Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Base Guide
MCAS Miramar is located in the San Diego Greater Metropolitan Area and is part of the second-most populated county in the state.
Located approximately 15 miles from downtown San Diego, the installation supports the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and other tenant units; it serves as a “power projection platform” able to support Joint Force operations in the Pacific.
MCAS Miramar is located near Navy Base San Diego) and provides support for Camp Pendleton ground combat troops.
MCAS Miramar History
What we know today as MCAS Miramar started as Camp Kearny all the way back in 1917. At this time, it was an infantry training area for troops headed for combat in World War One.
Camp Kearny closed in 1920, but a decade later, the U.S. Navy conducted some air operations in the area, and ultimately the installation would be redesignated as Naval Auxiliary Air Station Camp Kearny in 1943.
But the Navy would hand the base over to the Marine Corps; as a result, the base became Marine Corps Air Depot Miramar, with the base being upgraded to an Air Station in 1946. Over the next 50 years, the base would host Navy jet training, a fighter weapons school, and training for VF-124s and F-14s. The base also flew F-18 training missions with the help of organizations like the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, or VMFAT-101.
Some thought MCAS Miramar went “on the chopping block” thanks to attention from the 1990s-era Base Realignment and Closure Commission in the 1990s, but the Air Station wasn’t closed; it was realigned.
At press time, MCAS Miramar is the home of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and two support commands (Marine Air Control Group 38 and the 3rd MAW Band.) Some 11 thousand active-duty troops serve here, as well as nearly 1,000 Reservists. In 2023, MCAS Miramar flew its final F-18 training missions as the base transitions to F-35 fighters.
Related: Ultimate GI Bill Benefits Guide
MCAS Miramar Surrounding Area
The population of the San Diego area is said to be over three million, it’s California’s second-most populated county and is in the top ten most populated in the USA. Local attractions include Major League sports (the San Diego Padres are the obvious big draw here) plus military-themed tourist attractions like the USS Midway Museum and the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
Other attractions in the San Diego area include live venues like the La Jolla Playhouse and the Olde Globe Theatre, you can also take in shows at Seaworld, visit the San Diego Zoo, or indulge in a local cruise in the surrounding waters.
San Diego is beautiful, but for some, the real draw may be its proximity to Hollywood. LA is technically only a few hours from San Diego, but traffic, tourist season, and other variables will affect those travel times.
Planning a long weekend trip there as your first visit may be smart if you aren’t familiar with the area. You may find the commuting times for a single-day trip impractical depending on the time of year, weather conditions, and tourist activity.
MCAS Miramar Mission and Units
MCAS Miramar hosts the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, which has included a variety of airframes:
- KC-130 Hercules
- MV-22 Osprey
- CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.
MCAS Miramar also provides support for the following:
- Marine Air Control Group 38
- 3rd MAW Band
- 4th Marine Air Wing
- H&HS Marine Flight Division UC-12
- H&HS Marine Flight Division UC-35
Marine Corps recruiting operations and 2nd Battalion support is also provided at MCAS Miramar. The Air Station is 40 miles south of Camp Pendleton, said to be the USMC’s largest amphibious assault training area.
In-Processing and Check-In
During duty hours, Marines and all other servicemembers PCSing to the Air Station should check in via the Installation Personnel Administration Office. After duty hours, on weekends, and holidays, check in with the command duty officer in the Headquarters Building. You must report in uniform.
Child Care at MCAS Miramar
Due to the unique size of the military community in the area, your on-base childcare options may not be limited to what’s available at MCAS Miramar.
MCAS Miramar Child Development Centers provides on-base care, and you may also have options through the Family Child Care (FCC) program. This care is offered by supervised providers who live on-post in private homes. All FCC homes are inspected and certified.
Due to high demand, waiting lists may apply for both types of care. There are Regional Child Care Resource and Referral Office support options; you may be placed on waiting lists for not one but six childcare options near the base.
Depending on demand and other variables, you may be offered child care at a different San Diego-area base, such as:
- Naval Base San Diego
- Naval Base Point Loma
- MCAS Miramar
- Naval Medical Center
- Murphy Canyon Housing Area
Contact the MCAS Miramar Housing Office when you have orders to the area to learn how to sign up for waiting lists and what paperwork is needed to apply.
Military housing is available on board the Air Station and throughout the local area in San Diego County.
You may be able to use the MCAS Miramar housing office, but may also have the option to use Housing Office resources on board Naval Station San Diego. The size of this military community makes options like this possible; you may not find such alternatives in bases in other states.
There is typically a waiting list for housing, and some wait as long as 24 months; be ready for this possibility and ask your sponsor how to manage the higher cost of living and housing here.
