HC-1 Pacific Fleet Angels UH-2B and UH-2C Seasprite
HC-1 Detachment 43 is a small detachment (8 officers and 30 enlisted personnel) of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron One, which is located at Naval Auxiliary Air Station Ream Field, Imperial Beach, California. HC-1 or "The Pacific Fleet Angels" has as its mission to provide all helicopter service, other than anti-submarine warfare, to the Pacific Fleet. To accomplish this the squadron uses two different types of helicopters, the UH-2 and the UH-46.
The UH-2 is used primarily as a search and rescue helicopter and is deployed aboard all attack aircraft carriers in the North and South Pacific. The UH-2 is also deployed aboard destroyers to provide search and rescue assistance for our pilots who are forced to bail out inland or just off the shore of North Vietnam. The UH-46 is used by the squadron for vertical replenishment and operates off modern supply ships.
The image at left is from the 1967-68 deployment of a UH-2B "Angel" on plane guard. HC-1 DET43 provided a plane guard during flight operations aboard the carrier. The squadron provided search and rescue in the event of an actual emergency involving another of the carrier's embarked aircraft. The squadron was also concerned with a secondary mission that involved transfer of personnel, cargo, and innumerable other items to and from the carrier. The image at right shows a UH-2C lifting cargo off the flight deck on the 1968-69 cruise.
Angels Answer S.O.S.
November 7, 1967, two HC-1 UH-2B helicopters make three trips apiece from the USS Coral Sea to the stricken vessel, Loyal Fortunes. During typhoon Emma the Liberian freighter had run aground and was breaking apart on Pratas Reef, 170 miles southeast of Hongkong about 15 miles away in 70 knot winds and 30-foot high waves. Hongkong Chinese Crewmembers from the freighter Loyal Fortunes all are all smiles and safe as they are hurried aboard the Coral Sea. The 37-Chinese crewmen were disembarked upon the carrier's arrival at Hong Kong the following day.
Armed Forces Expeditionary Operations
During late February 1968 there was snow and ice on deck while conducting Operation Formation Star cold weather training in the Sea of Japan, VERY COLD weather training. This operation prepared men and machines for duty in March 1968 while USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), with HC-1 Pacific Fleet Angels embarked, operated on station off the coast of Korea following the capture of USS Pueblo (AGER-2) in January by North Korea.
This anecdote from Jim Hawk HC-1 Det 43 "Angel Crew" makes the point.
"Had almost forgotten the time we spent off the coast of N Korea... huge waves in the storm we were in. I was on the Helicopter Crew (Helsuppron 1) and during the worst of the storm we had the helo tied down right next to the island with a bad generator. The weather was so bad we couldn't use the elevator to bring another up so AE1 Ed White tied a rope around my waist and I went up on the helo and changed the generator while several of the deck crew stood by holding on! I remember my fingers were blistered and my back was frozen! No fun then, but memories are best "remembered" from afar!"
The men of HC-1 DET 43 flew the UH-2B Helicopter during the 3rdVietnam Combat Cruise and the UH-2C Helicopter during the 4thVietnam Combat Cruise in the performance of their support mission.
Copyright © 2019 Bert McNamee, Harleigh, PA. All rights reserved.