Chinook News

VMM-266 Homecoming Marks End of MV-22 in OIF

By PMA-275 Public Affairs


Boeing Photo: Fred Troilo

Intense heat, whipping sandstorms and freezing winters couldn’t stop them. Back-to-back deployments and the multiple missions in which they performed proved that they were needed. They saw all the seasons that Iraq had to offer, and provided vital services proving that the MV-22 Osprey is a reliable asset for the Corps and aviation.

Following a six-month deployment, the Marines and sailors of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 returned home to anxious family and friends in mid-May 2009.


Boeing Photo: Fred Troilo

Throughout the deployment, Marines of VMM-266, also known as the “Fighting Griffins,” utilized 12 MV-22 Ospreys that had stayed in country for the duration of two other squadron deployments.  In addition to maintaining the well-used Ospreys, the squadron flew roughly 3,040 hours, transported more then 418,000 pounds of cargo and approximately 15,800 passengers.

The statistics, which speak for themselves, are just one part of the significant things the squadron was able to accomplish.

The squadron’s former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Christopher Seymour, reflects on the achievements of the group.

“I’d say we completed a seven-month combat deployment to Iraq with no mishaps, no fatalities and no significant injuries,” said Seymour. “They flew a lot of flight hours and did a lot of maintenance.”


USMC Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell

The deployment proved the new capabilities the Osprey brought to the table versus the CH-46E Sea Knight.

“Well, the primary difference between the CH-46 and the MV-22 is that the Osprey flies higher, faster and longer, so the commander’s range is increased exponentially,” said Sgt. Maj. Suzanne How, squadron sergeant major. “The Osprey is capable of real world operations in a variety of harsh climates.”

Maj. Brian McAvoy, VMM-266 executive officer, agrees.

“The primary differences are obvious, it goes higher, faster, and farther than the aircraft it is replacing,” said McAvoy. “We have the ability to self deploy. We can do aerial refueling. It’s much more capable at night and much more capable not only in the rain, but in the dust storms.”

While the deployment proved the capabilities, it also provided the squadron a chance to learn the different areas that needed improvement.


USMC Photo by Cpl. Ryan Young

“There were a lot of detailed tactics, techniques and procedures that were developed both in maintenance as well as operations, little things, as far as how to service the aircraft properly in that environment,” said Seymour. “As well as which components needed to be replaced more frequently because of the sand and dust storms that we experienced from an operational stand point.”

While many thought that the Ospreys being exposed to the wear and tear of three consecutive deployments would leave the aircraft in a less-than-decent condition, the Marines of VMM-266 said it was not a problem at all.

“They held up well. A lot of people, though, thought they were going to be beat up,” said Seymour. “The myth that they were going to be worn out didn’t come to fruition”

As Marines settle back in with their families, they take great pride in their squadron and are proud of the mission they accomplished.

“They’re an exceptional group that motivated each other throughout the entire deployment. They stayed busy,” said VMM-266 commanding officer Lt. Col.
Romin Dasmalchi.

In addition, the squadron takes great pride at the fact that they have truly become part of the Osprey community and changed many Marines’ views on the aircraft itself.

“We are part of the Osprey community that has made it common place,” said McAvoy. “We have introduced it to the Marine Corps, and they liked it.” Dasmalchi agrees.

“Once a unit rides in an ‘Osprey’ they keep asking for more, so it’s hard to break that cord once it gets attached, it’s a good thing by the way,” said Dasmalchi.

The return of the squadron marks the last presence of the Osprey in Operation Iraqi Freedom, with VMM-266 being the last Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron to leave the final impression, which was every mission accomplished in a timely manner without any accidents. (June 2009)