August 16, 2021

Like most twins, Lt. Col. Sean McPherson ’91 and Maj. Michael McPherson ’91 have much in common. From their time at Texas A&M University to their careers in the Marine Corps, they share important life experiences, but their ties go further than most thanks to a prestigious mutual connection: the president of the United States.  

Both brothers spent four years in Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), where they played key roles transporting then President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney. In these positions, the McPhersons traveled around the world and had an up-close seat for important political events as they drew on their Aggie foundation to serve their commander and country. 

Taking Off 

Born in Columbus, Ohio, the McPhersons moved frequently due to their father’s Marine Corps career. In high school, they relocated to College Station when their father returned to his alma mater to become Professor of Naval Science for Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets. As they experienced the university through football games and other events, the brothers decided to become Aggies. 

Both made lasting memories at Texas A&M, especially through the Corps. Sean was a member of Company K-2 while Michael served as guidon bearer in Company M-2. They fondly recall events like receiving their Corps brass, working on Bonfire, and participating in the March to the Brazos and Final Review. “My time at Texas A&M was full of traditions and great times with friends,” Michael said. “There really is a spirit at Texas A&M that you only understand once you become an Aggie.” 

After graduating, the brothers followed their father’s example and were commissioned in the Marine Corps. “We were raised in the belief system of giving back to the country, so I always knew I would be a Marine,” Michael said. Their time in the Corps was also an important factor in their decision. “The Corps is a good primer to get yourself ready to go into the military,” Sean explained. “You gain the discipline you need and acquire leadership experience as you advance through the Corps’ ranks.” 

Sean first attended flight school and became a troop transport pilot, deploying twice in Asia and the Middle East. He then became a battalion air officer with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines before joining HMX-1 in 2000. Michael’s career began as an infantry officer with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. After advancing to company executive officer, he attended flight school and became an attack helicopter pilot, deploying overseas. In 2002, after Michael heard Sean discuss his experiences with HMX-1, the squadron gained the second half of the McPherson duo. 

 

  • The McPherson Brothers

    Like most twins, Maj. Michael McPherson ’91 (left) and Lt. Col. Sean McPherson ’91 (right) have much in common. From their time at Texas A&M University to their careers in the Marine Corps, they share important life experiences.

  • Mother's Day

    In high school, the McPherson brothers relocated to College Station when their father returned to his alma mater to become Professor of Naval Science for Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets. As they experienced the university through football games and other events, the brothers decided to become Aggies.

  • Final Review

    Both made lasting memories at Texas A&M, especially through the Corps. Sean was a member of Company K-2 while Michael served as guidon bearer in Company M-2.

  • Corps Memories

    They fondly recall events like receiving their Corps brass, working on Bonfire, and participating in the March to the Brazos and Final Review.

  • Marine Helicopter Squadron One

    Both brothers spent four years in Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), where they played key roles transporting then President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney.

  • President Bush

    The McPhersons also got an up-close look at important presidential moments. Sean served as the co-pilot when Marine One picked up President Bush from the White House for his first overseas trip as president, while Michael helped take the president on a helicopter survey of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.

  • Deployment

    Sean (pictured) flew two combat deployments in Iraq, and after spending time in Okinawa, Japan, he moved to Virginia and helped test new technology as the futures technology director of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. Michael deployed to Iraq as the director of safety for Marine Aircraft Group 16 before becoming the officer in charge at the Marine Aviation Training Safety Center in North Carolina.

 

President on Board 

Established in 1947 to test military helicopter techniques and equipment, HMX-1 is now famous for flying the president on Marine One—the name given to any helicopter transporting the president—as well as the vice president and other top officials. Pilots must qualify for top security clearance and serve for four years.  

Though neither brother became one of the squadron’s four presidential pilots, both flew support helicopters, transported the president and vice-president as a co-pilot, and flew the vice president as a White House aircraft commander. In addition, Sean served as White House liaison officer from 2002 to 2004, while Michael served as assistant White House liaison officer from 2004 to 2006. In these positions, they coordinated with Secret Service members and arranged landing locations. In his fourth year, Michael was also a command pilot who flew foreign heads of state, including the presidents of Mexico and The Philippines.

 

Beyond Marine One 

Following their time at HMX-1, the McPhersons continued serving the Marines and their country. Sean flew two combat deployments in Iraq, and after spending time in Okinawa, Japan, he moved to Virginia and helped test new technology as the futures technology director of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. Michael deployed to Iraq as the director of safety for Marine Aircraft Group 16 before becoming the officer in charge at the Marine Aviation Training Safety Center in North Carolina. 

Now retired from the Marines, the brothers remain focused on their military and aviation passions. A Department of the Navy employee, Sean works in the Pentagon as a manpower analyst. Michael continues to fly as a fixed-wing pilot and contractor for a company that offers aircraft management services. 

Through it all, the brothers haven’t forgotten their Aggie roots. They still stay in touch with friends from their Corps of Cadets days and visit Aggieland when possible, and they hope to be more involved with the university in the future. “Texas A&M was a great stepping-stone for my career,” Michael said. “It was the foundation for any and all successes I had in the Marine Corps.”

Want to provide foundational experiences for future men and women in the military? Support the Corps of Cadets by contacting Matt Jennings ’95 at (979) 845-7604 or by submitting a message through the form below. 

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