Desert guardians

USMC November Hueys

Though the US Marine Corps’ operational helicopter light attack community has completely replaced the 1970s-vintage UH-1N Twin Huey with the UH-1Y Venom, one formation still operates the ‘November’ – the base search and rescue unit at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona – better known as Yuma SAR.

Yuma SAR’s search and rescue medical technicians (SMT or SAR Med Tech) are US Navy corpsmen, trained for aerial rescue. All photos Joe Copalman
Yuma SAR’s aircrews are experts at confined-area operations, during which all members of the crew keep an eye on the surrounding terrain to ensure safe operation. HH-1N 158554 ‘5Y-03’ is one of four examples operated and was built as a ‘white-top’ VH-1N.

Few aircraft are as iconic as the Bell UH-1. A mainstay of US military aviation for more than five decades, the ‘Huey’ has served in every branch except the US Coast Guard and in every American ground conflict since Vietnam. Once a ubiquitous sound at American military airfields across the world, the distinctive ‘whump’ beat of the legacy Huey’s massive two-bladed main rotor is becoming increasingly rare as only a handful of units in the USAF and US Marine Corps operate legacy H-1 variants.

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