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Story by Sgt. Deanne Hurla
CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan – Beneath cloudy, gray skies, the “Blue Knights” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), transferred the responsibilities of their area of operations to the “Black Knights” of VMM-264.
Lt. Col. Craig C. LeFlore, the VMM-365 commanding officer, relinquished the area of responsibility to Lt. Col. Jeffrey P. Hogan, the VMM-264 commanding officer, in a Transfer of Authority ceremony held at the flightline here Jan. 10.
Every month in Afghanistan since July 2010, the Blue Knights broke their previous month’s flight time record. In addition to general support missions, which were vital in supporting the ground forces, the squadron supported over a dozen named operations. Those operations consisted of traditional medium-lift inserts under low light level conditions, aerial delivery operations to resupply troops on the ground and longer-range missions to the borders of Afghanistan.
The Blue Knights also transported other coalition forces including U.K., Georgian, Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and key Afghan leaders as part of an international coalition to support the fight against the Taliban.
By the end of the year, the squadron logged more than 2000 combat flight hours, safely transporting 22,395 passengers and 1,073,469 pounds of cargo.
During the squadron’s time in theater, they worked 46,782.3 man-hours and increased the squadron’s mission-capable rate to a high of 72.7 percent.
The Marines faced many challenges, but took each one and completed the mission, explained LeFlore.
“I’m extremely proud of every one of you and your accomplishments,” said LeFlore.
As the Blue Knights look forward to seeing their flightline at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., the Black Knights prepare to begin combat operations.
“It is a privilege to serve in Afghanistan, we’re proud to be here, eager to get to work and to do it right and do it safe,” said Hogan.
The Marines of VMM-264 have six months of challenges ahead of them, but are ready and able to face the challenge.