In line with its Force Design 2030 initiative, the US Marine Corps (USMC) deactivated Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 (HMLA-469) ‘Vengeance’ – a component of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) – and reactivated its replacement unit, HMLA-367 ‘Scarface’, during a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Camp Pendleton in California on December 16.
Activated on June 30, 2009, ‘Vengeance’ was the youngest HMLA squadron in the 3rd MAW and operated both the Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter and UH-1Y Venom battlefield utility helicopter with approximately 350 personnel on strength. While HMLA-469 was still a young unit at the time of its deactivation, it had carried out multiple deployments with Marine Expeditionary Units and in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. ‘Vengeance’ also took part in several key humanitarian missions, including supporting disaster response efforts following the earthquakes that struck Nepal in April-May 2015 as part of Task Force 505 during Operation Sahayogi Haat.
The decision to disband HMLA-469 comes as part of the USMC’s Force Design 2030 initiative, which has directed the divestment of two HMLA squadrons across the USMC to reallocate funding for other areas of interest within the service in a bid to increase lethality against the threats of today and tomorrow. As a result of this move, HMLA-367 ‘Scarface’ – which was temporarily stood down at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, in April 2022 – has been relocated and reactivated to replace the outgoing HMLA-469.
HMLA-367 was initially established by the USMC as Marine Observation Squadron 351 (VMO-3) during World War Two but was subsequently stood down in 1949. The unit was first reactivated as in 1966 to support US military operations during the Vietnam War, where it earned its famous ‘Scarface’ nickname and became the first USMC unit to employ the AH-1G Cobra attack helicopter. ‘Scarface’ went on to support US military campaigns during Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraqi Freedom (including the Battle of Fallujah) and Enduring Freedom.
Commenting on the move, Maj Gen Bradford J Gering - commanding general of the 3rd MAW – said: “While it is always bitter to roll up a squadron flag, we do so with great pride in the accomplishments and legacy that ‘Vengeance’ leaves in its wake. We welcome ‘Scarface’ to the family and I have no doubt that the strong heritage HMLA-367 brings with it will positively impact our readiness and lethality to fight and win when called.”