Metal Fatigue Leads to Blade Failure
(From HMM-364 June through November 10 Command Chronology)

On 30 June 1967, an HMM-364 aircraft piloted by Captain Gordon R. Jefferson and 1stLt. Richard J. Blanchard crashed while recovering from a practice autorotation at MCAF, Santa Ana, California.  The discovery that the aircraft lost part of the blade in flight due to metal fatigue led to the suspension of all CH-46D flight operations.  Because of this accident a great hazard to safe flight was detected and now a method of rotor blade inspection is being developed to preclude any further mishaps of this type.

All CH-46Ds were grounded until the 28th of July, at which time flight operations were again commenced to transition into the newly received aircraft.  Unit strength on the 31st of July was 63 officers and 182 enlisted.  The squadron now consisted of eleven aircraft.

During September HMM-364 was able to hit its all time high in flight hours since commencing flight operations on the 25th of May 1967.  The Squadron flew 1,039.9 hours during which time the training of the Squadron's personnel was drawing to a close in preparation for the coming deployment.

Also in September an aircraft piloted by Major Marvin E. Peacock and 1stLt. Rocky E. Darger were called upon to retrieve a police Jeep owned by the Elsinor Police Department which became stalled in the rugged terrain of the Saddleback Mountains west of Lake Elsinor, California.

Throughout the month of September the majority of the Squadron's 36 aircraft were also undergoing combat modification for the Squadron's transfer to the Western Pacific area.

During the second week of October the Advanced Party and ten additional copilots departed the United States for the Republic of Vietnam.  During the third week an extensive structural modification program was initiated to strengthen the aft section of the Squadron's aircraft.

On October 28th the colors of the Squadron left the United States with the main body.  Another echelon departed the following day, leaving a small group to continue working with the structural modification at MCAF, Santa Ana.  The Squadron is presently attached to MAG-36, FMAW, FMF Pac.

During the first ten days of November 1967 the structural modifications of the 32 CH-46D aircraft assigned to the Squadron wa completed.  The Squadron aircraft, equipment and remaining personnel were loaded abroad the USS Valley Forge (LPH-8) on 10 November 1967, as scheduled.  The ship departed Long Beach, California bound for the shores of the Republic of Vietnam.

Submitted by:
    Franklin A. Gulledge, Jr. Major USMC (Ret)

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