San Diego’s Military History

Visitors to San Diego will see a lot of things emblematic of the city. The streets and parks are lined with palm trees and lush greenery. Beach culture can be found everywhere from the clothes people wear to restaurant themes. But what is sometimes not as often mentioned is another inescapable part of the fabric in “America’s Finest City” which is just as ubiquitous: the military.



The San Diego area started hosting American military bases as early as the 1850s with naval batteries established from Point Loma to Fort Rosecrans in the subsequent decades. The U.S. Navy expanded its activities greatly in the
early 20th century, particularly after World War I when global conflicts proved to necessitate a robust presence on the West Coast.


Bases & Installations

If visitors are driving south on Highway 5 into San Diego through the community of
Oceanside, they will be surrounded by imposing Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base. Further south, less than five miles northeast of San
Diego’s downtown, is the Marine Corps Air
Station Miramar. Probably the most imposing
of all the military bases in San Diego is the Naval Base San Diego. Located just south of the
Coronado Bridge and the city’s downtown, this is the largest U.S. Navy Base on the West Coast.

And let us not forget the contributions of the Coast Guard. Located on the northern end of San Diego Bay,
hugging the San Diego International Airport, United States Coast Guard Air Station San Diego is another critical installation for the region.


Community Ties

As one can imagine, the huge presence of the Navy, Coast Guard and Marines makes major

contributions to San Diego’s overall community. Over 200,000 veterans call San Diego County their home. It’s no wonder that just about

everybody in town is either in the military or knows someone associated with the armed

forces. As it is often said, San Diego truly is a military town.

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