AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 gathered at their headquarters building aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, for a bittersweet ending to their six-year presence in Iraq, Dec.15, 2009.
“For more than half a decade, HMLA-269 has made Iraq a second home,” said Lt. Col. Jon Hackett, commanding officer of the unit. “This marks the end of an era.”
During every year since 2004, HMLA-269 has had elements of the squadron conducting operations in the Al Anbar province.
As part of their end-of-mission ceremony, the commanding officer and sergeant major cased their unit’s colors for the final time, symbolizing the last of the Marine Corps offensive air support assets in Iraq.
“After this unit’s six years of deployment in Iraq, they have lived up to their motto of ‘protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty,’” said Cmdr. Kevin Anderson, chaplain for Marine Aircraft Group 26 (Reinforced). “These Marines and those who have deployed before have worked hard toward the peace and stability of this country.”
During the squadron’s final rotation aboard Al Asad, the “Gunrunners” conducted 1,963 missions to include 71 medevacs. On two occasions, HMLA-269 gave their support to troops engaged with enemy forces.
“As we close out, we do so knowing we did all that we could to support the mission. We started this six years ago, and we are finishing it now,” concluded Hackett. “We are now part of that legacy of pride and mission accomplishment. We are 269, the first and the finest.”