-22Bs constituting a Cactus21 ACE could easily transition between shallow water ASW from EABs and littoral combat ships (LCSs) to blue water ASW in the HUK21 construct, according to the developing operational situation.
The April 2021 Proceedings article, “Implementing Expeditionary ASW,” pushed the concept even further and highlighted a fundamental challenge to traditional ASW operations: they require “large numbers of ships and aircraft to counter each enemy submarine.” Using the United Kingdom’s ASW efforts during the Falklands War against Argentina as a reference, the article articulated the modern threat: “Argentine forces possessed the potential to derail the entire British Falklands Campaign with a single submarine. What effects
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would 76 Chinese submarines have in a great power conflict?”
According to the authors, the answer to this challenge partially rests on developing new platforms including longrange unmanned surface vessels (LRUSVs), new lightweight torpedoes called compact rapid attack weapons (CRAWs), and ASW ordnance for HiMARS-fired Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS). Unfortunately, these solutions suffer from two significant drawbacks: the immature technology may not reach the Fleet in time to meet the threat and our expected flat or declining future defense budgets will make it difficult to buy new capabilities. According to the former Indo-Pacom Commander, Admiral Phil Davidson, great power competition could turn violent in this decade. Thus, the Navy needs ready and reliable tools at hand sooner rather than later.
The Cactus21 ACE Operating Environment
The recent Tentative Manual for Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations defined EABs as, “a locality within a potential adversary’s weapon engagement zone (WEZ) that provides sufficient maneuver room to accomplish assigned missions seaward while also enabling sustainment and defense of friendly forces therein. Its expeditionary nature means it is not permanent and must be able to change location quickly enough to maintain relative advantage.”4 The temporary and low-signature characteristics of EABs make rotary wing platforms ideal aviation assets to operate within the EABO construct. Runways and support architecture required by fixedwing aircraft such as the P-8 and MQ-4 are easily targetable by the enemy. They should therefore operate from bases outside the enemy’s WEZ and transit to and from the Cactus21 ACE’s area of responsibility. This transit time, along with the expected scarcity of maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft (MPRA), mean EABO ASW assets will need to provide their own persistent-sensor coverage from austere EABs ashore or helicopter-capable supporting vessels concealed in the littoral environment. Picture EABO/LOCE airfields as converted soccer pitches and vessels with a single helicopter landing spot, not local airports or established military bases. This is the exact environment in which Navy and Marine Corps rotary wing units thrive, as evidenced by countless hurricane relief efforts and decades of deployments onboard small combatants.
The Tools at Hand
The MH-60R Seahawk is the preeminent ASW helicopter in the world and would play a huge role in a Cactus21 ACE. Equipped with sonobuoys, torpedoes, surface-search radar, ESM, and an electro-optical sensor, their expert ASW crews can detect, localize, classify, and attack any submarine on the planet. Seahawks have proven their value to such an extent that six allied and friendly navies have added them to their fleets. The helicopter maritime strike (HSM) community has decades of sub-hunting experience, and its aircrews would likely lead most ASW campaigns based on that expertise. However, carrying this much capability does have one large drawback: weight. A fully-fueled MH-60R with a complete ASW sensor suite is typically limited to carrying just one
lightweight torpedo. Also, a major conflict against China or Russia would likely drive the deployment of every available surface combatant, many of which will require embarked MH-60R support. Largely because of the platform’s proven utility in the ASW fight, they would quickly become a scarce asset in any future conflict against a peer adversary.
Focused on antisurface warfare, logistics, rescue, and airborne mine-countermeasures missions, the MH-60S Knighthawk is not currently configured to conduct ASW missions. However, with a minimal investment, the Knighthawk could be modified to carry two lightweight torpedoes. Since sonobuoys can be hand-launched from airborne helicopters, Knighthawks could also seed large buoy fields and leave their monitoring to another platform. With the network capability from Project Overmatch, they would not need their own ASW sensors to obtain valid targeting solutions—other platforms would find the targets and the MH-60S “torp truck” would kill them. Including the Knighthawk in the Cactus21 ACE construct would also roughly double the available rotary wing assets and compensate for the scarcity of Seahawks outside of the carrier strike group construct. Finally, EABs and littoral vessels will have significant logistics and force protection requirements to support their offensive operations. The MH-60S excels as a medium-lift cargo transport as well as a close-air support asset and could serve as the “jack of all trades'' in the EABO/LOCE construct.
The MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) also currently suffers from a lack of ASW sensors, but that is likely to change in the near future.5 Testing indicates that an airborne Fire Scout, with a mission endurance two to three times greater than the MH-60R, could monitor huge sonobuoy fields with the minor investment of adding a sonobuoy processor to the aircraft.6 The Fire Scout could operate from an EAB or LCS and provide “persistent stare” at likely strategic choke points astride the key maritime terrain. Fully networked with their partner forces, they would likely be the first platform to detect enemy submarines and pass the contacts for prosecution and attack. Importantly, this longdwell monitoring of ASW sensors would compensate for the reduced role P-8 aircraft would play in the EABO/LOCE construct because of the range and potential enemy surfaceto-air threats.
Marine MV-22B or Navy CMV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft would also be an important member of a Cactus21 ACE. They already excel in long-range logistics support and would likely serve as a primary supply link between EABs and supporting “sea bases”—amphibious support ships operating at sea and outside the enemy’s WEZ.7 Besides delivering fresh supplies to forward positions for others to employ, Ospreys could also hand-launch large sonobuoy fields in a similar fashion to the Knighthawks. Once again, within Project Overmatch’s resilient network, different platforms could deploy and exploit a variety of passive and active sensors to
form a link in the kill chain, allowing the Osprey to meet the Commandant’s guidance for Marines to join the ASW fight.
Once established as an operating construct, Cactus21 ACEs would easily incorporate additional airborne and surface assets. As already detailed, P-8s could transit to the operating area to join ASW efforts in the littorals. Coalition ASW assets could also join the Cactus21 ACE in a similar fashion to the Royal New Zealand Air Corps’ place in the original Cactus Air Force. MH-60R support from partner navies would be especially useful. “Non-traditional” ASW vessels, such as the Spearhead-class fast transport vessels and almost any other ship with a flight deck, could add to the distributed nature of the force. Finally, even much-maligned Freedom-variant and Independence-variant littoral combat ships could provide important support to the ASW effort without waiting for their delayed ASW mission package. To support the Cactus21 ACE, vessels would have to fit at least one MH-60, provide berthing and maintenance facilities for aircrew and support
personnel, and supply the fuel and ordnance needed for ASW operations—a relatively low standard that both types of LCS vessels can meet today.
The original Cactus Air Force was built from scratch on Henderson Field in 1942 to defend Guadalcanal from a Japanese advance. While the Marine Corps, Navy, and allied units may have been surprised to fly and fight together, naval planners in the pre-war period laid the foundations for their success with a focus on the threat posed by a growing potential adversary. The Navy–Marine Corps team now finds itself in a similar period, with peer competitors and predictable operating environments. The EABO and LOCE concepts are important efforts to meet tomorrow’s challenge with deliberate planning for a potential future conflict. Adding Cactus21 ACE capabilities to those plans will use the tools already at hand to help deter and defeat the nation’s enemies in the next war.
1. Congressional Research Service, “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities— Background and Issues for Congress,” 9 March 2021; “Russian Armed Forces- Capabilities,” 30 June 2020.
2. Department of the Navy, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, “Tentative Manual for Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations,” February 2021.
3. Chief of Naval Operations Memorandum to Rear Admiral Douglas W. Small, Subject: PROJECT OVERMATCH, 1 Oct 2020.
4. Department of the Navy, Headquarters, “Tentative Manual for Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations,” 1–6.
5. Sam LaGrone, “Northrop Grumman Pitching Fire Scout Helicopter Drone for ASW Missions,” USNI News, 16 February 2021; Michael Peck, “Navy Wants to Turn Fire Scout into Sub Hunter,” C4ISR Online, 19 February 2015.
6. Thomas Twomey, “Fire Scout Unmanned Air System Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Technologies (Informational Brief),” Northrop Grumman, 2 October 2015.
7. Department of the Navy, “Tentative Manual for Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations,” 1–6.
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Re-imagining the Osprey: The Impact of the CMV-22B Osprey on the United States Navy
By Robbin Laird
The Osprey was introduced into combat in 2007 in Iraq. That was followed by its introduction into a very different operating environment in Afghanistan. It was an assault support aircraft enabling the Marines to operate with range and speed well beyond anything a traditional rotorcraft can provide.
Many innovations would follow, as the embarked marine expeditionary units (MEU’S) would be able to operate over far greater distances than ever before. In addition, special purpose marine air ground task forces (MAGTFs) were established, giving combatant commanders an entirely different assault capability for special intervention missions.
