|Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23|
HSC-23 Wildcards Insignia
|Active||29 September 2006 - present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Type||US Navy HSC Expeditionary Squadron|
|Garrison/HQ||NAS North Island|
|Motto(s)||Wildcards Never Fold!|
|Colors||Blue, White, Tan|
|Commander Justin McCaffree|
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 (HSC-23), also known as the "Wildcards", are a United States Navy helicopter squadron based at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California. The "Wildcards" currently fly the MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter and the MQ-8B Firescout VTUAV. HSC-23 is the sister squadron of the HSC-21 "Blackjacks" stationed at Naval Air Station North Island.
On 26 January 2007, a MH-60S assigned to HSC-23 Detachment Three, and underway on the USS Bonhomme Richard, crashed while conducting in-flight operations training off the coast of Southern California. The crash of Bullet 10 resulted in the deaths of four crew members:
(1) LT Adam Dyer, Helicopter Aircraft Commander (HAC); (2) LTJG Laura J. Mankey, Pilot; (3) AW1 Cory Helman, Search and Rescue (SAR) Aircrew; and, (4) AW2 (AW/NAC) Christopher M. Will, SAR Aircrew Chief.
After refueling and retrieving box lunches, Bullet 10 departed the ship. At 1407, Bullet 10 requested and received permission to climb to 1,000 feet for training. At 1414, Bullet 10 reported "ops normal." At 1423:54, Bullet 10's Electronic Locator Transmitter (ELT) sounded. At 1423:56 a "mayday" call was made. During the mayday call, the HAC is overheard telling the crew to "strap in PCL, PCL." At 1424:03, the ELT stopped transmitting. At 1424, Bonhomme Richard reported the crash and sent Bullet 11 to conduct SAR. At 1435, a SAR swimmer successfully recovered the body from the water. The SAR effort would continue for the next 24 hours involving multiple air and waterborne assets, including all Bonhomme Richard ship assets as well as some Coast Guard assets. At 1505, 27 January 2007, the SAR effort was terminated and three missing crewmembers were declared "Lost at Sea."
On 16 February 2007, during salvage operations, the wreckage of Bullet 10 and the remains of the three missing crewmembers were recovered. Subsequent engineering reports revealed that the damage to Bullet 10 is consistent with the aircraft entering the water in a tail-down, right roll altitude with the aircraft having a backward momentum.
At the time of the incident, the weather satisfied the Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions. Based on review of training records, all crewmembers had the sufficient training, experience and skill to handle in-flight emergencies related to flight control. Moreover, all crewmembers were cleared of all medical conditions or medications which could have caused this mishap.
Former Commanding Officers
- Oct 2006 - Jan 2008 CDR Robert Weissenfels
- Jan 2008 - May 2009 CDR Greg Sheahan
- May 2009 - Jul 2010 CDR Mike Dowling
- Jul 2010 - Nov 2011 CDR Al Worthy
- Nov 2011 - Mar 2013 CDR Tres Dehay
- Mar 2013 - Jun 2014 CDR Jennifer Wilderman
- Jun 2014 - Aug 2015 CDR Stephen O. Johnson
- Aug 2015 - Nov 2016 CDR Dewon Chaney
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