President Signals, “Well Done”
Sgt Tim Serin
During President George W. Bush’s visit, LCpl John Meekins (above, right) has the honor of presenting him with a unique HMX- 1 bicycle racing helmet, and Sgt Michael Kennedy (below, right) presented the President with a Marine One tail rotor section as (from left) Col Ray L’Heureux, squadron CO; LtCol David Braman, XO; and SgtMaj Richard Nowak, squadron sergeant major, look on.
President George W. Bush made a special trip to Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico, Va., Oct. 30, 2008, to express his gratitude for the superb support provided by Marine Helicopter Squadron One throughout his presidency. During his visit to the squadron, he spoke with leathernecks, shaking hands, posing for hundreds of photographs and, in his own style, letting them know on a personal basis that he is aware and appreciates what they endure to support their Commander in Chief. He is the first President to visit HMX- 1 at Quantico.
All the gratitude expressed was not one way. The HMX- 1 leathernecks had a few unique remembrances for the President. Certainly these are select items that will be conversation pieces for visitors to his Crawford, Texas, ranch, or, in one instance, when he is exercising.
The Marines gathered inside one of the hangars to hear the President speak to all about their performance. Then, it was their turn. First, knowing the President’s commitment to physical fitness and his love of mountain and trail biking, he was given a special, aerodynamically efficient, forest green, “ Marine One” racing helmet.
Then, in recognition of his many hours on board Marine One watching the rotors turn, he was presented a piece of a Marine One helicopter tail rotor. It was duly noted that this particular item was in excess of needs and his helicopter remained mission ready.
Sgt tim Serin
Lastly, the commanding officer, Colonel Raymond F. “Frenchy” L’Heureux, stepped forward to speak for the Marines, noting that it was indeed an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility for supporting the President. Col L’Heureux then presented a special HMX- 1 plaque, personalized for President Bush.
thread that binds our squadron together.” are completely carpeted and include pic-
HMX- 1’s commander distinctly has tures on the bulkhead and candy dishes clarity of command. The mission of Col built in for VIP flights. The helicopter L’Heureux, call sign “Frenchy,” and the radio call sign is, of course, Marine One— squadron under his command is daunt- when, and only when, the Commander in ing. A 365-day operation, the mission: Chief is on board.
transporting the leader of the free world. And what an aircraft it is!
Often with little time to prepare, even for Marine One is the most well-engineered, overseas trips, and working with United sophisticated and well-maintained heli-States Air Force strategic airlift, HMX- 1 copter in the world. The aircraft, crew and helicopters have to be positioned in ad- maintainers overcome the challenges of vance to ensure mission success. HMX- 1 extreme noise, huge power requirements has strict security not only at its base in and heavy vibrations to create and fly a Quantico, Va., but wherever it travels. The rotary wing aircraft worthy of carrying squadron has a large Marine military po- the President. lice detail operating at the highest levels Ten years before President Eisenhower’s of security. precedent-setting helicopter ride, the year
The executive versions of the Sikorsky 1947 was a landmark in Corps aviation helicopters are unique aircraft, providing and tactical doctrine with the basing of the President and his entourage, which HMX- 1’s first helicopters at what was then often includes cabinet members, press and Marine Corps Air Station Quantico, Va. White House staff, with a comfortable HMX-1performed thefirstship-to-shore setting. The executive version helicopters movement of troops from the deck of an
Leatherneck—On the Web
See more photos of HmX- 1, specifically photos by Sgt tim Serin of President george W. Bush’s visit to HmX- 1 at www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/marineone
aircraft carrier in an exercise in May 1948. Today, there are more than 700 personnel assigned to the squadron. It is the largest permanently established squadron, and security is paramount.
The sergeant major of the squadron, SgtMaj R. J. Nowak, tells each newly assigned Marine, “Be mindful of who you work for and who you represent— ultimately the White House.” These Marines must pass rigid standards; decision-mak-ing and initiative are essential qualities. Their job is critical. Everything they do has an effect on our Commander in Chief and, ultimately, our country. SgtMaj Nowak described them as the “best of the best.” The experiences at HMX- 1 will serve them well the rest of their lives.
“In the past four months, I have been to every continent, except Antarctica,” Staff Sergeant Eric Hernandez said with great pride. This CH- 46 Sea Knight mechanic, military occupational specialty 6112, deployed on humanitarian missions to the Philippines and Indonesia before being selected to join this elite squadron. Hernandez now travels with the Marine