The Navy has now introduced their own version of the Osprey - not as an assault support platform, but as a logistics asset. And they are doing so when the Navy is in the throes of exploring what distributed maritime operations (DMO) is, including exactly what the nature of logistics support is and possibly expanding the missions to encompass information support as well.
In other words, the Navy’s introduction of the Osprey entails re-imagining its role as a central component of distributed operations, as the Navy will need to operationalize the concept of distributive logistics. Simply put, the CMV-22 is not coming to the Fleet simply to execute a well-defined concept of distributed operations; it is part of the process of creating new versions of the distributed concept of operations.
During the first week of January 2023, I conducted interviews with two senior Naval Officers at North Island Air Station in San Diego, who provided significant detail on the “re-imagining” effort. The first was with the Navy’s “Air Boss” (Commander, Naval Air Forces), the second with the Officerin-Charge of operating the initial CMV-22Bs that have come to the Fleet.
Vice Admiral Whitesell, the Navy Air Boss, underscored: “We are in an experimentation phase. We are working force distribution and integration. We are experimenting like Nimitz did in the inter-war years. We are working from seabed to space about force integration. It is a work in progress. But being successful in operating in an environment where logistics are contested, where getting weapons to the Fleet in conflict, is not just a nice to have capability but a necessary one.”
He highlighted during the interview that the CMV-22B was not simply a logistical plug into a settled concept of operations for the carrier but was part of that re-think or re-imagining process going on with the entire Fleet. As Vice Admiral Whitesell put it: “What is our concept of employment
for this aircraft? To answer this question will require a mindset change within Naval Aviation and the COD Community. The expeditionary nature of the CMV-22B expands the possibilities for successful distributed maritime operations and we are determined to get full value out of the aircraft in terms of its synergy with con-ops evolutions for the Fleet.”
He added: “Under distributed operations, the carrier strike group is deployed differently. We are shaping a completely different way of thinking about that and the CMV-22B can be used as part of that mindset change.”
The second interview provided further details on the process of innovation. That interview was with Captain Sam Bryant, Commander, Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Wing at North Island. Captain Bryant reported that the U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Admiral Paparo, was pleased with the initial deployments aboard USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln, but feels that the Osprey can do much more in its role in evolving Fleet Concept of Operations (CONOPS).
In other words, the reshaping of joint and coalition operations is underway which focuses upon distributed modular task forces which can deliver enhanced lethality and survivability. The Osprey is a path-breaking aircraft which breaks the rotorcraft’s limits on range and speed.
Captain Bryant highlighted that the CMV-22B, compared to the legacy Osprey, has more capability. “We have better range. We have much better avionics. We have better communications which allows us to connect with the strike groups more securely. We are better suited for long-range
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navigation operations, and the flexibility required to support a high-end fight in the Pacific.”
In that interview, Bryant highlighted that his team was working with the Naval Aviation Warfare Development Center (NAWDC) in their efforts to re-imagine and re-shape Fleet operations. This is certainly nothing that the C-2A Greyhound was part of; a point also emphasized by Vice Admiral Whitesell.
Vice Admiral Whitesell assured me when I return to NAWDC, I would get a very different response to my question of where the CMV-22B fits into the syllabus. When I was last there, the response was simply that we are not sure, for we did not have to think about the COD mission as delivered by the Greyhound to Fleet CONOPS.1
Whitesell noted: “They are looking at how you would use the CMV-22B, notably in the Western Pacific. The CMV-22B is an all-weather, day and night aircraft that doesn’t need a runway. How can we best utilize such an aircraft as we work contested logistics? And how does it empower the way ahead for distributed maritime operations?”
The CONOPS are changing with the reconfiguration of distributed Fleet operations correlated with the USAF effort to work agile combat employment operations. The rework of Navy and Air Force platforms and the introduction of newer platforms shape a maritime kill web force reconfiguration, as addressed in my book with Ed Timperlake.2.
The CMV-22B may be a new platform for the Navy and look like a legacy USMC asset. But it is not; it is part of this reconfiguration effort. But there is a catch which will limit the Navy’s ability to do so. A CONOPS to support the Fleet approach instantly raises questions about the numbers of CMV-22Bs the Navy needs to support contested logistics in a distributed environment.
One aspect is the question of how many aircraft the Navy needs to execute the COD mission. When the Marines were asked during the initial process of evaluating the Osprey for the COD mission, they recommended four aircraft and a team of 100 to 110 people to operate and support the aircraft. The Navy is currently using three aircraft per carrier-based detachment. So that is the first point at which to raise the numbers question.
A second aspect of the demand for increased numbers of aircraft is to look at distributed operations to support the Fleet and realize the aircraft is a web support asset not only a pointto-point load carrying asset. The Fleet demand signal could be high, and that demand will rapidly outpace supply when it comes to these aircraft.
Captain Bryant concluded by emphasizing that there might be a need to build a 21st century version of the Cold
War approach the Navy once used. They had intra-theater support squadrons with several types of aircraft to support the movement of maritime forces. Now with having to support distributed forces over significant distances, one must ask just how the Navy and the Joint Force can execute a 21st century version of such a theater support capability?
1.For a detailed look at my earlier visits to NAWDC see chapter two in Robbin Laird, Training for the High-End Fight: The Strategic Shift of the 2020s (2020).
2. Robbin Laird and Edward Timperlake, A Maritime Kill Web Force in the Making: Deterrence and Warfighting in the XXIst Century (2022).
Rethink Mine Countermeasures – A Get Real Get Better Approach
By CDR Nick “TRON” Schnettler, USN and LT Charlie “Handy Man” Thomas, USN
Mine Warfare ensures Fleet Maneuverability and is a critical enabler to strategic competition. The U.S. Navy has consistently under-resourced this critical contingency capability, particularly in the mine countermeasures mission.1
Germane to modern warfare, mine warfare mimics other warfare disciplines in two critically important ways:
1. Just like cyber operations, mining operations are a lowcost-of-entry capability with the potential for strategic-level influence.
2. Mine countermeasures are a contingency capability akin to nuclear weapons – they must be demonstrably reliable and exist in sufficient capacity to deter adversary actions.
At the end of the 20th Century, the Navy laid plans for the next iteration of its vertical lift fleet,2 aiming to replace legacy H-60 variants, SH-3, CH-46, and MH-53 with two multi-mission variants of the H-60: MH-60S and MH-60R. The “Master Helicopter Plan” relied heavily on numerous unproven plug-and-play mission systems for the MH-60S as well as the promise of a substantial Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) complement upon which both variants of the helicopter would deploy. A quarter century after the creation of this ambitious plan, many of its assumptions and, more importantly, the next generation technology and ships upon which it depended, remain in a state of perpetual incompleteness. While some planning shortfalls have been successfully mitigated, MH-60S Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) Systems and the LCS Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Mission Package remain glaring outliers.3
The Current State of Affairs
The MH-53E Sea Dragon – an aging platform past its prime – is the only Full Operational Capability (FOC) AMCM platform in the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). Assigned to one operational Helicopter Mine Countermeasures (HM) squadron that supports Fleet AMCM requirements worldwide, the Sea Dragon is a three-engine, heavy lift helicopter capable of towing a robust array of MCM devices under high tension. The Sea Dragon and its many MCM devices were supposed to be replaced in the early 2000s by near equivalent systems on the MH-60S, but those systems suffered numerous setbacks due to poor design and flawed assumptions which in turn lead to technical shortfalls, design errors, and repeated budgetary cuts. Two MH-60S AMCM Systems – Airborne LASER Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) – have been fielded in limited quantities, but do not constitute a complete detect-to-engage capability, predominantly seeing employment during test and evaluation events in conjunction with other LCS mission package elements.
Additionally, the recently retired MQ-8B Firescout was capable of carrying a suite of MCM sensors called Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Block 1. Efforts are underway to identify a “next generation” COBRA System with superior capability that could be fielded on MQ8C, but that system has yet to be acquired or proven.
The Avenger Class MCM ships – another aging platform rapidly approaching end of service life – is the only FOC MCM surface platform in the Fleet. Currently forward deployed to Japan and Bahrain, this platform was planned to be retired as LCS capacity increased, particularly the LCS hulls outfitted with an MCM mission package. To date, the LCS mission package remains in a test and evaluation status with many of its component systems yet to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC) metrics. This reality is further exacerbated by the LCS platform itself, which has failed to consistently overcome its own design and budgetary shortfalls.4
While Sea Dragon helicopters and Avenger ships constitute a robust MCM capability, questions still linger as to whether they offer sufficient capacity to counter the mining capabilities of modern adversaries.5 As such, the Navy finds itself at an uncomfortable impasse: existing MCM capabilities, which themselves may not be sufficient to counter modern adversaries, are on the cusp of retirement and all planned next-generation replacements are less available, capable, and reliable.
