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Marines to retire their workhorse helicopters

William Cole

The last of the Marine Corps’ aging Sikorsky CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters will be ceremoniously retired here Friday with one of the big choppers flying over to the Pacific Aviation Museum-Pearl Harbor to become a museum piece, officials said.

The twin-engined helicopter first flew in 1964 and became operational in 1966, according to the Navy. In the mid-1990s the Marine Corps consolidated all its remaining Sea Stallions at Kaneohe Bay.

In 2003, there were 40 of the Vietnam-era transport choppers at the Marine Corps base. Last May, there were 32. Now, there are three flying in Hawaii and about 11 remaining in Afghanistan, officials said. 

Sea Stallions from Hawaii also flew in Iraq, but the choppers’ more recent career record includes two fatal crashes in less than a year.

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