Inside the President's Helicopter!

Inside the President's Helicopter!

Armed guards surrounded them. One person was instructed to stand back and keep her distance, for national security reasons. As Taewon Moon '23 approached the steps to ascend into HMX-1: Marine Helicopter One (the Marine Corps helicopter responsible for the transportation of the president of the United States) many thoughts were bouncing around his mind. One, he said, was that seeing fighter jets in Top Gun: Maverick had nothing on what he was experiencing, hands-on.

"It was better than what you'd see in the movies," he said. Sure, the "armed Marines all around you at all times watching what you're doing" made the atmosphere a bit stressful, but "it was a good tense," Moon recalled. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, seeing Marine One in actual life and Brooks offering this was really cool. I would have never imagined that I'd see that in person — and on just a normal day. I could tell my friends that last Sunday, I went to see Marine One, which I wouldn't do on a normal weekend."

The trip of 29 Brooks School students, faculty and relatives to Boston's Logan Airport to see the aircraft on September 11 was not a normal offering, after all. New Dean of Students Patrick Forrest, a former Marine Corps officer of 20 years who flew and instructed aircrew on attack helicopters, specially arranged for the 60-minute tour of the chopper. The visit also included a brief of the squadron's mission and a Q&A with the pilot and security detail of the aircraft responsible for the transportation of the U.S. president, V.P., heads of state, Department of Defense officials and other VIPs, as directed by the Marine Corps and the White House Military Office — which included a working dog team.

"I thought it would be a great experience to get some community members off campus and see an iconic aircraft that has transported so many presidents," said Forrest, who now teaches Self in Community, coaches girls 2nd soccer and serves as a dorm parent in Peabody House at Brooks.

Read about all the administrators new to Brooks in the 2022-2023 school year.

"I wanted students to see how the simple relationships that you are forming now can lead to great opportunities for yourself and those around you," he added.

Forrest hoped students would "see the professionalism, planning and teamwork that goes into supporting the high demand of the president of the United States," he said. "It is all about the balance of the team requirements and accomplishing the mission. Every member of the community and team brings a unique skill set and perspective. Sometimes you are in the lead role, sometimes you are a supporting role. It's essential to remain humble always and I want students to know that doing small jobs well makes big jobs easier. When the team wins, we all win."

According to sixth-former Moon, the Marines made an impression on him and his fellow students, as did simply getting up close to the famous aircraft. "We saw the cockpit ... and then they opened the side doors and we saw where the president sits and where his cabinet and secret service would be," he said. "It's surreal, just knowing that the president of the U.S. would be in that chair. It was so fun."

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