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  • Gayle Albertini

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Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point is named the Marine Corps Air Station of the Year - 2024

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Jan. 23, 2024) — Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point is the Marine Corps Air Station of the Year, as declared in the announcement of the 2024 Marine Corps Installations Excellence Award winners, Jan. 19, 2024. Click here for the full article.

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point is a driving force in Eastern North Carolina, with 39,364 men and women employed. It is the largest Marine Corps air station in the world. MCAS Cherry Point occupies over 29,000 acres of land in Eastern North Carolina, including its outlying fields and ranges.

Fairfield Harbour has several residents who are privileged to work at MCAS Cherry Point.

Freddie Dawkins retired after 70 years of combined military and civilian service. Thank you, Mr. Fred, for your service!

Freddie Dawkins

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – Freddie Dawkins, a pneudraulics systems mechanic at Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE), recently celebrated an extraordinary milestone, retiring from federal service after 70 years of combined military and civilian service. 

Freddie Dawkins, a pneudraulics systems mechanic at Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE), celebrated his retirement from federal service after 70 years of combined military and civilian service.

FRCE Commanding Officer Capt. James M. Belmont recognized Dawkins' accomplishments during a ceremony at the depot on Jul. 27.

“Mr. Dawkins has had an extraordinary career,” Belmont said. “For seventy years, he has dedicated himself to serving our nation. It’s remarkable when you think about it. He has served under every U.S. president since Eisenhower. He exemplifies commitment and faithful service.”

Dawkins' lengthy federal service career began on Jan. 1, 1953, when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in the aircraft and engine mechanic career field. Dawkins was 17 years old at the time.

“Once I got in and got over being nervous, it was the best thing that happened to me,” said Dawkins. “It was strict, but it taught us discipline. It taught us to be men because when we came in, we were just teenagers. I grew up in the Air Force."

In the early part of his military career, Dawkins served in the distinguished Strategic Air Command, as well as the 31st Fighter Wing at Turner Field, Ga., where he worked with the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.

Dawkins served tours in the Republic of Vietnam between 1966 and 1969. He received the Air Medal — with five oak leaf clusters, representing 125 combat missions flown — and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After 26 years of military service, Dawkins retired from the Air Force on Jan. 31, 1979. It wouldn't be long, however, before he served his country again.

Dawkins used the Montgomery GI Bill to study aircraft and engine maintenance. He then worked with a military contractor on C-5 Galaxy aircraft for a short while before taking a federal service position at Naval Air Station Alameda in California. This marked the start of Dawkins' 44 years of civilian federal service.

Dawkins worked as a pneudraulics systems mechanic — disassembling, assembling, repairing, and overhauling various turbine compressor assemblies daily — with Naval Air Systems Command since January 1981.

He received orders to relocate to the Naval Aviation Depot, now known as Fleet Readiness Center East, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in January 1995.

“I was happy here,” said Dawkins. “When we transferred here, my family and I came to a new area and a new job. We were accepted and blended in. I've had a good time. I was able to do what I needed to do and do what I loved to do.”

Known to all at the depot as “Mr. Fred,” Dawkins was well known at FRCE for his work ethic and extensive expertise.

“He shows up to work early and is ready to go when the bell rings,” said Michael VanWolput, the supervisor for FRCE’s Starters and Turbines shop and Auxiliary Power Unit and Fuel Controls shop. “He doesn’t mess around. He is one of the best workers I've ever had the pleasure of working with.”

VanWolput said Dawkins brought a wealth of expertise to the depot, gained through seven decades of experience working in aviation maintenance.

“He's brought so much to the shop, especially about disassembly and assembly of the older-style units,” said VanWolput. “These are units that aren't very common anymore because those particular aircraft are going away. He knows all those units.”

Dawkins was generous in sharing his expertise. He credited the mentorship he received throughout his career as a crucial element to his success.

"Come in with a positive attitude and be willing to learn and take advice from the senior people," said Dawkins. "Don't sit still. Get in, do your job, and pay attention. You do those things and should be able to advance, no matter what your career field is."

According to VanWolput, Dawkins did more than pay attention and do his job, and he personified commitment and dedication during his 70 years of service.

“Seeing how long he's been doing this — and he loves it — you realize just how completely dedicated he is to supporting the war fighter and America,” said VanWolput. “He will be missed.”

FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.

For the full article, click here.

Jay Barker (also known as JJ Wolfe) was in the Marine active military for 21 years (1996-2017), had one month retired, returned to work as an independent contractor at MCAS Cherry Point, and then picked up civil service duty in 2021. Thank you for your service, Jay! Oorah

Jay Barker

Jay Barker spends his work hours hanging around the big birds! The big jets, that is. Jay is a pneudraulics systems mechanic at Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE). His fleet readiness birds include F-18, Harriers, CH-53, and Ospreys, to name a few.

Jay’s position - pneudraulics system mechanic is defined as someone who troubleshoots, removes, inspects, installs, repairs, modifies, rebuilds, and/or tests pneudraulic systems and components for aircraft pneudraulic systems. He is responsible for testing and repairing ground support equipment.

Jay explained that there are several levels of maintenance for aircraft:

1. Operational level (O-level) maintenance is generally performed by flight-line personnel. It

usually focuses on scheduled inspections/servicing and rapid repair of aircraft discrepancies

noted during or between aircraft flights.

2. I-level repairs involve more complicated repairs and require more extended downtime than O-level. In I-level repairs, technicians need more space and additional spare parts, tools, and

equipment to work on the asset. Assets often repaired at the I-level include fans, pumps,

motors, engines, batteries, etc.

3. Depot-level maintenance entails materiel maintenance requiring the major repair, overhaul, or complete rebuilding of weapon systems, end items, parts, assemblies, and subassemblies;

manufacture of parts; technical assistance; and testing. A typical problem might be foreign

object damage (FOD). Jet intakes can ingest loose objects; even the smallest item, a rock or bolt, can seriously damage jet turbine or propeller blades. This is the section Jay works in. Math and science skills are required for this level of work. There are about 40 men and women in his division.

Jay says, "There are good days and bad days – like most jobs – but I enjoy the people, the military atmosphere, and the challenging aspect of pneudraulics issues. We figure out what parts can be rebuilt and what part needs total replacement, and there is a system in place that must be followed precisely. Most jets come in on regularly scheduled maintenance, but sometimes we get non-scheduled maintenance when something breaks – then it is like a jigsaw puzzle."

Jay has a long career history with the military. His job is now troubleshooting and repairing various components of the aircraft. After the repair, they are sent back to the appropriate squadron for installation. It is essential the components are repaired in a timely manner and meet quality assurance standards. All the paperwork must be clean and in order.

Jay Barker worked with the Consultant in Cairo during Pres. George W. Bush administration.

Jay attended events with Secretary of State Collin Powell during his tour in Russia.

Jay’s active-duty career took him to 28 countries. His tours included Cario, Egypt, where he was a guard at the Embassy. Jay also traveled to St. Peterburg, Russia, where he also worked as a guard at the consultant. Jay said he enjoyed his experience in Russia. He also worked four tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.

Jay is married to Cindy Barker, our POA Office Account Manager. Cindy and Jay married in 2007, standing “on a rock, in a river in the Smokey Mountain National Park." Their 14-year-old son, Johnny, is at Arapahoe Charter School. Thank you, Jay, for your service and for being a part of the Fairfield Harbour family!

Sun Journal excerpt – for the full article, click here.

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Jan. 23, 2024) — Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point is the Marine Corps Air Station of the Year, as declared in the announcement of the 2024 Marine Corps Installations Excellence Award winners, Jan. 19, 2024.

MCAS Cherry Point demonstrated excellence in installation management, emphasizing administrative discipline, high-profile asset and project management, innovative business practices, operations, community engagement and support, and meritorious personnel service.

“This award is a testament to the teamwork and relationships between MCAS Cherry Point, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Naval Health Clinic, Fleet Readiness Center East, and the community,” said Col. Brendan Burks, MCAS Cherry Point commanding officer. “I’m proud to be a part of this team and the hard work and dedication by all our Marine, Sailors, civilians, family members, and community partners for the betterment of our nation and their commitment to America’s Air Station and our country.”

MCAS Cherry Point provides air traffic control 24 hours a day, year-round, supporting more than 150,000 annual flight operations as a primary aerial port of embarkation and debarkation for Marines deploying on the East Coast. The installation is a true staple of warfighting capability and aviation readiness. The installation contributes approximately $2.19 billion to the state and local economy through its operation and development.

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