Marine Task Unit 79.3.5, code named SHUFLY was the first Marine Task Unit to provide air support during the Vietnam War beginning in 1962. The tasking represented the first large unit commitment of a Marine unit to Vietnam during the anti-communist struggle in Southeast Asia.
The mission was to provide assault support, offensive air support and air reconnaissance, with primary objective being troop lift and resupply to United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (USMACV) and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces engaged in combat operations. The challenges experienced while in Soc Trang established tactics and procedures still used by Marine helicopter units today.
HMM-362 (Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron) and Marine Air Base Squadron 16, Sub Unit 2 were the first units to deploy in Operation SHUFLY. New squadrons rotated in approximately every four months until 1965 when the United States' involvement in Vietnam drastically increased. Each squadron was deployed on a four-month rotation with four months in Okinawa, Japan, four months aboard ship and four months in Vietnam. The SHUFLY rotation included:
- MABS-16, Sub Unit 2
As a direct result of SHUFLY, the Marine Corps gained valuable experience and knowledge in the tactics of helicopter troop lifts that would prove beneficial in later combat operations involving American troops.