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HMR-361      HMR-L-361
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History of the Flying Tigers

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The Flying Tigers were initially commissioned as Marine Transport Squadron 361on 25 February 1952 at then, MCAS(H) Santa Ana California. Shortly thereafter, they provided support for the atomic test exercise at Desert Rock Nevada and the Bikini Islands Test Range in the South Pacific as part of Marine Aircraft Group 36.  They returned to Santa Ana in 1953 and operated as a training squadron for nearly nine years before they deployed with the 5th Marine Expeditionary force to participate in action During the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1963, the Flying Tigers were re-designated Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 361 and transferred overseas to the Republic of the Philippines and to Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam, as one of the first units in country.  The squadron was rotated through Futenma, Okinawa and back to Santa Ana before returning to Da Nang in 1965; serving in Vietnam until being deactivated on 18 May 1968.

The Flying Tigers were reactivated as the Marine Corps' second CH-53A squadron and re-designated Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 at New River North Carolina as part of Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing.  They were again ordered to Vietnam with Marine Aircraft Group 36 at Phu Bai in 1969 and remained there until their return to Santa Ana in 1970 as part of Marine Aircraft Group 56.

After being assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing Tustin, California in 1971, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 was to deploy overseas as part of the new Unit Deployment Program with the first of eleven Westpac deployments based from Futenma, Okinawa in 1979.

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 began conversion to The CH-53E Super Stallion on 23 August 1990. On 5 November 1992, the Flying Tigers deployed to Okinawa as the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) of the 31st MEU  (SOC), the first MEU to utilize a CH-53E squadron as the nucleus.

In August of 1995, the Flying Tigers were awarded the Marine Corps aviation Association's Keith B. McCutcheon Award as Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron of the Year and in June of 1996 were awarded the 1995 CNO Aviation association Safety Award.

On 1 November 1996, the Flying Tigers departed to Okinawa for the eleventh overseas deployment. During their deployment, the Squadron supported Presidential lift requirements in the Philippines, 1st MAW and III MEF exercise in Japan and Joint exercises with R.O.K. forces in Korea.

As of June 1997, the squadron has completed over 11 years and 40,000 hours of class A mishap-free flight time.

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