A Way Ahead
To address this impending MCM capabilities gap, the Navy should embrace a new strategy that affords a graceful retirement of legacy MCM systems while simultaneously innovating for the future. We recommend a three-step plan:
1. Iterate to Success. Identify the working next generation capabilities and form a solution with those pieces until a new iteration with increased capabilities can be accomplished. To date, the LCS MCM mission package continues to delay Fleet introduction while it waits for all components to be ready, further drawing out retirement dates for legacy platforms. With some creative organization, it is possible to realize a functional mission package today. We recommend combining MH-60S, MQ-8 Firescout, and Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Expeditionary MCM (ExMCM) platoons equipped with Mk-18 Swordfish and Kingfish unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and Seafox Portable Mine Neutralization System (PMNS) remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). With these capabilities assembled into a single task unit, the following paradigm is possible:
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- Detection / Classification: MH-60S ALMDS, MQ-8C
“next generation” COBRA and EOD ExMCM Mk-18s
- Identification / Neutralization: Navy EOD ExMCM Mine Pounce Operations / ROVs and MH-60S AMNS
Limiting MH-60S configuration changes to the maximum extent possible will ensure the most prompt detect-to-engage timeline. Significant efficiency is gained if MQ-8C and Mk18s can shoulder the bulk of the Detection / Classification mission, thereby allowing MH-60S to focus on a single configuration for the Identification / Neutralization mission.
2. Focus on Platform Agnostic Solutions. The Navy’s current plan is to concentrate all MCM capacity aboard LCS MCM mission packages and stand down the forward deployed, shore-based AMCM detachments currently supported by the HM Community. Allowing the future of MCM to be solely dependent on LCS is a risky strategy that could lead to under-resourcing Fleet commanders as legacy MCM systems sundown. The strategy moving forward should be to provide the best iteration of capability in a flexible package that can embark on any sea-frame or operate ashore to support MCM tasking. With proper forward deployed, shore-based persistence, MH-60S AMCM detachments could support and embark on LCS when needed while ensuring that Fleet Commanders have flexible and responsive MCM capabilities. This arrangement will also avoid the abundance of no-fly days and loss of live flight proficiency that MH-60S and MQ-8
crews currently experience when LCS is at sea in unfavorable sea states or is in port for extended maintenance periods.
3. Recapitalize the HM Community with MH-60S. HM is a distinct community with a well-defined mission, they simply need a new airframe to continue that mission. To date, the Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Community has supported test and evaluation events for MH-60S AMCM equipment out of convenience. This approach has succeeded thus far due to the narrow scope of operations and the vast support provided by the HM Community. Recent joint HM / HSC AMCM exercises such as Southern California Rim of the Pacific (SoCal RIMPAC) 2022, have demonstrated that HSC understands its new AMCM equipment well. However the community requires a significant infusion of institutional knowledge and increased bandwidth to properly support Mine Warfare. HSC currently supports multiple mission areas to include Personnel Recovery, Anti Surface Warfare, Special Warfare support, and Combat Logistics. These mission sets already stress the limits of what one aviation community can handle. Folding AMCM into the HSC Community is an untenable decision that yields incredible risk for Fleet Commanders. Due to recent shifts in HSC force structure, sufficient MH-60S airframes exist to recapitalize both operational HM squadrons. The challenge to realizing this goal is halting the sundown of the HM Community in sufficient time to retain the manpower required to support continued AMCM operations as MH60S squadrons.
1. Comptroller General, “An Assessment of the Navy’s Mine Warfare Mission,” www.gao.gov/assets/c-masad-81-13.pdf
2. Federation of American Scientists, “The Helicopter Master Plan,” man.fas.org/dod-101/navy/docs/vision/helomstr.htm
3. Naval Studies Board National Research Council, Naval Mine Warfare: Operational and Technical Challenges for Naval Forces (Washington D.C.: National Academy Press, 2001)
4.w.com/magazine/2022/ Jerry Hendrix, “The Navy’s Littoral Hubris,” National Review, 15 August 2022, www.nationalrevie08/15/the-navyslittoral-hubris/
5 Sydney J. Freedburg Jr., “Sowing the Sea With Fire: The Threat of Sea Mines,” Breaking Defense, 30 March 205, breakingdefense. com/2015/03/sowing-the-sea-with-fire-how-russia-china-iran-lay-mines-and-how-to-stop-them/
An MH-60R Seahawk helicopter assigned to HSM-51 takes off from amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA 7). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart, USN.
PEP Part 5 – PEP Deployment & SAR Postures
By LCDR Randy Perkins, USN
Welcome to PEP Part Five, the final installment of the PEP (Personnel Exchange Program) Pilot articles in Rotor Review. Previous PEP articles, One through Four, can be found in Rotor Review issues#153 - #156. This article will give an insight into a PEP Pilot deployment flying the AS365 Dauphin F on the French Aircraft Carrier FS Charles de Gaulle R91. It will also highlight the Search and Rescue (SAR) postures and alerts used by the two AS365 Dauphin F helicopters on board the carrier. Hopefully, for the H-60 pilots reading this, it will inspire new ideas to improve how we currently use our SAR matrices.
I had the privilege of conducting two sets of workups and deployments flying the Dauphin F, aka the PEDRO (see previous articles for explanation) with the French PA “porte-avions” or PAN “porte-avions nucléaire” Charles De Gaulle, better known as Charles or the CDG. The information provided here is a result of those experiences.
Workups / Readiness Cycle
Just like any naval vessel going to sea, the CDG has a standard workup cycle that follows a pattern of ENTIND – Entrainement Individuel (think Sea Trials), MECO – Mise en condition Opérationnelle (think LHD or CVN workups combined into a single underway), MISSION - deployment, and EAE – Ecole de l’aviation embarqué (think CQs post-deployment).
Deployment is typically shorter than a standard U.S. nine-month carrier deployment, and the readiness cycle is more concise. The CDG typically follows a yearly readiness cycle and deploys at the beginning of every year, starting in January. However, there are off years when the ship can enter long maintenance periods. Charles will normally deploy anywhere from three to six months, and deployments can vary in Area of Responsibility (AOR) depending on the current events in the world. Possibilities include providing support to the 6th Fleet and 5th Fleet AOR or transiting East towards 7th Fleet with various partner-nation interactions. We must also remember that the French have a single aircraft carrier vice the 11 the U.S. has. This means any movement of their carrier to any part of the world holds significant political and strategic meaning.
For the Dauphin pilots, the deployment is largely spent conducting airborne SAR, SAR alerts, liaisons (PMC), Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (MISR), and Unit Level Training (ULT). ULT can include day and night (aided and unaided) training in any of the following: Deck Landing Qualifications (DLQs), Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP), open-water SAR jumps, SAR hoisting from various platforms, and fast-rope training. A variety of other training flights can also be conducted with the French Fusiliers or French Commandos if embarked on the accompanying French Frégates. Due to the high use of foreign escort vessels, the Dauphin F can be a PMC workhorse on deployment, even as a light helicopter. Not all training is sea-based, and if the CDG decides to make a port call in Djibouti, the Dauphin F helicopters will conduct a dirt detachment (DET) during the port call. The dirt DET will work primarily with French commandos conducting everything from low-
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Aerial Shooting with French Commandos on a range in Djibouti.
French Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle R91 at sunrise.
level navigation, Confined Area Landings (CALs), sniper shooting, overland fast-rope, and “largage palmeurs,” our version of SAR jumps at 10 feet and 10 knots, but replaced with French Commandos and nearby zodiacs. Zodiac deployment and fastroping to zodiacs is also an option but is typically conducted by the AS565 Panther within the strike group.
It is worth noting that DLQs are more complex than in the U.S. There are two important aspects to consider. One, that all French naval helicopter pilots train night-aided and unaided ship landings and hoisting. Most of them are more comfortable on a dark night at sea landing or hoisting unaided on an air-capable platform rather than under Night Vision Goggles (NVGs). Second, an AS365 can land in any direction on almost every French Air-Capable Platform from Frigate to Carrier. A landing at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, or 9 o’clock in relation to the ship's heading is perfectly normal and accepted. Wind envelopes are divided into two portions - landing “dans l’axe du bâtiment” or on ships heading and “face au vent relatif” or into the relative wind.
The Air Wing onboard typically consists of two Rafale Squadrons with approximately 12 Rafales each (11F, 12F, or 17F), one E-2C Hawkeye Squadron with two E-2Cs (4F), a Caiman detachment with one NHx90 (31F), and the Dauphin Detachment with two AS365 Dauphin F (35F). I have listed the squadrons with each T/M/S (35F, 31F, etc.). These are the units that will always embark on the CDG. The Rafale units will rotate one squadron yearly, but units remain largely the same. The scale is vastly different from that of a CVN and U.S. naval squadrons, where we can simultaneously provide multiple squadrons and aircraft to several aircraft carriers. An ATL2 is also typically present and can provide a similar cover to that of a P-8, depending on the need and location of the CDG throughout the deployment.
