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On 17 October 1983, the Raging Bulls of HMM 261 deployed aboard the USS Guam for LF6F 2-84 as the Air Combat Element (ACE) of the 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU). On 25 October HMM-261 and elements of the 22nd MAU participated in the U.S./Caribbean operation against foreign opposing forces on the island of Grenada, which was called Operation Urgent Fury. This was the Marine Corps’ first major combat action since Vietnam. HMM261 was commanded by Lt. Col. Granville R. "Granny" Amos. His executive officer was Major Frank Brewer. After the successful completion of the combat resuce mission in the Grenada Islands, the 22nd MAU proceeded to Beirut for an additional six months to serve as the U.S. Marine contingent of the Multinational Peace Keeping Force. HMM 261 continued to superbly perform its role as the ACE, executing non-combatant evacuation operations of over 1000 U.S. Embassy personnel and selected nationals from the American Embassy in Beirut Lebanon and the port facility at Juniyah. more...
Videoconference with webmaster Petro and see how old he looks. You will need to download Skype to video or audio teleconference with me. (It's free).
We lost three squadron pilots in combat in the Grenada Islands: Major Pat Guiguere, and 1stLt Jeff Scharver were shot down and lost their lives while providing fire support for the CH-46 combat rescue of Capt. Tim Howard. Capt Howard lost an arm and sustained grave wounds from enemy anti-air machine gun fire, which brought down his AH-1 attack helicopter. His co-pilot, Capt. Jeb Seagle died while attempting to escape and evade the enemy while seeking help for his injured squadron-mate. For our performance in Grenada and Lebanon, HMM 261 was chosen as the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Helicopter Squadron of the Year in 1984. This is 1stLt Jeff Scharver's Silver Star Citation. This is our story.
Pres. Regan claims USSR and Cuba are building military bases on the island
March 23, 1983
Maurice Bishop, leader of the People's Revolutionary Army (PRA), puts his armed forces on alert.
Bishop visits US, and is snubbed by President Regan.
October 13, 1983
Bishop is placed under house arrest.
October 15, 1983
Radio free Grenada says people organizing pro-Bishop demonstrations in the capitol (St. Georges) have been arrested.
October 17, 1983
HMM261, a part of LF6F 2-84, departs for Lebanon to assume responsibilities as part of Multi National Force, Beirut.
October 17, 1983
Army chief, Gen. Hudson Austin says Bishop has been expelled from party for refusing to share power and disgracing the revolution. He denies military take-over.
October 19, 1983
Thousands of Bishop supporters free him from house arrest and demonstrate in front of army headquarters. Bishop, three cabinet ministers, and two union leaders are lined up against a wall and machine-gunned by the army.
October 20, 1983
Army imposes round-the-clock curfew, says it will govern through military council, guarantees safety of foreigners.
October 20, 1983
Cuba condems the killing of Bishop, says it had no part in upheaval.
October 21, 1983
Military Rulers say island in danger of attack. U.S. Task force of 2,000 Marines led by carrier Independence is diverted from its course enroute to Lebanon and heads toward Grenada.
October 22, 1983
Officials from US, Britain, and Canada visit the island.
October 22-23, 1983
Unconfirmed intelligence report alleges Cubans sending in troops to bolster island defenses.
October 23, 1983
Leaders of 13-nation Caribbean community suspend Grenada from membership. Summit is divided on military intervention.
October 24, 1983
U.S. Marines arrive in Barbados, a neighboring island.
Regarding the video above, Peyton Dehart writes: "At the 4 minute 15 second mark in the production is a picture of the deck crew with a fire hose hitting a Blackhawk.
The guy who flew it in from Barbados pulled into a hover over an LZ on Grenada and let his special ops guys rappel (best available technology at the time) to the ground. The ten seconds or so that it took for the evolution to be finished was more than enough time to take a few hundred rounds of 7.62 from bad guy AK-47s. Copilot was shot through the leg; arterial bleeding everywhere. Pilot decided that it was time to head back for Barbados, though he doubted his copilot would live that long. While on the way back he overflies the USS Guam. He hadn't been told the Navy was going to be part of the operation, but figured the only people who owned big gray ships like that was the US Navy. He descended and landed on the deck. First order of business was to unstrap the copilot and get him to sick bay. Then a deck crew guy sticks his head in the cockpit and asks him if he wants to take off. No, he figures the aircraft is a bit shot up; he'll stay on the ship. "OK, but you'll have to shut 'er down," was the reply. "I'd like to, but the throttle linkage and fuel control is completely shot out (it fails to the high side). I can't turn it off" the guy shouts back.
Hmmm. What to do?
Get the Crash/Fire/Rescue crew over and shoot the main fire hose down each intake (that event is captured by the picture at 4:15). Flooding the engines with water proves effective.
Now that it was quieter, the deck crew guy tells the pilot that he needs to fold the blades so the aircraft can be stowed because the entire squadron is due back on the flight deck momentarily. Pilot says, "no can do. Blackhawks don't have blade fold. But if you need the space, I've been waiting my entire career to say the words: "push it over the side!""
Just as quickly as that is considered, one of the Crash/Fire/Rescue crew appears with the metal-cutting chain saw, climbs onto the roof and saws the two athwart blades off. Now the UH-60 has the footprint of a Huey and is rolled out of the way; into the aft slash (before heading down into the hangar bay).
The pilot spent a few days as our guest and relayed the narrative to me. Getting a close look at the Blackhawk in the hangar later, I could see that the tail rotor drive shaft had many metal tears that would have been instant failures in Cobras and Hueys... but the driveshaft on an H-60 is significantly more robust. More holes in the machine than I could keep track of. I have, ever since, been impressed by the H-60's ability to fly after taking a beating.
A few days later, with the main airport on Grenada secure, we returned the H-60 to the Army by sling loading it from a CH-53D.
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SAEPE EXPERTUS, SEMPER FIDELIS, FRATRES AETERNI
"Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever"