Lest We Forget

By Lieutenant Commander Rick Burgess, U.S. Navy (Retired)

On 1 July 1965, HU-1 was redesignated HC-1. In July 1966 the first of four gunship detachments was formed in Vietnam, flying ex-Army UH-1Bs to support patrols in the Mekong River delta. By 1967, HC-1 had grown so large that the Navy formed four other helicopter squadrons from HC-1 detachments.

The streamlined HC-1 continued deployments to the Vietnam war zone through 1975. HC-1's UH-2A1Bs were steadily replaced by UH-2Cs, in turn succeeded by SH-3A/G Sea Kings.

HC-1 moved to NAS North Island, California, in 1976. During the 1970s, a reduced HC-1 provided extensive recovery services for the U.S. space program. In 1980, HC-1 assumed control of the West Coast Swimmer School, and in 1984 acquired the CH-53E heavy-lift helicopter to augment its SH-3G fleet. In 1989 HC-1 took over duties as the utility H-3 fleet readiness squadron. During the Gulf War, HC-1 deployed one CH-53E and two SH-3G detachments to naval forces in the Persian Gulf. HC-1 became the first Navy unit to land an aircraft in newly liberated Kuwait.

After transferring its missions and its SH-3H and UH-3H aircraft to other squadrons, HC-1 was disestablished on 29 April 1994. In 46 years of service, the Fleet Angels performed more than 1,680 rescues.


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