March Field Air Museum in Riverside is launching the Centennial celebration of March Air Reserve Base with its “March of Flight” kickoff fundraiser Oct. 21.
The event will commemorate an upcoming century of service in honor of March Air Reserve Base, engaging the community and enabling guests to get involved in supporting the museum and Air Reserve Base.
The Centennial will be celebrated in 2018 but the museum is initiating that celebration with the fundraiser.
The World War II-themed event will be hosted by the museum and include live music, swing dancing, refreshments, a prize drawing, a new exhibit showcasing the history of the base and other interactive activities and games for guests.
Paul Hammond, executive director at the March Field Air Museum, shared the purpose of the evening.
“We hope our March of Flight event will shine the spotlight on March Field and its long, proud history of service to this community and to our nation,” Hammond said. “Given our event’s timing of late October, we thought it would be helpful to focus this year on helping to kick off the March Field Centennial.”
Founded in 1918, the history of March ARB extends from World War I to present day.
The base played a global role in flight development and military training during World War II, acted as a Strategic Air Command Base with nuclear- armed bombers throughout the Cold War and Vietnam War and realigned to become March ARB in 1996.
“Celebrating a centennial for March signifies its involvement with the surrounding communities and projecting its global influence throughout its many years of existence,” said Carlos Trigueros, junior aviation science flight major.
Trigueros is an Air Force veteran currently assigned to the 452nd MXS (Maintenance Squadron) at March ARB.
“Many of our reservists are lifelong Riverside residents and others from across the Southland.” Trigueros said. “This means that for 100 years the base has contributed to the diversity, rich culture and economy that makes Riverside such a beautiful place.”
Almost 100 years after its founding, March ARB is still the largest Air Reserve Base and the West Coast’s oldest continuously operating military airfield. It maintains its role in protecting both the Riverside area and the United States as a whole.
“The sounds of March ARB aircraft can often be heard throughout Riverside,” said Creighton Goodman, assistant professor of aviation science and traditional reservist pilot on the KC-135 aircraft stationed at March ARB. “To many people, (those sounds) represent the sound of freedom.”
Goodman said March ARB remains the Air Force’s main airbase in the Southern California region.
While the primary purpose of the base is cargo (C-17) and air refueling (KC-135) for worldwide missions, it is also home to the fourth Air Force Headquarters, the 452nd Air Mobility Wing and multiple military reserves and National Guard units.
March ARB is primarily focused on national defense but is also heavily involved with humanitarian relief around the world.
The base has conducted relief missions following Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake, has participated in wildfire fighting efforts across California and is currently contributing to search and rescue missions in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico following the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
While these missions with March ARB can be rigorous and demanding, Trigueros said working with the base has been a positive experience.
“I love my job,” Trigueros said. “March has made it possible to be flexible enough to attend CBU full time and work full time in the afternoon. There is always something new to learn and experience and I thank God that he has blessed me with this opportunity of a lifetime.”
Trigueros said there are many opportunities for aviation and non-aviation students to get involved with March ARB.
With more than 140 specialty jobs in multiple positions, the Air Force and Air Force Reserve allow students to enlist or commission upon graduation from college.
“The Air Force Reserve is always looking for innovative and motivated individuals who feel the purpose to do more for the world,” Trigueros said. “Students who are looking to gain experience in their fields of study can enlist or commission for a certain amount of time and enjoy the benefits of having a job and working for a retirement, all while serving a higher purpose locally.”
The March ARB museum is open for visitation Tuesday — Sunday 10 a.m. — 5 p.m.