Photo: President Barack Obama inside a CH-47 in Afghanistan (without flak jacket)

Just released by the White House, this photograph, taken on May 1, at Bagram airfield, shows Barack Obama talking with Ambassador Ryan Crocker aboard Marine One moments before the helicopter took off to bring the President, just arrived from Andrews AFB on board the Air Force One, to the Afghan Presidential Palace in Kabul.

Seated next to the President, from left, are Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough and Chief of Staff Jack Lew.

Noteworthy neither Obama nor Crocker wear a flak jacket.

Marine One” is the designation and radio callsign used by any helicopter with the POTUS on board. However, it is quite unlikely that the helicopter used this easily recognizable radio callsign for the dangerous trip in Afghanistan.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Wouldn’t the helicopter’s callsign (or, at least, its official designation) been Army One?

    When the Marines and Army used to split the duty of flying the Presidential helicopter, Army One was what was used when an Army crew flew the VH-3.

    Since the CH-46 is not flown by the Marines, it has to have been an Army One flight – one of the few since the Army phased out the VH-3 in 1976!

  2. Wouldn’t this have been a flight under the callsign Army One? The CH-46 is an Army helicopter, and when the Presidential helicopter was formerly flown by Army crews, it used the callsign Army One.

  3. Thanks for the comments.
    Actually, since the helo was in theatre, as written in the article, its radio callsign most probably was not “Marine One”, but a standard c/s used by the CH-47 unit that carried the POTUS from Bagram to Kabul.
    Even the photo caption on the White House flickr photostream mentioned “Marine One” because it is more a designation than the actual callsign (in certain situations).

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