MCAS Cherry Point to break ground on F-35 Aircraft Maintenance Hangar

September 05, 2020


Marine and Navy leaders underscored the start of the $105 million military construction project with a groundbreaking ceremony at the air station at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Sept. 4. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the size of the audience at the event was limited.

The groundbreaking event was momentous as the air station begins to see tangible modernization of its facilities and infrastructure, and the transformation of the nearly 80-year-old installation into a key base for the future of Marine Aviation and its next generation fighter aircraft, the Joint Strike Fighter. More than one billion dollars of MILCON projects are planned through 2027 to make way for six F-35 Lightning II squadrons.

Marine leaders of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, MCAS Cherry Point and Navy Facilities Engineering Command will be on hand to accent the historic occasion and to articulate its significance for the Department of Defense, Marine Corps and Eastern North Carolina.


Marines Spend a Day Off Digging a Ditch to Help the Community

July 18, 2020


From New Bern Sun Journal
by Charlie Hall, July 18, 2020

Marines from Cherry Point volunteer to dig ditch at New Bern historical site. Guess how Cherry Point Marines spend free time from their training schedule before an upcoming deployment to the Middle East.

It’s not at the beach.

Armed with pickaxes and shovels, members of the 2d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion at Cherry Point air station recently volunteered to carve out a 75-meter drainage ditch along the New Bern Battlefield Park entrance road.

The New Bern Historical Society’s Civil War battlefield off U.S. 70 East at Taberna has become a popular getaway spot during the COVID-19 restrictions.

But, there have been drainage problems along the dirt road and it was more of a physical undertaking than the battlefield volunteer guides could handle. They are mostly in their 60s and 70s.

Enter the Marines, with 35-year-old 1st Lt Christopher J. Burkard, a nine-year Marine from Detroit, and his men, mostly in their mid-20s.

Burkard had volunteered at the battlefield and heard about the need to create a ditch.

He and his men handled the project before a lunchtime barbecue and then took a tour of the park, site of the 1862 one-day Civil War battle that left New Bern under Union control for the remainder of the war.

“We thought that coming out here and doing a little bit of work, it gets us out of the shop, it helps out the community and everybody wins,” Burkard said. “It gives us a chance to have a barbecue, too”

It wasn’t the first time Marines from Cherry Point air station, as well as Camp Lejeune, have stepped up to handle battlefield projects requiring muscle.

“They have done great work in the past,” said Jon Miller, head of the battlefield volunteers.

“It is the first community project we have done together,” said Burkard. “But, we have been training together for the last few months since we were all picked for this deployment, everything from operating various weapon and communication systems, to casualty care, to even just humping with our packs.”

But, it wasn’t easy work.

“Even though Marines dig holes on the regular, this was a deceptively tough project,” Burkard said. “We were fighting against the heat and humidity and against some tough earth with a lot of mud and clay. Fortunately, we had some strong leadership. The guys from the Historical Society were the ones with the vision. We were there just to provide some strong backs. And, any reason to get the Marines of 2d LAAD Battalion doing good in the community is a good reason.”

There was one aspect he hadn’t anticipated.

“What I didn’t expect was that the guys from the Historical Society, all retirees in their 60s and 70s, would be working just as hard as us,” he said.

Now, the society can have the road graded and covered with gravel so visitors don’t have to navigate the potholes.

The Marine volunteers included 1st Lt. Christopher J. Burkard, Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Reyes, Sgt. Joshua L. Field, Cpl. Jack E. Benedict, Cpl. Justin L. Hernandez, Cpl. Anthony R. Sielaw, Cpl. Andrew J. Strait, Cpl. Joshua C. Sutton, Cpl. Toviah J. Viel, Lance Cpl. Kyle H. Almskog, Lance Cpl.Hadon L. Board, Lance Cpl. Alejandro Contreras and Lance Cpl. Dustin P. Demack.

Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or 252-259-7585, or charlie.hall@newbernsj.com. Follow him on Facebook at Charlie Hall.


Selected ACT Goals for 2020-2021

June 19, 2020


Cherry Point’s missions and assets are vital to our nation’s military capability and critical to our local economy.  Any loss of these missions or assets could negatively affect the quality of life for our citizens and communities.  ACT works tirelessly to sustain and grow Cherry Point’s missions on a daily basis, not just in times of threat.

Thanks to the strong support of active stakeholders, ACT is able to work to ensure that Cherry Point is put in the best possible light with decision makers in Raleigh and Washington, DC by coordinating a strong government relations program. Through public education and outreach, ACT also strives to make clear to the citizens of our region the role Cherry Point plays in our national defense and its importance to our economy.

Selected goals for ACT in 2020-2021:

  • ACT will work with the Cherry Point Congressional delegation to continue the strong investment in military construction funding at the air station.  Cherry Point was authorized and appropriated $240 million for a new aircraft maintenance hangar for the first squadrons of F-35s, along with a new Air Traffic Control Tower, and an F-35 Training and Simulator Facility.  Authorized but not funded is a construction project to improve safety and access at the Slocum Gate entrance to the air station.  Securing this funding will be ACT’s immediate priority in the coming year.
  • ACT will complete a state-funded project to create Military Influence Overlay Districts in the Cherry Point region.  This project will identify vital training areas that might be impacted by encroachment and encourage informed land use ordinances that will benefit both the air station and local governments.
  • ACT will continue to work with the NC General Assembly to legislate a fair and equitable policy for siting wind energy facilities, safeguarding the ability of our Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen to safely and effectively train in North Carolina.
  • ACT will continue to advocate that Fleet Readiness Center East receive funding to construct a new maintenance hangar for the F-35.  This funding will ensure that FRC East will be the preferred site for maintenance and repair work on the Joint Strike Fighter, not only for the Marine Corps but for the Navy and Air Force as well.

