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Opposite: Lt Gen Keith B. McCutcheon

Right: Lieutenant General McCutcheon (center) exits the cockpit of a UH-1E for a 1970 visit to the 7th Marines during his tour in Vietnam as the Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Amphibious Force (MAF). McCutcheon frequently piloted his own helicopters on trips like this. Corporal Thomas Norman, the crew chief, is shown to the right holding McCutcheon's flak jacket. Colonel Edmund Derning (left), the commander of the 7th Marines, is shown greeting McCutheon. Photos: Official Marine Corps Photograph

Quantico, VA (General Keith Barr McCutcheon Official Marine Corps Biography, n.d.). Following several years at the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, DC and the successful completion of the Armed Forces Staff College in 1950, McCutcheon returned to Quantico to take command of HMX-1, the Marine Corps’s first helicopter squadron.

McCutcheon had been involved with helicopter development while assigned as an instructor in Quantico, but his real impact on the Marine Corps’s helicopter program began with his assignment to HMX-1. Although he was not the first com- manding officer of HMX-1, he was actually the third; it was still the only helicopter squadron in the Marine Corps when he arrived. Thanks to the work of his predecessors in build- ing up the squadron, by the time McCutcheon got to HMX-1 there were enough aircraft and personnel

to get to the task of developing tactics and doctrine. McCutcheon complet- ed helicopter training with the Navy’s Helicopter Utility Squadron 2 (HU- 2) at Lakehurst, NJ in August of 1950 (Stuyvesant, 1987). Over the next eighteen months HMX-1 was the cen- ter of the Marine Corps helicopter program. The unit worked to capi- talize on the helicopter’s unique capabilities and transform the battle- field with its versatility. Several notable experiments that were con- ducted by HMX-1 during this time were the firing of a three and a half inch rocket from the side of a heli- copter and dropping a bomb from an altitude of up to eight thousand feet

(Montross, 1954).

In December of 1951, Colonel McCutcheon took command of Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 161 (HMR-161) in Korea. Command of a helicopter squadron in combat gave Colonel McCutcheon the chance to further develop and refine the vertical assault tactics that were developed by HMX-1.


commanding HMR-161 McCutcheon again returned to Quantico as the Chief of the Air Section of the Marine Corps Equipment Board and followed that tour as the Commanding Officer of Marine Aircraft Group 26 (MAG-26) in New River, NC. MAG-26 was a helicopter

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