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US Navy - Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 4 (HELSUPPRON 4)

HC-4 'Black Stallions'

 
hc-4 black stallions insignia crest patch badge us navy squadron
hc-4 black stallions mh-53e sea dragon helicopter combat support squadron
 
STATUS:   Note: there was a previous HC-4 (1965-72):
established as HU-4 on July 1, 1960
HU-4 redesignated HC-4 'Invaders' in July 1965
HC-4 redesignated HSL-30 on March 1, 1972

 
HC-4 established on May 6, 1983
HC-4 disestablished on September 28, 2007
  
Homebase: -
Carrier Air Wing: -
Aircraft Carrier: -
 AIRCRAFT:   Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion
Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon
 DEPLOYMENTS:   forward deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily, Italy
 

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MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) - July 2005

hc-4 black stallions mh-53e sea dragon uss saipan lha-2
MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) aboard USS Saipan (LHA 2) - July 2005

hc-4 black stallions mh-53e sea dragon nas sigonella italy
MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at NAS Sigonella, Italy - May 2005

hc-4 black stallions mh-53e sea dragon mount etna sicily
MH-53E Sea Dragons (HC-4) - Mount Etna, Sicily - January 2005


MH-53E Sea Dragons (HC-4) - Mount Etna, Sicily - January 2005

hc-4 black stallions mh-53e sea dragon aviano airbase italy
MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at Aviano Airbase, Italy - September 2004

hc-4 black stallions mh-53e sea dragon helicopter combat support squadron
MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at Aviano Airbase, Italy - September 2004


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at Aviano Airbase, Italy - September 2004


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at Aviano Airbase, Italy - September 2004


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at Aviano Airbase, Italy - September 2004

hc-5 black stallions sikorsky mh-53e sea dragon
MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at NAS Sigonella, Italy - July 2004


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at NAS Sigonella, Italy - March 2004


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) near USS LaSalle (AGF 3) - June 2003


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at NAS Sigonella, Italy - May 2003


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at NAS Sigonella, Italy - May 2003


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at NAS Sigonella, Italy - May 2003


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) - April 2003


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at NAS Sigonella, Italy - March 2003


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) near NAS Sigonella, Italy - January 2003


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) - December 2002


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) - October 2002


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) at NAS Sigonella, Italy - September 2002


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) - September 2002


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) over Sicily, Italy - October 2001


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) - October 2001


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) - October 2001


MH-53E Sea Dragon (HC-4) - December 2000

hc-4 black stallions ch-53e super stallion nas sigonella sicily italy
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) at NAS Sigonella, Sicily, Italy - February 1995


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - May 1991

hc-4 black stallions ch-53e super stallion operation provide comfort
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) during Operation Provide Comfort - April 1991


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) during Operation Provide Comfort - April 1991


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) during Operation Provide Comfort - April 1991

hc-4 black stallions ch-53e super stallion uss saratoga cv-60 operation desert storm
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Saratoga (CV 60) during Operation Desert Storm - February 1991

hc-4 black stallions mh-53e super stallion sierra leone 1990
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - Sierra Leone - August 1990


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - Sierra Leone - August 1990


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - Sierra Leone - August 1990


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) during exercise Dragon Hammer 90 - May 1990

nc-4 black stallions ch-53e super stallion exercise dragon hammer 1990
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) during exercise Dragon Hammer 90 - May 1990


CH-53E Super Stallions (HC-4) - September 1989


aboard USS Teodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - January 1989

sikorsky ch-53e super stallion hc-4 black stallions
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - August 1987

hc-4 black stallions cv-63 uss kitty hawk
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - May 1987


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - May 1987


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - May 1987


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - May 1987


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - May 1987


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - May 1987


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - May 1987

hc-4 black stallions ch-53e super stallion uss missouri bb-63
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Missouri (BB 63) - November 1986


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - November 1986


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Coral Sea (CV 43) - November 1986

hc-4 black stallions ch-53e operation intense look kairo egypt
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) at Kairo East Airbase, Egypt during Operation Intense Look - August 1984

hc-4 black stallions uss shreveport lpd-12 operation intense look
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Shreveport (LPD 12) during Operation Intense Look - August 1984

hc-4 black stallions uss iwo jima lph-2
CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) aboard USS Iwo Jima (LPH 2) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984


