Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM-263) is the first United States Marine Corps tiltrotor squadron consisting of MV-22A Osprey transport aircraft. The squadron, known as the “Thunder Chickens”, is based at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, although they are currently attached to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force of Camp Lejeune.
Nickname: “Thunder Chickens”
Motto: Balanced Excellence (Pondera Virtus)
Mission: “Provide the United States with a forward-deployed, amphibious force-in-readiness capable of executing mission across the full spectrum of combat and military operations other than war.”
Manpower: 500 Marines
Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. Paul P. Ryan
Sergeant Major: Sgt. Maj. Octaviano Gallegos Jr.
Unit founding date: Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 was activated initially as Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron (HMR) 263 on June 16, 1952, but was redesignated to VMM-263 March 3, 2006.
GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM
The Thunder Chickens deployed 3 times as HMM-263 in support of the Global War on Terror.
HMM-263 totaled over 17,000 combat flight hours during these deployments.
They participated in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, in operations such as Second Battle of Fallujah, Citadel II, Riverwalk, and Plymouth Rock.
The squadron officially stood down June 3, 2005, and entered a training phase in order to prepare for the transition to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM-263).
HMM-263 was re-designated VMM-263 and reactivated March 3, 2006 as the first operational MV-22 squadron in the fleet.
In September 2007, VMM-263 left with 10 Ospreys from MCAS New River for Iraq, becoming
the first unit to deploy with the new aircraft. They returned in April 2008.
The squadron is currently the first MV-22 squadron to support a Marine expeditionary unit. They are deployed in support of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
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