Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (VMM-166) is a United States Marine Corps tiltrotor squadron consisting of MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft. The squadron, known as the "SeaElk", is based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. Activated in 1985, HMM-166 was the youngest CH-46 helicopter squadron in the Marine Corps. The squadron was redesignated as a tiltrotor squadron on June 23, 2010.
|Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166|
|Active||September 13, 1986 – present|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Type||Medium-lift helicopter squadron|
|Part of||Marine Aircraft Group 16|
|Garrison/HQ||Marine Corps Air Station Miramar|
|Motto(s)||"Because We Can"|
|Mascot(s)||Lucky the Elk|
|Engagements||Operation Desert Storm|
Operation Restore Hope
Operation Iraqi Freedom
|LtCol Charles E. Bodwell|
The squadron was activated on September 13, 1985 at Marine Corps Air Station Tustin, California and assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16. They relocated during 1995 to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California and again during 1999 to MCAS Miramar, California.
They participated in the following operations:
- 1990 - Operation Desert Shield
- 1991 - Operation Desert Storm
- 1994 - Operation Support Hope
- 1994 - Operation Restore Hope
- 1998 - Operation Southern Watch
- 2004 - Operation Iraqi Freedom
On November 5, 2007, the squadron deployed to the Western Pacific as the aviation combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. From December 4 to 6, as part of the 11th MEU, HMM-166 flew 29 humanitarian assistance missions over Bangladesh to transport more than 54,165 pounds of food and supplies and 1875 gallons of water to the people most affected by Tropical Cyclone Sidr.
On 5 May 2009, a SuperCobra belonging to the squadron crashed at 1154 hrs PST into the Cleveland National Forest, California. The crash resulted in the fatalities of the aircraft's two pilots, Jessica Conkling, 27, and Aaron Cox, 26. The SuperCobra had departed Naval Air Facility El Centro 30–40 minutes earlier for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The cause of the crash was an improperly secured transmission cover which came off in flight and struck the tail rotor.
In September 2009, HMM-166(REIN) again deployed as the aviation combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They participated in exercises in East Timor, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Djibouti. They returned from the deployment in April 2010. The squadron was redesignated as VMM-166 on June 23, 2010 as they transitioned to the MV-22 Osprey.
A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. HMM-166 has been presented with the following awards:
|Joint Meritorious Unit Award Streamer||1994||Rwanda-Zaire|
|Navy Unit Commendation Streamer with one Bronze Star||1990–1991, 1994||Southwest Asia|
|Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer with one Bronze Star||1987, 2000|
|National Defense Service Streamer with one Bronze Stars||1990–1995, 2001–present||Gulf War, War on Terrorism|
|Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer|
|Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer||2006|
|Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer||2001–present|
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
- "MEU (SOC) successfully completes humanitarian mission". United States Marine Corps.
- "Super Cobra crashes in National Forest". United States Marine Corps. 2009-05-06. Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
- Arner, Mark (August 12, 2009). "Marines Say Helicopter's Fatal Crash Preventable". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B1.
- Kovach, Gretel C. (June 7, 2010). "Marine's Parents Set Record Straight: Military revises report on fatal crash". San Diego Union-Tribune.