MCAS Miramar, CA Image 1
    MCAS Miramar, CA Image 2

    MCAS Miramar, CA History

    Marine Corps Air Station Miramar started as Camp Kearny in 1917 when the U.S. Army acquired over 12,000 acres of land north of San Diego to train infantry soldiers being sent to Europe. Post-World War I, the camp was used for demobilization of troops and then closed in 1920.

    Charles Lindbergh used the abandoned camp, though it had no airstrip, for practice with his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, before his historic flight. In the 1930s, the Navy used the camp briefly for helium dirigibles before the program was abandoned just a few years later.

    During World War II, a new Camp Elliott was built on part of what had been Camp Kearny for artillery and machine gun training by the Marines. Elliott became home to the Fleet Marine Force Training Center, West Coast, and the 2nd Marine Division. When runways were finally built in 1940, the camp grew to include the 1st Marine Air Wing as well.

    In 1943, the Navy commissioned Naval Auxiliary Air Station Camp Kearny for Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer crew training. One month later, the Marines built Marine Corps Air Depot Camp Kearny, but the name was later changed to Air Depot Miramar to avoid being confused with the Navy's Camp Kearny. The two services used separate camps until they combined to become Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in 1946. Just one year later, however, the Marines moved out to MCAS El Toro, in Orange County, CA and the base turned back into a Naval Auxiliary Air Station.

    The 1950s saw the Navy use half the air station for a Master Jet Station and the other half, what was formerly Camp Elliott, used for Project Orion by the U.S. Air Force and, later, NASA. In 1969, the Navy established Navy Fighter Weapons School, better known as TOPGUN, to train pilots in fleet air defense and dog-fighting tactics. Miramar became the home of F-14 Tomcat and VF-124 fighter squadrons and trained the first 2 Tomcat squadrons, VF-1 "Wolfpack" and VF-2 "Bounty Hunters" before they deployed aboard the USS Enterprise. In the late 1980s this station was used for the filming of the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun.

    In 1993, BRAC suggested the closure of MCAS El Toro and Tustin, and that NAS Miramar be transferred back to the Marines. Today, MCAS Miramar employs over 12,000 Marines, Sailors, and civilians.