Marine Transport Squadron 1's roots begin with the establishment of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, in eastern North Carolina on July 16, 1941, when the United States Congress approved the purchase of a tract of land in the vicinity of the Neuse River in Craven County, North Carolina. On March 18, 1942, Colonel T. J. Cushman initiated flight operations at Cherry Point when he made the first aircraft landing at Cunningham Field. This was the real beginning of MCAS Cherry Point's flight operations and a very important moment in the development of the squadron.
During January 1943, Aircraft Engineering Squadron (AES-46) was commissioned. 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, ordnance related activities, and care of the base magazine areas. Other support divisions manned by AES-46 Marines included airfield operations; crash, fire and recovery; and the station photo lab.
On October 1, 1951, the various responsibilities of AES-46 were redistributed between Station Operations Squadron (SOS-2) and Station Airfield Engineering Squadron (SAES-2). SOS-2 assumed the responsibilities for station operations, communications, crash crew, and photo lab; while SAES-2 Marines manned the engineering, rifle range and ordnance sections. On February 24, 1954, Station Operations and Engineering Squadron (SOES) was activated and assumed most of the special and technical activities originally performed by AES-46. During 1979, SOES relinquished many of its previously assigned duties to become responsible primarily for the operation and maintenance of its assigned aircraft. In February 1990, the squadron become the first Marine aviation unit to fly to the former Soviet Union when the squadron transported the U.S. Marine Corps Band to Moscow.
SOES was redesignated as Marine Transport Squadron 1 (VMR-1) in 1997, and remained a unique Marine Corps asset that operated two C-9B Skytrains and two UC-35D Cessna Encores which were used for worldwide transport missions, and three HH-46D Seaknight helicopters which provided search and rescue to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
September 25, 2015, marked the end of an era in Marine Corps aviation when VMR-1's search and rescue mission came to a close and the squadron conducted its final SAR mission. The squadron's HH-46E helicopters, affectionately referred to as Pedro, ended the mission as the last flying H-46 helicopters in the Department of Defense. They were turned over to the Navy on September 28, 2015. The event was a bittersweet moment for members of the squadron, the "Phrog" community, and for the communities that surround MCAS Cherry Point who for years had benefited from VMR-1's local SAR support.
These helicopters had been a common sight along the coastal region of North Carolina where they supplemented the U. S. Coast Guard's over-water SAR mission for since 1959. Although their primary mission was to provide SAR support to 2nd MAW, the squadron also distinguished itself through its support to regional authorities by finding lost people, and by providing emergency medical transport. Additional missions included daily safety sweeps of the Cherry Point bombing range complex for trespassers, firefighting support to the ranges, and helicopter support for fleet training.
Over the final decade of providing SAR support in the region, Pedro crews averaged more than 50 lifesaving missions per year. In the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in September 1999, Pedro rescued 399 people directly threatened by the floods that followed and provided logistical support with emergency delivery of water and food supplies to volunteer workers and isolated communities throughout Eastern North Carolina.
Today, the squadron continues to operate its C-9B and UC-35 aircraft in a myriad of missions dealing with cargo and troop movement, in addition to the transportation of military and civilian dignitaries.
The squadron has received the following awards over the course of its service:
Navy Unit Commendation (Marine Transport Squadron 1 Det)
Feb 2007-Feb 2008 (in support of II MEF during Operation Enduring Freedom)
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Jan 1984-Jun 1985
July 1985-Dec 1987
Aug 1990-Jun 1991 (in direct support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm)
Jan 1999-Dec 1999 (with a CMC Certificate of Commendation)
Nov 2008-May 2010
Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation
Aug 1990-Jun 1991
Aug 1994-Aug 1997
Apr 2001-Dec 2004
Jan 2005-Jul 2008
Marine Corps Commandant's Aviation Efficiency Trophy in 1994.
CNO Aviation Safety Award in 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Joint Operational Support Airlift Center (JOSAC) Unit of the Year (Large Jet Category) in the first quarters of 2000 and 2002.
Most recently, in Nov 2015, the squadron reached a massive number of 250,000 Class A mishap-free flight hours.