CH-53E Super Stallion (HC-4) - January 1984
   
 
On July 1, 1960 Helicopter Utility Squadron FOUR (HU-4) was established at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey, and tasked with the logistic support of non-aviation ships of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. To describe its mission more accurately, the squadron was redesignated as Helicopter Combat Support Squadron FOUR in July 1965, and HC-4 was born. The unit was equipped with the Kaman UH-2A Seasprite light transport helicopter. Eight years later, the young squadron assumed a new mission of Helicopter Anti-submarine Warfare and was renamed HSL-30. For eleven years, HC-4 seemed to have been relegated to the dusty tomes of history.

However, in the early 1980s, the advent of the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion was to change the face of helicopter logistics support forever. With twice the lifting capacity and far greater range than any of its predecessors, the CH-53E was the most capable heavy-lift helicopter in the NATO inventory. Recognizing this unique aircraft's phenomenal potential for fleet support, the U.S. Navy commissioned its first, and only dedicated CH-53E squadron on May 6, 1983. The squadron was granted the designator HC-4, and thus were born the present-day "Black Stallions."

Arriving at their new home of NAS Sigonella, Italy on August 25, 1983, the "Black Stallions" quickly established themselves as the "prime movers" of air-delivered cargo in the Mediterranean, exceeding all records for fleet air logistics support in theater. In their first year alone, they delivered more than sixteen thousand passengers and six and a half million pounds of cargo and mail. While providing simultaneous and complete heavy combat support throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, HC-4 has participated in every major naval operation and exercise in theater since the squadron's establishment, continually setting the standard for operational excellence and flexibility in the world of heavy combat support. The "Plank owner" Commanding Officer was Commander Ronald Aubrey McDaniel from Brewton, Alabama. Cmdr. McDaniel was previously the Commanding Officer of VR-24 at NAS Sigonella, Sicily.

To ensure logistic service to SIXTH Fleet Task Forces, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, and other U.S. Navy ships operating independently, HC-4 routinely deploys one or two aircraft to strategic locations throughout its vast area of responsibility. Aug 12, 1990 two CH-53E aircraft were deployed to Jedda SA, the first American combat support force to arrive in SA. In 1992, this area of responsibility was expanded by the establishment of a permanent two-aircraft detachment in the Persian Gulf. Working out of Bahrain International Airport, Detachment ONE provided over 80% of all airlifted cargo in the Persian Gulf and surrounding area.

A new era of achievement for HC-4 was commenced in February 1995, as the "Black Stallions" began their transition to the MH-53E Sea Dragon. HC-4 phased out the CH-53E's and replaced them with nine MH-53E's while maintaining the high operational tempo that hallmarks the squadron's history. This challenging transition was completed in February 1996 with the departure of the Navy's last two CH-53E's from NAS Sigonella. The Sea Dragon's range of up to 650 nautical miles (without refueling) and top speed of 150 knots (280 km/h) brings the entire Mediterranean and Persian Gulf regions within easy reach.

Although logistics has always been the mainstay of HC-4 operations, it is by no means the limit of this capable and diverse squadron. In August 1996, HC-4 transported the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, along with 23 other high-ranking members of the Israeli government. Since the squadron was established, the "Black Stallions" have been called upon to support U.S. Presidential visits to Europe and the Middle East. HC-4 supported President Clinton's visits to northern Ireland, Paris, Italy, Macedonia and an historic December 1998 visit to Israel and Palestine. Presidential support continued under President Bush in 2003, as HC-4 supported visits to Switzerland and the United Kingdom. When the United Nations' peacekeeping mission to Somalia collapsed endangering the lives of hundreds of allied soldiers, HC-4 was called upon to evacuate U.N. forces. While the world watched the civil war in Sierra Leone erupt into violence, HC-4 again responded, deploying two aircraft to help evacuate Americans from that country.

