MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERY POINT, N.C. (March 7, 2013) -- Cherry Point hosted a Leadership Carteret program tour Feb. 27, which examined air station work spaces where many Carteret County residents are employed.
The 10-week program is sponsored by the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce and teaches community leaders about the economic and social intricacies affecting life in the county. Many of its participants are business owners, professionals and influential community members who make decisions based on the business climate of Carteret County.
“We provide jobs and support the local community with all sorts of volunteering,” said Sgt. Maj. Larry J. Harrington, Marine Transport Squadron 1 sergeant major. “As a base, we provide so much for the local community in schools and relationships with the chamber of commerce. I think it’s a great opportunity for locals who normally don’t get the opportunity to see what we do to come on base and get a feel for what the Marine Corps really is.”
Fleet Readiness Center East, a large complex for high-level maintenance on all kinds of aircraft the Navy and Marine Corps flies, employs about 1,300 Carteret County residents, making it the largest single employer of county residents. Cherry Point also employs Carteret civilians at various other facilities. Between hundreds of local civilian employees and thousands of Marines and dependents, Cherry Point has a large economic impact on Eastern North Carolina.
“The military families who live here are part of our community and do business with our community,” said Diane Warrender, programming manager for the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce. “We have more than 900 businesses that are part of the chamber, and we always want to create a friendly atmosphere and a partnership with the military and their personnel to make them feel very welcome and a part of our community.”
“A lot of us have relatives who work or have worked here,” said Brandon Staton, a tour participant. “My father worked at FRC East for about 10 or 12 years. It’s kind of cool for me, especially to see what he did for such a long time. It’s something I really haven’t had a chance to get a first-hand look at.”
Staton also said many already read and talk about the impact Cherry Point has on the community, but it’s still very helpful to meet the people who help the country and the local community.
While touring the station, the leadership program also looked at Marine assets that directly contribute to community safety. They toured an HH-46 search and rescue helicopter from VMR-1, saw robots used by the explosive ordnance disposal team to investigate and defuse potential hazards, and toured air traffic control facilities used to direct aircraft in the region.
“It’s good for them to know that we’re here if they need anything.” said Lance Cpl. Stephen B. D. Bargar, a crew chief for VMR-1. “We love doing search and rescue missions because of that good feeling you get when you rescue somebody and bring them back to their family.”
Harrington said the tour is a great opportunity for the Marine Corps to highlight Marines like Bargar who make the Corps the winning team it is.
“When they see the 18-year-old kid who works on an airplane and flies, they’re wowed and amazed,” said Harrington. “That just goes back to who we are. We’re the greatest fighting force that the world has ever seen, and we’ll continue to be that with the youth that we have and continue to build leaders and great warriors. This is an opportunity for them to see how we do that.”