CTF-473 is typically comprised of one PAN/CVN, two to three French Frigates, one Supply Ship, one Submarine, and several foreign “escorteurs.” The PA (porte-avions), FDA (Frégate de défense aérienne), FREMM (Frégates type multi-Mission de type Aquitaine), and the P.R. (Pétroliers Ravitailleurs type Durance) are the core vessels in the CTF. Other types of French frigates are available but are typically independent deployers, such as the Frégate de type La Fayette and the Frégate de Surveillance de type Floréal. An FDA will usually be equipped with an AS565 Panther (a militarized version of the Dauphin), and the FREMM is generally equipped with an NH-90 configured for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). Foreign destroyers and frigates that have either interacted with the strike group via exercises or escorted the strike group for varying periods of time include: U.S. DDGs (USS Ross, Roosevelt, Arleigh Burke, Truxtun), the Greek Frigates Adrias (Elli Class), Hydra (Meko 200), and Kanaris (Kanaris), Italian Frigates Virginio Fasan and Carlo Bergamini (Bergamini), Italian Destroyer Andrea Doria (Andrea Doria), Egyptian Al Fateh (Gowind) and Frigate Alexandria (911), Saudi Arabian Frigates Al Riyadh and Makkah (Al Riyadh), Japanese Destroyer Suzuzuki (Akizuki), Spanish Frigate Santa Maria (OHP), India’s Destroyer Chennai (Kolkata), the Netherlands Frigate Zeven Provincien, and several foreign CVs such as the Queen Elizabeth and Italian Comte di Cavour. Finally, if any U.S. CVN is in the area, there is a high likelihood of cross-deck operations between the two nations. The interaction with these NATO and sometimes non-NATO nations is essential for maintaining foreign relations and requires an extensive knowledge of the Maritime Procedural Publication (MPP) and Helicopter Operations from Ships Other than Aircraft Carriers (HOSTAC) (generally managed by a French HEC working on the Admiral's staff).
Dauphin F conducting FASTROPE training with the Force Protection
A division flight for the arrival of French President Macron: two AS365 Dauphin F and two NH-90 Caiman.
For the Dauphin pilots, this constant interaction and presence with foreign “small-boys” or escort vessels gives us the chance to conduct a variety of training other than just PMC if the escort is present for more than a few days.
SAR Postures and Alerts
The Commanding Officer designates the SAR Postures for every deck cycle with inputs from the ship's Air Boss and Operations Officer. They are determined based on various factors, including the size of the deck cycle, weather, warmup period, qualifications, etc. These postures are identified as Pedro 1, Pedro 2, and Pedro 3 covering an area of responsibility extending out to 50 NM. These postures can be held in alert as Pedro 1 – 10’, Pedro 2 – 15’, and Pedro 3 – 30’ or Airborne as Pedro 1 – 10 NM maximum, Pedro 2 –30 NM maximum, and Pedro 3 – 50 NM maximum. Alerts Pedro 1 and Pedro 2 can be held from the ready room as the crews are highly efficient, and the aircraft allows for a rapid start-up. Pedro 3 is the standard daily SAR alert and can be held anywhere on the ship. Each posture is also associated with a “délai d’intervention,” in other words how quickly the aircraft can be on scene. The associated times are 25 minutes, 40 minutes, and 60 minutes, respectively. If, for example, an aircraft is airborne in a Pedro 2 posture at less than 30 NM conducting training on an escort vessel, they are allowed to go below their minimum SAR fuel only if they can meet the delay time associated with their posture – 40 minutes, refueling included. During takeoff and landing, a posture is typically more restrictive than during the deck cycle, as the risk is highest during these periods.
A typical posture might be Pedro 1-2-1 or Pedro 2-3-2. This will determine whether the crew is equipped with flight gear if in alert and the maximum allowable distance from the carrier when the aircraft is airborne. When airborne, the helicopter must keep a minimum fuel that allows the crew to execute a SAR within their maximum distance of responsibility. The farther away from the ship, the higher the minimum fuel required to allow for transit back to the ship in case of an ejection or crash. Due to the limited max gross weight of a light helicopter, which results in less fuel if equipped with a SAR crew and equipment (four crew members), and a minimum fuel level required to execute a SAR, the aircraft is usually restricted in its overall mission flexibility as it quickly reaches its minimum SAR fuel. As a result, the aircraft usually cannot conduct PMC while holding the “PEDRO” (SAR) function unless conducted during the relaxed Pedro 3 status where a rescue swimmer is not required in the aircraft, and the crew can execute any other mission while remaining within 50 NM. We normally never experience this in an MH-60S with our high max GW and ability to carry an internal auxiliary tank.
Alert 5’ also exists and is used during a RAS/RAM (replenishment at sea / ravitaillement a la mer). The light helicopters typically do not conduct VERTREP during a RAS (I can hear the sighs from the 60S pilots) due to their lift
capacity, which is written at 907kg but, in reality, is reduced to 200kg - 400kg. So, the aircraft is typically in Alert 5’ –aircrew in the aircraft outfitted in dry suits if sea temperatures are below 18 deg C (day) and 20 deg C (night) to provide immediate SAR in the case of a man overboard. In rare cases, the Dauphins will conduct VERTREP and do so with the “élingue” or pendant remaining attached for the duration of the evolution.
SAR Posture + Unit Level Training
Although PMC is normally prohibited while holding the Pedro function, in 2019, the French Navy rewrote its documents governing the function of Pedro, our equivalent of the SAR matrix. The aircraft is now allowed to conduct a large variety of training while holding the function of Pedro. This includes all of the previously mentioned ULTs. The French Navy cited the last ejection over a decade ago and the introduction of twin-engine Rafales as examples of improved safety and capacities of the SAR helicopter, which was typically prohibited from exiting its left- or right-hand orbit next to the carrier. For example, a Dauphin F assigned the function of Pedro in a Pedro posture of 2-3-2 can now takeoff before the deck cycle, transit 30 NM (Pedro 2 Max distance) to an escort vessel such as an FDA, and start to conduct hoist training during the beginning of the deck cycle. During the deck cycle, the aircraft is now in Pedro 3 (50 NM maximum), so if the carrier or FDA begins to separate, the aircraft can still hold the PEDRO function while training. However, aircraft must have the minimum fuel necessary to conduct a SAR. As the distance grows, the minimum fuel rises. Therefore, at some point during their training sequence, the crew must be able to refuel on the escort vessel. It is often wisest to keep the escort vessel within the most restrictive posture, in this case, Pedro 2 at 30 NM, to avoid the problems with maintaining a minimum fuel onboard.
An H-60 pilot might ask themselves – open-water SAR jumps at night during deployment? Practice rescue strop or litter hoisting from an escort FDA or DDG? How and why?
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A Dauphin F conducting VERTREP between the P.R. Marne and R91.
The helicopters in the French Navy also hold what we in the U.S. Navy would view as the USCG mission of coastal SAR. Therefore, an extensive part of their SAR mission is not just blue water SAR but all facets of SAR, including coastal SAR and anything from small craft to cruise ship hoisting. They must be proficient and capable of hoisting from any platform in any situation. They are so proficient with hoisting that I have conducted several PMC runs where we hoisted our passengers. As SAR is their primary mission, open water SAR jumps, and ship hoistings are practiced day and night as often as possible on deployment with the safety requirement of a second SAR capable aircraft airborne and within 15 minutes if conducting SAR jumps. It should be noted that a 10 foot and 10 knot or 15 foot and 0 knot rescue swimmer deployment does not exist in the French Dauphin community, and SAR jumps are always conducted via the hoist.
To my knowledge, the “revised” SAR Matrix being tested by a deployed or recently returned CVN strike group (at the time this article was written) has made significant strides for H-60S detachments responsible for SAR with re-evaluated distances, mission flexibility, and SAR tasking for other SAR capable assets in the area. If we continue in this direction, we will be closer to our goal of using our naval helicopters more pragmatically and sensibly. Hopefully, sharing these French SAR procedures helps advance that goal. Both sides have seemingly altered their matrices to allow for a more reasonable and efficient manner of expending flight hours. There are several similarities and overlaps between the two, but for the French Dauphin, their limited GW and endurance when configured for SAR, continue to restrict crews from fully exploiting the rewritten documentation.
French vs. U.S. CVN SAR Matrix
Unlike the prior, current, and, I imagine, future U.S. SAR Matrices, the French Navy does not consider the status of the SAR boat when determining the Pedro/SAR postures for the helicopter. Nor does the use of a naval ship conducting PGS (Plane Guard Station at 1000 – 2000yds) or PGWS (Plane Guard Watch Station at 1-3NM) change or reduce the Pedro posture for the helicopter. Additionally, it is important to note that there must always be a designated spare PEDRO or secondary asset during a deck cycle. 99% of the time, this is the second Dauphin F, therefore, the 35F squadron is always two to make two for every deck cycle without a “spare” for their spare Pedro. The spare Pedro must be kept in a Pedro 3 posture or higher. This means minimal maintenance for the second Dauphin F during deck cycles due to a requirement to assume the PEDRO function within 30 minutes and a maximum distance of 50 NM airborne if conducting a different mission. A ship in PGS or PGWS is considered a viable spare Pedro asset but never primary. If the function of PEDRO or SPARE PEDRO is held by another helicopter in the force, it will dictate a reduced distance for their mother ships from the CDG and an increased readiness level for their aircraft.
