Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron FIFTEEN (HM-15) “Blackhawks” was established on 2 January 1987 at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia. The first of two deployable, Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) squadrons to receive the Sikorsky MH-53E “Sea Dragon” helicopter. On 21 April 1987, HM-15 was ordered by the CNO to change duty stations to Naval Air Station Alameda, California. HM-15 began initial flight operations in July 1987, with the receipt of their first MH-53E. On 28 September 1987, three squadron aircraft departed NAS Norfolk and arrived at NAS Alameda on 1 October 1987, officially reporting for duty under operational and administrative control of Commander, Anti-Submarine Warfare Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
November 1987 marked a major flight training milestone for HM-15, as initial AMCM flight training commenced, employing the MK-105 Magnetic, Influence Minesweeping System (Hydrofoil), the MK-104 Acoustic, Influence Minesweeping System and the ANISPU-1W Shallow-Water, Magnetic, Influence Minesweeping System. In December, the squadron disassembled and loaded two MH-53E helicopters into a USAF C-5A Galaxy aircraft, certifying the “Sea Dragon” air transport capability for the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
From January to June of 1988, squadron flight and ground training continued to focus heavily on AMCM operations, using the ANIAQS-14 Side-Scan Minehunting Sonar System and the MK-103 Mechanical Minesweeping System. By June, the squadron had developed requisite proficiency in all mission areas.
In July 1988, HM-15 successfully completed a Mine Warfare Readiness Certification Inspection (MRCI). In October 1988, the first squadron detachment deployed to NAS North Island to conduct minesweeping operations. In September 1989, the squadron embarked onboard USS Tripoli (LPH-10) for PACEX-89, a joint exercise conducted throughout WESTPAC with allies Japan, Korea, and the Republic of the Philippines.
In October 1989, HM-15 exercised its secondary mission of vertical onboard delivery by providing airlift for disaster relief efforts following the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake, which effected the San Francisco Bay Area, thereby earning the Humanitarian Service Medal.
From January 1991 through April 1992, HM-15 deployed a three aircraft, 100-man detachment to the Persian Gulf in direct support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The “Blackhawks” transported over 3.2 million pounds of cargo and more than 4,000 personnel in support of combat units in the theater.
During mid-1994, the CNO directed the reshaping of the AMCM force structure by ordering the integration of the BLACKHAWKS of HM-15 with its reserve sister squadron, the GOLDEN BEARS of HM-19. HM-19 was disestablished on 17 September 1994, with the integrated squadron maintaining the HM-15 designation, mascot and insignia. The integration was completed on 5 November 1994.
In 1995, HM-15 was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award and a second Meritorious Unit Commedation, as well as the Battle Efficiency Award.
With the slated closure of NAS Alameda on 30 June 1996, the permanent duty station of HM-15 was officially moved to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, after nearly nine years of operations under Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
|Date Assumed Command
|CDR Don F. Beach
|CDR John W. Tennant
|CDR Gary P. Tornatore
|CDR Keith W. Martello
|CDR Bruce F. Russell
|CDR Brian E. Dewey
|CDR Thomas B. Davilli
|CDR William E. Shannon
|CDR John F. Vuolo
|CDR John A. Brown
|CDR Vito W. Jimenez
|CDR Dale Howell
|CDR Robert F. Riehl
— provided by Mr. Robert M. Cieri and Mr. Andy J. West