News Icon

News: Cherry Point radar, control Marines maintain safety, keep eyes on sky

Story by Pfc. Grace WaladkewicsSmall RSS IconSubscriptions Icon

Cherry Point radar, control Marines maintain safety, keep eyes on sky Lance Cpl. Grace Waladkewics

Staff Sgt. Ralph F. Pyles III, an approach controller with the Air Traffic Control tower, watches as an aircraft touches down on a Cherry Point runway Nov. 21.

CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Cherry Point’s radar room and control tower never shut down.

The air traffic controllers who oversee Cherry Point’s airspace and runway operations issue clearances and feed information to pilots and aircrew on the ground and in the air. Their mission, to prevent collision of aircraft and ensure smooth flow of traffic, is vital to Cherry Point’s mission and national security.

Cherry Point’s ATC controls over 5,000 square miles of airspace. Attention to detail, mission focus and teamwork are all imperative to the safety of Cherry Point service members and civilians in surrounding communities.

“Every day is a different scenario, nothing is ever exactly the same. There are so many things the runway can be used for so every day is something different,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Van, an ATC specialist. “Even though I am a supervisor, I am still constantly learning new things and new ways to operate.”

Marines in the tower and radar room fill several, unique roles. Each crew member has a job to do, whether it is granting access, watching the radar from the ground, directing aircraft and vehicles on the runway or feeding information to pilots. All jobs are essential to daily mission accomplishment.

The controllers aim to keep the air and ground space safe and accident free. Ensuring safe operations can be exhausting so teamwork and proficiency are key, according to Van.

“Maintaining safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said Van. “We take breaks and switch on and off like pilot and co-pilot so we don’t get burned out.”

ATC Marines cross-train constantly to learn and sharpen their proficiency in each function of the ATC. The Marines conduct simulations and exercises to test their understanding and proficiency in their assigned roles and to identify ways to improve.

“ATC works very closely with the pilots and weather,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher Chase, an ATC specialist. “Anything could happen out of the blue within minutes and it is the job of ATC to keep pilots informed and safe.”

Training and education give the ATC Marines an edge and help alleviate some of the stress of day-to-day operations, according to Chase.

“There is an extreme level of stress at times because if someone makes a mistake it affects others lives,” said Chase. “Once you become a qualified controller, completing the intense training, you must perform at the top of your game 100 percent of the time.”

Connected Media
ImagesCherry Point radar,...
Staff Sgt. Ralph F. Pyles III, an approach controller...

Web Views

Podcast Hits

Public Domain Mark
This work, Cherry Point radar, control Marines maintain safety, keep eyes on sky, by LCpl Grace Waladkewics, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:12.30.2013

Date Posted:12.30.2013 12:11


More Like This

  • Romantic melodies drifted to the dance floor as Marines and sailors from Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 and 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion danced with elderly residents of Cherry Point Bay Nursing and Rehab Center during its 10th annual Valentine’s Day dance Feb. 11.
  • The first wave of Marines with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) departed Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in the early morning Feb. 9.
  • Members of Cherry Point’s Marine Air Control Squadron 2 laced up their cleats for the annual Turkey Bowl flag football tournament Friday to build camaraderie and attempt to take the crown away from the defending champions.
  • Fifty three local high school students packed into busses headed to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Jan. 24, expecting a typical fieldtrip but generally unaware of what their day held in store.
The students, ranging from 9th to 12th grade, visited a variety of the stations units, like Aircraft Rescue Firefighting, Cherry Point Naval Health Clinic and station Combat Camera.


  • Army
  • Marines
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • National Guard




  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Flickr