Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight (HSC-8) "Eightballers" is a United States Navy helicopter squadron based at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California. HSC-8 is attached to Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) and deploys aboard USS Nimitz (CVN-68). HSC-8 was redesignated from HS-8 on 28 September 2007.
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight (HSC-8), "America's Premier Combat Helicopter Squadron", provides vertical lift Search and Rescue, Logistics, Anti-Surface Warfare, Special Operations Forces Support, and Combat Search and Rescue capabilities for Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-11) in support of the USS Nimitz(CVN-68) and Carrier Strike Group 11 (CSG-11) operations.
HSC-8 traces its lineage to the second of two squadrons which bore the designation Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron EIGHT (HS-8). That Squadron which has become HSC-8 was established on November 1, 1969.
The first squadron designated HS-8 was established at Naval Auxiliary Air Station Ream Field, Imperial Beach, California on June 1, 1956. The first helicopters employed by the command were the HSS-1N Seabat. In September 1962 in compliance with the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system the HSS-1N was redesignated the SH-34J Seabat. At the end of 1962 the squadron transitioned to the SH-3A Sea King. The squadron performed eight Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployments between 1957 and 1968 including combat tours in Vietnam. Notable achievements included a 1,200 mile medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) made by helicopter, the longest in history. Other squadron achievements included participation in the Apollo VI space vehicle/crew recovery and performing more than 30 Combat Search and Rescue missions in North Vietnam. The squadron was disestablished in December 1968.
A year later on November 1, 1969, a new squadron was established and designated HS-8. Although the two squadrons are separate squadrons and the lineage of the first does not transfer to the second, the newly established squadron adopted the former squadron's name, insignia and traditions in its honor. With the new squadron came new helicopters, namely the SH-3D Sea King. Notable achievements during the next decade included site surveys for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, a study of blue whale migration patterns, supporting President Nixon during his working vacation aboard USS New Orleans and deploying in response to the Iranian hostage crisis. In 1975 the squadron transitioned to the SH-3H Sea King. In 1976 the American Bicentennial Committee honored HS-8 as a bicentennial command. The squadron's 19th deployment came in response to Desert Shield/Desert Storm in December 1990. This deployment was the last for HS-8 in the SH-3.
On April 2, 1993 HS-8 completed transition from the SH-3H into the new SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawk helicopters. The squadron's 20th WESTPAC deployment was from February to August 1994. HS-8 was a member of Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW-14) aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). The 21st WESTPAC was concluded in May 1996 followed in September 1997 by an "Around the World Cruise" with the USS Nimitz. Deployments after this were routine until September 11, 2001.
From November 2001 to May 2002 HS-8 and Carrier Air Wing Nine deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom. There they played a vital role in the campaign that ended with the removal of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
HS-8 made another WESTPAC deployment from January to September 2003 followed by their second "Around the World Cruise" from January to August 2005 aboard the USS Carl Vinson. The squadron earned the Carrier Air Wing Nine Golden Wrench Award for superior maintenance and mission completion percentages as well as the Battle E Device (Navy Battle Efficiency Award) for the 2005 World Cruise.
In early December 2005 an HS-8 helicopter and aircrew participated in filming a portion of the television show '24' where the helicopter was transporting the fictitious Russian president and his wife to the American presidents ranch.
On September 28, 2007, at Naval Air Station North Island, Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Eight was redesignated as Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight and received its first MH-60S Seahawk with the armed helo kit. In January 2009, HSC-8 went on its first deployment with the MH-60S where it was joined by HSM-71 flying the MH-60R Seahawk aboard the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74). During this deployment, HSC-8 assisted in the filming of Transformers 2.
Starting the first of two back-to-back eight-month deployment cycles, HSC-8 embarked on a WESTPAC deployment in July 2011. During deployment, the Eightballers accomplished the first-ever MH-60S Cruiser/Destroyer (CRUDES) detachment when they embarked in USS Mobile Bay (CG-53). HSC-8 also assisted in counter piracy operations, successfully aiding in the capture of fifteen suspected pirates.
