MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Feb. 29, 2012) --
Watching two Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Marines raise the flag during morning colors aboard the air station Feb. 29, 31 members of Leadership Carteret held their hands over their heart as their eyes followed the flag gliding up the flag pole.
The leadership group, organized by Carteret County Chamber of Commerce, tours the air station each year to see and gain insight into what Cherry Point Marines and Sailors do.
When colors concluded, Col. Philip J. Zimmerman, commanding officer of the air station, greeted the group near the flag pole in front of the base headquarters building, their first stop of the day.
“Welcome to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point,” he said. “Hopefully as you experience different sites, you will gain more understanding of what it is that we do here.”
Leadership Carteret exists to help local business executives, small business owners and their employees gain leadership qualities they can put to use in their community. Many of the members of the program aspire to hold positions in local groups and organizations.
The tour is done annually to keep the community caught up with what’s happening at the air station, said Vanessa W. Lawrence, community plans and liaison specialist for the air station.
Fostering good relations between MCAS Cherry Point and Carteret County can thus create a positive economic impact, Laurence added.
Before getting on their tour bus, group members took time to shake Zimmerman’s hand before heading to Fleet Readiness Center East, the largest employer of Carteret County residents, said Lawrence.
At the facility, the tour group walked through the plant and viewed various aspects of operation such as safety procedures, equipment handling and how aircraft get repaired.
After learning about aircraft and what processes need to be taken to repair them, they were off to visit the HH-46D SeaKnight helicopters known as “Pedro” at Marine Transport Squadron 1 on the flight line.
“It is vital for the group to see Pedro because most of the search and rescue missions take place in and around Carteret County,” said Lawrence.
While on the flight line, there were also demonstations done by Marines from Explosive Ordinance Disposal. They showed how they handle bomb threats using their bomb diffusing robots.
Next, the group headed across the flight line to the air traffic control tower to observe how the Marines communicate with aircraft. While there, they had a chance to interact with the air traffic control Marines in the radar room and the weather room.
“It was very neat to see how they predict forecasts in the weather room,” said Sam S. Rollings, owner of a small business in Beaufort, N.C. “I had no idea that they could do half of the things they do.”
After leaving the tower, the group had lunch at the mess hall.
Lunch was great, said Desiree M. Ericksen, an information technology technician with Sound Bank in Morehead City, N.C. “It was nice to eat at the chow hall with the Marines. The food was really good, I could even smell the aromas while standing outside.”
The group’s next stop on their tour guided them to 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion’s indoor weapons simulator, where the participants were able to fire practice stinger missile launchers.
Firing the stinger missile launcher was a once in a lifetime opportunity, said Sharon Tetterton, an employee at an apartment complex in Newport, N.C. “I had a great experience here today. I do not have anything negative to say about any aspect.”
The group also got a close-up look at Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2’s aircraft and the working dogs at the Provost Marshals Office.
“Every part of the tour really had a specific link to this group,” said Lawrence. “This was one of the most personable and outgoing tour groups. They asked a lot of questions. That really showed their level of engagement and awareness of the air station.”