Station Operations and Engineering Squadron (SOES), Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina was conceived on 16 July 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 18 March 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 SOES.
During January 1943, Aircraft Engineering Squadron (AES-46) was commissioned. With over 1000 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 station photo lab.
On 1 October 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 24 February 1954, Station Operations and Engineering Squadron was activated and assumed most of the special and technical activities originally performed by AES-46.
During 1979, SOES relinquished many of the duties previously assigned to itself and the former AES-46 to become responsible primarily for the operation and maintenance of its assigned aircraft. SOES was redesignated as Marine Transport Squadron One (VMR-1) in 1997, and remains a unique Marine Corps asset that operates two C-9B Skytrains, two UC-35D Cessna Encores, and three HH-46D Seaknight helicopters. The squadron operates 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. Affectionately referred to operationally as Pedro, the HH-46D is primarily used for Search and Rescue (SAR) missions by MCAS Cherry Point and the U.S. Coast Guard when extended searches in eastern North Carolina are required. This helicopter will be replaced in late 2007 by an updated HH-46E version that incorporates enhanced capabilities and performance characteristics.
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 Corps Band to Moscow. From August 1990 through 1991, the squadron flew nearly 2000 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 recognition in 1994 with the award of the Marine Corps Commandant's Aviation Efficiency Trophy. The squadron has been the recipient of the CNO Aviation Safety Award in 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. After 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. VMR-1 was the proud recipient of a CMC Certificate of Commendation in 2000 with an associated Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC). The squadron was recognized by the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center (JOSAC) as the Unit of the Year (Large Jet Category) in the first quarters of 2000 and 2002.
UNIT HONORS: Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer with four bronze stars; Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer with operational device; and the National Defense Service Streamer with two bronze stars.