The U.S. Navy's first two helicopter squadrons, Helicopter Utility Squadrons (HU) 1 and HU-2, both known as the "Fleet Angels," were formed on April 1, 1948, from the decommissioned Helicopter Development Squadron (VX) 3 in Lakehurst, New Jersey.
Seventeen years later, in July 1965, HU-2 was re-designated Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 2. In October 1973, HU-2 moved to Jacksonville, Florida. The squadron distinguished itself with many firsts: the medical evacuation helicopter, the first blimp rescue, the first all-weather day/night detachment, and the first full autorotation to a flight deck at night. Despite an astonishing 2,318 rescues, the "Fleet Angels" were disestablished on Sept. 30, 1977 due to budget restraints after nearly 30 years of service.
On April 1, 1987, the "Circuit Riders" of HC-2 were established at Naval Station Norfolk from detachments of HM-12, HC-6, and HS-1 in order to unify the combat support elements of these three dissimilar U.S. Atlantic Fleet squadrons. After its reestablishment, HC-2 participated in numerous fleet exercises, building an impressive reputation based on mission accomplishment and safety. To honor the oldest helicopter squadron in the Navy, they reclaimed the nickname "Fleet Angels."
The "Fleet Angels" of HC-2 flew the UH-3H Sea King and the executive transport version of the Sea King, UH-3H(ET). HC-2 maintained two continuously deployed H-3 detachments overseas, in addition to numerous short detachments in support of Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet and Commander, Strike Force Atlantic.
During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, the diverse abilities of both the personnel and aircraft of the "Fleet Angels" were put to the test. The "Fleet Angels" distinguished themselves in the Persian Gulf by successfully participating in numerous search and rescue missions, the strategic movement of prisoners of war, medical evacuations, mine hunts, and many other equally challenging missions.
In September 1999, the "Fleet Angels" aided in the rescue of over 250 people from the Greenville, North Carolina, region. The small community of Taraboro was devastated by the floods of Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd, which left thousands of people stranded. For the role they played in these efforts, two "Fleet Angels" were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the highest non-combat decoration for heroism.
The high visibility of HC-2's operations brought the squadron attention on numerous occasions, and resulted in the "Fleet Angels" receiving both the coveted Battle Efficiency and Meritorious Unit Commendation awards in their first full year of existence, in addition to later receiving the CNO's Annual Aviation Safety Award.
n January 2006, HC-2 became HSC-2. Along with its new name, the "Fleet Angels" transitioned from flying the H-3 Sea King to the MH-60S Knighthawk, and the squadron was redesignated as the East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron for the MH-60S.