CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- The "Wildcards" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 were established during a ceremony on Naval Air Station North Island Sept. 29.
The Wildcards, led by Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Robert D. Weissenfels, is comprised of approximately 50 officers and 200 enlisted personnel. The squadron is made up of six expeditionary detachments that will deploy aboard amphibious assault ships and fast-combat support ships.
"Today's event is the culmination of many months of focused effort by the Sailors of what is now HSC-23, all of which worked tirelessly and put everything in place so that the United States Navy can today have one more helicopter squadron on the flight line," said Capt. John Hardison, commodore of Helicopter Sea Combat Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
According to Weissenfels, HSC-23 and its sister squadron HSC-22, which was also established today at Naval Station Norfolk, are the first helicopter squadrons to stand-up in many years.
"Today is about the Sailors of HSC-23. They are proud; you can see it in their faces, in appearances and how they carry themselves," said Weissenfels. "I could not have asked for a better group of men and women to make this happen. In a short time, they have already displayed their character and spirit. They are more than worthy to be called plank owners."
The primary missions of HSC-23 include search and rescue (SAR), logistical support, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) and Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) at sea. The command also supports a variety of other essential services, including Navy air ambulance detachment, medical evacuations and special operations support.
"The first detachment will be in support of the Navy air ambulance mission in Kuwait later this year," said Weissenfels.
According to Hardison, the Sailors of HSC-23 will shape what it means to be a Wildcard and set the standard for the Sailors who follow in their footsteps.
"I'm glad I'm a plank owner and I can set the foundation for the Sailors to come," said Storekeeper Seaman Johnny McGary of HSC-23. "The example I set now is for others to follow. I feel good knowing I have that kind of impact on the Navy."
HSC-23 is part of the Chief of Naval Operations' (CNO) new helicopter Concept of Operations transition plan, which reduces the Navy's helicopter inventory from six models to two, the MH-60R and MH-60S platforms, by 2015.
"Putting together the capabilities involved with establishing HSC-23 and HSC-22, the CNO's plan really grows as far as what the helicopter community offers to the Navy," Weissenfels said. "It puts us in the right place at the right time to do the right missions; we are looking forward to that opportunity."
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