New River Marine Corps Air Station
MCAS New River is the principal USMC helicopter operating location on the East Coast, and supports aircrew training in the H-53 helicopter. It is also the evaluation and prospective beddown site for the V-22 Osprey. Helicopter airspace requirements are limited and have not been a constraint in the past; Osprey SUA requirements have not been definitively stated. MCAS New River has been a helicopter support facility since 1954. MCAS New River manages two OLFs, MCOLF Oak Grove and MCOLF Camp Davis, both uncontrolled helicopter facilities.
The Air Station New River is located 4 miles south of downtown Jacksonville on Hwy 17, South. The major commands are: Marine Corps Air Station Headquarters, Marine Aircraft Group 26 and 29, H&HS, MWSS-272. The mission of Marine Corps Air Station New River is to provide the necessary support for its tenant units; MAG-26 and 29. Both groups play a major role with their troop transport helicopter, and heavy lift capability in support of the Second Marine Aircraft Wing and Second Marine Division. H&HS is responsible for garrison activities aboard the station; MWSS-272 provides the logistical support to both MAGs.
Both MAGs currently provide direct helicopter support for Marine Forces Atlantic, in the form of troop transport, observation, heavy lift capability, command and control and light attack. But without the support from H&HS, MWSS-272, MACS-2 Det. B and the other supporting units, there would be no "team" in the adopted concept of "Team New River."
Through much diversity, the 2,600-acre air station has become the premier helicopter air station with the introduction of new helicopter weapons systems, preparation for the possible receipt of the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft, claiming the only operational MV-22 Osprey simulator, and providing constant aviation support to 22nd, 24th and 26th MEUs, and Combined Arms Exercises across the nation. MCAS New River is currently home to approximately 200 aircraft, which operate off two paved runways measuring more than 5,000 feet.
Marine Aircraft Group-26 commissioned June 16, 1952 at Cherry Point, moved to New River Air Facility in July 1954. The group is comprised of about 2,100 Marines assigned to 8 squadrons. A major reorganization occurred on May 1, 1972 when Marine Helicopter Training Group-40 was deactivated and Marine Aircraft Group-29 was born. MAG-29 is comprised of 2,100 Marines assigned to 7 squadrons. Other commands at New River include H&HS, responsible for garrison activities aboard the station; MWSS-272, which provides the logistical support to both MAGs; and MWCS-28 (Det B).
In 1941, the federal government purchased 29 parcels of land for $64,502 in Jacksonville, which is now Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River. Jacksonville's population grew 134 percent in the first 10 years after Camp Lejeune and the Air Station were established. Camp Lejeune investigated an area with an existing airfield in 1942, to host aircraft units in support of amphibious operations. Capt. Barnett Robinson of Marine Glider Group-71 concluded that the New River was suitable. The first squadron to arrive was VMB-612 in 1943, in a caretaker status under Camp Lejeune. The squadron flew the PBJ, similar to the Army's B-25 Mitchell, a light bomber aircraft. The air station was commissioned as Peterfield Point in 1944, named after a man named Mr. Peter, whose tobacco field was a large part of the government purchase. The commissioning delineated the air station from Camp Lejeune, and marked April 1944 as the birth of the air station.
Over the next few years, para-Marines, glider troops and air delivery Marines trained here in the air station's first hangar, called the King Air hangar. The hangar, which was originally built in Haiti in 1933, was transported to Parris Island, S.C., and then to Jacksonville.
At the end of World War II, the air station was closed and reverted to a caretaker status. It was reactivated as Marine Corps Air Facility Peterfield Point, Camp Lejeune, in October 1951. One year later, Peterfield Point was renamed to Marine Corps Air Field New River.
The first operational Marine Aircraft Group arrived from MCAS Cherry Point in July 1954. Marine Aircraft Group 26, a group of helicopters originally commissioned in 1952, filled the needs of the Marine Corps to maintain a force which was expeditionary and amphibious in nature.
The air station had no major changes until 1968, when it was redesignated as Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter) New River. This marked the air station's growth from a small training base to a major operational Marine airfield. The air strip was then named McCutcheon Field after BGen. Keith B. McCutcheon, a famed Marine aviator. MCAS(H) New River later dropped the helicopter designation to become simply MCAS.
A major reorganization occurred in May 1972 when Marine Helicopter Training Group-40 was deactivated and Marine Aircraft Group 29 was born. Other units at New River include Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, responsible for garrison activities aboard the station; Marine Wing Support Squadron-272, which provides the logistical support to both MAGs and the air station, and Marine Air Control Squadron-2, ATC Detachment B, to coordinate air traffic control.
New River units experienced their first combat since Vietnam in 1983, when New River-based squadrons flew combat missions in Lebanon during the invasion of Grenada. New River Marines were also involved in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. HMM-263 was the Aviation Combat Element for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) during the O'Grady rescue mission in Bosnia, and HMM-162, ACE for the 22nd MEU (SOC), has recently assisted the American Embassies in Monrovia, Liberia, and in the Central African Republic.
Situated along the New River next door to Camp Lejeune is the city of Jacksonville in Onslow County. Settled in the early 1700s, Onslow County has rich and diverse history stemming from the agricultural, timber, and fishing pursuits begun by the English and Scottish natives who settled here. Since 1941 Onslow County has been home to Camp Lejeune and Air Station New River Marines and Sailors, many of whom relocate here following retirement or discharge.
Onslow County offers a wide range of services for service members and their families including a public school system consisting of fourteen elementary schools, seven middle schools, and seven high schools. Coastal Carolina Community College, which offers programs in general studies, fine arts, natural sciences and technical skills; a public library system with branches throughout the county; a commercial airport served by two major carriers; and a 150 bed hospital in Jacksonville.
A visible link between Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune/New River is the United Services Organization (USO) located near the downtown area along Jacksonville Waterfront Park. The Jacksonville USO is the oldest continuously operating USO, having been founded in 1941.
Over the last few years, Onslow County has experienced unprecedented growth in residential real estate. Single-family and multi-family housing is available, including apartments, townhouses and condominiums. Literally thousands of apartments are located within the county at prices affordable to any size family. Mobile home living is also available. The area has many attractive neighborhoods with homes for sale ranging as low as $40,000 all the way up to $300,000.
Some 72,000 people make the city their home. Surrounding towns to Jacksonville are: Holly Ridge - southermost town home of 761 permanent residents. Richlands - predominately a rural farming community on Hwy 24 and 258, 14 miles west of Jacksonville. Home to the Onslow County Museum and Union Chapel. Topsail Island - One of North Carolina's treasured barrier islands, spans both Onslow and Pender counties. Surf City - sits in the center of Topsail Island. Long and short term rentals accomodations are available. North Topsail Beach - located on the north end of Topsail Island. Population is 752 year-round residents. It is totally located in Onslow County. It has resort and condominium developments as well as townhouses, duplexes and single family dwellings and a campground. Sneads Ferry - quaint coastal community filled with wonderful seafood restaurants. Sneads Ferry celebrates its annual Shrimp Festival and King Mackerel Tournament in August. Swansboro - located on the intracoastal Waterway, and bordering the White Oak River, Swansboro is a quaint historic town with old homes, antique and specialty shops and restaurants. Hosts 1,400 permanent residents.
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