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Steps Magazine | Call of Duty: Piloting Marine One

Marine Corps helicopter pilot and history alumnus Major Jim Mullin is among a select few commissioned to fly Marine One, transporting our nation’s most precious cargo: the President of the United States.Like Air Force One, Marine One is the call sign given to any Marine Corps aircraft carrying the President. Most often the aircraft is a helicopter.“Flying the President of the United States is an important mission of the Marine Corps, and we hold it to a high standard,” said Jim. “As pilots for Marine One, we are not special Marines doing a typical mission, but instead we are typical Marines doing a special mission.”While the Marine One fleet is based in Virginia, the white-topped helicopters donning the Presidential seal are seen most often on the South Lawn of the White House, usually to transport the President to and from Andrews Air Force Base to board Air Force One. However, Marine One often goes wherever the President travels, including overseas.“Landing in the middle of Buckingham Palace and seeing the Queen waiting to greet the President is one flight that still sticks in my mind,” he said. “Flying Marine One has taken me to places that I never would have imagined, and the panoramic views we see at low altitudes are incredible.”In addition to piloting Marine One for President Barack Obama, Jim also transports Vice President Joe Biden (given the call sign Marine Two), as well as heads of states, dignitaries and occasionally members of the press.It has been nearly seven years since Jim graduated from CSUSM with a degree in history while serving on active duty. The knowledge and practical skills he gained as a student are tapped into daily and continue to propel him in his career, he explained. Oral presentations, rigorous writing requirements, critical analyses and empirical research equipped him to be an officer. After graduating in 2005, Jim returned to the fleet and served two deployments in the Middle East before starting his current four-year assignment to the Marine One squadron in 2011.“I am proud to call CSUSM my alma mater,” Jim said. “The professors genuinely care about their students, and as a Marine, I greatly appreciated their support and mentorship; it made all the difference.”