Houston & Peach

Marine helicopter unit is leaving Robins

Members of the HMLA 773 watch as the pilot lands their new Huey on the flight line  in front of the hanger Wednesday. The helicopter is the first brand new helicopter the unit has added in 20 years. The aircraft was flown in from Texas.
Members of the HMLA 773 watch as the pilot lands their new Huey on the flight line in front of the hanger Wednesday. The helicopter is the first brand new helicopter the unit has added in 20 years. The aircraft was flown in from Texas. wmarshall@macon.com

WARNER ROBINS -- Robins Air Force Base is losing its Marine helicopter unit.

As part of a consolidation move, the reserve unit is relocating to Fort Dix, New Jersey, next summer, said Capt. Andrew Chrestman, Marine Forces Reserve spokesman.

The unit employs about 150 active duty Marines and another 150 who come from across the country once per month for drills.

The Robins unit is a detachment of Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 773, which also has detachments in Louisiana and at Fort Dix. The move will consolidate three locations into two. Robins has been the headquarters of the squadron.

Chrestman said the move is not only about cutting costs, but it’s also part of a larger reorganization by Marine Corps Aviation.

“They are streamlining command and control and trying to increase operational efficiency,” he said.

The unit came to Robins just five years ago from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta as a directive of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. A new hangar was built, and that hangar will now be turned over to Robins, Chrestman said.

Chrissy Miner, chief of operations for the 21st Century Partnership, said the group battled against the move, but the decision ultimately came down to finances.

“We are certainly not happy about the decision, but the Marine Corps has exercised their option to do what is financially most prudent for them,” she said.

There were no indications that the Marine Corps had any issues with the support for the unit that was provided at Robins, Miner said.

The unit’s choppers have become a familiar site and sound in the skies over Warner Robins. The crews regularly fly training missions, and the flights have increased since the unit began getting additional choppers this year. It flies seven AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters and three UH-1Y Super Huey utility choppers.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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