Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 was activated in September 1951 at Cherry Point, NC and designated Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 262. Although activated during the Korean War, the Squadron remained on the east coast providing helicopter support for the Fleet Marine Force units of that area. In February 1952, the Squadron was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 26. During July 1954, the Squadron was relocated to New River, North Carolina where it remained until 1966.
On 1 February 1962, the Squadron’s designation was changed to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262. The Squadron participated in numerous amphibious and field exercises in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, developing the helicopter doctrine that was to be utilized by the United States Marine Corps. This training was put into practice from April through June of 1965 when HMM-262 participated in the Dominican Republic Intervention.
With the intensification of American involvement in the war in Vietnam, HMM-262 was deployed to Vietnam during December 1966 and subsequently reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The Squadron remained in Vietnam and operated from Ky Ha, Marble Mountain, Quang Tri, Phu Bai and the USS Tripoli while participating in numerous operations throughout the country.
With the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, HMM-262 relocated to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii during 1971 and was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Amphibious Brigade. In June of that year, the squadron was awarded the Commandant’s Aviation Efficiency Award for its accomplishments during the preceding year.
While stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, HMM-262 provided helicopter support to the 1st Marine Amphibious Brigade, FMF. In December 1976, HMM-262 was designated as the first Hawaii-based helicopter squadron to deploy to the western Pacific as a composite squadron. The squadron deployed aboard the USS Tripoli on 17 November and remained the “Cutting Edge” of the 31st MAU for the next eight months.
HMM-262 continued to amass a number of “firsts” over the next few years. In January 1979, the “Cutters” were awarded the highest grade ever achieved (96%) under the Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation System (MCCRES) for its efforts during the evaluation aboard the USS Belleau Wood. In March 1979, HMM-262, after joining a detachment of six AH-1J’s, became the first helicopter squadron to deploy aboard the Navy’s new class of amphibious assault ship, the USS Tarawa, LHA-1. During July 1979, HMM-262 scored another first by operating jointly off the same flight deck with a detachment of AV-8A Harriers.
On 30 May 1980, the Flying Tigers flew aboard the USS New Orleans (LPH-11) and joined a detachment of four AH-1T aircraft from HMA–169 to become a fully composite squadron. The squadron was tasked to conduct contingency operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf in response to the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran. In mid 1980 the Flying Tigers were again called to the Northern Arabian Gulf, aboard the USS Okinawa (LPH-3), this time to support Afghanistan contingency operations.
On 2 July 1982, the Flying Tigers launched 11 CH-46E’s that were joined by the arrival of four CH-53D’s and two UH-1N’s, as the Squadron deployed aboard the USS Belleau Wood for its fifth WESTPAC deployment. During this deployment the Squadron participated in the first visit of U.S. forces to Berbera, Somalia after the departure of Soviet forces.
During June 1986, the Flying Tigers prepared to join the unit deployment program to MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.
On 3 August 1988, the Flying Tigers once again deployed to the Western Pacific in support of MAG-36 and 1st MAW. During this deployment, the Squadron was designated as the Special Operations Capable (SOC) Squadron for III MEF.
The Flying Tigers boarded the USS Belleau Wood in March 1990 to become the first Hawaii-based helicopter squadron to deploy aboard ship since 1985. In August 1990, HMM-262 deployed to Okinawa, Japan on UDP and repositioned its flag in September 1990 to NAS Cubi Point, Republic of the Philippines, to become the ACE in support of MAGTF 4-90. The Squadron participated in emergency flood/earthquake relief efforts and was extended overseas due to Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The Squadron remained a force-in-readiness in the Philippines before returning to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii on 4 June 1991.
On 12 September 1992, the Flying Tigers once again embarked aboard the USS Belleau Wood and participated in Hurricane Iniki relief efforts on the island of Kauai. On 27 September 1992, the Squadron transferred its home base to MAG-36, 1st MAW, Okinawa. This effectively transitioned the Flying Tigers from UDP to PCS status within WESTPAC to become the first permanently assigned HMM squadron in the region since 1978.
On 24 May 1993, HMM-262(Rein), augmented by its MACG and MWSG detachments, reported to the 31st MEU(SOC) for duty as its standing Aviation Combat Element (ACE). Two weeks later the Squadron joined its HMH, HMLA and VMA detachments.
HMM-262(Rein) deployed aboard the USS Belleau Wood as a fully composite ACE from 11July – 27 September 1993. During this period, the Squadron participated in exercises in the Mariana Islands, Singapore, and Australia as well as off the coast of Okinawa.
On 24 February 1994, HMM-262(Rein) became the first MEU(SOC) ACE to composite twice with different aviation detachments and be successfully certified Special Operations Capable twice within a six-month period.
On 19 July 1994, HMM-262(Rein) participated in the Sunset Parade, multiple fly-overs and static displays in support of the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of Guam.
