Honor Flight San Diego Selects Navy Seawolves for First Vietnam Era Flight to Washington, D.C.

    Gunship between missions. photo credit Gary Ely
    Flight scheduled for fall 2022

    After 12 years and nearly 1,500 senior veterans from WWII and Korea, Honor Flight San Diego will begin taking Vietnam era veterans to Washington, D.C. this fall. The flight is scheduled for Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 and will have 100 Navy HA(L)-3 Seawolves.

    River boats in Vietnam.

    The Seawolves are the most decorated Navy squadron of the Vietnam War and in all of Naval Aviation History. No squadron flew more day or night missions, or combat missions as they had over 78,000 missions, over 131,000 flight hours, flew 1,530 medical evacuations, and delivered over 37,000 passengers.

    Due to their courage and heroism, their actions saved countless lives and as such were awarded medals at the highest levels – Navy Crosses, Silver Stars, Legion of Merit, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, and 219 Distinguished Flying Crosses. The Seawolves also lost 44 men and more than 200 were wounded in service to their country.

    Seawolf Door Gunner Anthony “Rosie” Rosario.

    There were 2,556 Seawolves who served in Vietnam as pilots, aircrew, and maintainers. The squadron was not formally recognized until 38 years after the Vietnam War when Congress officially recognized them in House Resolution 1228 in July 2010.

    HA(L)3 Seawolves were formed in support of Naval Special Warfare and Mobile Riverine Forces and were the only rapid reaction armed helicopter squadron ever commissioned in the U.S. Navy. They commissioned and decommissioned in Vietnam and had no American home base.

    Huey and armament.

    When units called in “Scramble Seawolves” on the radio, they were in the air within a few minutes. HAL-3 pilots flew the heavily armed helicopters and provided rapid reaction close-air support to a host of naval craft, and often provided dedicated armed reconnaissance and fire support for Navy SEAL operations.

    Huey gunship. Photo credit Anthony Rosario

    The fall trip will be the first flight in the Honor Flight Network with 130 independent hubs to take a squadron of Seawolves.

    YRBM-16 Seawolf Gunship on the Flight Deck PBR’s moored along side. Photo credit Gary Ely

    With an estimated 60,000 Vietnam Veterans in San Diego County, Honor Flight San Diego is only accepting applications from Navy Seawolves for the fall flight. Seawolves are encouraged to apply at www.HonorFlightSanDiego.org.

    A documentary titled, “Scramble the Seawolves” was released in 2018 which documents the history of the Seawolves. Information can be found at: www.scrambletheseawolves.com.

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