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Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

 

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

Cherry Point, North Carolina
 Welcome to MCAS Cherry Point

When visitors come to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, one of the first things many of them notice is the roar of jet aircraft passing over the front gate on their way to or from runway number 5/23. On a sign outside the gate, are the words, “Pardon our noise, it’s the sound of freedom.” For more than 75 years, those sounds of freedom have echoed through local skies, from the deep, guttural growl of amphibious biplanes and single-wing attack aircraft during World War II, to the piercing whine of today’s sleek and sophisticated jets. Those sounds are music to the ears of the Marines who fight on the ground, for there is nothing Marines like better than to have Marine artillery behind them, Marine intelligence in front of them and Marine aircraft overhead.

Located only 20 miles from some of the Atlantic’s most beautiful beaches, Cherry Point is about 90 miles west-southwest of Cape Hatteras, at the foot of the great Outer Banks. It is perhaps appropriate that the home of such a powerful aviation arsenal is just down the coast from Kitty Hawk, where winged aviation got its start.

Duty at Cherry Point is challenging. Whether you’re headed for the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing for duty with the Fleet Marine Force, or support service with the air station or one of its tenant activities, the tasks are varied and rewarding. And they’re all directed toward the same end — providing country and Corps with a combat-ready aerial striking force. This guide is designed to give you a comprehensive snapshot of Cherry Point, from information about the commands that work here, to housing and shopping information, to off-duty activities that are USMC Photo available on and off base.

 

 MCAS Cherry Point History

Historic Photo

It is said that the name “Cherry Point” comes from a Neuse River promontory once called Cherry Point to the east of Hancock Creek.  A tiny settlement of fishermen and hunters sprung up in the area in the early 19th Century under the name of Cherry Point Landing, where the name was eventually shortened when a post office opened there in 1890.  The post office was closed in 1935, but the community’s small cemetery still exists today.

Congress authorized Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point on July 9, 1941, with an initial appropriation of $14,990,000 for construction and clearing of an 8,000-acre tract of swamps, farms and timberland. 

Interestingly, early records indicate that Cherry Point’s location was selected from a “sunshine map” as one of the three areas in the United States having the greatest amount of annual sunshine – “an important factor in an air base.”  Two bad features that detracted from its desirability were, first, its exposure to hurricanes, and second, the presence of malarial mosquitoes due to the swamps.  Fortunately, sunshine won the day.

On August 18, 1941, the organization known as “Air Facilities under Development at Cherry Point, North Carolina” was established in accordance with Major General Commandant Letter 01358/AN-14-mwk, dated August 9, 1941.  The initial construction of the air station focused on clearing the site, with extensive drainage and malaria control work.

In September 1941, the designation of the organization was changed to Cunningham Field, Cherry Point, N.C., in honor of the Marine Corps’ first aviator, LtCol. Alfred A. Cunningham.  Construction began in November, just 17 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The December attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese lent urgency to the completion of the complex, located in Craven County between New Bern and Morehead City.

On December 1, 1941, the designation of Cunningham Field was changed to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.  It was commissioned as such on May 20, 1942.

Cherry Point’s primary World War II mission was to train units and individual Marines for service in the Pacific theater. The air station also served as a base for anti-submarine operations, with a U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Navy unit each being responsible for the sinking of a German U-boat just off the North Carolina coast in 1943.

Cherry Point’s contribution to the Korean War effort was to provide a steady flow of trained aviators and air crewmen as well as maintenance and support personnel as replacements to forward deployed aviation units.

During the Vietnam War, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing deployed three Cherry Point-based A-6 Intruder squadrons to the Far East and again provided a constant source of replacements for aircrews and enlisted aviation personnel.

In Operation Desert Storm, Cherry Point was a major contributor to the victory in Southwest Asia by supporting the deployment of three AV-8B Harrier squadrons, two A-6E Intruder squadrons, one KC-130 Hercules squadron, one EA-6B Prowler squadron, and headquarters detachments from Marine Aircraft Group 14, Marine Aircraft Group 32, and the 2d MAW.

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C., Cherry Point provided support to a constant stream of combat units involved in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.  From 2001 through 2014, 2d MAW units prepared for the War on Terrorism at Cherry Point’s bombing ranges and expeditionary landing fields between repeated rotations into Iraq, Afghanistan, Horn of Africa and shipboard with deployed Marine Expeditionary Units, as well as deployments to the Far East under the Unit Deployment Program.  The air station not only served as a prime location for training and maintenance of Harrier, Prowler and KC-130 combat aircraft, and training and housing the Marines who operate them and support them on the ground – it also served as the jump-off and return point for thousands of East Coast-based ground combat Marines through the air station’s Aerial Port of Embarkation.

Today, Cherry Point remains one of the best all weather jet bases in the world.  The air station and its associated support locations occupy approximately 29,000 acres.  The heart of Cherry Point is its massive four-point runway system, which is designed to provide multiple approach and departure advantages to all aviators who have the opportunity to fly here.  The air station’s runways are so long they served as an alternate emergency landing site for NASA during the years that the agency maintained a space shuttle program.  Reaching further out from the main air station area is Cherry Point’s system of ranges and auxiliary landing fields, which provide unique littoral training opportunities for 2d MAW as well as aviation and naval combatants across all U.S. and some foreign military services.  Cherry Point’s influence in the region stretches even further with its 2015 expansion of air traffic control services to cover more than 9,000 square miles of airspace for military, civil and commercial air traffic.

