Story by Sgt. Wayne Edmiston
Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew O. Holly
USS BOXER, At Sea (Jan. 15, 2009) – The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit continues to lead the way for the Marine Corps. It was the first MEU to deploy with the Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle, the first to deploy with a Marine Special Operations Command Company and now, this year, the first to deploy with the UH-1Y Huey helicopter, a revamped version of the Vietnam-era war machine, the UH-1N.
The new Huey is fully modernized with new parts, avionics and a four-bladed rotor making it a faster, more powerful and better asset on the battlefield.
“The Yankee brings back the Huey we had back in Vietnam. It can load fuel, troops, ammo and carry them to the zone while remaining on station,” said Capt. Jamie M. Glines, a UH-1Y pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), known as the “Evil Eyes.”
Prior to the addition of the Yankee, its predecessor, the UH-1N, was hindered in its ability to perform in combat.
“The November was underpowered and a lot of times we had to sacrifice fuel, troops or ammo in order to complete the mission,” Glines explained.
From a mechanical standpoint, the new helicopter’s parts are state-of-the-art and make it easier to conduct maintenance and keep the “Yankees” flying.
Staff Sgt. Zachary R. Marks, a UH-1Y mechanic with HMM-163 (Rein.), said the new helicopter’s improved technology increase the durability and overall life of the aircraft.
Another improvement is the sharing of common parts with other attack helicopters.
With the upcoming testing and release of the new AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopter, which is designed to use some of the same parts as the Yankee, it will be easier, logistically and mechanically, for future air combat Marines. The underlying question, however, is how it’s going to benefit the operational force.
“This aircraft is providing more time on station, provides more capabilities to the Marines on the ground. The parts commonality between this aircraft and the up-and-coming AH-1Z will improve the up status of aircraft, which means there are more assets,” Marks explained. “It’s hands down more power and more fight to bring into battle.”
“We can go in and do a [casualty evacuation] if we need to and not have to worry about power anymore. We can get in and get out quick to recover a small team such as a [reconnaissance] team,” said Sgt. Vincent P. Clarkston, a crew chief on the UH-1Y.
Overall, many of the Marines with HMM-163 (Rein.) are anxious to bring the utility helicopter into real world operations—the true test of its enhanced capabilities.