This is the final article in the PEP series. If this is your first time reading, I invite you to look back at RR #153 –RR#156 to better understand a PEP Pilot's journey. PEP can be a challenging, but rewarding experience, and I encourage you to seek information on PEP tours or foreign exchange opportunities from your detailers. As an officer in the U.S. Navy and pilot in U.S. Naval Aviation, I, and I suspect we, often believe that the methodology of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Naval Aviation is the only methodology. Or at least this is our only exposure. As a result, we create aircraft commanders, department heads, and commanding officers within our specific community bubbles. This can lead to an extremely high level of expertise in our officers on any subject matter relating to the U.S. Navy, and one that we could argue is necessary for being a professional and competent military leader. There is a reason the U.S. military has been so successful from an operational standpoint. However, there is a chance that with this single exposure, an officer and the U.S. Navy, for that matter, might fall into a self-perpetuating cycle. Values, beliefs, and mindsets tend to be reinforced the longer we stay within one group or community. I propose that a foreign exchange tour broadens our horizons, gives us a new perspective, and prevents us from being blind to other avenues or methodologies. As always, contact me at randyperkinsIV@gmail.com for corrections or questions.
An AS565 Panther conducts FWD Deck hoisting with USS Ross (DDG 71)
Practice litter hoisting with a French escort vessel
Time for the Navy to Set a Clear Course for Rotorcraft Modernization
By Carl Forsling and Chris Misner, Senior Managers at Bell
Evenas aviation technology continues to advance across much of the military, especially in TACAIR, some of the U.S. Navy’s most utilized aircraft are well overdue for replacement. Simply put, it is time for the Navy to modernize its vertical lift assets. There are new assets on the horizon, such as the unmanned Bell V-247 Vigilant, ready to deliver versatility, speed, and range that simply cannot be replicated by current systems.
In 1961, the SH-3 Sea King began its service with the U.S. Navy. Its maximum airspeed was just over 140 knots and it could fly approximately 550 nautical miles. Primarily designed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), the Sea King would also serve as a utility and search and rescue (SAR) aircraft until it was retired in 2006.
In the early 1970s, the Navy selected the SH-2 to serve as the Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) providing both Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Surface Action Groups (SAGs) a more robust ASW and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) capability. Time saw both the SH-2 and SH-3 being replaced first by the Sikorsky SH-60B and F, and again by the MH-60R and S. Those aircraft have a maximum speed of just over 140 knots and a range on internal fuel of about 450 nautical miles.
So, after over 60 years, during a period of immense technological change, the U.S. Navy’s primary ASW and ASuW assets are traveling roughly the same speed and range as they did when the grandfathers and great-grandfathers of today’s Sailors served.
A Changing Operational Environment
As those previous generations turned over the watch, missile technology far outpaced that of the helicopters doing the sensing for them. When the Sea King was fielded, antisurface missiles were in their infancy—the stalwart Harpoon was still two decades away. Today, the Naval Strike Missile reaches at least 115 nm and the newest Tomahawk Block V can hit ships at distances of over 1000 nm.
The range of those and similar weapons has enabled Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), the Navy’s current operational construct. But, just as important, the Navy’s most likely adversaries have weapons that reach just as far. Both sides of this equation are combining to generate increased dispersion of naval forces.
Even as the dispersion of naval forces and their striking ranges increases every year, Naval air assets have not kept up. Especially in SAGs, which have no organic fixed-wing aircraft, existing helicopters cannot provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting (ISR&T) at the ranges needed to fully exploit the capabilities of their ships. This is not just the manned helicopters mentioned earlier, but also their unmanned aerial systems (UASs).
While currently fielded UASs have significant time-onstation, their ranges, speeds, and payloads are still insufficient to fully support the weapons aboard surface combatants like DDGs, much less carry weapons of their own. Theater and strategic assets, from the MQ-4 Triton to P-8 Poseidon to satellite assets, are incredibly capable but will likely not be on station when and where a tactical commander needs them the most.
The U.S. Navy needs a Group Four or Five unmanned system that can operate from surface combatants, especially the DDGs that provide the bulk of the long-range firepower of the SAG. With each passing day, that capability gap becomes increasingly urgent.
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U.S. Navy Kaman UH-2A Seasprite (BuNo 149779) and a Sikorsky HH-3A Sea King of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron HC-7 Sea Devils in flight .
Vertical Flight Enables Distributed Operations
Few technologies can enable such a system to takeoff vertically from a destroyer’s flight deck, while traveling at operationally relevant speeds and ranges while carrying a useful load of sensors and weapons. Tiltrotor is the only one that has proven itself operationally relevant and suitable.
Tiltrotors have already changed the art of the possible with manned aircraft. The V-22 Osprey has flown over 700,000 flight hours across the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy, performing missions across the spectrum of conflict in every operational environment. The next generation of tiltrotor, the Bell V-280 Valor, has taken the lessons learned from the V-22 and has further improved performance, maintainability, and sustainability.
An unmanned tiltrotor would bring this type of capability to practically any vessel in the Fleet. Bell Textron Inc. has proposed exactly this in the V-247 Vigilant. Two V-247s working together, each with over seven hours of time on station, can maintain continuous coverage over an area of interest over 300 nm from their base. This is the type of capability that previously required fixed-wing aircraft, such as the P-8 Poseidon or S-3 Viking. Unlike the V-247, the P-8 requires a land base to operate from. The S-3 could operate from an aircraft carrier but was retired from Fleet service over a decade ago with no replacement.
The V-247 would greatly enhance the lethality of all ships in a distributed environment. This would first come from providing targeting data to its DDG or any other platform in the kill-web. It could also extend the striking range of the DDG itself—a V-247 could carry ordnance such as Joint Airborne Strike Missiles ((JASM) )to kill large surface combatants, Joint Airborne Ground Missiles (JAGM) to kill swarms of small craft, or torpedoes to kill submarines.
A high-speed, long-endurance, multi-mission platform like the V-247 increases the effectiveness of every other naval and joint asset in the fight, both manned and unmanned. The V-247’s speed and on-station time allow it to scan vast areas, enabling other assets to prosecute targets more effectively and efficiently. This might mean detecting a submarine for an MH-60R to localize and engage, directing an MH-60S to rescue a downed aviator in the water, or becoming a network node to exercise control of other UASs. If paired with other tiltrotor assets, like CMV-22 or a Maritime Strike V-280 Valor, the compatibility in speed makes such teaming even more effective.
This enables the right platforms and weapons to be matched to the right missions, saving flight hours, ordnance, and ultimately lives, throughout the Fleet. Even more importantly, it facilitates DMO, allowing maximum dispersion of friendly assets and standoff from the enemy, increasing survivability in a near-peer engagement. The V-247 is not only unmanned but unmatched.
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Change of Command CVRMW
CAPT Justin McCaffree, USN relieved
CAPT Sam Bryant, USN March 16, 2023
CDR Robert W. Anderson, IV, USN relieved
CDR Steven A. MacGillis. USN February 24, 2023
CDR Timothy M. White, USN relieved
CDR Thomas R. Butts, USN March 31, 2023.
HSC-7 Dusty Dogs
CDR Dave Miceli, USN relieved
CDR Brian Truong, USN March 9, 2023
HSC-25 Island Knights
CDR Nick Ryan, USN will relieve CDR Kyle Johnson, USN May 12, 2023
CDR Neil Toohey, USN will relieve CDR Jake Moore, USN May 4, 2023
CDR Andrew S. Countiss, USN relieved
CDR Michael M. Lanzill, USN April 27, 2023
CDR Vincent Gomes, USN relieved
CDR Jeremy Bartowitz, USN April 14, 2023
Mules and War Bears
By LCDR Brian "Frommers" Strong, USN
HSM-60 “Jaguars,” based in NAS Jacksonville, Florida are part of the Naval Air Force Reserve Maritime Support Wing (MSW). As a reserve squadron, HSM-60 delivers strategic depth and surge force capabilities, providing commanders with ready assets to support operational tasking on short notice.
They operate seven MH-60R aircraft and have 190 Sailors, a mix of Training and Administrative Reserve (TAR), Active Duty, and Selected Reservists (SELRES).
HSM-60 is a principal asset for its Operational Commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic (HSMWL), sourced to support operational tasking worldwide. As an operational HSM squadron, their primary mission is providing Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW), and Electronic Warfare (EW) support to the Fleet, embarking 2 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters on air capable surface ships.
