News: VMR-1 recognized for operational excellence
Story by Lance Cpl. Unique B. Roberts
CHERRY POINT, N.C. - The Marines of Marine Transport Squadron 1 earned the 2012 Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award, in addition to Search and Rescue Excellence awards including the 2012 Aviation Rescue Swimmer of the Year and the 2012 Aviation Rescue Crew of the Year.
The office of the CNO annually awards Marines, Sailors and naval installations for outstanding performance of duties while excelling as part of the Naval Aviation Safety Program.
The Roadrunners’ mission is to provide search and rescue support to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point flight crews and short to medium range rapid response for distressed residents in the local community.
The Marines in the squadron train constantly for their assigned mission. The VMR-1 Marines are grateful and excited for earning recognition as top performers across the naval services.
“An award of this magnitude shows me that the Marines in the squadron are executing the mission above and beyond what is required of them,” said Lt. Col. Brian D. Bernth, the commanding officer of VMR-1.
The squadron currently has more than 230,000 safe flight hours and aims to increase that number with each flight, according to Bernth. The squadron has also received more than 20 CNO awards in recent years.
“If each member of the squadron continues to perform in an exemplary manner and put the mission first, we will remain safe,” said Bernth. “These Marines aren’t doing it for themselves; they are doing it for everyone around them.”
VMR-1 pilots and crew fly the HH-46E Sea Knight, known as Pedro, to conduct local search and rescue. The five-member crew, consisting of two pilots, a crew chief, a rescue swimmer and a medical technician, train constantly to maintain operational efficiency and safety. Each crewmember is vital to the mission of VMR-1 and all share credit for their success, according to Maj. Paul Stout, a pilot with VMR-1 and member of the 2013 SAR Aircrew of the Year.
“Every Marine and Sailor at VMR-1 that flies in Pedro, maintains the aircraft, schedules the training, or provides administrative, logistical or technical support for the aircrew and aircraft knows that we could be involved in a lifesaving mission at any time of day or night,” said Stout.
Stout shares his success with his crew and with all members of VMR-1, he said.
“It’s an honor, but we got the award for just doing our job and responding to a call that the squadron could receive at any time. It very well could have been any other pilot or aircrew assigned to VMR-1,” said Stout.
“It’s rewarding to know that what you do on a daily basis can make a difference in the lives of our fellow military members, their families and to the local community,” said Stout.