Related: BAH Calculator
PCS and TDY Lodging
The Miramar Inn provides MCAS Miramar with temporary lodging facilities. It’s best to contact the Inn as soon as you have PCS or TDY orders; there is high demand for temporary lodging at MCAS Miramar and if you delay, you may be required to seek alternatives off-base.
There are no pet-friendly temporary lodging options on the base. Make reservations or get more information about traveling to the base at 800-628-9466 or 858-271-7111.
If you are traveling as an unaccompanied military member or “geographic bachelor”, be sure to contact the Billeting Office on arrival; you will likely be assigned a room in the barracks to start your in-processing.
Those E-5 and below may be assigned permanent rooms as part of in-processing. E5s and above must generally reside in a community off-base.
San Diego is a bustling area, travel-wise. You will quickly learn that rush hour, tourist season, and local weather conditions are crucial in travel planning, even if you’re only scheduling a day trip outside the local area.
PCS and TDY new arrivals will typically arrive in the area via San Diego International Airport, less than 20 miles away. Another option about 30 miles out is McClellan-Palomar Airport.
It’s best to coordinate with your sponsor when flying into San Diego due to rush hour issues and California traffic patterns–you may get some good advice on when to book your departure and arrival to avoid traffic issues at rush hour, assuming you have the flexibility to change your travel schedule to accommodate; not all traveling on orders can do so.
Vehicle Registration And Driver’s License
California state law includes strict vehicle emission standards, and such laws are subject to change.
If you have PCS orders to the state, ask your sponsor about motor vehicle laws and pending legislation that may affect your choices about bringing a vehicle from your last assignment, getting rid of that car, and buying one in-state or related choices.
Active duty military members stationed in California are exempt from the California vehicle license fee for any motor vehicle registered in California. This is only true for non-commercial vehicles.
When driving on board MCAS Miramar, you’re subject to a 100% ID check policy depending on base security levels, current mission requirements, and other variables. All drivers and passengers may be searched or asked to furnish ID.
You must register your vehicle on base; ask your sponsor what current vehicle registration procedures are as they are subject to change.
Two school districts close to the base are San Diego Unified and Poway Unified School Districts. The DoD does not operate any schools on board the Air Station.
Be advised that transportation may be an issue; San Diego Unified School District offers no busing options “except for those involved in magnet schools, voluntary integration programs or special education,” according to the DoD.
The Poway School District may offer transportation (fee-based) for those who live within reasonable walking distances. Contact the MCAS Miramar School Liaison Office for information on registering a new student, bussing issues, and immunization requirements. Call 858-307-8625 or 858-307-6633.
MCAS Miramar Colleges and Universities
The MCAS Miramar Education Center offers free testing to qualified applicants in a variety of areas, including:
- Military Classification Exams (DLPT, DLAB, OPI, AFCT)
- Distance Learning Proctoring
- Air Force Career Development Academy
- Pearson Vue
- CLEP and DSST offered through National University
Contact the Education Center at 858-307-1801 to learn how to sign up for a test. The Education Center can also assist with Military Tuition Assistance but know that first-time Tuition Assistance users must take an introductory higher education prep course as a condition of being approved for TA.
Nearby schools and institutions that have offered classes on the installation in the past include National University, Central Texas College, and San Diego Miramar College.
Related: Military Tuition Assistance Guide
6200 Miramar Way
San Diego, CA 92145
Important MCAS Miramar Contact Numbers
- Child Development Center (858) 577-4144
- EFMP Family Support (858) 577-8644
- EFMP/Enrollment (858) 577-8644
- Family Advocacy Program Coordinator (858) 577-6585
- Marine and Family Services (858) 577-6585
- New Parent Support Program (858) 577-9812
- Finance Office (760) 725-8545
- Dental Clinic (858) 577-1824
- Health Promotion program (858) 577-1331
- Medical Acute Care Clinic (858) 577-7754
- MCAS Miramar Billeting Office (858) 577-4233
- Lincoln Military Housing Office (858) 577-1121
- Lincoln Military Housing Referral Office (619) 556-7667
- Miramar Inn (858) 271-7111
- Career Resource Program (858) 557-76491
- ID/CAC Card Processing (858) 577-1142
- Information and Referral (858) 577-6228
- Citizenship and Immigration Services (858) 577-1656
- Legal Assistance Office (858) 577-1656
- Marine and Family Services (858) 577-6585
- Personnel Reporting Office (858) 577-1783
- MCCS Youth and Teen Center MCAS Miramar (858) 577-4136
- School Age Care (858) 577-4136
- School Liaison Officer (858) 577-6633
- Dist. Man. Office Personal Property (858) 577-1276
- Career Resource Program/ Transition Assistance Program (858) 577-6491
- Loan Closet (858) 577-1428
- Passenger Travel Office (858) 577-1298
- Relocation Assistance Program (858) 577-1428
- Joint Reception Center (858) 577-1428
Related: VA Home Loan Guide
About the author
Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.