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Lt. Gen. Robert Milstead, from Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and former and active Marines from Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 167 and its successor, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167, honor the Marines from the squadrons who paid the ultimate sacrifice in combat. The ceremony was a part of a memorial dedication that was made for the squadrons and their fallen brothers.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Cameron Storm

HML/HMLA-167 honors fallen with memorial

29 Mar 2014 | Lance Cpl. Cameron Storm Marine Corps Base Quantico

Marines from the Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 167 and its successor, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 came together on March 29, 2014,  at the National Museum of the Marine Corps to dedicate a memorial to their fallen brothers. Members from the original squadron formed in 1968, all the way down to current members were there to honor those who gave their lives in combat.

This dedication had been in the works for years according to a few veteran Marines who had set up the event.

“We started talking about this during our annual reunions,” said Slick Katz, a Marine who was there with the 167 in Vietnam. “Of all of the squadrons I was a part of, the 167 is the most close nit. We started throwing around the idea for a memorial in the late 80s but it never went anywhere, so in 2012, after almost three decades of talking about it, we finally got started toward getting it done.”

“I was happy to see that we were getting closer to this event,” said Larry Grandy, another member of the Vietnam era “Warriors.” “This squadron is so close and so supportive that it seemed wrong not to have a memorial for our brothers.”

The 167’s problem with getting started goes all the way back to the formation of the squadron. Marty Bleskey was the first sergeant major of the squadron, and he remembers just trying to find the place.

In February of 1968, Bleskey walked down the air field at Marine Mountain Air Facility in Vietnam, looking for his new unit, Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 167. The problem was, he couldn’t find it.

“I had been working in the air field commanders office,” said Bleskey, “which was a quarter-mile away from where the 167 was supposed to be.

“I walked all over the place looking for the command post for 167, but I just couldn’t find it. I ran into a sergeant major near where it was supposed to be and asked him where it was. He looked at me and replied, ‘it ain’t.’”

“I finally found the office, and we started to build the squadron, getting pilots, crews and helicopters from all over Vietnam. It was a bumpy start but we did pretty well for what we had.”

Over the next 46 years, HML-167 would see changes in helicopter technology, the Marine Corps’ global presence, and a name challenge, but the “Warriors” of HML-167, and its successor Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167, have been a part of every major Marine engagement since its formation.

The memorial is made of granite and is located directly off the walking trail that runs behind the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

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