In 2021, HSM-60 was preparing for a scheduled summer 2022 deployment with USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98). Just before New Year’s day, HSM-60 received an order to be ready to deploy from U.S. 2nd Fleet in order to support European Command (EUCOM) theatre operations. With only six days warning, the final order came in to depart on January 17th, 2022.
Despite the limitations of working through a holiday stand down period, the squadron readied a complete detachment, including maintenance personnel and aircrew. Two aircraft and 30 Jaguars departed on Jan 17th onboard USS Forrest Sherman. The Detachment Officer in Charge, LCDR Rich Grant states, “Due to the shortened timeline, each Sailor on this Detachment was hand-picked based on experience and superior performance. The team worked tirelessly during that week, along with crucial Homeguard support, to get their aircraft, personnel, and gear ready to meet the mission on short order. It was truly an all-hands effort over the next three months, resulting in a highly successful deployment in support of the European Command’s request for forces.”
The HSM-60.2 Detachment, newly dubbed the “War Bears,” proceeded to join up with USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) for a Competency Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Virginia. The ship and air team were faced with a slew of challenges, including the rapid integration into USS Kearsarge ARG’s airplan, along with icing and fog conditions throughout the exercise. Despite
the fast pace and dynamic operational flow, the War Bears integrated seamlessly and helped USS Forest Sherman obtain their qualification for deployment.
This exercise flowed directly into a Naval Undersea Warfare Training Assessment Course (NUWTAC) with a U.S. Submarine for two weeks, where HSM-60.2 upgraded their ASW skills to support EUCOM theater operations. Following this training, the “War Bears” and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) proceeded across the Atlantic to the Norwegian Sea.
Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, the team was tasked to conduct presence operations and power projection with the USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) in the Baltic Sea. All operations were de-escalatory in nature, with explicit guidance to remain clear from high threat areas in the southern Baltic Sea.
The “War Bears” successfully completed this underway which extended over 100 days and returned safely to Jacksonville on April 22, 2022. They completed 81 missions (sorties), encompassing 227 mishap-free flight hours in direct support of operational tasking. Upon return, the “War Bears” were provided six weeks to recharge, replenish their gear, and enjoy time with their families prior to departing on the originally planned summer 2022 deployment.
LCDR Ryan McDonough assumed the duties of OIC and Detachment 60.2, newly dubbed “The Mules,” embarked USS Forest Sherman again and departed from Norfolk on June 11th, enroute to the Mediterranean Sea.
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The “Jaguars” of Navy Reserve Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 60 Det 2 conducted Initial Ship Aviation Team Training (ISATT) aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
The ship chopped back into 6th Fleet on June 20th and shortly after embarked Rear Admiral Michael Sciretta and assumed flagship duties for Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2). This coalition provides NATO with immediate operational response capability, and in the summer and fall of 2022, it was comprised of U.S., Spanish, Turkish, Italian, French, and Greek naval warships.
The Mules participated in numerous exercises and operational tasking with these coalition ships and their embarked helicopters, supporting each other in the ASW, SUW, and EW mission requirements. This included conducting coordinated ASW operations with Turkish and Spanish helicopters.
LCDR Travis Dunn assumed duties as OIC in a planned turnover halfway through the deployment in August 2022. “The Mules” went on to support NATO exercise DYNAMIC MARINER, as well as the Italian exercise MARE APERTO, and Greek exercise NIRIIS. Strengthening the coalition through training and in-port relationship building was a critical part of the mission.
Through the underway period, the detachment made multiple port visits to receive logistical support and conduct aircraft maintenance. Port visits included Gdansk, Poland; Stockholm, Sweden; Aksaz, Turkey; and Split, Croatia. These visits provided the ship and air team time to experience the vast history and proud culture of the European theater. From conducting community relations in Gdansk, packaging clothing and goods for Ukrainian refugees in Poland, to hosting the Swedish dignitaries in Stockholm, the time in port was another opportunity for the U.S Navy to reinforce its global force for good.
In total, the HSM-60.2 deployment period extended 295 days in direct support of the EUCOM RFF and the SNMG2 operational tasking. Returning to Jacksonville, FL on December 23rd, the team had successfully executed 203 sorties, 570 mishapfree flight hours with a 97% sortie completion rate. Their efforts helped maintain a deescalatory presence in the region and supported their operational commanders with critical intel and a clear maritime picture.
Their success extended well beyond the operational achievements. Through hard work and dedication, the detachment was able to complete numerous qualifications and awards to include: three advancements, six Enlisted Air Warfare Specialists, three Collateral Duty Inspectors, one Safe for Flight, and Naval Achievement Medals for LT Sullivan, LT Davis, AE1 Hopper, AO1 Slupski, AD2 Benitez-Lopez, AM2 Walther, PR2 Payne, AT2 Hurst, AT2 Mayne, AZ2 Earles, AO1 Melton, and AE2 Ifezue. Chief Petty Officer Jeremy Shelton relates: “The First Class Petty Officers on the detachment took it upon themselves to help train the Sailors, and it brought us up to a 100% warfare qualified detachment. It really speaks to their level of ownership, accountability and maturity.”
HSM-60 Commanding Officer, CDR Seth “Sweaty” DiNola, praised them for their outstanding achievement, “I cannot be more proud of the HSM-60.2 Team. They have operated at a very high level and have played a critical role in meeting the associated tasking in the European area of responsibility. Their presence in the Eastern Atlantic, the North Sea, the Danish Straits, the Baltic Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea provided stability to those areas throughout 2022. Through all the uncertainty of their operational timeline, the detachment was able to show resilience and resolve to remain focused on the mission. Their commitment to each other and to the HSM-60 Jaguars is a reflection of their American spirit and their commitment to service. They represented CNAFR, the Navy Reserves, and our country with dignity and pride and I am honored to have them on our team.”
Helicopter Heroine by Charles Morgan Evans
Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
In the early 1980’s, Time-Life published a book series called the Epic of Flight, which I bought, and of which one of the volumes was “The Helicopters.” On page 115 is the picture of a young woman in a floppy hat and coveralls standing beside a helicopter. It was of French Army Captain and Doctor Valerie Andre. Her story has always fascinated me, and now I have read it in detail in Charles Evans' wonderful work,"Helicopter Heroine." Perhaps what sums up the life of this determined and driven woman in a nutshell is her own words, “Every day I told myself to take full advantage of the opportunities I had been given and live life intensely in the present moment.” Live life she does, as Evans tells it in this fascinating page-turner.
We’re introduced to Valerie in her hometown of Strasbourg, France, where as a young girl, she meets famous French female aviator, Maryse Hilsz, and is determined to follow in her footsteps. She grows into a headstrong young woman who gets a driver's license and takes flying lessons against her father’s wishes while working on a medical degree. Fearing a German invasion, Valerie and a friend leave Strasbourg to southern France where the university has been relocated, again against her father’s wishes. The Germans have occupied France and she and her friend are considered criminals. Valerie evades the Gestapo who are rounding up citizens. She escapes by train to Paris and enrolls in the university. After Paris is liberated by the Free French Army, she completes her medical training. She graduates as a Doctor of Medicine in 1948, resumes pilot training with a glider club, and gets her parachutist certification. She much admired Army soldiers as modern day knights when they marched into Paris and and is inspired to join the Army, volunteering for service in Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) where she can best be of service as a doctor.
In the Army, Valerie is a lone woman in a “man’s world” sea of men, encountering and fighting discrimination at every turn. She arrives in Saigon, Vietnam on New Year’s Eve 1948 where the French are fighting the Viet Minh to control the country. She is immediately employed in the hospital performing surgeries, eventually becoming a skilled neurosurgeon. She receives additional orders to work with the Parachute Command and makes practice jumps with them, earning their respect. In January of 1950, a new aircraft arrives, a Hiller H-12/360 helicopter. Valerie is enthralled by this totally unique aircraft and once it demonstrates its usefulness in an actual MEDEVAC, she is determined to fly it. The French Air Force buys two. We are introduced to Captain Alexis Santini, a MEDEVAC STOL pilot who is sent back to France to train in the Hiller, returning to form the first helicopter rescue service in Southeast Asia.
Valerie is captivated by the Hiller, so she applies and is accepted for flight training. She is sent back to France for flight school where she again meets Santini who is back in France for seaplane training. He tells her that she will continue training with him when she gets back. She senses that he will be an important part of her life. Back in Vietnam, she returns to her surgical duty while continuing to train with the parachute unit and helo training with Santini. Valerie goes on MEDEVAC missions with him and finally realizes to herself, “as much as I have never loved war, I constantly sought the intoxication of action.” She parachutes into a remote isolated outpost to perform surgery on a critically injured soldier. There she sets up a field surgery, even operating on local villagers and getting a reputation as “the healer woman who came from the sky.” Her service there is capped by an arduous multi day trek through dense jungle complete with leeches before being flown back to Saigon.
