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Marine Corps Air Station

Camp Pendleton
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Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton
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Established in 1942, MCAS Camp Pendleton is located north of and parallel to Vandegrift Road in Area 23. The air station currently maintains and operates facilities designed to support flight operations of a Marine aircraft wing, a Marine reserve aircraft wing, a Marine expeditionary force, as well as commanding training in the Camp Pendleton air-ground training complex. It provides air traffic control services and facilities, aircraft fire fighting and rescue services, weather service support to Camp Pendleton, and hot and cold refueling and defueling. It encompasses 410 acres, including a 6,000-foot runway, taxiways, and parking aprons. MCAS Camp Pendleton is also known as Munn Field, named after Lt. Gen. John C. (Toby) Munn, a distinguished Marine aviator who served from 1927 to 1964. His assignments included Commanding General of Camp Pendleton (May 1963 to June 1964) and Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

The airfield was initially used to train Marine aviators during World War II.  It functioned as a secondary runway for the much larger MCAS El Toro; as an alternate site for the then common airships (blimps) flying out of Lighter Than Air (LTA) Tustin; and as a dispersal field in the case of attack. During the “Cold War” period, which began virtually at the end of World War II, it was thought that the atomic bomb could be used to stop amphibious landings of the kinds that the Marines had used so successfully during World War II.  New amphibious landing concepts, employing the then emerging technology of helicopters, were one of the responses to this change in the strategic situation. With the helicopter came the concepts of “vertical envelopment” and “vertical assault”. Supporting these new concepts then became the prime role of the Station.  The first helicopters were assigned to the Station in the spring of 1956 and it has been principally a helicopter station ever since. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the Station and its squadrons took part in Marine aviation actions in Korea and Vietnam. Considerable growth in operations occurred during this period.  By 1985, the Air Station was conducting more air operations than either MCAS El Toro or MCAS Tustin. To reflect its increase in airspace and mission, it was re-designated as an MCAS on 1 April 1985. 

On 12 January 1987 MCAS Camp Pendleton was commemoratively named Munn Field after Lt. General John C. (Toby) Munn, a distinguished Marine aviator who served from 1927 to 1964.

Throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium, the Air Station’s squadrons have deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and Japan. Additionally, following various Base Re-Alignments and Closures (BRAC) in the 1990s, the Air Station has become considerably more active in operational terms and ever more vital to the future of Marine aviation.  As the integral fifth element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force, MCAS Camp Pendleton will continue to be a force in readiness capable of providing aviation ground support to a variety of operational forces.

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