Marine Aircraft Group 24 (MAG-24) was activated on 1 March 1942 at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa on Oahu, Hawaii. During World War II, MAG-24 saw extensive action throughout the Pacific theater, most notably in the campaigns to liberate the Philippines. Following the war, MAG-24 was deployed as part of III Amphibious Corps to Peiping in Northern China to take part in the occupation that lasted from October 1945 until April 1947. In April 1947 it was relocated to Guam. In 1949, MAG-24 moved to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina where it remained for the next twenty years.
In April 1968, MAG-24 relocated back to the Pacific in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii where it became the Marine Corps’ largest and only permanent composite Marine Aircraft Group. Starting in 1978, the MAG provided both fixed and rotary wing squadrons for six-month unit deployments to the Western Pacific. From 1 October 1986 through 30 September 1994, MAG-24 served as the Aviation Combat Element for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
From August through December 1990, squadrons and personnel from MAG-24 deployed to Southwest Asia to support Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Following combat operations, the returning MAG-24 squadrons participated in the Bangladesh relief operation named Operation Sea Angel.
In the early 2000’s MAG-24 squadrons deployed to Marine Corps Air Stations Iwakuni and Futenma, Japan in support of the Unit Deployment Program (UDP) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) Aviation Combat Element (ACE). The three squadrons traveled the Pacific participating in exercises in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Korea, and Thailand.
In September 2004 a detachment of CH-53Ds from HMH-363 and HMH-463 chopped to HMM-265 to provide the 31st MEU ACE with heavy lift capability. This MEU detachment marked the return of the CH-53D to combat operations in the Middle East. The squadron forward deployed to Al Asad Airbase in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
Beginning in 2006, MAG-24 began sourcing a complete squadron deployment to Al Asad Airbase, Iraq in support of OIF. HMH-463 began what became a seven-month deployment rotation to Iraq for all MAG-24 squadrons that lasted over three years. In 2009, HMH-362 upgraded 11 CH-53D’s to the T64-GE-416 engines and transitioned from the flat sands of Iraq to the mountainous, rocky deserts of Afghanistan to begin support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). MAG-24 heavy lift squadrons were in constant OEF combat rotations from 2006 through 2012.
MAG-24 is presently experiencing an exciting period of growth and transition that started in 2011 with HMH-463’s last OEF deployment ending September 2011 and continues to this day. At the conclusion of HMH-463’s tour they completely transitioned all of their aircraft to the CH-53E from the CH-53D. HMH-363 would continue the transition of MAG-24 upon its return from combat operations in March of 2012, when they were re-designated Marine Medium Tilt-Rotor Squadron 363 (VMM-363) and moved to MAG-16 in Miramar, CA. VMM-363 now flies the MV-22 Osprey. We anxiously await the scheduled return of VMM-363 to MAG-24.
In the summer of 2012, the entire USMC inventory of active duty CH-53D "Sea Stallions" was retired with the exception of the aircraft forward deployed to Afghanistan with the “Ugly Angels” of HMH-362. Upon completion of that deployment in the fall of 2012, HMH-362 was deactivated and the remaining aircraft were retired.
The summer of 2012 also marked another historic occasion, as the Marine Corps shifted its focus to the Pacific, with the movement of Scarface of HMLA-367 from Camp Pendleton, CA to Marine Corps Base Hawaii. This marked the return of Scarface to the Pacific as they firmly planted the Scarface flag in the sands of MCBH since 1979 when they left Okinawa for Camp Pendleton.
In the fall of 2012 MAG-24 deployed its first CH-53E squadron to the 31st MEU as HMH-463 and MALS-24 took out its first deployment of CH-53E in November (13.1). HMLA-367 followed up with their first deployment since their relocation on the 31st MEU in May 2013 (13.2). Both of these deployments were before the units were determined to be Full Operational Capable (FOC), which demonstrates the Mission First, Marines and Sailors Always and the “Be Prepared to Fight Tonight and Win” mindsets set forth by the Commanding Officer of MAG-24 and the Commanding General of III MEF (respectively). HMH-463 became FOC in December of 2012, MWSD-24 was FOC in April 2013 and HMLA-367 followed one year later in April 2014.
In April 2014 MAG-24 sent a detachment from HMH-463 and MALS-24 to Darwin, Australia to participate in Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D). The presence of aviation assets in Darwin marks the beginning of Phase II in Marine Corps plans to further build upon our military relations with the Australian Defense Force and further continue the Marine Corps effort to shift its focus to the Pacific Theatre.
Today MAG-24 consists of one CH-53E squadron (HMH-463), one AH-1/UH-1 squadron (HMLA-367), a Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS-24), and a Marine Wing Support Detachment (MWSD-24). Summer of 2014 marks the beginning of the relocation of VMU-3 from MACG-38 in Twenty-nine Palms, CA to MAG-24. Upon completion of this period of transition, forecasted to stretch into FY17, MAG-24 will consist of one HMH (CH-53E), one HMLA (AH-1/UH-1), one VMU (UAV), two VMM’s (MV-22), a Marine Wing Support Company, and the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron.