Marine Transport Squadron-1 [VMR-1]
Marine Transport Squadron 1 (VMR-1) was originally designated Station Operations and Engineering Squadron (SOES) and was conceived on 16 July 1941, when the United States Congress approved the purchase of a tract of land in the vicinity of the Neuse River in Craven County, North Carolina. On March 18, 1942, Colonel T.J. Cushman initiated flight operations at Cunningham Field. This was the real beginning of MCAS Cherry Points flight operations and a very important moment in the development of SOES.
During January 1943, Aircraft Engineering Squadron (AES-46) was commissioned. AES-46, with over 1000 Marines, was the largest aviation squadron in the Marine Corps and performed many of the same airfield support operations SOES does today. Among its assigned missions, AES-46 was responsible for Air Traffic Control, servicing of visiting aircraft, Station Communications, ordnance related activities, and care of the base magazine areas. Other support divisions manned by AES-46 Marines included Airfield Operations; Crash, Fire, and Recovery; and Station Photo Lab.
On 1 October 1951, the responsibilities of AES-46 were distributed between Station Operations Squadron (SOS-2) and Station Engineering Squadron (SAES-2). SOS-2 assumed the responsibilities for Station Operations, Communications, Crash Crew, and Photo Lab, while SAES-2 Marines manned the Engineering Section, the Rifle Range, and the Ordnance Section. On February 24, 1954, Station Operations and Engineering Squadron was activated and assumed most of the special and technical activities originally performed by AES-46.
During 1979, SOES relinquished many of the duties assigned the old AES/SOES and became primarily responsible for the operation and maintenance of assigned aircraft. SOES remains a unique, marquee Marine squadron maintaining two C-9B Skytrains, two UC-12 Kingairs, and three HH-46D Seaknight helicopters. The squadron operates the C-9B's and the UC-12's in a myriad of missions dealing with cargo/troop movement and the transportation of civilian and military dignitaries. The HH-46D is used for Search and Rescue missions by MCAS Cherry Point and the U.S. Coast Guard when extended searches in eastern North Carolina are required.
In February 1990 the squadron transported the U.S. Marine Band to Moscow and became the first Marine Aviation unit to fly to the former Soviet Union. From August 1990 through 1991, the squadron flew nearly 2000 hours in direct support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm, moving troops and cargo in and out of the Middle East. During 1992 SOES was awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation. In 1993, SOES received the third consecutive CNO Safety Award and the National Defense Transportation Award. In 1994, SOES was awarded the Commandant's Aviation Efficiency Trophy. In Calendar Year's 1995 and 1996 SOES again earned the CNO Safety Award. Additionally, in 1997, the squadron surpassed 160,000 accident-free flight hours over a period spanning 30 years.
VMR-1 provides both continental and worldwide air transport for the Marine Corps and the Armed Services as a whole. To support this mission, VMR-1 maintains two C9 aircraft and two C12 aircraft which are used to transport personnel worldwide in support of joint military missions. The squadron also maintains three specially equipped HH-46Ds. The primary mission of these aircraft, known as PEDRO, is to provide search and rescue for downed 2d MAW aircrews. But the squadron also provides much needed search and rescue support to the Coast Guard and other local authorities. Pedro aircraft fly an average of 100 missions each year in search of boaters in distress, lost hunters, and other people in trouble.
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