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    Historic Cherry Point transport squadron to transfer to western skies

    Historic Cherry Point transport squadron to transfer to western skies

    Photo By Capt. Aaron Moshier | Marines, sailors and civilian members of Marine Transport Squadron 1 gather for a unit...... read more read more



    Story by Mike Barton 

    Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Dec. 11, 2017) – Cherry Point’s first Marine Corps flying squadron will take the final steps to transfer to a new home later this month when the squadron flag is packed and carried to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas.

    Marine Transport Squadron 1, born and raised here in eastern North Carolina, is scheduled to officially transfer to the Texas base on December 31. VMR-1 will continue to support Department of Defense worldwide airlift operations as it transitions to more modern aircraft under the current Marine Corps aviation plan. The Roadrunners will operate under the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

    The move will have minimal impact on MCAS Cherry Point as only a small contingent of remaining military and contract personnel will transfer to the new location. VMR-1 discontinued flight operations with its two C-9B transport aircraft earlier this year, as part of the Marine Corps’ sundown plan for those aircraft. The squadron’s two remaining UC-35D aircraft, which are small passenger jets, were reassigned to the air station’s Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron for maintenance and flight operations on October 1. They will remain at Cherry Point.

    VMR-1 is the lone flying squadron at Cherry Point that is not part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, which is the Marine Corps’ East Coast combat aviation command. The squadron has performed a wide variety of missions over its time here, ranging from base operations, to worldwide transportation of personnel and equipment, to search and rescue operations with the orange and gray helicopters commonly known as “Pedro.”

    The new laydown for VMR-1 operations will result in several benefits for the squadron and the Marine Corps, including a more centralized location for its airlift mission, and a move to a newer, larger, more capable aircraft – the Boeing C-40A.

    The small contingent of Marines who will move with the squadron colors will carry a large legacy on their shoulders with this move. The squadron can trace its roots back to January 1943, when it was originally commissioned here as Aircraft Engineering Squadron 46 (AES-46). With more than 1,000 Marines, AES-46 was the largest aviation squadron in the Marine Corps and performed a myriad of airfield support operations. Among its assigned missions, AES-46 was responsible for air traffic control, services to visiting aircraft, station communications, and ordnance related activities, including care of the base ordnance magazine areas. Other support divisions manned by AES-46 Marines included airfield operations; crash, fire and recovery; and the air station photo lab.

    Between then and now, the squadron received several name changes as it adjusted its mission for an evolving Marine Corps. Over time, it split into Station Operations Squadron 2 (SOS-2) and Station Airfield Engineering Squadron (SAES-2). Later, it reformed as Station Operations and Engineering Squadron (SOES) until it became VMR-1 in 1997. VMR-1 remained a unique Marine Corps asset that eventually operated C-9B Skytrain II aircraft, UC-35D Cessna Encores, and HH-46D Sea Knight search and rescue helicopters. Those helicopters were a common sight over the coastal region until they were decommissioned in September 2015 when the Marine Corps divested itself of the search and rescue mission.

    Over the past decade, VMR-1 has achieved many accomplishments and awards to its credit. In February 1990, VMR-1 became the first Marine aviation unit to fly to the former Soviet Union when the squadron transported the U.S. Marine Band to Moscow. From August 1990 through 1991, the squadron flew nearly 2,000 hours moving troops and cargo in and out of the Middle East in direct support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The squadron was awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with Operational Distinguishing Device in 1992, 1998 and 2001, and received the Marine Corps Commandant's Aviation Efficiency Trophy in 1994. The squadron has been the recipient of the CNO Aviation Safety Award an incredible 15 times between 1990 and 2006. After Hurricane Floyd washed through eastern North Carolina in September 1999, VMR-1 helicopter crews rescued 399 people directly threatened by flood, and provided logistical support with emergency delivery of water and food supplies to volunteer workers and isolated communities throughout the region. It was this kind of dedication that earned VMR-1 a Commandant of the Marine Corps Certificate of Commendation in 2000 with an associated Meritorious Unit Commendation. Additionally, the squadron was recognized by the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center as the Unit of the Year (Large Jet Category) in the first quarters of 2000 and 2002. Earlier this year, the squadron and associated detachments were listed to receive a Presidential Unit Commendation and a Meritorious Unit Commendation for recent service.

    As VMR-1 starts a new chapter in its long and illustrious life, it will be long remembered for its many notable accomplishments over the past 74 years. The daily sight of VMR-1’s Pedro helicopters winging along the coast here on missions for the Marine Corps and the community at large will stand out most significantly to the people of eastern North Carolina – but there are many others who will remember their flights with the squadron … to nearly every corner of the globe.



    Date Taken: 12.11.2017
    Date Posted: 12.12.2017 15:32
    Story ID: 258379

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