On 19 April 1995, the 31st MEU was SOC certified with the Flying Tigers having become the first Marine Corps squadron to successfully support a MEU for consecutive SOC Evaluations (24 months).
In June 1995, the Flying Tigers returned to MAG-36 on MCAS Futenma as the Group’s standing HMM squadron. The remainder of 1995 and 1996 saw the Flying Tigers participating in multiple exercises, often two or three simultaneously. The Republic of Korea, Iwakuni and Yokota, Japan, Utaphao and Narathiwat, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were all hosts to HMM-262.
In April of 1997, HMM-262 again assumed the role of the ACE of the 31st MEU. Over the next 18 months the Flying Tigers deployed aboard the USS Belleau Wood, and participated in exercises Cobra Gold ’97, Foal Eagle ’97, Valiant Usher ’98, Cobra Gold ’98, as well as contingency operation Bevel Incline and three Special Operations Capable Certifications. Throughout this period HMM-262(REIN) continued its tradition of excellence in Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore and throughout the Western Pacific. On 15 October 1998, HMM-262 was reassigned to MAG-36 to support 1st MAW.
In January of 2000, HMM-262 was assigned as the Aviation Combat Element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Over the course of 12 months, the Flying Tigers achieved MEU (SOC) certification twice and participated in operations Foal Eagle and Cobra Gold ’00. The Squadron was reassigned to MAG-36 in January of 2001 and deployed shortly thereafter to the Republic of the Philippines for Exercise Balikatan ’01. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, HMM-262 deployed a six aircraft detachment to MCAS Iwakuni in support of the Air Station’s force protection and quick reaction force missions. From Iwakuni, the Squadron subsequently deployed to Pohang, Republic of Korea for the Korean Incremental Training Program ‘01.
Assigned as the ACE of the 31st MEU in January 2001, HMM-262 (Rein) deployed aboard the USS Essex and participated in the 57th anniversary commemoration ceremony of the Battle of Iwo Jima. The Squadron also participated in Exercise Foal Eagle 02, Cobra Gold 02 and completed two MEU (SOC) certification exercises. In October of 2002, HMM-262 (Rein) sent a detachment of personnel and aircraft aboard the USS Harpers Ferry to the new nation of East Timor for humanitarian assistance operations. As all Unit Deployment Program personnel were frozen in December of 2001, the Squadron concluded the year with a “Be Prepared To” order to remain the ACE for the 31st MEU and to prepare for potential contingency operations.
Within 10 days of receiving official notification that it would remain the 31st MEU (S0C) ACE, the Squadron had recomposited and embarked aboard the USS Essex. During its time at sea the MEU fulfilled a variety of forward presence and operational requirements, including participation in exercises Foal Eagle in Korea, Tandem Thrust ’03 in the Marianas, and support for the 58th commemoration ceremony of the Battle of Iwo Jima. During Tandem Thrust, the Squadron participated in the first ever Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) experiment. After 18 months as the ACE of the 31st MEU, the Squadron was reassigned to MAG-36 and was named a Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award winner for calendar year 2002.
In 2003 HMM-262 participated in Exercises Ulchi Focus Lens in the Republic of Korea, Crocodile in Australia and Forest Light in Aebano, Japan. In 2004 the Squadron participated in Beachcrest CPX, a Joint-Combined exercise with the USAF and the Japanese Self-Defense Force in mainland Japan, Exercises Balikatan in the Republic of the Philippines, Foal Eagle and Ulchi Focus Lens both in the Republic of Korea. Additionally the Squadron participated in the MCAS Iwakuni Air Show, supporting the Canadian para-ops team.
In December of 2004, HMM-262 deployed to the Philippines as part of Joint Task Force-535 in support of its Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) mission. In only nine days of flying, the Squadron delivered over 204,800 pounds of food, water, and supplies to an isolated area that had been devastated by flooding and mudslides resulting from a succession of typhoons.
From January through March of 2005, HMM-262 deployed aboard the USS FORT MCHENRY (LSD-43) and the USS ESSEX (LHD-2) as part of Joint Task Force-536 in support of Operation Unified Assistance, the HA/DR effort following the devastation of large segments of the Indian Ocean coastline by tsunamis on 26 December 2004. Operating off the northwestern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, HMM-262 supported the effort by delivering aid and supplies to the victims of the massive tsunamis. During the period from 14 January to 9 February the Squadron delivered over 493,755 pounds of food, water, and other supplies to an area that spanned over 120 miles of coastline. At the conclusion of this effort the Squadron was selected to provide helicopter lift on 19 & 20 February 2005 for former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush during their tour of the tsunami devastated areas of Thailand and Indonesia.
In February, 2006, the Squadron was deployed to the Philippines to support humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations after a large mudslide had buried a small town. For the next few months, HMM-262 participated in numerous exercises to include MEU SOCEX and Exercise Cobra Gold. After serving as the ACE of the 31st MEU, the Squadron was reassigned to MAG-36 and was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award.