Valerie qualifies as a MEDEVAC pilot flying multiple missions in all kinds of weather and combat zones from the Mekong Delta in the south to the Chinese border in the north, and from ship operations in the east to mountain operations in Laos in the west. The little Hiller is a work horse and we are taken through every nuance of cockpit control, mechanical workings, and flight technique from milking an overburdened aircraft in ground effect to autorotative emergency landings. Valerie’s piloting and decision making skills seem intuitive as she hones them to razor sharp perfection over 30 months of intensive flying. The Legionnaires in the field call her Mademoiselle Ventilateur (Miss Helicopter). Simultaneously, she performs as a skilled surgeon with Evans taking us from the cockpit and into the operating room through highly detailed surgeries. Her leadership skills are recognized when she is given temporary command of the helicopter unit while Santini is back in France, becoming the first woman to command a French military aviation unit. In the words of her men, “she wears a slouch hat and coveralls, she gives orders and we take them.” Her intense work schedule is not without problems. She is hospitalized for amoebic dysentery and again for severe fatigue. Her rescue work under extreme conditions results in her being awarded the Croix de Guerre with palms and induction as a Knight in the Legion of Honor.
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Valerie is ordered back to France where she is assigned as doctor and pilot to the French Flight Test Center. She flies many different rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, including demonstrating the new Hiller H-23B at the Paris Air Show. France has withdrawn from Indochina after the battle of Dien Bien Phu, which is covered in depth by Evans. Valerie applies for transfer to the next overseas trouble spot, Algeria. She is sent there, now qualified in the H-23, Bell 47, Alouette II, and H-19, with the opportunity to qualify in the H-34. There are 270 helicopters in Algeria, making it the first true helicopter war. She is given a helicopter weapons display, lamenting, “the time of the ventilateur, used only for medical evacuation, was over.” The war in Algeria morphs into a potential French coup with all French troops eventually being pulled out. Valerie returns to France to be the Chief Medical Officer at an airbase near Paris. She promotes through the ranks to General, becoming the first woman General in the French Armed Forces. Through the 60s, 70s, and into the 80s, she continues to fight for women’s rights in the military. Her story is one of fighting discrimination and adversity, breathtaking adventure, and eventual love.
Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
It’s1950 and a young LTJG Tom Hudner, played by Glen Powell (Hidden Figures, Top Gun: Maverick), is driving to his new duty station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. He’s assigned to VF-32 flying Grumman Bearcats. He’s putting his gear in the locker room when he hears a voice coming from somewhere inside. He goes to investigate and meets ENS Jesse Brown, played by Jonathan Majors (The Harder They Fall, Creed III), who walks right past him with no acknowledgement. Later in the ready room, Tom is teamed with Jesse as his wingman. They take off on a familiarization flight of the area along with some non-regulation flat-hatting and lighthouse buzzing. Everyone retires for the evening with Jesse going home to his wife, Daisy, played by Christina Jackson (The Night House, Outsiders), and young daughter Pam.
The squadron’s out on the ramp the next day to be introduced to their new aircraft by their Commanding Officer (CO) LCDR Dick Cevoli, played by Tom Sadoski (John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2). Their new aircraft is the gullwing Vought F4U Corsair which they must rapidly qualify in to prepare for deployment. They will be deploying to the Mediterranean to counter possible anti-NATO Russian threats. But first, they need to qualify with landings on USS Leyte, CV 32. Jesse has trouble getting used to the new aircraft because of its long nose obstructing forward visibility, but successfully traps on his second attempt. That night Daisy tells Tom to disregard Jesse’s strong-silent-type act, he really does have a sense of humor, and she makes Tom promise to be there for him. Leyte leaves for the Med, where their port of call is Cannes, France. In town, Jesse meets Elizabeth Taylor who invites Jesse and his fellow Naval Aviators to join her at
My review amazingly, only scratches the surface of this indepth accounting of a life of service to one’s country. Helicopter Heroine is really three stories. Valerie’s story up through the liberation of France, her story of operations in Indochina, and her story of Algeria and life afterwards. Valerie is still with us, turning 100 in 2022 and has written two books recounting her life: Ici, Ventilateur about her time in Indochina, and Madame le General about her life in the military. Charles Evans knows the amazing little Hiller of which he has written, being the founding curator of the Hiller Aviation Museum. His style is clear, concise and easy to read. It also includes maps of France, Indochina and Algeria as well as 24 pages of photographs, 28 pages of chapter notes, a bibliography, and an Index. Examples of the story’s H-23, Bell 47, Alouette, and H-19 can be found in Classic Rotors Helicopter Museum in Ramona, CA. I enthusiastically give Helicopter Heroine two thumbs up. Get the book, read the story of this remarkable aviator, you will not be disappointed.
the casino. They meet Liz in the casino and later have a fight with Marines before making it back to the ship.
The next day they’re informed that the Chinese and North Koreans are overrunning Korea and Leyte is leaving to support the war there. They’re off Korea with the mission of flack suppression for a bridge bombing mission by Panthers (Grumman F9F). The Corsairs are armed with rockets and guns. Off the carrier, enroute to the target, the CO can’t get his gear retracted and passes command of the squadron to Tom. The flak at the bridge is incredibly heavy and the group gets jumped by a MiG-15. Tom and Jesse break off to chase the Mig while the rest of the group bears down on the flak guns.
They trap the MiG in a canyon with Tom shooting it down. The flak suppression is successful with the exception of the Chinese gunners on the Chinese side of the river which Tom was warned not to shoot at. Tom tells everyone to RTB to Leyte due to the heavy Chinese flak that they can’t suppress even though one span of the dual span bridge is still intact. Jesse rolls out of the formation against Tom’s orders to make a rocket run against the bridge. He manages to get through the flak and successfully knocks out the remaining span.
Everyone makes it back to the ship. Jesse, however, is being written up for insubordination for disobeying Tom’s order to not return to the bridge. Tom talks to Jesse saying he just told it like it was in his report, not trying to hurt him. It’s the Air Wing Commander who wants to officially reprimand him. Tom goes to his squadron mates who all write petitions supporting Jesse’s actions. When Tom brings the petitions back to the stateroom, he hears voices like he did that first time at Quonset Point. When he goes inside, Jesse explains that it's part of a ritual he does before any real stressful event he has to face, by saying every hateful slur and word that he’s ever heard against him. He has done it since he was a boy.
The viewer has already witnessed it before the deck landing quals and the flak suppression mission. Tom’s papers will do nothing for him. Jesse explains that it's not the same for him as it would be for any other pilot in the squadron. They tried to drown him during flight school swim quals because they didn’t believe a Black man could swim and they’re trying to get him now, and there’s nothing he can do to stop it.
Jesse’s sitting on the ship’s island overlooking the flight deck when he is approached by one of the crew’s black Sailors. He gives Jesse a watch that the other brothers bought and had engraved for him in Cannes. They support Jesse 100 percent. Jesse thanks him and shakes his hand. Jesse’s still on the flight schedule and the squadron gets a new mission. They have to provide close air support for Marines surrounded by enemy troops at Chosin Reservoir. Therein lies the final action which is hot and heavy and I don’t want to spoil it for you.
The film is based on the 2015 book, Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos relating an actual incident during the Korean War. The film was directed by J.D. Dillard, a Navy brat whose father was an NFO and the second African-American selected to fly for the Blue Angels. J.D. assembled a great cast of young actors, with amazing special effects, including some actual period aircraft: several F4U Corsairs, two F8F Bearcats, an AD Skyraider, a MiG-15, and a Sikorsky HO5S. The aircraft carrier Leyte is a full scale set built on an airstrip in Georgia so that actual aircraft could take off and land. Devotion tells a remarkable story, putting you in the cockpits, ready rooms, and foxholes with the actors. If you like aviation movies with lots of air action, you will love Devotion; but know too that it is both evocative and at times somber and highly emotional in its treatment of racial prejudice and discrimination in the Navy. I give it two thumbs up. Make sure you stay for the closing credits, they’re different, well done, and give perspective to the movie. Break out the popcorn and soda and settle back for an exciting and meaningful ride.
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Congratulations to the next generation of Naval Aviation warfighters who received their Wings of Gold at NAS Whiting Field. These aviators will move to the Fleet to learn their designated platforms.
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators March 10, 2023
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators February 24, 2023
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www.navalhelicopterassn.org 79 Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators January 13, 2023 Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators January 27, 2023
Rotor Review #160 Spring '23 80 Engaging Rotors Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-2 February 15, 2023 Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-3 February 24, 2023
From Left to right: AWS3 Bram Byer, USN; AWS3 Oliver Coric, USN: AWS3 Fiona Halt, USN; AWS3 Isaiah Martinez, USN; AWS3 Trenton Sappington, USN; AWS3 Damian Shirey, USN; AWS3 Lennon Thorne, USN; AWS3 Nathan Toney, USN. The speaker at the podium is AWS1 Steven Leib, one of the FRAC instructors.
