MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Marines, Sailors and civilians who live and work on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point experienced another eventful year in 2010. The challenges faced by the air station and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing were met head-on as the wing deployed elements to Operation Enduring Freedom while also activating 2nd MAW (Forward) for deployment to Afghanistan in early 2011.
Aboard MCAS Cherry Point
Cherry Point personnel must juggle many responsibilities to provide adequate support for the 2nd MAW and other tenant organizations here. Like a small city, the air station’s support includes everything from basic utilities, real estate and buildings to full-scale fire and police departments. But unlike other cities, Cherry Point must also provide training venues for its tenant war fighters, including aircraft simulators, local bombing ranges and an auxiliary landing field that give 2nd MAW aircrews realistic training opportunities to prepare them for combat service abroad.
It would be impossible to accurately capture all of the moving parts that make Cherry Point operate – but it takes approximately 2,300 service members and civilians to accomplish this support for more than 13,000 war fighters and other tenants of the air station. They accomplished their mission while juggling emerging priorities with shrinking budgets, all while keeping an eye on the future of Cherry Point and its tenants.
Major construction projects aboard the air station included the completion of a new officers/staff noncommissioned officers club at the site of the original officers club, which was razed in 2006. Even more significantly, construction began on the new air station and wing headquarters, which was destroyed by fire in late 2007.
The air station’s environmental team was busy managing multiple environmental studies required for everything from use of Cherry Point bombing ranges to the cleanup of old bombing ranges to the basing of the Marine Corps newest fighter aircraft, the F-35B Lightning II.
The 2010 Cherry Point Air Show, featuring a wide array of military and civilian aviation performances and displays, captured the Blue Angels Air Show of the Year award – the first for a military installation – out of 35 air shows in which the Blue Angels performed during 2010.
The list goes on, but in short, the air station utilized more than $250 million in budget and other appropriations funds to support air operations and operate its wide array of other support functions during FY-2010.
As the year neared its end, it was marked by the assumption of command by a new commanding officer, Col. Philip J. Zimmerman, who immediately fixed his gaze on the future of Cherry Point.
Cherry Point is home to the headquarters and several major elements of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, including Marine Aircraft Group 14, Marine Wing Support Group 27 and Marine Air Control Group 28.
In 2010, the wing continued its tradition of providing excellent support to the nation by training for and conducting air combat functions in various environments around the world.
In March, the wing returned from another deployment to Iraq, where it conducted thousands of air operations, including the successful first combat deployment of the Marine Corps’ new tiltrotor aircraft, the MV-22B Osprey.
No sooner had the wing returned from Iraq in March, that it began preparing for its next deployment forward slated for early 2011. Not all 2nd MAW units would wait for the 2011 evolution. Some Cherry Point-based wing units or elements, such as Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14, had already made their presence known in Afghanistan. Others, such as Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, Marine Attack Squadron 231 and 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, would join the fight during the course of 2010. Individual Marines would also go forward to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom as augments to other units.
During 2010, 2nd MAW Marines found themselves in other hotspots, such as the Horn of Africa and aboard ship for various Marine expeditionary unit deployments. Elements of Marine Attack Squadron 223 joined the 24th MEU during its float, and later, 2nd MAW helicopters and Hercules aircraft assisted the 22nd MEU during its aide mission to storm-ravaged Haiti. And Marines from Marine Air Control Squadron 2 and other wing Marines traveled aboard the USS Iwo Jima to South and Central America and the Caribbean for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Continuing Promise.
Meanwhile, wing units back home kept up a heavy pace of training, here and points west, during exercises like Exercise Capella Strike aboard her Majesty’s ship the Ark Royal with British sailors, Enhanced Mojave Viper at Twentynine Palms, Calif., and the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course in Yuma, Ariz. And VMAQ-3, ever busy, traveled to Nellis AFB, Nev., for specialized EA-6B Prowler training.
With much of that training under its belt, 2nd MAW (Fwd.) activated on Nov. 23 for its first wing-sized deployment to Afghanistan in support of OEF. No one doubts that it will be up to the task. When Maj. Gen. Jon M. Davis took command of 2nd MAW in July, he said, “It’s going to be a fantastic (air combat element). It’s going to be adaptable, agile and innovative. It’s going to close with and destroy the enemy or provide us with the mobility we need to move our Marines around the battlefield and keep the enemy back on their heels.”