HMLA-169 Vipers- We hate each other… PVC GITD Patch – With Hook and Loop
A 4″ inch with Hook and Loop PVC patch of the HMLA-169 VIPERS.
1970s and 1980s
Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 was activated as Marine Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 (HMA-169) at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, on September 30, 1971. Unlike its sister squadrons, HMA-269 and HMA-369, HMA-169 was initially equipped with AH-1G Cobras. During 1974-75 the squadron transitioned to the more capable AH-1J Sea Cobra. The AH-1Gs were transferred out by July 1976.
Through the 1970s, HMA-169 engaged in rigorous amphibious training at sea and combined exercises ashore. The 1980s brought increased operational commitments and a growing legacy of aviation safety milestones.
On October 1, 1986, the re-designated HMLA-169 had all 24 of their advanced AH-1T (TOW) cobras phased out which were replaced with 12 of the new AH-1W (Super Cobra). These were complimented with 12 UH-1N Hueys, increasing the Vipers’ capabilities commensurate with the needs of the Marine Air Ground Task Force. This made HMLA-169 the first operational Marine Corps squadron to deploy the new Super Cobra both at home and overseas on deployment.
Gulf War and the 1990s From December 1990 to June 1991, HMLA-169 embarked aboard the USS Tarawa in support of combat operations in Southwest Asia, and deployed ashore during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm with MAG-50 at Tanajib, Saudi Arabia. From February 24 to March 4, 1991, the Vipers flew 234 combat sorties engaging enemy Iraqi forces without loss of aircraft or personnel.
Returning from the Kuwaiti theater, the squadron was routed to assist in humanitarian relief to flood-ravaged Bangladesh as part of Operation Sea Angel. Shortly after that the squadron participated in the humanitarian assistance mission Operation Fiery Vigil, after Mount Pinatubo erupted June 15, 1991. In May 1992, HMLA-169 supported local law enforcement during the Los Angeles riots, and again in 1993 conducted humanitarian relief and peace-keeping operations in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope.
Global War on Terror HMLA-169 sourced a detachment of 4 Cobras and 3 Hueys to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU), which was the among the first Marines into Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks in 2001. The squadron deployed to Iraq in late February 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). During the 2003 invasion of Iraq 12 of the 18 AH-1Ws of the unit sustained battle damage and on March 30, 2003 a UH-1N Huey crashed; killing three members on board. HMLA-169 deployed again in the summer of 2004 to support the second iteration of OIF. During this deployment they provided close air support during the Battle of Najaf and Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah. The squadron is configured with 18 AH-1W SuperCobras and 9 UH-1Y SuperHueys. HMLA-169 again deployed to Iraq in March 2006 to provide close air support for the 1st Marine Division in Al Anbar province. The unit deployed to Al Anbar again in October 2007
The squadron was deployed to Afghanistan in the spring of 2009 as part of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. They were part of the 17,000 troop increase announced by President Obama in February, 2009.
In 2014 the squadron was awarded the John P. Giguere award for Marine Light/Attack helicopter Squadron of the year as well as the Pete Ross award for aviation safety.