World events in 2004 kept the Black Stallion on the move. Vice President Cheney was personally transported by the Black Stallions while later that year the squadron supported President Bush's attendance at a NATO Summit in Turkey. HC-4 also provided transport for the U.S. Ambassador to NATO and Secretary of Defense personnel at a second NATO conference in Romania.

HC-4 has always served a vital role in the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, most recently while operating a detachment out of Fujairah, U.A.E. However, the depth and scope of that role is to expand greatly in the upcoming year. Currently, all Black Stallion pilots and aircrew are training to become the first night-vision device (NVD) qualified squadron in the MH-53. After training, the squadron will deploy in direct support of the War on Terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom, once again leading the way in Navy helicopter aviation.

Since their commissioning, the "Black Stallions" of HC-4 have received numerous personal and unit awards. They include two European Region National Defense Transportation Association awards, three Golden Anchor and one Silver Anchor awards for retention, five Navy Unit commendations, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, three Navy Battle "E" Efficiency awards, a Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award.

Over the last 20 years it has been the men and women of HC-4 who safely fly, maintain, and support the Navy's most labor-intensive helicopter. They are responsible for the squadron's success. The squadron, which now numbers over 35 officers and 240 enlisted men and women, continues to excel every year. HC-4 has only begun to prove its abilities and the men and women of the "Black Stallions" look forward to ever-increasing challenges.

HC-4 was previously home-based at Naval Air Station Sigonella, located in Sicily, Italy. The squadron completed a homeport change to Naval Station Norfolk in 2005-06.

The squadron was disestablished on 28 September 2007.

- - -

Navy News Release - September 29, 2007 - The "Black Stallions" of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 4 officially disestablished Sept. 28 after 24 years of service during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk.

Acting Command Master Chief (AW) Barry Rice spoke about the pride he felt for the squadron and their contribution to the Navy.

"It's been an honor and privilege to be a part of the Navy's premier airlift squadron," said Rice. "This squadron has served the Navy well and we did it with pride and great success."

HC-4 was stationed in Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, Italy for 23 years where they provided heavy lift combat support for units serving in the 5th and 6th fleets' areas of responsibility.

"We stood up much faster than a typical Navy squadron," said retired Capt. James F. Scurria, HC-4's second commanding officer. "Just seven months from initial establishment we were in combat operations in Beirut."

"The squadron's tenaciousness to get the job done and serve the country is what I will always remember," he continued. "I would say my time at the Black Stallions was the highlight of my navy career."

For the past year, the Black Stallions provided heavy lift combat support for the U.S. 3rd Army in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"The squadron's final missions ran out of Kuwait to run into Iraq transporting troops with their packs and some supplies for the U.S. 3rd Army," continued Rice. "We left there knowing we did a job well done."

Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class (AW/NAC) Carl Stewart, who first joined the squadron in 1999, also expressed pride for his time as a Black Stallion.

"Being a part of the Black Stallions gave me a sense of pride to stand out because of our unique job within the air community," said Stewart. "Wherever my Navy career takes me from here on out, I will always be proud to say I was a part of their legacy."

Since their commissioning, the Black Stallions of HC-4 have received numerous personal and unit awards, including two European Region National Defense Transportation Association awards, three Golden Anchors and one Silver Anchor award for retention, five Navy Unit commendations, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, three Navy Battle "E" Efficiency awards, a Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award.

"Over the years the squadron developed and grew to become a national asset," added Scurria. "I underscore the fact that the key to HC-4's success was always based on the phenomenal quality of people who served in the squadron."

"The squadron has been given many opportunities to succeed and our service to the Navy has been impressive," said Cmdr. Robert H. Buckingham, commanding officer. "The awards speak for themselves."

The squadron held a final landing ceremony June 26 at Naval Station Norfolk's Chamber field. HC-4's last "Sea Dragon" will be reassigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 in Norfolk.
 
 
 

patches & more


hc-4 black stallions crest insignia helicopter combat support squadron  hc-4 black stallions insignia crest patch

hc-4 invaders helicopter combat support squadron insignia crest
 
 
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