March Joint Air Reserve Base (IATA: RIV, ICAO:
KRIV, FAA LID: RIV) is located in Riverside County,
California between the cities of Riverside and Moreno Valley. It is the
home to the Air Force Reserve Command's 4th Air Force (4 AF)
Headquarters and the 452d Air Mobility Wing (452 AMW), the largest air
mobility wing of the 4th Air Force. In addition to multiple units of the
Air Force Reserve Command supporting Air Mobility Command, Air Combat
Command and Pacific Air Forces, March ARB is also home to units from the
Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve and the California Air
National Guard. For almost 50 years, March AFB was a Strategic Air
Command base during the Cold War.
March is one of the oldest airfields operated by the United States
military, being established as Alessandro Flying Training Field in
February 1918. The airfield was renamed March Field the following month
for 2nd Lt Peyton C. March, Jr., the recently deceased son of then-Army
Chief of Staff Peyton C. March, who was killed in an air crash in Texas
just fifteen days after being commissioned.
Major General George Owen Squier
The establishment of March Air Force Base began in the early 1900s at
a time when the United States was rushing to build up its military
forces in anticipation of an entry into World War I. In 1917, in
response to news from the front lines, Congressional appropriations
attempted to back the plans of General George O. Squier, the Army's
chief signal officer, to "put the Yankee punch into the war by building
an army in the air".
At the same time, the War Department announced its intentions to
build several new military installations. Efforts by Frank Miller, then
owner of the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, Hiram Johnson and
others, succeeded in gaining War Department approval to construct an
airfield at Alessandro Field located near Riverside, an airstrip used by
aviators from Rockwell Field on cross-country flights from San Diego.
The Army quickly set about establishing the new air field. Sergeant
Charles E. Garlick, who had landed at Alessandro Field in a Curtiss JN-4
"Jenny" in November 1917, was selected to lead the advance contingent of
four men to the new base from Rockwell Field. On February 26, 1918,
Garlick and his crew and a group of muleskinners from nearby Colton,
known to be experts in clearing land as well as for their colorful
syntax, began the task of excavating the building foundations, and on
March 1, 1918, Alessandro Flying Training Field was opened.