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 81 Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSM-40 February 7, 2023 Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSM-40 March 20, 2023
CAPT Dick Catone, USN (Ret.) following a memorial service for a fellow helicopter pilot, is credited with the following statement: “I guess we are all in the starboard delta waiting for Signal Charlie.” Starboard Delta is the holding pattern for the airborne Search and Rescue helicopters on the starboard (right) side of the aircraft carrier. They fly at a low altitude so as not to interfere with the fixed-wing aircraft recovery pattern, and only land when the last fixed-wing aircraft is safe on board. When tower calls the helicopter to pass “Charlie” to a landing spot, the crew knows the fixed-wing recovery is complete, all is well, and it is time to come back. Hence, the statement appears appropriate that someday we will receive our own “Signal Charlie” and will be called home for a final landing.
Signal Charlie has been created to inform our membership and honor the passing of fellow unrestricted aviators. It is only as good as the information we receive. If you have an obituary or other information that you would like to provide concerning the passing of a shipmate, co-worker, or friend of the community, please contact the NHA National Office at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get the word out.
eeCDR Mark Bass “Nacho” Vaughan, USN (Ret.)
ENS Mark Vaughan, USN became a Naval Aviator on September 18,1981 at HT-18, NAS Whitting Field, Milton, Florida. ENS Vaughan was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator R#16245.
Mark Bass Vaughan was born on October 9, 1958 to Edgar Vaughan III and Patricia (Bass) Vaughan. After a few early years of travel, his family settled in his father’s hometown of Shelbyville, KY. He graduated from Shelby County High School and enrolled in the United States Naval Academy in 1976, where he rowed crew and became involved in the Navigators ministry. He graduated in 1980 and went on to flight school in Pensacola, FL, where he met his wife, Donna Hallberg. They were married in June of 1982 and soon after embarked upon the adventurous life of a Naval Officer. Mark and Donna had three children and lived in six different states, as well as one foreign country over the course of his 21 year naval career. Mark is the former Commanding Officer of VR-57. Mark retired from the Navy in 2001 and soon after began his career as a pilot for FedEx, where he would serve for an additional 22 years. In 2009, Mark enrolled at Biola University’s Institute of Spiritual Formation. He graduated in 2013 and became a spiritual director in the Los Angeles/Orange County, CA area. Mark also volunteered as a pilot for Orbis International, a charity that operates a flying eye hospital to locations around the world. He enjoyed cycling and running; he completed several marathons and triathlons. Mark was a true light in this world and cared so deeply about people and about his Lord. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in June of 2021, and passed away on January 22, 2023. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Donna; his children Anna, Nate, Rachel, and their spouses; five precious grandchildren; and his brothers Edgar, David and Doug.
Memorial services were held at Granada Hills Friends Church in La Mirada, CA at 11 AM on February 25, 2023, and First Presbyterian Church in Shelbyville, KY at 10:30 AM on March 11, 2023. In lieu of flowers, the family requests consideration of a donation to one of the following charitable organizations that Mark had a passion for: a) Institute for Spiritual Formation, Talbot Graduate School, Biola University (Please designate “other” and “Institute for Spiritual Formation”); b) Operation Integrity; or c) Orbis International.
Mark Vaughan’s Memorial Service was on Saturday, Feburary 25, 2023. View the recording of the service at the link below. https://boxcast.tv/view/mark-vaughn-memorial-djx4s5r4bctdaamhwfri Mark fought the good fight, kept the faith, and was courageous through the end. The family greatly appreciates all of the love and support they’ve received, especially over these past few very difficult weeks.
FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOWING SEAS CDR VAUGHAN
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CAPT Paul Eugene Caine, USN(Ret.) ENS
Paul Caine became a Naval Aviator on May 7, 1958 at HTG-1, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida. ENS Caine was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator Number R-4087.
Paul Caine passed away peacefully at home in San Diego on February 4, 2023. Nancy, Paul’s wife of 65 years, was with him. Paul and Nancy Schilling met at the University of Montana (Missoula). When Paul proposed to Nancy, and she accepted, he told everyone that he was the “luckiest Irishman on earth.” Paul’s grace and love for Nancy, his family and friends will be sorely missed.
Born to Ira Michael and Mabel Caine on January 3, 1935, in Roundup, Montana, which was known for the cattle round up on the Musselshell River. Paul grew up in small-town America in a close family steeped in Irish tradition. The family moved to Miles City, in Eastern Montana, where Paul and his two sisters, Margaret and Marie, and brother Don, were reared and attended high school. Miles City is home to the world-famous Bucking Horse Sale, which Paul often attended, including his last trip in 2021 with his grandson, sons, and nephew Mike Cotter.
Paul was the son of a hardworking Milwaukee Railroad family. Before college, Paul delivered papers for the Billings Gazette and Miles City Star. He also worked herding sheep, stomping wool, and in various restaurants. Paul was admired for his character, ethics, and work commitment.
Paul and Nancy Schilling were married in 1957 after both graduated from the University of Montana, where Paul was a member of the baseball team. Paul and Nancy were avid University of Montana Grizzly fans and supporters of the University. Paul received the prestigious University of Montana Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2007. “Go Griz” was a favorite saying of Paul’s along with a fond goodbye to all and “the horse you rode in on.”
Nancy and Paul were quite the team, and they had two sons, Brian, born in 1958, and Shawn, in 1962. As a military family, they met and faced the challenges of multiple deployments, successfully rearing their boys into adulthood.
Paul loved the United States and his military service. He served in the Navy for over 24 years as a Naval Helicopter Pilot, retiring in 1980 as a Captain. Through 7 “on the book” tours to Vietnam via WESTPAC, Paul logged over 80 combat missions and was credited with 13 downed U.S. Pilot rescues. Paul was the Chief Pilot for the Commander of the 7th Fleet and participated in the helicopter recovery operations of Apollo 4. For Paul’s selfless commitment to Duty and Valor during multiple deployments in a combat zone, he, was the honored recipient of Meritorious Service Medal (two Awards), four Air-Medals for heroism, the Navy Achievement Medal with “V” Device (Valor), and Combat Action Medal. He served in units which were recipients of Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation with Bronze Star and Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal. Paul commanded Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 8 and was Commander of Air Group 80. His commanders and junior officers admired Paul and he forged many lifelong friendships during his Naval career. Paul supported the USS Midway Museum, and was a member of the Naval Helicopter Association and the American Legion.
Upon retiring from the military, Paul ventured into commercial real estate brokerage, working for Manchester Financial, and participated in downtown San Diego leasing while working with Merrill Lynch, LJ Hooker and CBRE. In the 90s, Paul began working for NAI International and helped open the largest network of real estate brokerage firms throughout Mexico, Latin, and South America. He retired in 2008.
The best times in Paul’s life were with his wife, Nancy, as they raised their boys, traveled together, spent time with family and helped others. One of Paul’s favorite travel experiences was in 2011, when he spent time at Normandy, France honoring those who served in WWII. Paul loved his time with family in Montana, where the family spent many 4th of Julys in Hamilton, attended many Grizzly football games in Missoula, relaxed at Seeley Lake, or visited lifelong friends in Miles City. You could always count on Paul for a jovial and entertaining breakfast eating his favorite sausage, corn beef and hashbrowns with friends and family.
Paul believed in people and wanted them to succeed. Paul was an active mentor of people leaving the armed forces transitioning to civilian life, students from the University of Montana, and anyone with an interest in Commercial Real Estate or public speaking. Paul was a founder of the BORED, an esteemed group of committed lifelong Padre fans, and attended decades of tailgates for the Padres and Chargers.
Paul is survived by his wife Nancy, son Brian and fiancé Christina; son Shawn and wife Maureen; and his grandson Beckett. Paul is also survived by his nephew and niece Mike and Patty Cotter from Helena, Montana, nephews and nieces Pat and Jill Caine, Kevin and Lynette Caine from Bozeman, Montana, niece Margaret Nicol Contreras from San Diego, nephew Curtis Cox and niece Kimberly Cox from Denver, Colorado, and niece Tina Cox from Virginia Beach, Virginia. His great nieces include Donnetta Caine, Kathleen Cotter, Sarah Nicol, Katey Tuchscherer, Erin Cox and Lauren Cox, and his great nephews; Corey Cox, Jack Cotter, Eric Nicol, Josh and Jess Tuchscherer. He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings, and nieces Michele Cotter Tuchscherer, Mary Cotter, and nephew Rodney Nicol.
Paul will be sorely missed, but his spirit will forever shine. Paul was buried at the Miramar National Cemetery with full Military Honors. Donations are suggested to the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers and or the University of Montana Foundation, P.O. Box 7159, Missoula, Montana 59807.
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