Cherry Point History

Cherry Point history revolves around the establishment of the air station – one of the largest Marine air stations in Carteret Count and along the East Coast.

The air station at Cherry Point, today called Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, originally was known as Cunningham Field, and the later name of Cherry Point came from the cherry trees that grow naturally on the south side of the Neuse River. Cunningham Field was built in 1941 and commissioned in 1942, named after Alfred A. Cunningham, the first Marine aviator.

In 1912, Cunningham soloed in a Wright Brothers Model B-1, after only a few hours of flight training, and was still at the controls when World War I broke out in 1917. At that point in time, the Marines had five aviators and 30 enlisted men.

The air station at Cherry Point has deployed aircraft, troops and supplies over the past half century to all manner of overseas operations, from World War II to the present conflict in Afghanistan, and all the stops in between-the Korean War, Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm.

Throughout their history as part of the Department of the Navy, the Marines have had a tendency to glow with a special pride, and staunchly stand by their assertion that they are the elite. “Truthfully, other branches have aircrafts, they have ships, they have ground units,” said Lisa Strickland with the Public Affairs office.

“I won’t say they don’t get the job done, but we have a higher standard. We didn’t get labeled ‘devildog’ for nothing, from the Germans. They were tough fighters too and they called us devildogs. I am probably biased, but being a Marine does hold a certain amount of respect.”

Any number of recruiting slogans spring to mind: “The few. The proud. The Marines.” “We’re looking for a few good men.” As of 2008 there were 190,000 active Marines and 40,000 on reserve-not so few, it would appear. But, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, this branch of the Department of Defense is the smallest.