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Marines with HMH-466 conduct final flight over Helmand province

By Cpl. Kenneth Jasik , Regional Command Southwest

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HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (August 15, 2012) — For the past seven months, Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 have been resupplying forces on the front lines, as well as tactically inserting them into dangerous areas as coalition forces have been taking the fight to the enemy.

The Marines with the squadron completed their last flight before they return home, Aug. 14.

“We supported all the Marines in (Regional Command Southwest) every single day,” said Capt. James A. Everett, a pilot with HMH-466. “We moved a ton of people around and a ton of cargo.” 

In addition to general support missions, the squadron has done numerous flights inserting troops into insurgent-held territory.

“We did a lot of tactical missions, a lot of raids,” said Everett, 28, from Donnelly, Idaho. “Both with our troops and with the Aussies. I also worked with the British, dropped them in a few spots.”

The squadron also resupplied Marines while on operations. When the mission sent Marines far from any coalition base, HMH-466 would provide resupplies.

“I think (supporting the missions in Afghanistan) is great,” said Everett. “As an assault support platform we could get just an astronomical amount of stuff out to the Marines. I think we are the best asset the Marine Corps has to do our kind of aerial delivery.”

HMH-466 was formed before the deployment drawing Marines from the East Coast and the West Coast.

“I think this deployment was great,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael G. Lester, logistics chief, HMH-466. “There were hiccups in the beginning, but once everybody came together there was not one thing we could not accomplish.” 

The Marines flew constantly, and that led the junior Marines with the squadron learning how to properly load cargo, passengers and keep security posted on the aircraft’s guns.

“A lot of our aircrew grew up from young guys who had just joined our squadron when they came out here,” said Everett. “They have blossomed into senior crew chiefs. They really ran the back of the cabin well.”

The Marines are proud of their work, but they are ready to return home after seven months in Afghanistan.

“We came out here and did everything they asked us to do,” said Everett. “We didn’t drop any missions and we did way more then I ever expected we would be able to. Now that we are going home, I feel like it’s well deserved. We are all pretty excited to be heading back home.” 

The Marines were proud to be part of the squadron, and said their efforts were a large asset to troops operating on the ground. 

“I think this is probably one of the best squadrons I ever worked with,” said Lester, 31, Cleveland. “The way the squadron is ran it is top-notch.”