After 27 years, the Marine Corps has reactivated an air wing support squadron as part of a larger shift in Marine aviation.
The Corps activated and redesignated Marine Wing Support Squadron 174, the “Gryphons,” on Monday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, according to a press release.
A “gryphon” is a mythical creature with the head, wings and talons of a bird, usually an eagle, and the body of a lion.
The MWSS-174 activation flowed from the re-designation of MWS Detachment 24, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Air Wing.
Officials expect the support squadron to be fully operational by 2023.
With the reactivated support squadron, Marine aviators will have more ground support for the MAG-24, 1st Marine Air Wing squadrons.
“A full-size MWSS in Hawaii is postured to better support III (Marine Expeditionary Force) as a whole,” Lt. Col. Gideon Grissett, the new commanding officer of MWSS-174, said in the press release. “This reorganization increases the capacity of a Marine aviation combat element and improves our ability to support the six functions of Marine aviation with a focus on temporary, austere and potentially contested locations ashore.”
The activation and shifting of units, personnel and platforms is one piece of the larger strategy that has been driven by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s force design changes.
Specific to aviation, Berger is pushing more assets to the Indo-Pacific theater and doubling unmanned capacity in the coming years.
Part of that, according to the release, includes expanding the “MAW’s reach and lethality in support of maritime and joint operations” so that it can operate dispersed and in unsupported terrain.
In March, Marine Corps Times reported that the Corps began transporting a CH-53E squadron off of Hawaii as the service began a long-running divesting and decommissioning of certain platforms and reassigning of certain units.
At that time, the Corps also had disclosed that it was decommissioning another Hawaii-based aviation unit, the Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367. That unit flew the AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters.
Those two squadrons were also elements of MAG-24. The larger aircraft group includes Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24, Marine Wing Support Detachment 24, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadrons 268 and 363 and Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3.
Outside of Hawaii, the Corps announced the following changes to aviation units in 2020. The deactivations of:
- Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California.
- Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, and one of the 19 MV-22B squadrons.
- Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.
The reactivated support squadron, MWSS-174, will add an estimated 200 Marines, which raises its capacity in the aviation ground support tasks.
For example, the squadron will be able to conduct full airfield services while operating three forward arming and refueling points simultaneously, according to the release.
“MWSD-24 always embodied the mindset of ‘do more with less.’ They excelled at supporting MAG-24 and Marine Corps Base Hawaii, as evidenced by the many accolades they’ve earned,” Maj. Margaret McGuire, outgoing officer-in-charge of MWSD-24, said in the news release. “It’s an exciting time for the aviation ground support community and all Marines who have been part of MWSD-24′s history.”
The support squadron was established on Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, in 1988 and was deactivated on Sept. 8, 1994.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.