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U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve

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Final Flight of UH-1N Huey for HMLA-773

By Cpl. J. Gage Karwick | U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve | September 03, 2014

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The UH-1N Huey (Right) escorts a UH-1Y Venom (Left) during the final flight of the UH-1N Huey for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, Marine Aircraft Group 49, aboard Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, Aug. 28, 2014. The escort symbolizes the stepping aside of one helicopter platform to allow for an improved version to takes its place.

The UH-1N Huey (Right) escorts a UH-1Y Venom (Left) during the final flight of the UH-1N Huey for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, Marine Aircraft Group 49, aboard Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, Aug. 28, 2014. The escort symbolizes the stepping aside of one helicopter platform to allow for an improved version to takes its place. (Photo by Cpl. J. Gage karwick)


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Marines, sailors and members of the community attend the final flight ceremony of the UH-1N Huey helicopter for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, Marine Aircraft Group 49, aboard Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, Aug. 28, 2014. The UH-1N Huey (Left) is a twin engine, utility helicopter that first flew in April 1969. The UH-1Y Venom (Right) provides drastically improved capabilities to its predecessor in terms of range, airspeed, payload, survivability and lethality.

Marines, sailors and members of the community attend the final flight ceremony of the UH-1N Huey helicopter for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, Marine Aircraft Group 49, aboard Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, Aug. 28, 2014. The UH-1N Huey (Left) is a twin engine, utility helicopter that first flew in April 1969. The UH-1Y Venom (Right) provides drastically improved capabilities to its predecessor in terms of range, airspeed, payload, survivability and lethality. (Photo by Cpl. J. Gage Karwick)


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A UH-1N Huey helicopter with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, Marine Aircraft Group 49, is displayed for ceremony attendees to view during a final flight ceremony for the UH-1N Huey helicopter aboard Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, Aug. 28, 2014. Over the years the Marine Corps has developed a number of upgrades for the aircraft including improved avionics, aircraft survivability equipment and forward looking infrared sensors. The UH-1N Huey flew its last flight in combat in Afghanistan in 2010, it has been formally replaced by the UH-1Y Venom.

A UH-1N Huey helicopter with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, Marine Aircraft Group 49, is displayed for ceremony attendees to view during a final flight ceremony for the UH-1N Huey helicopter aboard Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, Aug. 28, 2014. Over the years the Marine Corps has developed a number of upgrades for the aircraft including improved avionics, aircraft survivability equipment and forward looking infrared sensors. The UH-1N Huey flew its last flight in combat in Afghanistan in 2010, it has been formally replaced by the UH-1Y Venom. (Photo by Cpl. J. Gage Karwick)


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A UH-1Y Venom helicopter with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, Marine Aircraft Group 49, is displayed for ceremony attendees to view during a final flight ceremony for the UH-1N Huey helicopter aboard Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, Aug. 28, 2014. The UH-1Y’s increased power margin makes it a viable platform for a wide range of assault support missions including maritime interdiction and visit, board, search and seizure missions and more.

A UH-1Y Venom helicopter with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, Marine Aircraft Group 49, is displayed for ceremony attendees to view during a final flight ceremony for the UH-1N Huey helicopter aboard Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, Aug. 28, 2014. The UH-1Y’s increased power margin makes it a viable platform for a wide range of assault support missions including maritime interdiction and visit, board, search and seizure missions and more. (Photo by Cpl. J. Gage Karwick)


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NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE, New Orleans --

After more than 40 years of service, the Marine Corps retired the aging UH-1N Huey helicopter during a “sundown ceremony” Aug. 28, 2014, aboard Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans.

The UH-1N Huey is a twin engine, utility helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopters in 1969.  Bell began the delivery of 205 UH-1N helicopters, to the Navy and Marine Corps in 1971.  For more than 40 years of service, the UH-1N has been operationally employed in Vietnam, Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq. The UH-1N flew its last combat flight in 2010 in Afghanistan.

“Over the years the Marine Corps has developed a number of upgrades for the aircraft including improved avionics, aircraft survivability equipment and a forward looking infrared sensor,” said Maj. Joseph C. Begley an AH-1W pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 Detachment A, Marine Aircraft Group 49, during the ceremony opening remarks.

The UH-1N holds sentimental value for many who attended the final flight. During the ceremony, many shared their personal accounts about the aircraft.

“The UH-1N is American history; it’s a touch tone aircraft of combat for a full generation,” said Col. Philip M. Pastino, commanding officer of MAG-49. “I was a lieutenant at the El Toro airshow in 1990 manning my Huey, [during] a static display, when an older gentleman stood back and stared for a good while. After a pause he asked me in a shaky voice if he could touch the Huey. He slowly approached the aircraft and placed his hands on the cargo deck and he started to cry. I didn’t know what to do so I put my hand on his shoulder. He told me that his brothers that didn’t come home, and were now on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, flew their last flight in a UH-1N. I knew then that it wasn’t my Huey at the airshow, it was his and a whole generation’s.”

The UH-1N platform flown by HMLA-773, has been replaced by the new UH-1Y Venom platform which provides drastically improved capabilities to its predecessor in terms of range, airspeed, payload, survivability and lethality.

In 1996, the Marine Corps launched the H-1 upgrade program, signing a contract with Bell Helicopter for upgrading 100 UH-1Ns into UH-1Ys. The largest improvement was the increase in engine power. Replacing the engines and the two-bladed rotor system with four blades, the Y-model will return the Huey to the utility role for which it was designed. Originally, the UH-1Y was to be remanufactured from UH-1N airframes, but in April 2005, approval was granted to build them as new helicopters.

 “A big thing for us is training and the UH-1Y is really going to help us be combat ready and have a more predominant place in Marine Corps aviation,” said Lt. Col. Mark Sauer, commanding officer of Det. C, MAG-49.

Though the UH-1N has retired, the Marine Corps and HMLA-773 have great expectations for their new platform, the UH-1Y Venom.

Image4th Marine Aircraft Wing ImageCpl. J. Gage Karwick Imagehelicopter Imagehmla-773 Imagemag-49 ImageMarine Aircraft Group 49 ImageMarine Corps Reserve ImageMarine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 73 ImageNaval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans ImageNew Orleans Imageuh-1n