MAG-26 was activated June 16, 1952, and assigned to MCAS New River in July 1954. The Marines and Sailors of MAG-26 have had a challenging and diverse mission throughout the past 50 years, taking part in contingency and training operations around the globe. Helicopter and tiltrotor squadrons of the group have participated in operations including: Operation Provide Promise in the Adriatic Sea; Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq and Turkey; Operation Victor Squared in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Operation Deny Flight in the Balkans; Operation Continue Hope in Somalia; Operation Silver Wake in Albania; Operation Allied Force in Kosovo; and Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The beginning of 1995 was met with many firsts for MAG-26. In conjunction with USS O’Bannon (DD-987), HMH-461 was the first fleet squadron to perform a hover in-flight refueling mission while hovering over a naval vessel. HML/A-167 was also the first squadron to use the Night Targeting System on the AH-1W Super Cobra. More recently, MAG-26 provided the first Osprey squadrons to Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Jan. 28, 2009, MAG-26 turned over with Marine Aircraft Group 16 and assumed primary command of aviation support in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province. This yearlong deployment for the MAG in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom culminated in November when the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing headquarters turned over its mission as the aviation combat element of Multi-National Forces West to MAG-26 (Rein). The final elements of MAG-26 returned from successful operations in Iraq in February 2010. Their success across the world demonstrates the versatility and focus on mission that is the hallmark of MAG-26. During 2010, VMM-162 (Rein) returned from operations with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit while the first MV-22 squadron, VMM-261, returned from Afghanistan. In the past year, MAG-26 was restructured to include all of the Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor squadrons.