Moving forward, ACT will continue to utilize our marketing and public outreach plan to educate policy makers, Cherry Point employees, news media and the general public about the importance of Cherry Point to our national defense and regional economy.  Additionally, we will continue to facilitate the coordinated response of local government planning efforts in support of Cherry Point and its missions.  We will maintain our mission of advocating for the existence and success of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Fleet Readiness Center East and its civilian enterprises.





Marine Corps Announces New Aviation, Pacific Leadership Assignments

May 07, 2020


From US Naval Institute
By Megan Eckstein
May 6, 2020

Marine Corps Announces New Aviation, Pacific Leadership Assignments

Top row (left to right): Lt. Gen. Lewis Craparotta, Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, Maj. Gen. Mark Wise; Bottom row (left to right): Maj. Gen. Karsten Heckl, Maj. Gen. Dennis Crall, Maj. Gen. David Ottignon

The Marine Corps announced a shuffle of its two- and three-star generals, with nominations of new leadership for Marines in the Pacific, the aviation community, training and education and more.

Lt. Gen. Lewis Craparotta was nominated to serve as the next commanding general of the Training and Education Command (TECOM). He currently serves as the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific and commanding general of Fleet Marine Corps Forces Pacific out of Camp Smith, Hawaii. This job, which he has held since August 2018, has become increasingly important as Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger has focused his attention on reinvigorating the Fleet Marine Force and bolstering integration of the Marine Corps and the Navy. MARFORPAC has been the centerpiece of Berger’s attention as it relates to experimentation with concepts like Expeditionary Advance Base Operations, as well as new formations and new gear to support the operating concepts.

Craparotta was commissioned in May 1983 and commanded I Marine Expeditionary Force prior to taking command of MARFORPAC.

Relieving Craparotta at MARFORPAC would be Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, according to the announcement. Rudder serves as deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation, leading aviation acquisition and readiness efforts out of the Pentagon. He has served in this role since July 2017, overseeing the Marines’ incorporation of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter into routine operations, the acquisition of the CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter program, a renewed focus on depot maintenance and regaining readiness, and more.

Rudder was commissioned in June 1984 and has experience in the Pacific theater, having commanded 1st Marine Air Wing out of Okinawa, Japan, and served as the director of Strategic Planning and Policy (J5) at U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM).

The next deputy commandant for aviation after Rudder would be Maj. Gen. Mark Wise, according to the announcement. Wise currently serves as the deputy commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) and assistant deputy commandant for combat development and integration at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. Wise joined the MCCDC staff in the summer of 2018 and has helped oversee a total transition in the service, as the Marine Corps charts a path forward to be lighter, more agile from the sea, more focused on small-unit operations and more.

Wise, a fighter jet pilot, has extensive experience in Marine Corps aviation, including serving as commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar from 2016 to 2018.

Additionally, Maj. Gen. Karsten Heckl was nominated to serve as the next commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force. Heckl currently serves as the commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, N.C.

Maj. Gen. Dennis Crall was nominated to serve as the next director for command, control, communications, and computers (C4)/cyber and the chief information officer (J-6) on the Joint Staff. Crall currently serves as the senior military advisor for cyber to the under secretary of defense for policy.

Maj. Gen. David Ottignon was nominated to serve as the next deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs. Ottignon currently serves as the director of the Manpower Management Division in the Marine Corps headquarters staff.

Ottignon, Crall and Heckl would also receive promotions to lieutenant general in conjunction with their new jobs.

Nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general – with no new job assignments announced – are Col. Adam Chalkley, Col. Kyle Ellison, Col. Phillip Frietze, Col. Peter Huntley, Col. Julie Nethercot, Col. Forrest Poole III, and Col. Ryan Rideout.


Facebook Makes Commitment to Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic

April 17, 2020


As a proud supporter of the military and Veteran community, Facebook is committed to providing Veterans with meaningful ways to connect with the people they care about. Today, Facebook donated 7,488 Portals to the Department of Veteran Affairs that will be distributed in pairs to wounded/at risk Veterans and their Veteran caregivers to help them stay connected with friends and family during these difficult times.  We hope that by using these Portal video calling devices, Veterans and their caregivers will feel less isolated and more present with their friends and family no matter where they are.

The donation is through a collaboration with the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) Office and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network. Though discussions about this partnership began long before the COVID-19 crisis began, facilitating social connection for Veterans and their caregivers and families is more important now than ever, with many of these individuals experiencing further isolation due to social distancing measures.

The VA blog announcing the partnership and more details can be found here.

In addition, we thought you might be interested in this refresher on how to best keep your communities informed through Facebook products during this uncertain time. To ensure that VSOs are aware of Facebook’s many resources, Facebook is holding a webinar on best practices and new tools it has created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other ways that Facebook is helping in this time of need.  This webinar can give you guidance on how to best utilize Facebook to communicate with your community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • What: Webinar on Facebook best practices for VSOs and COVID-19 response
  • When: Thursday, April 23, 2020, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET
  • Where: GoToWebinar
  • How: Register here for dial-in link and code

Please RSVP for this training by registering here and feel free to share this invitation with your networks.