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Subject: CH-53D Sundown Ceremony

For those of you who may be interested, I did attend the CH-53D Sundown Ceremony this past Friday (February 10) at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (which is located on Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor).

The event included a reception, program, the Marine Corps Pacific Fleet's Drum & Bugle Corps as well as the USMC Concert Band, a fly over of two CH-53's with one landing and a dinner, speaker and photos/films (as well as an opportunity to fly the combat flight simulators at the Museum). The Commanding General of the First Marine Air Wing flew in from Okinawa for the event. (The Sundown Ceremony spanned four days including golf, flight line tours et al).

As of Friday night, one of the CH-53D's is now permanently located at the Museum as part of the Museum's aircraft collection.

Half of the CH-53 squadrons at MCB Kaneohe will be relocating to MCAS Miramar for three years to train in and pickup the Osprey and then they will be returning to Kaneohe with the Ospreys. The other half are transitioning to the CH-53Es here in Hawaii. Eleven CH-53Es are scheduled to be in Hawaii by the end of 2012. Sikorsky is rolling out the CH-53K which is a high tech glass cockpit, supposedly low maintenance follow on version of the CH-53, which they hope the USMC will pick up. (An optimistic point of view in the face of $450 billion in defense cuts over the next ten years.)

During the dinner a Sikorsky DVD of the CH-53s ran on a loop. Included in the Sikorsky photos and videos were shots of HMH 463 during our 1967-68 year in Vietnam. Those photos included individual photos of Rae Scott, Jerry McClees, Ed Thurston, Fred Cain, Tom Fine, Jim Riedeman, Bobby Jones, Judd Hilton and Dick Jones. So even if some of you were not present in the flesh, you were there, carrying on the USMC legacy via your photos.

(As you may know, besides being an old CH-53 driver and continuing to practice law here in Honolulu, I am also on the Executive Committee for the Museum, including serving as the Museum's General Counsel). If you get to Hawaii the Aviation Museum is worth seeing.

Semper Fi,

Peter Starn

Former HMH-463 pilot

MMAF RVN '67-'68

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