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Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166
Official VMM-166 Patch.JPG
VMM-166 insignia
Active September 13, 1986 – present
Allegiance  United States of America
Branch United States Marine Corps
Type Medium-lift helicopter squadron
Role Assault support
Part of Marine Aircraft Group 16
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
Nickname(s) Sea Elk
Motto(s) "Because We Can"
Tail Code YX
Mascot(s) Lucky the Elk
Engagements Operation Desert Storm
Operation Restore Hope
Operation Iraqi Freedom
LtCol Justin E. Marvel

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (VMM-166) is a United States Marine Corps tiltrotor squadron consisting of MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft. The squadron, known as the "SeaElk", is based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. Activated in 1985, HMM-166 was the youngest CH-46 helicopter squadron in the Marine Corps. The squadron was redesignated as a tiltrotor squadron on June 23, 2010.


Phrog from HMM-166 spreads the ashes of its former CO over Camp Pendleton in July 2005

The squadron was activated on September 13, 1985 at Marine Corps Air Station Tustin, California and assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16. They relocated during 1995 to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California and again during 1999 to MCAS Miramar, California.

They participated in the following operations:

In 2004, HMM-166 deployed as the aviation combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During this deployment they participated in the Battle of Najaf (2004).

On November 5, 2007 the squadron deployed to the Western Pacific as the aviation combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. From December 4 to 6, as part of the 11th MEU, HMM-166 flew 29 humanitarian assistance missions over Bangladesh to transport more than 54,165 pounds of food and supplies and 1875 gallons of water to the people most affected by Tropical Cyclone Sidr[1]

On 5 May 2009 a SuperCobra belonging to the squadron crashed at 1154 hrs PST into the Cleveland National Forest, California. The crash resulted in the fatalities of the aircraft's two pilots, Jessica Conkling, 27, and Aaron Cox, 26.[2] The SuperCobra had departed Naval Air Facility El Centro 30–40 minutes earlier for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The cause of the crash was an improperly secured transmission cover which came off in flight and struck the tail rotor.[3][4]

In September 2009, HMM-166(REIN) again deployed as the aviation combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They participated in exercises in East Timor, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Djibouti. They returned from the deployment in April 2010. The squadron was redesignated as VMM-166 on June 23, 2010 and is in the process of transitioning to the MV-22 Osprey.

Unit awards[edit]

A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. HMM-166 has been presented with the following awards:

Streamer Award Year(s) Additional Info
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award Streamer 1994 Rwanda-Zaire
Navy Unit Commendation streamer.png Navy Unit Commendation Streamer with one Bronze Star 1990–1991, 1994 Southwest Asia
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy-Marine) Streamer.jpg Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer with one Bronze Star 1987, 2000
Streamer NDS.PNG National Defense Service Streamer with one Bronze Stars 1990–1995, 2001–present Gulf War, War on Terrorism
Streamer AFE.PNG Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer

Streamer gwotE.PNG Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer
Streamer gwotS.PNG Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer 2001–present

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  1. ^ MEU (SOC) successfully completes humanitarian mission
  2. ^ "Super Cobra crashes in National Forest". United States Marine Corps. 2009-05-06. Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  3. ^ Arner, Mark, "Marines Say Helicopter's Fatal Crash Preventable", San Diego Union-Tribune, August 12, 2009, p. B1.
  4. ^ Kovach, Gretel C., "Marine’s Parents Set Record Straight: Military revises report on fatal crash", San Diego Union-Tribune, June 7, 2010.

External links[edit]