HMM-262 deployed to Iraq in January 2007 via Strategic Air Lift, and was reassigned to MAG-29, 2d MAW, where it conducted general support missions for Multi-National Forces West – Iraq. The Squadron operated out of Al Taqaddum Air Base for seven months at nearly four times the standard CH-46E utilization rate. HMM-262 returned to Okinawa in August 2007, and was named the MCAA HMM Squadron of the Year.
February 2010 saw HMM-262 taking part in Exercise Cobra Gold in Thailand, where the 1st MAW Commanding General presented the squadron with the 2008 Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award. Over the next few months, the Flying Tigers provided support for numerous FRAGs to include the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. In October the squadron conducted a humanitarian assistance mission in the vicinity of Luzon in the Philippines, and in November the Flying Tigers supported the President of the United States in the vicinity of Jakarata, Indonesia. That same month the squadron surpassed 60,000 Class A mishap-free flight hours.
During the 2011 afloat period with the 31st MEU, HMM-262 (REIN) was recalled from liberty in Malaysia in order to assist in Operation TOMODACHI, bringing much needed supplies to areas affected by the 11 March 2011 tsunami that struck the eastern coast of Japan. Upon returning from TOMODACHI, the Marines and Sailors of the squadron continued supporting operations on and around Okinawa, including a visit by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In spring 2012, the Flying Tigers sent detachments to support Exercise Cobra Gold in Thailand, Ssang Yong in Korea, and Balikatan in the Philippines. During Ssang Yong, the Flying Tigers made history when they deployed a two aircraft detachment aboard the South Korean ship, ROKS DOKDO. HMM-262 became the first Marine unit ever to operate aboard a Korean vessel.
On August 30th 2013, HMM-262 was redesignated as Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 after transitioning to the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Prior to becoming a fully operationally capable (FOC) squadron, VMM-262 was called to the Philippines in November to provide humanitarian assistance during OPERATION DAMAYAN, after a super typhoon devastated the country. Despite not yet being FOC, VMM-262 self-deployed from Okinawa to the Philippines, and was the first aviation unit to arrive and begin flight operations. The Flying Tigers of VMM-262 executed the majority of the operation’s tasking, delivering thousands of pounds of aid, relocating hundreds of displaced personnel, and offering senior leadership, medical, and media personnel the flexibility to traverse the area of operation.
In March April of 2015, VMM-262 was again called upon to provide support to humanitarian assistance operations. When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the inland country Nepal, VMM-262 self-deployed a detachment of MV-22B Ospreys from Okinawa to Kathmandu in order to support aid operations during Operation SAHAYOGI HAAT along with a detachment of UH-1Ys from HMLA-469. The detachment provided much needed relief and transportation to the region.
Throughout the remainder of 2015, the Flying Tigers continued to support various exercises and missions, to include support to the Secretary of the Navy from NAF Atsugi and representation at the Japanese Self Defense Force Fleet Review in Yokota. In November, the squadron landed an MV-22B aboard the deck of the Japanese Helicopter Carrier IZUMO (DDH-183), again a historic occasion as the first MV-22B to operate aboard the new Japanese flagship. Soon thereafter, the squadron sent a detachment of six MV-22Bs to Kuala Lumpor, Malaysia for support to the President of the United States. The squadron attained its 2,400 MV-22B flight hour goal for 2015, and was a recipient of the 2015 Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award.
In May of 2016, the squadron supported a long range raid to Mt Fuji, transporting Marines from 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines to the objective area. Upon return and after incorporating detachments from various units, VMM-262 (REIN) assumed the role of the 31st MEU ACE. In the summer of 2016, the squadron again provided aircraft in support of the President of the United States during a visit to mainland Japan.
On 14 August 2016, VMM-262 (REIN) conducted a life-saving long range medical evacuation mission to the USS HARPERS FERRY. With less than 6 hours’ notice, the squadron prepared, planned, and launched an MV-22B from MCAS Futenma to the ship in support of a critically-ill Marine with the 13th MEU. Transiting over 500NM of open ocean, the crew successfully transported the critically-ill Marine from ship to Naval Hospital Okinawa for essential care.
In August 2016, VMM-262 (REIN) embarked aboard the USS BONHOMME RICHARD and USS GREENBAY and deployed with the 31st MEU. During the two month underway period, the squadron supported various exercises to include CERTEX, Valiant Shield (Guam) and PHIBLEX (Philippines). The squadron closed out 2016 having again attained its 2,400 MV-22B flight hour goal, a unique achievement amongst Marine Corps MV-22B squadrons. Additionally, VMM-262 (REIN) was the national recipient of the 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Association’s “Pete Ross” award for excellence in aviation safety, making history as the first MV-22B squadron to receive this award.