When visitors come to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, one of the first things many of them notice is the roar of jet aircraft passing over the front gate on their way to or from runway number 5/23. On a sign outside the gate, are the words, “Pardon our noise, it’s the sound of freedom.” For more than 70 years, those sounds of freedom have echoed through local skies, from the deep, guttural growl of amphibious biplanes and single-wing attack aircraft during World War II, to the piercing whine of today’s sleek and sophisticated jets. Those sounds are music to the ears of the Marines who fight on the ground, for there is nothing Marines like better than to have Marine artillery behind them, Marine intelligence in front of them and Marine aircraft overhead.
MCAS CHERRY POINT HISTORY
It is said that the name “Cherry Point” comes from a post office established in the area for the Blades Lumber people some years ago. The post office was closed in 1935. The original “Point” was on the south side of the Neuse River east of Hancock Creek, and the word “Cherry” came from cherry trees that at one time grew on the point.
Congress authorized Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point on July 9, 1941, with an initial appropriation of $14,990,000 for construction and clearing of an 8,000-acre tract of swamps, farms and timberland.
Cherry Point is located midway between New Bern and Morehead City, N.C. The main gate is off North Carolina Highway 101, which connects with U.S. Highway 70 adjacent to the city of Havelock. On a large-scale map, Cherry Point is about 90 miles west-southwest of Cape Hatteras on the Neuse River in Craven County.
Marine Transport Squadron 1 is home to three HH-46E Sea Knight helicopters, traditionally known as “Pedro.” The primary mission of these specially equipped Sea Knights is to provide heliborne search and rescue support for tactical aircraft flying here. The secondary mission of the helicopter and its crew is to provide SAR support for the 5th Coast Guard District and the U.S. Air Force.
Cherry Point is home to the Marine Corps’ only KC-130J squadron on the East Coast.
The Hercules is a real workhorse when it comes to airlift capability. The large, four-engine aircraft — with its increase in speed, range, improved air-to-air refueling system, night systems and survivability enhancements — provides the Marine air-ground task force commander with a state-of-the-art, multi-mission, tactical aerial refueler/transport well into the 21st century.
The CH-53E is commonly referred to as the workhorse of the wing due to its enormous lift capability. It has a payload of 30,000 lbs., can carry 55 passengers at speeds up to 173 mph. With a range of 621 miles, the Sea Stallion is just as comfortable operating from the deck of a ship at sea as it is operating from primary airfields and forward operating bases. If you need to recover downed aircraft or personnel, this heavy hauler is the machine you send to do the job. It can easily deliver or drop troops, equipment and supplies into places that ground vehicles find too difficult to tackle.
The Marine Corps’ transition from the UH-1N Huey to the UH-1Y Venom marked a stark improvement for an aircraft that already provided the best blend of all six Marine aviation functions. A case study in Offensive Air Support, Assault Support, Command and Control, and Aerial Reconnaissance, the Marine utility helicopter of choice is truly a microcosm of Marine Aviation. With low-flying AH-1W Cobras aimed in on the hostile street ahead and hovering UH-1Ys covering adjacent rooftops, combat Marines can engage under the watchful eye of close air support.
No aircraft defines the role of close air support better than the Marine AH-1 Cobra. Whether it’s providing cover for advancing ground forces or escorting assault support helicopters en route to a landing zone, the AH-1 is called on when Marines need firepower from the air.
The 2d Marine Aircraft Wing was commissioned on July 19, 1941, at Naval Air Station San Diego, Calif. By November of that year, it had two squadrons at San Diego and four in Hawaii. Many of these planes were destroyed or damaged during the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Located in the Main Exchange complex, the commissary provides quality products to authorized patrons at cost, helping customers save more than 30 percent on their total grocery bill. Available services include bakery, deli, sushi, fresh lobster, and plants. The deli makes wonderful sandwiches that can be made to order. Semi-annual truckload sales are held in May and September that historically have provided savings of 50 percent or more. Hours of operation: Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Monday, closed; Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Early Bird customers are welcome Tuesday through Sunday, 8 to 10 a.m., for “self checkout” only.
Cherry Point is served by the Craven County School System, and children attend the schools in the district assigned. All Havelock schools are accredited by the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction and the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. Students are assigned to schools as per street address. Please call 514-6300 to confirm your child’s assigned school. School bus service is provided by all public schools.
Four hundred years ago, the New World was first explored by spirited men and women in search of adventure on the outer banks of North Carolina. In the tradition of the early explorers, there are new worlds to discover and endless adventures waiting for you on the inner and outer banks of North Carolina.
THE HEART OF COASTAL CAROLINA
The Marine Corps community at Havelock-Cherry Point, N.C., is truly unique in all the Corps. The official city seal and logo of the Greater Havelock Chamber of Commerce both feature the venerable Harrier, and every wholesome activity from youth sports to church fellowship is a model of civilian-military teamwork here. Newcomers, young Marines and Sailors for whom Cherry Point is a first duty station may be amazed at the hometown quality of life in the area. Opportunities for service and community involvement abound, and whether it’s scouting, coaching in a kid’s soccer league or getting involved with clubs like Civitan or Rotary, men and women in uniform have always been welcomed with open arms.