Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion "Patches"
Backstory and Context
Our CH-53 was originally constructed by Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut in 1967. It was accepted by the Naval Plant Representative Office (NAVPRO) on June 29, 1967. It was assigned Navy Bureau of Aeronautics Number 153715 and was Sikorsky Serial Number 65-105. The aircraft is a wounded, Vietnam Veteran and was used to trained countless Marines in its later training role.
The aircraft was first assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron FOUR SIX TWO, HMH-462, “Heavy Haulers” in September 1967. It carried the aircraft number YF-#? (RESEARCHING). The Heavy Haulers were part of Marine Air Group FIVE SIX (MAG-56) at Marine Corps Air Facility Santa Ana, California.”
The aircraft arrived in Vietnam during 1968 and was assigned to Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron SIXTEEN, H&MS-16, Marine Air Group SIXTEEN (MAG-16), at Marble Mountain Air Facility near Da Nang. This assignment ran from May until June 1968.
From June 1968 until September 1969, the helicopter was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron FOUR SIX THREE, HMH-463, “Pegasus” which was also part of MAG-16 at Marble Mountain. It carried the aircraft number YH-#?.
During its period of service, which included resupplying Marine base camps and other transport missions, the aircraft was on the receiving end of periodic enemy rocket attacks launched against its base of operations. During one such attack in 1968-1969, the helicopter was peppered by shrapnel from a near miss. Repairs applied to the holes in the airframe are still readily visible and are responsible for the helicopters nickname “Patches.” The name was painted in red forward of the starboard hatch.
From September 1969 until July 1971, it was assigned to and operated by H&MS 56 COSA, MAG-56 at HMH-361, California. In July 1971, H&MS 56 was redesignated H&MS 16. In October 1971, the helicopter was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron THREE SIX ONE, HMH-361, “Flying Tigers” at Santa Ana, California. It carried the aircraft number YN-#?.
From September 1974 until May 1980, the helicopter was in deep preservation at Military Aircraft Storage and Disposal Center (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona. It was assigned MASDC number 2J0024 in October 1974.
In May 1980, the helicopter was removed from storage and sent to the Naval Air Technical Training Center Millington (NATTC Millington) in Memphis, Tennessee. The helicopter became a training aid in the Basic Helicopter Maintenance School. It was during this time that the left-hand “D” sponson was installed with a 650-gallon drop tank thus becoming a CH-53D.
The helicopter remained at Millington until 1997 when it was transferred to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, for outdoor display (Museum Accession Number 1996.388.001, date 30/09/1996). The Fort Worth Aviation Museum acquired the helicopter in 2013 on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM).
Fort Worth Aviation Museum
Fort Worth Aviation Museum
Fort Worth Aviaiton Museum