Cherry Point is home to Marine Transport Squadron 1, which operated the well-known HH-46E search and rescue helicopters affectionately referred to as “Pedro” until the sundown of the squadron’s search and rescue mission in September 2015.  In addition to its military search and rescue duties, Pedro also served the local community with its medical evacuation and search and rescue capabilities.  The Pedro helicopters flew their final flight on September 25, 2015, as the last flying H-46 airframes in the Department of Defense.  The squadron continues to operate the McDonnell Douglas C-9 Skytrain and the Cessna UC-35 Citation II in support of worldwide personnel transport for DOD.

More than 53,000 people make up the total Cherry Point-related population, including active duty and retired Marines, the civilian workforce, and their families. Nearly 14,000 Marines, Sailors and civilian employees earn an annual payroll of more than $1.2 billion.  These salaries, in addition to retiree benefits and local expenditures for supplies and capital improvements, come to more than $2 billion in annual economic impact to the state, adding more significance to Cherry Point’s total value to the region, to North Carolina and to the nation.

Finally, the air station owes much of its success to the warm support its service members and their families receive from the surrounding off-base communities, both in peace and in war. The people of the region have proven, time and again, that Cherry Point Marines and Sailors are fortunate to have them as neighbors. 

 

Base access for vendors, suppliers, contractors, sub-contractors and service providers

Vendors, suppliers, contractors, sub-contractors and service providers who wish access to MCAS Cherry Point only have two ways to access MCAS Cherry Point to do business.

1. RAPIDGate Access Control Program – The RAPIDGate credential is the only long-term credential accepted for base access for those who do not have DOD identification. The RAPIDGate Program supports DOD security requirements while offering a streamlined access procedure for vendors, suppliers, contractors, sub-contractors and service providers. A RAPIDGate card allows long-term credentialing up to three years with annual online recertification, unescorted access and multiple access times. Formerly issued (green) contractor badges are no longer accepted and will be confiscated, regardless of their current expiration date. This voluntary program requires installation approval for new and existing personnel who require routine access to Cherry Point, yet are not authorized to receive a DOD Common Access Card.

Enrollment for the program may be done at the RAPIDGate kiosk located at Cherry Point’s Pass and ID building at the main gate. The kiosk will provide fingerprinting and will take a photograph required for the RAPIDGate ID, but the actual RAPIDGate credential can take up to 28 days to be issued due to required background checks of applicants. You may also enroll in the RAPIDGate program at http://www.rapidgate.com/enroll (but this option does not provide the required fingerprinting or photograph). Companies can access enrollment forms by visiting: https://eform.rapidgate.com/.

If you have questions about the program, email RAPIDGate at info@rapidgate.com or (877) 727-4342. For local RAPIDGate news and information go to: http://www.rapidgate.com/facilities/cherrypoint.

2. Temporary Visitor’s Passes – Temporary passes may be issued for 30 days initially and then in four-day increments thereafter. Those not registering for RAPIDGate can anticipate long wait times at the Pass and ID office (at the Main Gate), and frequent visits to obtain temporary passes.

All visitors who do not have valid DOD credentials, such as the DOD Common Access Card (CAC), a retiree ID card, or RAPIDGate ID must stop at the Pass and ID office for clearance to access the air station.

 

 Contact Us

Commanding Officer
Postal Service Center Box 8003
Marine Corps AIr Station
Cherry Point, NC 28533-0003

 Base Information  (252) 466-2811
 Military Personnel Locator  (252) 466-2811
 Civilian Personnel Locator  (252) 466-2109
 Facilities Maintenance
 Emergency Line:
 (252) 466-4363
 (252) 466-4364
 Transient Officer Quarters
 (TOQ)
 (252) 466-5169 / 3359
 Transient Enlisted Quarters
 (TEQ)
 (252) 466-3060
 Noise Complaint Hotline  (252) 466-1092
 Command Duty Officer  (252) 466-5236

  The DSN Prefix for MCAS Cherry Point is '582' 

   Range Notification: (252) 466-0015

 

 Gate Hours


 Main Gate (Roosevelt Blvd)
 Mon - Sun  24 - 7 (Always Open)
   
 Slocum Gate (Slocum Rd)
 Mon - Fri  0600 - 0730 (Inbound Only)
 Mon - Thurs  0730 - 2200 (Inbound and Outbound)
 Fri  0730 - 0100 (Inbound and Outbound)
 Sat - Sun  0600 - 0100 (Inbound and Outbound)
   
 Cunningham Gate (Cunningham Rd)
 Mon - Fri  0600 - 0830 (Inbound Only)
 Mon - Fri  1500 - 1800 (Outbound Only)
   
 Catawba Gate (Catawba Rd)
 Mon - Fri  0630 - 0800 (School Days Only/buses Inbound Only/Any traffic

Outbound)

   
 Arthur W. Edwards Elementary School (Walk thru gate)
 Mon - Fri  0730 - 0830 (School Days Only)
 Mon - Fri  1430 - 1530 (School Days Only)

 

All other gates require advance notice for special opening.