NORFOLK (NNS) -- The "Black Stallions" of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 4 officially disestablished Sept. 28 after 24 years of service during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk.
Acting Command Master Chief (AW) Barry Rice spoke about the pride he felt for the squadron and their contribution to the Navy.
"It's been an honor and privilege to be a part of the Navy's premier airlift squadron," said Rice. "This squadron has served the Navy well and we did it with pride and great success."
HC-4 was stationed in Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, Italy for 23 years where they provided heavy lift combat support for units serving in the 5th and 6th fleets' areas of responsibility.
"We stood up much faster than a typical Navy squadron," said retired Capt. James F. Scurria, HC-4's second commanding officer. "Just seven months from initial establishment we were in combat operations in Beirut."
"The squadron's tenaciousness to get the job done and serve the country is what I will always remember," he continued. "I would say my time at the Black Stallions was the highlight of my navy career."
For the past year, the Black Stallions provided heavy lift combat support for the U.S. 3rd Army in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"The squadron's final missions ran out of Kuwait to run into Iraq transporting troops with their packs and some supplies for the U.S. 3rd Army," continued Rice. "We left there knowing we did a job well done."
Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class (AW/NAC) Carl Stewart, who first joined the squadron in 1999, also expressed pride for his time as a Black Stallion.
"Being a part of the Black Stallions gave me a sense of pride to stand out because of our unique job within the air community," said Stewart. "Wherever my Navy career takes me from here on out, I will always be proud to say I was a part of their legacy."
Since their commissioning, the Black Stallions of HC-4 have received numerous personal and unit awards, including two European Region National Defense Transportation Association awards, three Golden Anchors and one Silver Anchor award for retention, five Navy Unit commendations, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, three Navy Battle "E" Efficiency awards, a Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award.
"Over the years the squadron developed and grew to become a national asset," added Scurria. "I underscore the fact that the key to HC-4's success was always based on the phenomenal quality of people who served in the squadron."
"The squadron has been given many opportunities to succeed and our service to the Navy has been impressive," said Cmdr. Robert H. Buckingham, commanding officer. "The awards speak for themselves."
The squadron held a final landing ceremony June 26 at Naval Station Norfolk's Chamber field. HC-4's last "Sea Dragon" will be reassigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 in Norfolk.
For more news from Naval Station Norfolk, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/nsn/.