MCAS Cherry Point
Often referred to as the "Gateway to Cherry Point,” Havelock is home to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and the 15,500 sailors, Marines and civilians that work on base. Cherry Point is known as a military and industrial hub, thanks to the Second Marine Aircraft Wing (2d MAW) and Fleet Readiness Center, which ranks as the number one single-site industrial employer east of Interstate 95.
A number of services are available to the military and their dependents, ranging from housing to recreational opportunities. An excellent MCAS Cherry Point website lists and identifies locations of services on board. Military family housing is now privatized and is available for all ranks. There are ongoing construction and renovation projects underway as part of the Public-Private Venture (PPV) initiative to enhance the quality of life for the military members and their families stationed at Cherry Point.
The military and civilian cooperative programs include online military/civilian training opportunities in such things as safe operations of all terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and motorcycles and a readily available Destructive Weather Guide, as well as the military golf course open to civilian use. The close rapport between the city and air station authorities allows mutual support of festivals, shows and family attractions. Craven County schools serve military families and vice versa, especially in the Craven-Cherry Point Child Development Center serving county developmentally challenged children with professional staff in an up-to-date facility.
Although the base offers many services for convenience and fun, the Marine Corps stresses the importance of improving one's education. The Jerry Marvel Training and Education Center provides a wide range of educational services. Offices are operated by Craven Community College, Distance Learning Center, Boston University and Park College. The center provides services such as admissions testing, independent-study course catalogs, counseling and a basic skills education program. Civilian Career and Leadership Development (CCLD) is a series of programs designed to improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of the civilian workforce of MCAS Cherry Point. Significant programs include leadership development, mentoring, academic degree completion, and certifications. The base has one of the most comprehensive libraries in the area with everything from reference materials to children's books.
Accredited by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, the Halyburton Naval Clinic Cherry Point provides the primary medical needs for the local area's active duty and retired military community. The three-story facility was dedicated in memory of Pharmacist Mate Second Class William D. Halyburton, a North Carolina native, who was killed in May 1945, while rendering aid to a wounded Marine. Patients may be referred through the clinic for definitive care to other military treatment facilities or network civilian hospitals. In addition, a modern Veterans Affairs Clinic operates on US Highway 70 between Havelock and Morehead City.
Other facilities on the air station are designed to afford military personnel a wide variety of conveniences and recreation. The newly remodeled Marine Corps Exchange offers a department store, furniture store, grocery store, flower shop, liquor store and a number of small shops. There are also dry-cleaning and laundry facilities, a child-development center, a bank, a credit union and a service center with a convenience store, and a number of restaurants.
Recreational facilities geared to Marines and their dependents include a large gymnasium, fitness center, three pools, a bowling center, a golf course, a boat ramp, a number of marinas and the base stables.
The Sound of Freedom Golf Course has been opened to the public. Recently renovated, the 18-hole course is located directly on the picturesque Neuse River with great water views, a character unique to the area and completely natural setting with no homes or condos on the course. The course features a 24-hour driving range, chipping area, practice putting green, club rentals, a snack bar and a certified PGA teaching pro on staff.
The vast expanse of today’s Cherry Point began much smaller in August, 1941 as 8,000 acres of swamp, farms and timberland. Actual construction broke ground 17 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the air station was finally commissioned May 20, 1942, as Cunningham Field, in honor of Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham, first Marine Corps aviator. In August 1942, troops arrived at the air station, and the 2d MAW officially made Cherry Point its home in April 1946.
Although stories abound on how the base took the name Cherry Point, it is believed to have been adopted from an old post office established in the area years before. The post office, used by the Blades Lumber workers, was closed in 1935. The original "Point" was just east of Hancock Creek, and "Cherry" came from the cherry trees once growing there. The airfield itself, consisting of the runways and tower, is still technically named Cunningham Field.
From 1946 until the present day, the 2d MAW has been integral in training thousands of Marines for the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. Now the Wing has elements permanently stationed at MCAS Cherry Point, MCAS New River, North Carolina, and MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. It is equipped with helicopters, fighters, and attack and refueler/transport aircraft.
Over the years, Cherry Point has grown from a small airfield to one of the Marine Corps' most important air stations. The original 8,000-acre area has been expanded continuously and now encompasses over 13,000 acres with an additional 16,000 acres of auxiliary activities including Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue along Bogue Sound in Carteret County and Mrine Corps Outlying Landing Field atlantic in 'Down East' Carteret County. Built at a cost of $14.9 million, the value of the base is now more than $7.43 billion. Approximately 9,845 Marines and sailors stationed at Cherry Point earn an annual payroll of about $678 million. Combined with the station's nearly 5,365 civilian employees and 13,000 retired military and civilian personnel living in the area, more than $1.4 billion has been pumped into the local economy from Cherry Point. These salaries, plus local expenditures for supplies and capital improvements, have had an economic impact of more than $2.18 billion on the state of North Carolina.
Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point includes more than 13,000 acres on the air station proper, with an additional 15,973 acres of auxiliary activities. Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, along Bogue Sound in Carteret County, and Marine Corps Outlying Landing Field Atlantic in "Down East" Carteret County comprise some of the 15,973 additional acres for auxiliary activities such as practice ranges and take-off and landing or missed approach practice.
The largest tenant command at Cherry Point is the Second Marine Aircraft Wing. Major commands in the wing include Marine Aircraft Group 14, Marine Wing Support Group 27 and Marine Air Control Group 28 located at Cherry Point. Other major commands within the 2d MAW include two helicopter groups at MCAS New River, N.C., and one Fighter/Attack aircraft group at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina.
Locally, MAG-14's flying squadrons include four AV-8B Harrier squadrons, among which is the Marine Corps' only Harrier training squadron. There are also four EA-6B Prowler squadrons, one KC-130 Hercules transport and refueling squadron.
MWSG-27 provides logistical support for the wing with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 at Cherry Point, and MWSS-271 at the auxiliary landing field in Bogue, N.C. MACG-28 employs some of the most advanced equipment for command of tactical air operations. The Marines who control the air war are defended by a battalion of Marines who employ the Stinger anti-aircraft missile system to control the skies as needed.
Always abuzz with new military developments and expansions, MCAS Cherry Point is a community in itself. For more information, call Station Information, (252) 466-2811, or the Joint Public Affairs Office, (252) 466-4241. MCAS Cherry Point also keeps the general public in the loop on many of its activities, both at home and abroad, through its weekly newspaper, The Windsock.