Commanding officer speaks to Havelock Rotary Club

Cherry Point has heart and soul. That was the message Commanding Officer Col. Todd Ferry delivered in a presentation to the Havelock-Cherry Point Rotary Club last week.

At the heart of the base is the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Ferry said. Headquartered at Cherry Point, the 2nd MAW has 120 aircraft and 7,434 of its 16,000 Marines at Cherry Point.

The soul, he said, was the community around the base.

“This is the most unique installation in the world,” Ferry told club members. “I don’t think anywhere else has the community relationship to the base that you do.”

He said it is those relationships to residents and government officials in Craven, Carteret, Pamlico and Jones counties that give him the most satisfaction in his job.

“The greatest joy I get is getting out to meet people and getting to know them,” he said.

He said one of those people is Havelock Mayor Will Lewis. Ferry, from Houston, and Lewis, who is an N.C. State fan, enjoy talking college basketball, referencing when N.C. State upset the University of Houston for the 1983 national championship.

“I was a big Phi Slamma Jamma fan,” Ferry said of the Houston Cougars. “I have a lot of baggage from 1983.”

He said the challenges of being the base commander are not what many think.

“The airfield, I have a great staff that handles all that,” he said.

Ferry said challenges come from essentially being the mayor of a city with a population of about 33,000 people, which represents the number of residents and workers that are on base.

“I wake up every day and it’s something different,” he said, citing examples of issues with barracks air-conditioning or even the base’s coal plant as items that may cross his desk.

He said the goal is the well-being of Marines and their families, with a number of resources focused on counseling and education, as an example.

He acknowledged a slight decline in base population as the Marine Corps continues planned deactivation of Cherry Point’s EA-6B Prowler squadrons, one each year through 2019.

“We’ll be at our lowest point in decades,” he said. “But, then we’ll start to climb again.”

He cited Marine Corps plans to increase numbers to around 195,000 as well as the future basing of the F-35B at Cherry Point beginning in 2022-23.

Ferry has been married 23 years and has six children in schools around Havelock.

“I care a tremendous amount about this community, about the schools,” he said. “I have professional relationships with people in the community, but also personal ones. I’m very appreciative of that.”