CAMP INSER, Okinawa, Japan -- The last of the CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 flew here from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Nov. 26-27 to await final disposition.
Although many Marines with VMM-265, a part of Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, are disappointed to see the CH-46E go, they are excited about the enhanced capabilities the MV-22B Osprey brings to the table, according to Staff Sgt. Bradley A. Leddy, a crew chief with the squadron.
"The CH-46E is a battle-proven aircraft, but it is older technology," said Leddy. "Bringing in the Osprey gives us the ability to go about three times as fast and four times as far. They provide a long reach and over-the-horizon capabilities."
The phasing out of the CH-46E is bittersweet, but the reputation it obtained during its more than 50 years of service will not be forgotten. The Osprey has some big shoes to fill, according to Col. Jeffrey K. Arruda, the commanding officer of MAG-36.
"The legacy that the CH-46E has in the Marine Corps, everything that it's done from Vietnam to Lebanon, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, is a testament to its capabilities and dependability," said Arruda.
Most Marines have a nostalgic side that will miss the old aircraft, but the new capabilities of the Osprey are necessary for the Marine Corps to move forward, according to Leddy.
"Everyone is sad to see (the CH-46E) go. It's an icon in the Marine Corps," said Leddy. "Pretty much every motivational video and every motivational poster you see in some way has a CH-46E in it."
The Osprey brings 1st MAW into the future, providing an enhanced ability to provide support to the Asia-Pacific region, according to Arruda.
"It's the way ahead for the Marine Corps. The Osprey brings an enormous capability, it's great to have it out here in this theater, and we're going to do a lot with it," said Arruda. "The MV-22 is a great, safe aircraft and we expect great things."
Though VMM-265's Sea Knights have transitioned out of operations, there will still be CH-46E sightings around Okinawa. Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262, MAG-36, will continue to fly its CH-46E helicopters until next summer.