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Untitled Document

 

Marine Helicopter Attack Squadron-369 was activated on 1 April 1972, at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, assigned to Marine Aircraft Group-36, 1st Marine Air Wing, flying the new AH-1J Sea Cobra. At the end of May, HMA-369 received orders to report aboard USS Denver, LPD-9. When all hands were aboard,Major Hansen the squadron Commanding Officer played "Never Promised You a Rose Garden" over the ships loud speaker and informed the squadron that they were heading to a position off of the North Vietnamese coast near a place called Tiger Island.

The operation would be designated Operation MARHUK (Marine Hunter Killer). The squadron's mission would be to interdict small boats off the North Vietnamese coast that were loaded with supplies from Soviet and Chinese merchant ships in international waters. The mission was later expanded to the destruction of NVA Anti Aircraft emplacements, and truck traffic throughout North Vietnam, at times getting as close as 80 miles south of Hanoi and Haiphong. In addition, the Gunfighters (called Pistol Pete at that time) also provided cover for aircrew that had been shot down over enemy territory until extraction teams arrived on scene. During this operation, the AH-1J Sea Cobra saw its first combat. The Gunfighters had the distinction of being the first squadron to conduct offensive air operations with attack helicopters. As a result of the Gunfighters success in Operation MARHUK, the Marine Corps Aviation Association honored HMA-369 with their HELICOPTER SQUADRON OF THE YEAR AWARD in 1972. HMA-369 was also awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation for this period. The squadron redeployed to Okinawa in January 1973, but remained active in the conflict through Operation Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind in 1975, flying numerous sorties supporting the evacuation of Saigon.

In April 1977, HMA-369 was disestablished on Okinawa and reestablished at MCALF, Camp Pendleton, California as a member of Detachment MAG-16, 3d MAW. Initially in a cadre status, the squadron quickly built to its present size.