Presentations Commemorate 76th Anniversary of December 7, 1941 Attack
Prelude to War: March Field before Pearl Harbor
Special Presentations Set for December 10 at March Field Air Museum
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – March Field Air Museum is proud to announce a special presentation showcasing the factors, events and policies leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and how they affected Riverside’s March Field and Southern California aviation. Scheduled for Sunday, December 10, 2017, the illustrated presentations will be led by the Museum’s Executive Director Paul Hammond, and will be followed by the opportunity for participants to meet two Pearl Harbor attack survivors, Frank Verano and Earl Williams. The special presentations are part of the museum’s kick-off for a year-long celebration of March Field’s 2018 centennial.
As historical background, the Great Depression continued to affect the lives and hopes of Americans in the late 1930s when “winds of war” were building overseas. Publicly continuing its long-standing policy of isolationism, the U.S. appeared uninterested in confronting the rise of aggressive fascism in Europe and Asia. But the threat became more apparent—and urgent—as the decade drew to a close. President Franklin Roosevelt began taking actions in support of the Free World, and preparing for America’s entry into WWII. Southern California, already a hub of the aviation industry, began building and expanding the factories and military bases that would become enormous contributors to the War effort—in particular, in aviation and the aircraft industry.
In Riverside the U.S. Army Air Corps, acknowledging conflict was imminent, had begun a massive buildup in personnel and material. Prior to the attack at Pearl Harbor, March Field found itself undergoing a transformation. Not only would the airfield train airmen, but it would also bear the responsibility for securing the skies over the West Coast from possible enemy attack. Following the attack March Field would double in size, growing to support more than 75,000 troops at the height of the War effort.
Each “Prelude to War” presentation will conclude by providing attendees with the opportunity to meet two Pearl Harbor survivors, Frank Verano and Earl Williams, in person. The illustrated, general-interest presentations will take place at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and last approximately 30 minutes. They are included in regular Museum admission: $10 for guests ages 12 years and older; $5 for children ages 5 to 11 years; and free for children ages 4 and younger. March Field Air Museum is a top-rated TripAdvisor attraction that is located alongside Interstate Highway 215 at Van Buren Boulevard, just south of downtown Riverside and adjacent to March Air Reserve Base. For more information about the Museum, please call 951-902-5949 or visit www.MarchField.org.
About March Field’s Centennial
March Field (today’s March Air Reserve Base, located immediately adjacent to the museum) is the West Coast’s oldest continuously operating military airfield. Established in 1918 as the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, it began life as part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Following several sleepy years in the 1920s, March Field was expanded in the 1930s as the world again prepared for war. As March Field passed the quarter-century mark, it was busily training U.S. Army Air Forces personnel for deployment to all Combat Theaters during WWII. Following the war—as the Cold War began—and then continuing for nearly 50 years, March Air Force Base became the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command 15th Air Force headquarters and home to a massive nuclear deterrent force.
In 1993, as March Field celebrated its 75th anniversary, it was selected for realignment and subsequently re-designated March Air Reserve Base. Today March Field is home to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 4th Air Force Headquarters and 452nd Air Mobility Wing, the largest air mobility wing of the 4th Air Force. In addition to multiple units of the Air Force Reserve Command, March ARB is also home to units from the U.S. Air Force, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, California Air National Guard, California Army National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. As it begins its second century as a military airfield, March Air Reserve Base is expanding to encompass new missions in protection of our great nation.
About March Field Air Museum
The March Field Air Museum is a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to promoting an understanding of humanity’s reach for the skies and March Field’s pivotal role in the development of flight. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and rated the #1 Attraction in Riverside by TripAdvisor, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and located alongside Interstate Highway 215 at Van Buren Boulevard, just south of downtown Riverside and adjacent to March Air Reserve Base. More than 70 aircraft are on display, ranging from the world’s fastest manned air-breathing aircraft (the SR-71 Blackbird) and a modern-day MQ-1 Predator (remotely piloted aircraft), to early examples of military aircraft, to some of America’s most iconic military planes including World War II bombers. For more information about the museum, visit www.marchfield.org or call (951) 902-5949