Famed Navy Admiral’s legacy lives on flight line

16 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Christopher O'Quin

Since Marine Corps Air Station Miramar’s flight line’s creation in the early 20th Century, it has helped U.S. military aviators train, take off and land, and accumulate tens of thousands of flight operations each year.

Mitscher Field was dedicated in 1955 to honor Adm. Marc A. Mitscher, a naval aviator who helped demonstrate the capabilities of naval aviation through his wartime experience.

“He was one of the early Navy pilots,” said Doug Siegfried, the historian and archivist with the Tailhook Association. “He held numerous positions in naval aviation and even helped test the early aircraft catapults on aircraft carriers. He was also well known for looking out for aviators.”

Mitscher was born Jan. 26, 1887 in Hillsboro, Wisc., but grew up in Washington, D.C. He received his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1906. Mitscher was designated the 33rd ever Naval Aviator on June 2, 1916.

Mitscher commanded the USS Hornet, the aircraft carrier that launched 16 B-25B Mitchell bombers that dropped dozens of explosives on mainland Japan factories, April 25, 1942.

For the rest of World War II, Mitscher’s command of Task Force 58 in the Pacific helped with numerous engagements including the largest aircraft carrier battle in history, the first battle of the Philippine Sea.

Mitscher died February 3, 1947 after devoting 41 years of continuous service.

Admiral Arleigh Burke attributed Mitscher to be a bulldog of a fighter, and strategist blessed with an uncanny ability to foresee his enemy’s next move. He was above all else, a naval Aviator.

“It’s an honor to land on field with such heritage,” said Capt. Craig Q. Gately, a weapons systems officer with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225. “His name reminds us of the naval aviators who have flown to keep our shores safe.”

Since the dedication, numerous presidents of the United States, foreign leaders and military officials have walked on the flight line. Mitscher Field is home to more than 16 squadrons with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Many units throughout the U.S. military visit the station each year to train.

As new generations of aircraft and aviators call Miramar home, Mitscher’s legacy will live on through the flight line they will depart.