CH-53 Sea Stallion
In the years following World War II the Marine Corps embraced the concept of vertical assault, and constantly sought to procure increasingly capable helicopters that could transport men and material to the battlefield. When first delivered to the Marine Corps in October 1964, the CH-53 Sea Stallion possessed an improved load carrying capability as opposed to its predecessors, able to successfully transport either a one and a half ton truck and trailer, a Hawk missile system, an Honest John missile and trailer, or a 105mm howitzer. In a troop carrying configuration, it could accommodate 38 fully equipped troops or 24 stretchers (later versions could carry up to 55 troops). The Museum's aircraft arrived in Southeast Asia in 1968, joining Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 463 at Marble Mountain Air Facility near Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam. During its period of service, which included resupplying Marine base camps and other transport missions, the aircraft was on the receiving end of periodic enemy rocket attacks launched against its base of operations. During one such attack, the helicopter was peppered by shrapnel from a near miss. Hasty repairs applied to the holes in the airframe were readily visible, which prompted the crew of the aircraft to nickname it 'Patches,' the word painted in bright red forward of the starboard hatch.