The Marines logo, prominently displayed on the Joint Base Andrews water tower, is a testimony to the Marine's place within Team Andrews. Unaware to most Team Andrews personnel, Marines have been serving at Andrews for more than 50 years. As we shine the spotlight on 100 years of Marine Aviation at the 2012 Joint Service Open House and Air Show, May 18-20, we will also highlight the Andrews' Marine detachment (VMR Andrews) and their contributions to this centennial celebration.
The presence of the “few and the proud” at Andrews dates back to 1962 when a Marine Flight Section, originally a unit of Naval Air Station Anacostia, D.C., relocated to Naval Air Facility Washington on Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
On April 21, 1966, the unit became known as the Marine Aircraft Support Detachment (MASD), Andrews.
More than a decade later, MASD Andrews was reassigned to the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), and reorganized as a reserve detachment. Although it was administratively attached to Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 41, detachment A was staffed with reserve pilots and remained operationally assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps. The detachment's main mission there was to provide administrative support to the Navy's Fleet Logistics Support Squadron VR-1.
On October 1, 2004, MASD Andrews was redesignated as VMR (Marine Transport Squadron) Detachment Andrews. Six years later, VMR Detachment Andrews was designated to run the mission of UC-35C/D Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization Model manager, a program that prescribes general flight and operating instructions and procedures.
A year later, VMR Detachment Andrews became simply, VMR Andrews and was assigned its first command screened and slated commanding officer.
Through the years, the designation of Andrews' Marines have undergone several changes, however, their overall mission has remained the same. They provide time-sensitive air transport of high-priority passengers and cargo between and within a theater of war, as well as provide administrative flight support to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
“We've been here for a while so we are very proud to have the Marine Corps represented on Andrews' water tower,” said Lt. Col. Heyl, VMR Andrews commander.
Currently, VMR Andrews has more than 20 reserve pilots who serve from across the nation and three mainstay active-duty pilots. Many of Andrews' Marine Reserve pilots fly for civilian airlines when not on reserve status.
All of the pilots sacrifice time away from home and family to fulfill their mission. Since 2004, ongoing deployments are conducted yearly for six months.
“Something unique about our mission at VMR Andrews is that we're deploying 50 percent of our reservists every year in support of mission-essential requirements,” said Heyl. “We lean on them heavily and they've answered the call.”
VMR Andrews currently has 2,445.1 flight hours in the continental United States and abroad. Additionally, VMR Andrews hasn't experienced a Class-A flight mishap since Dec. 1977. The squadron has a total of 85,448.2 Class-A mishap-free flight hours.
VMR Andrews is also host to three cost-efficient UC-35D business-class jet aircrafts that provide airlift missions.
“We book and schedule flights to transport people across the nation,” said Cpl. Alicia Davis, VMR Andrews 7041 aviation operations specialist. “Our mission at Andrews is unique. We regularly fly distinguished visitors like the Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps and other government officials that work hand-in-hand with the President,” said Davis.
Maj. Gary Ewers, a VMR Andrews active-duty pilot, also contributes to the Marine's daily mission.
“All of our orders come from the Joint Operational Support Operation Command,” said Ewers. “The act of the cadre here is to maintain consistency and keep the mission going. We can fly halfway across the country without the need to refuel. The aircraft reaches an altitude 45,000 feet which reduces the need to use more fuel.”
While the operations specialists and pilots are making sure flights our successful, the entire unit carries on with the everyday tasks of a Marine.
“Along with our overall mission, we also accomplish military training, martial arts training, Lance Corporal courses, taking combat fitness tests and practicing at the rifle ranges,” said Davis.
The permanence of the Marines logo on the Joint Base Andrews water tower is evidence that the Marines are here to stay to continue to contribute to another century of Marine Corps Aviation.
“For nearly 100 years, Marine Aviation has demonstrated the adaptability, agility and unique ethos that come with the title “Marine.” Supporting our ground and logistics brothers and sisters, Marine Aviation has forged a lasting legacy of professionalism, innovation and transformation. The centennial of Marine Aviation provides us a unique opportunity to reflect on this legacy of success as we turn our eyes to the future.”
-Gen. James F. Amos, 35th Commandant of the Marines