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New Bern NC 28562
Cherry Point History
It is said
that the name “Cherry Point” comes from a post office established in the
area for the Blades Lumber people some years ago. The post office was
closed in 1935. The original “Point” was on the south side of the Neuse
River east of Hancock Creek, and the word “Cherry” came from cherry trees
that at one time grew on the point.
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.
Actual clearing of the site began on Aug. 6, 1941, with extensive drainage
and malaria control work. Construction began in November just 17 days
before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Cherry Point’s first commanding officer, Lt. Col. Thomas J. Cushman,
landed the first plane, a J2F Grumman amphibious biplane, at the air
station on March 18, 1942. The air station was commissioned on May 20,
1942, as Cunningham Field, in honor
of the Marine Corp’s first aviator, Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham. In August
1942, one year after land clearing began, the first
Cherry Point is one of the world’s largest Marine Corps air stations and
one of the best all-weather jet bases in the world. The size of the air
station has increased form the original 8,000 acres to more than 13,000
acres at the primary complex, with nearly 16,000 additional acres in
associated support locations. In fact, Cherry Point’s runway system is so
large that the air station serves as an alternate emergency-landing site
for space shuttle launches out of Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Cherry Point is home to Marine Transport Squadron 1. The squadron’s
aircraft provide military transportation, as well as search and rescue for
Marine aviators. The SAR aircraft also serve the local community with
their medical evacuation and search and rescue capabilities.
Cherry Point and its tenant units are very active in the local community.
The 2007 Toys for Tots fund
drive, run by Cherry Point’s Reserve Support Unit, provided more than
$229,000 in toys for 23,604 children in need in 22 counties in eastern
North Carolina. In 2007 Cherry Point personnel pledged $240,871 during the
Combined Federal Campaign, with $46,416 donated to charity organizations
in North Carolina. The Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society collected more
than $52,000, while over $327,000 was distributed to those in need in
North Carolina. The Memorial Chapel’s religious offering fund presented
donations of $37,525
to the local community. Additionally, numerous units aboard Cherry Point
volunteer time to many local schools as part of the
The air station continues to be a significant contributor to the region’s
economic growth. The combined Marine, sailor and civilian payroll for
Fiscal Year 2008 is projected to be more than $1.2 billion. During Fiscal
Year 2007, contracts awarded to North Carolina companies for construction,
maintenance and services neared $85 million. Overall, Cherry Point’s total
economic impact was more than $1.6 billion, with more than $1.4 billion of
that spent in North Carolina.
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