Memories of MCAS El Toro

I have many fond memories of MCAS El Toro. I was stationed there from Nov. ’56 thru Nov. ’59. I served with MARS-37 as a 6442 Hydraulics Repairman MOS. I would like to know where MARS-37 was moved to. I participated in the Fleet Schooling (acceptance) programs for the FJ4B North American A/C and later for the F8U Crusader A/C, known as FIP’s (Fleet Introduction Programs).

My wife was with me for the period aboard the NAMAR housing. We were both enjoying some of the best duty in the Corps for families. We couldn’t believe it when we heard of its move/disbanding!

Does anyone know the story of MARS-37 and its removal and subsequently the Station itself?

Tom Harp USMC
A/Sgt 1953-1959

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

10 comments


  • Paul Chacho Jr. SGT. E5 66to69.

    I was stationed at MCAS El Toro in the Spring of 1967 after being trained as a jet mech at NAS Millington, TN. Got there a Lance Corporal, joining VMA 214 just returned from 2 years in Vietnam. I volunteered to help the lone admin clerk sort out and organize the Admin Office. I was supposed to stay 2 weeks and stayed over a year going from Lance to Sgt E5. El Toro was wonderful. We would spend weekends at Laguna beach or Disneyland. At the time CA was only 12 million people. Laguna Canyon Road was open country. I served with VMA211 at Chu Lai from 1968 t0 1969 returning to El Toro. I was saddened that it was closed just like millington and of course Chu Lai. It is like my whole tour has been mothballed. Good thing Parris Island is still there. Semper Fi to all. Paul Chacho Jr.


  • James Hornsey

    I have been to El Toro twice. Both times in the dark. Flew out of there 2/Jan/70 to Vietnam. Landed there 7/Jan/71 when I got back. In between was an 0311 with Mike 3/1 CUPP.


  • Sgt Walt Ramsey 62-66

    MARS-37 was renamed MAMS-37 sometime before I arrived in april 64. Worked in Avionics shop till nov 66. Name was changed again few years later then disbanded. Good duty at El Toro.


  • Cpl. John Engel

    My first duty station after going through all the aviation schools was El Toro. Newly married,we traveled across country to get there only to find there was no apartment. Found one in Santa Ana. The A4Ds were just coming into VMA211 & sent to school on them .we did a lot of flying training pilot’s to use them. When the outfit rotated out & VMA 311 came back, I was some how “ INPORTANT “ lol lol that I was to stay at EL TORO to help 311 get settled in. I worked on the flight line & never had any problems getting all out birds in the air. The pilots always felt comfortable & safe which made us feel great too. Was a great experience.19 years old & giving that much responsibility was something every young person should thrive for. Made me a better man for the rest of my life.


  • Johnny Reyes Jr

    MCAS El Toro is located in Irvine, Orange County, CA. To developers this makes the site pure gold, I’m surprised it took this long to grease enough palms at the local, state, and federal level to decommission it and shut it down. Used their runway in the late 90’s for a C5A aircraft during a cross country trip.


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