What did you do at HMX-1?

Wally, here is a little more on “Army One”. They remained in the WH [White House] program until the late 1970’s. I have attached something I wrote when asked: “What did you do at HMX?” on the squadron’s 60th anniversary.

Previously the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps shared the responsibilities of presidential helicopter transportation by alternating between using Army One and Marine one, however in 1976 the Marines took complete control of this duty with Marine One.

I served with HMX from March 1961 until August 1964. I was a Captain at that time, along with about 30 other Captains. I worked in the S-4 shop, but my primary duty was as Squadron Pilot. I stood the OPAL duty at Anacostia, made Presidential trips, and performed numerous missions in support of HMX’s varied assignments. I was in the first VH-3A conversion class, and picked up one of the first ones, 150612, at Sikorsky on 11 May 1962.

Probably my most infamous event, and one I am not proud of, was overspeeding the engine of a VH-34D on startup during an OPAL at Anacostia on the morning after President Kennedy’s Cuban Missile address. The drill was that the copilot, me, would start the engine from the left seat using the pilot’s throttle on his collective, while he strapped in. It was a clumsy and difficult operation, and that time I screwed it up.

Years later, sometime in late 1976, I may have been able to atone for my sins. At that time, I was a LtCol assigned as Helicopter Plans And Programs Coordinator (AAP-24) in Division of Aviation, HQMC. Included in my duties was HMX POC. One day that summer, my boss sent me up to the office of the CMC, General Louis Wilson, to assist him in his decision as to whether the Marines wanted to fight the Army for sole responsibility for the White House mission. The White House had determined only one service, Marines or Army, would be assigned. Previously, both had shared it. Both services had to defend their position. After my briefing, General Wilson decided it would be the Marines job, and it was my job to make that happen. With typical Marine speed, I assembled my paper, got it chopped thru HQMC, and presented it to an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Transportation. I remember that he was a train man because of much railroad memorabilia in his office. I suppose it was logical that he make the decision, and he did.

The Marines had landed first with the most, and he wrote the Army out. Several days later, an Army 2 star was roaming the halls of HQMC looking for my scalp, but several Marine Generals were covering my six. And that maybe one of the reasons HMX has the job today.

I flew my last USMC flight in an HMX CH-53D, 157754, on 17 Feb 1976.
John Van Nortwick, Lt Col, USMC (ret)

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Author: Cpl. Beddoe
Cpl, USMC 1981-1985 MCRDSD Plt 3042, Aug 28, 1981 Work hard. Be kind. Pay it forward. Twitter: @txdevildog
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2016/03/16 15:41

I too came across this sight by accident. I served at HMX-! from Apr ’62 May ’65. I was there when we took delivery of the first VH-3A. I served as a simple mech straight from NATS Memphis. I flew with both Kennedy and LBJ. I went into the “cage” in Dec. of ’62 where most of what I done for the first year was wash and wax those beautiful birds. I took my turns at Annacostia pulling Opal duty. The ones I most recall from my time there was MGSgt Art Hemmelberger and GSgt Dangerfield. There are others that I recall but those the ones foremost in my memory.
Cpl SL”Red” Carroll

Edmond Humm
2014/01/27 20:49

I was the Maintenance Control Officer (Green side) from March 1973 until September 1975. President Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford took over the White House, and we began gearing up for the trips to Aspin, Colorado. The CO was Lt. Col Perryman and later Lt. Col Pernie, a fine officer who I kept in touch with for many years. Major Telles was the AMO who rose to Colonel before retiring. I retired as a Major upon leaving HMX-1, having served for 24 years-Pvt to Major.
I cannot recall the names of all the fine men and officers in HMX-1, but I do remember them as some of the finest I ever served with in my career. Major Edmond Humm USMC retired.

2013/09/07 21:08

I was a Mike-Papa with HMX-1, Quantico and Anacostia. I was one of the first Marines to hump the double fenceline at Anacostia before its completion…while still assigned to greenside, shotguns and worn out boots. Made whiteside at Anacostia. Great duty and memorable flights. Volunteered to transfer to fleet to serve in the Middle East, but the war took less time than it took for me to gain my clearance! To all my “Glorified Fire-Watch” brothers out there, Semper Fi. Sgt Garcia A,

2010/05/27 22:58

>I like you found this site by chance- I was an avionics tech (Greenside) and asked to go along for the cross country for avi support. That was the best duty station, with the most professional/dedicated Marines I served with in my 20 years. I remember Steve well, as he taught me a lot on a number of occasions. I now have seventy employees and they love hearing the grand old stories.

Kevin C. Stoodley
GySgt USMC (retired)

2010/05/25 01:45

>I found this site by mistake but the number 157754 jumped out at me. I was a CH-53 D&E / VH-3D crewchief at HMX-1 from 1992-1997. 157754 (side number 23) was my bird 1992 through 1994…I then went to the whiteside…but at the end of 1996 I went back to the greenside to get ready to go back to the fleet. I had the chance to crew 157754 to Davis Mothan. The A/C was one of the last 2 CH-53D's at HMX…and we flew them out as a flight of 2. I have the 23 placard hanging in my garage and the dash placard on a keyring somewhere. My last two flights at HMX were taking 157754 to the boneyard and my next was picking up a new echo 165253 from the plant.
SSGT Steve Roach (Former Marine) roachjs71@hotmail.com

2009/10/24 01:58

>Was stationed at Hmx1 between 1982 & 1985. Remember that CH-53 that
LtCol Van Nortwick mentioned. I was in the Avionics shop. Great duty station.

Mike Long