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VMR-1 demonstrates Pedro's prowess

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200541381839
Story by Lance Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (April 13, 2005) -- Approximately 50 Marines gathered April 6 to witness what the commanding officer of VMR-1 termed “a historic, one-time event for VMR-1.”
“For the first time, four Marine Corps HH-46 helicopters took to the skies together,” said Lt. Col. Peter D. Buck. “It’s a huge accomplishment. Getting all four (aircraft) airborne was a maintenance feat. Presenting the aircraft en masse to the Air Station and the local community demonstrated the readiness of the squadron.”
The upcoming retirement of VMR-1’s leading HH-46 added to the historical significance of the quadruplet flight. When the helicopter’s commission expires this month, three Pedro helicopters will remain at the air Station.
According to Buck, the flight was also important because it tested the squadron’s operational preparedness. Three Station HH-46’s, known affectionately to the locals as “Pedros,” were joined by a fourth aircraft from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
“A squadron that experiences 100 percent of its assets airborne at one time is significant to anyone in aviation,” said Buck. “To safely launch a mission of this magnitude is only possible through the combined efforts of VMR-1.”
Marines throughout VMR-1 were able to fly aboard Pedro, but the maintainers who toiled to prepare the helicopters truly appreciated the fruits of their labor.
“It was my first time on Pedro, and I appreciated the opportunity,” said Lance Cpl. Jeremy Nolin, an aviation technician with VMR-1. “It was a good feeling to have all four of them ready. There was a lot of effort put into getting them ready to go. I’ve been working on Pedro for nine months and it was really interesting to fly in the formation.”
Maj. Jason T. Keefer, a pilot with VMR-1, appreciated the sortie’s value to squadron posterity.
“A feeling of exhilaration flew through VMR-1,” said Keefer. “The reward for all of VMR-1’s hard work was to [soar] into history.”
The formation flew flawlessly, he added. The mission was well-planned, well-executed and an awesome display of Pedro’s capabilities.
“The detailed brief, launch and recovery was possible only through the collective efforts of VMR-1,” said Buck. “It was a very successful mission, and we have received a positive response from the air station and the local community. Seeing the people wave from the beaches, shows this [formation] was something special.”
Pedro’s primary mission is search and rescue duties for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, but its secondary mission is serving the community with its medical evacuation and search and rescue capabilities.
“When Pedro is airborne, it’s a nice reminder for the local community that the Marines are standing watch,” said Buck. “There is probably not a person in eastern North Carolina who does not recognize the orange and blue of Pedro.”

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