MCAS Cherry Point, NC
East Coast Air Power
One of the busiest air stations in the east, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point in North Carolina is the headquarters of the 2nd Marine Air Wing (2nd MAW) and many of its squadrons. The 2nd MAW is the air power of the II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), and activities at Cherry Point keep units ready for support whenever and wherever they are needed.
Cherry Point is also home to Marine Transport Squadron 1 (VMR-1), best known for their search and rescue unit with the call sign "PEDRO." The unit's primary mission is to provide search and rescue (SAR) support for the 2nd MAW, but it frequently assists the Coast Guard and local authorities with emergencies closer to home.
In addition to housing these critical units, Cherry Point also has an extensive runway system that serves as an alternate emergency-landing site for space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral.
- 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.
- Construction began in November, just 17 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
- On May 20, 1942, the facility was commissioned Cunningham Field, named in honor of the Marine Corps' first aviator, LtCol Alfred A. Cunningham. The completed facility was later renamed Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, after a local post office situated among cherry trees.
- Cherry Point's primary World War II mission was to train units and individual Marines for service to the Pacific theater.
- Cherry Point's contribution to the Korean War effort was to provide a steady stream of trained aviators and air crewmen as well as maintenance and support personnel as replacements to forward deployed aviation units.
- During the Vietnam War, Cherry Point deployed three 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 Air Group 14, Marine Air Group 32 and the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing.
- Cherry Point Marines and Sailors have and are currently participating in strike missions and follow-on operations in Afghanistan and its surrounding region. Harrier, Prowler and KC-130 squadrons continue to answer the call for air support in the war-fighting effort.