At Home in San Diego

San Diego, California - Sailors man the rails as the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) transits the San Diego Bay. Ronald Reagan is returning after a seven-month deployment to the western Pacific and U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shawnte Bryan/Released)

With a mighty military arsenal gleaming from the banks of San Diego Bay, we see a constant reminder that freedom isn't free. Since 1846 a significant part of the Navy's fleet has made its permanent home in San Diego. Before then, the Spanish had explored and laid claim to large areas of California. Eventually Spain lost its superiority in North America to Mexico. San Diego was under Mexico's rule for 24 years. Hostilities were brewing around Mexico and the newly accessioned Texas. Many facts of why the war began are still unknown or confusing; however the War with Mexico is notable in the fact that the U.S. Navy claimed San Diego as U.S. territory. On July 29, 1846, the sloop-of-war Cyane, commanded by Capt. Samuel Francis DuPont, entered the port of San Diego. With little wind, the sloop-of-war was barely able to sail into the bay. Lt. Stephen Rowan, the executive officer, led a small party of sailors ashore. The sailors were augmented by the ships' Marine guard under United States Marine Lt. William Maddox. Together, they set off toward shore in two boats with orders to reconnoiter the town and test for opposition. They marched unopposed to the town square and raised a naval ensign - the first official rising of U.S. colors in San Diego. The Marines participated in several military actions with the U.S. Army and Navy in the San Diego area, both during and following the Mexican War. By February 1848, with the Mexican War at an end and California secure, the Marines departed the San Diego area for the last time until March 1911. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Navy built both a coaling station and an experimental wireless facility at the southwestern corner of the country to support extended fleet operations. On May 12, 1906, San Diego's first wireless radio station, At Home in San Die go dubbed NPL (Navy-Point Loma) for its three-letter call sign, rose on the crest of Point Loma, the site selected to provide maximum radio range over the ocean to the south and west of the United States. The visit of the Great White Fleet to San Diego in April 1908 is widely regarded as the watershed event in the Navy's long association here. Today's surface Navy at Naval Base San Diego is home port to 46 U.S. Navy ships, two littoral combat ships, two U.S. Coast Guard cutters and eight ships of the Military Sealift Command, as well as research and auxiliary vessels. Ashore, the base has approximately 120 separate tenant commands and other Navy support facilities, each having specific and specialized fleet support missions. The base is a workplace for approximately 26,000 military, civilian and contract personnel. Additionally, the base has rooms to house more than 4,000 men and women in modern apartment-like dormitories, including newer state-ofthe- art residential towers. San Diego became the birthplace of naval aviation in 1911 when Lt. Theodore Ellyson was designated as Naval Aviator No. 1 at Coronado. The same year, under the command of Marine Col. Charles A. Doyen, the 4th Provisional Marine Regiment became the first Marine unit to occupy San Diego since the Mexican War. The regiment established a military camp on North Island, and named it Camp Thomas in honor of Rear Adm. Chauncey Thomas, commander-in chief of the Pacific Fleet. By 1917, North Island was commissioned a Naval Air Station. It is host to 23 aviation squadrons and 80 additional tenant commands and activities, one of which, the Naval Aviation Depot, is the largest aerospace employer in San Diego. Its airfield has more than 230 stationed aircraft, and its quay wall is homeport to two aircraft carriers: USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan. Additionally, the base is home to the Navy's only Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles, Mystic (DSRV-1) and Avalon (DSRV-2).

San Diego, California - Recruits of Company A, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, await the next order from their unit leader during Final Drill aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Photo By: Lance Cpl. Pedro Cardenas

On March 1, 1924, the Marines had a permanent home in the city at Marine Corps Base, Naval Operating Base, San Diego; in January 1948 the base was designated the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. The depot has the responsibility to train all recruits who reside west of the Mississippi River. In June 1943, the secretary of the Navy authorized the establishment of the Amphibious Training Base in the San Diego area to meet wartime's demands for trained landing craft crews. These crews were deployed to the South Pacific area of operations, where their successful and historical efforts were contributory to the conclusion of World War II. The streets of the base bear the names of those famous battles which led to the Empire of Japan's defeat: Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Tulagi and Bougainville, to name a few. In January 1944, Naval Amphibious Base Coronado was commissioned. It provides a shore base for the operations, training and support of naval amphibious units on the West Coast.

Report compiled by Lt. Cdr. Steve Ruh, Navy Region Southwest; information provided by the California Center for Military History and Bruce Linder, author of "The Navy in San Diego."