After a short turn around, HSC-8 departed on an eight-month surge deployment to the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility in September 2012. HSC-8 deployed as part of Carrier Air Wing NINE (CVW-9) aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, maritime security operations, and theater security exercises. One of the highlights of the deployment was the rescue of a drowning man in the Straits of Malacca- the Eightballer’s first overwater rescue in several years. HSC-8 also participated in Operation Beacon Flash, a joint security exercise with the Royal Omani Air Force.Jun 1956 - Jul 1956 LCDR R.G. West
Jul 1956 - Jan 1958 CDR Louis F. Knight
Jan 1958 - Jan 1959 CDR Alton W. Payne
Jan 1959 - Feb 1960 CDR Alvin F. Emig
Feb 1960 - Feb 1961 CDR William C. Butler
Feb 1961 - Apr 1962 CDR William L. Aydelott
Apr 1962 - Mar 1963 CDR Carl H. Klindworth
Mar 1963 - Mar 1964 CDR Jack R. Evans
Mar 1964 - Mar 1965 CDR Bryan R. Eagan
Mar 1965 - Dec 1965 CDR George E. Smith
Dec 1965 - Oct 1966 CDR Nathan F. Mcdonald
Oct 1966 - Jul 1967 CDR David L. Hughes
Jul 1967 - Jul 1968 CDR Emiddio Massa
Jul 1968 - Dec 1968 CDR Robert R. Zastrow
HS-8 disestablished on 31 December 1968
Second squadron designated HS-8 established on 1 November 1969Nov 1969 – Oct 1970 CDR Frank M. Suzan
Oct 1970 – Oct 1971 CDR Thomas D. Eyres
Oct 1971 – Nov 1972 CDR Orville Wright, Jr
Nov 1972 – Oct 1973 CDR Paul E. Caine
Oct 1973 – Oct 1974 CDR Charles P. Silvia
Oct 1974 – Nov 1975 CDR Barry W. Coats
Nov 1975 – Jan 1977 CDR Dale L. Larson
Jan 1977 – May 1978 CDR Charles E. Brooks
May 1978 – Jul 1979 CDR William E. Terry
Jul 1979 – Oct 1980 CDR Robert Parkinson
Oct 1980 – Dec 1981 CDR Joseph S. Walker
Dec 1981 – Jun 1983 CDR Mack Thomas, Jr.
Jun 1983 – Sep 1984 CDR Robert A. Schottle
Sep 1984 – 1986 CDR Randall O. Abshier
1986–1988 CDR Douglas Yesensky
1988–1990 CDR William Anderson Cain
1990–1991 CDR Donald Steuer
1991–1992 CDR Al 'Booter' Haefner
1992–1993 CDR Lars Wallis
1993–1994 CDR Henry Dosker
1994–1996 CDR Terry Doyle
1996–1998 CDR Lou Cortellini
1998–2000 CDR Terry Jones
2002–2003 CDR Nosenzo
2003–2004 CDR Thom Burke
2004–2006 CDR Marc Homan
2006–2007 CDR Joey Tynch
2007–2008 CDR Lawrence Vincent
2008–2009 CDR Mike Ruth
2009–2011 CDR Eric Soderberg
2011–2012 CDR Monroe Howell
2012–2013 CDR Lawrence Meehan
2013–2014 CDR Derrick Kingsley
2014–2016 CDR William Shipp
2016 - present CDR Kelly Middleton
First squadron designated HS-8 (1 June 1956 to 31 Dec 1968)HSS-1N Seabat, (redesignated SH-34J in 1962): 1956–1962
SH-3A Sea King, 1962–1968 (squadron disestablished)
Second squadron designated HS-8/HSC-8 (1 Nov 1969 to present)SH-3D Sea King, 1969–1975
SH-3H Sea King, 1975–1992
SH-60F Seahawk, 1992–2007
SH-60H Seahawk, 1992–2007
MH-60S Seahawk, 2007-present (redesignated HSC-8 in 2007)
National Bicentennial Command
Navy Unit Commendation
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Battle E Device (Navy Battle Efficiency Award)
Captain Arnold Jay Isbell Trophy for Antisubmarine Warfare Excellence
Admiral Jimmy Thach Award for Best Carrier Antisubmarine Warfare Squadron in the Navy
Top Torpedo Award for Antisubmarine Warfare Excellence
Sikorsky Superior Maintenance Award
Navy Golden Anchor Award
Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award
2002 "for 22 years and 72,000 flight hours without a Class 'A' mishap."
Naval Air Forces Medical Readiness Award
USS Princeton (CVS-37) 1958–1968
USS Hornet (CVS-12) 1958–1968
USS Bennington (CVS-20) 1960–1974
USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14)
USS New Orleans (LPH-11) 1970
USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63)
USS Ranger (CV-61) 1983–1984
USS Constellation (CV-64) 1984–1990
USS Independence (CV-62) 1990–1993
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) 1995–2000
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) 1993–1994, 2003–2005
USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) 2000–2003, 2006–2015
USS Mobile Bay (CG-53) 2011–2012
USNS Bridge (T-AOE-10) 2012–2013