Marine Corps Base Quantico

It's called the "Crossroads of the Marine Corps," and during its 80 year tenure on the approximately 100 square miles of land located along the western bank of the Potomac River, Marine Corps Base Quantico has been a training site for Marines and a birthing place of Marine Corps concepts.

The Marine Corps Base provides functional support for the overall Quantico mission including the provision of personnel administration, facilities, logistics, financial security, safety, public information, legal, base operations, training, administration, morale, welfare and recreation support for organic and tenant organizations.

The Marine Corps Air Facility traces a long history of aviation service to Quantico and the Marine Corps. It was the first Marine Corps Air Station. In 1919, a flying field was laid out and the land leased to accommodate a squadron returning from World War I combat in Europe. The present site was selected in 1931, when larger and faster aircraft brought recognition of the limitations of the original field. On December 1, 1941, the field was officially designated a Marine Corps Air Station. In November 1976, MCAS Quantico was designated a Marine Corps Air Facility. MCAF has hosted HMX-1 since the squadron's inception, providing support to their varied squadron missions including presidential support. Since October 1992, MCAF has belonged to Commander, Marine Corps Air Bases, Eastern Area, headquartered in MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. Today, under COMCABE's direction, MCAF continues to provide support to HMX-1 service to the Fleet, and hospitality for important events such as the Modern Day Marine Corps Exposition.

What is now known as the Crossroads of the Marine Corps was once five miles of quiet, lush forest that bordered the Potomac River. According to records, this is how the Algonquin Indian tribe known as Manohoacs saw the land when they inhabited the area just north of Quantico in the 1500s. As a matter of fact, the name "Quantico" comes from the Native Americans and has been translated to mean "by the large stream."

Prior to Marines arriving in 1917, the land was owned by the Town of Quantico. At the turn of the century, the Quantico Company was formed on Quantico Creek. The company, which promoted the town as a tourist and excursion center, set up tourist sites, such as refreshment stands, boats, and beaches with dressing rooms to promote business. By 1916, the Quantico Company began advertising Quantico as "The New Industrial City," and pushed for industry to come to the area. At the same time, the Quantico Shipyards were established on the land that is now located by the Naval Medical Clinic to build ocean freighters and tankers. With growing tensions of war in Europe, the construction of U.S. Navy ships was a major money-maker for the Quantico Shipyards.

While the Town of Quantico was rapidly growing as a fishing village, excursion center and a shipbuilding center in early 1917, the town was not large or significant, and was suffering many financial difficulties. Around the same time, then-Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General George Barnett, sent a board to find possible sites for a new Marine Corps base in the Washington, D.C., vicinity. It wasn't to long after that the Crossroads of the Corps was established and the name "Quantico" would become immortalized in military history.

In 1917, Marine Barracks, Quantico, was established on the land currently occupied by today's Base. Marine Barracks personnel consisted of 91 enlisted men and four officers. As technology grew and expanded, so did Quantico. Thousands of Marines were trained at Quantico during World War I, and by 1920, the Marine Corps schools were founded, as then-Commandant, Col. Smedley D. Butler put it, "to make this post and the whole Marine Corps a great university." These schools eventually developed into today's Marine Corps University, where most Marine officers begin their careers and many enlisted types keep up with their primary military education.

Quantico also had several other firsts, to include a first in Marine aviation and warfare doctrination. The first Marine Aircraft Wing was developed here, as well as the Corps' first helicopter squadron - Marine Helicopter Squadron One. HMX-1 was the first helicopter squadron to provide rapid transportation of U.S. Presidents. It continues that mission today. In 1934, Amphibious Warfare Doctrine, along with special amphibious landing crafts for WWII were developed at Quantico.

In 1987, the Marine Corps Development and Education Command here was changed to the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, signifying Quantico's role in the 21st century Marine Corps.

Bachelor Enlisted Quarters at Quantico are among the finest found anywhere in the Corps. Men and women live in centrally air conditioned and heated dormitory-type facilities with rooms designed for two, three or four persons. Each room has a private bath. Each BEQ has modern, well-furnished game rooms that feature table tennis, billiards and other entertainment. The BEQs also have several television rooms.

Bachelor Officer Quarters are in great demand at Quantico.There are 72 Temporary Additional Duty transient rooms, 26 transient/guest suites, four distinguished guest suites, 7 bona fide bachelor suites; and 6 foreign military officer rooms.

Base quarters are assigned to officer and enlisted personnel according to grade and number of family members. A member must report aboard, and present a copy of his/her reporting endorsement or a memorandum for housing purposes only from the Reception Center before application for quarters can be made. Also, the member must be detached from his/her previous duty station. The date of detachment from the previous duty station is the control date for the waiting list, providing application is made within 30 calendar days after official reporting aboard, and will also be used when checking in for housing purposes only.

An off-base housing referral service is operated by the Family Housing Office. Incoming personnel, whether married or single, must report to this office prior to renting/purchasing in the civilian community. Personnel will receive helpful information on all types of off-base housing. A list of approved and non-approved apartment complexes/mobile home parks and other pertinent rental information is provided for those interested in renting. A personal computer printout of listed properties is supplied to those desiring to rent/purchase a condominium, townhouse, or house. Virginia booklets and a fact sheet on how to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for a Virginia Loan are also available. Service members must check in with the Housing Referral Office prior to making any arrangements for off-base housing.

A high cost of living, lots of free entertainment, travel and adventure are all part of the lifestyle at Quantico. If you live on base, the high cost of living will be greatly minimized. But, if you choose to live in one of the surrounding communities, you may expect the cost of living to escalate for such necessities as shelter and utilities the closer you are to the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. However, there is much to see and do, most of it is free or very reasonably priced.

The Town of Quantico is unique; it is bordered on three sides by the Marine base and on the fourth by the Potomac River. The Town of Quantico has shops and restaurants within easy walking distance of the mainside barracks. Also, laundries and dry cleaning establishments provide valuable after-hours service for Marines and their families. Limited living accommodations are available. MWR boat docks are on the Potomac River in Quantico and the NMCL is reached by going through the town.

Unconstrained community development (often and perhaps accurately characterized as "sprawl") has made a substantial impact on the once-rural area surrounding the installation. These impacts come from a variety of sources:

  • The growth of commercial air traffic at Washington Dulles International Airport has constrained access to the existing Demo MOA, and in turn has put pressure on aircraft supporting Quantico missions to over-task that MOA. Specifically, attempts to air refuel in the MOA have led to spillout allegations from the FAA.
  • Noise complaints have risen, as new communities have edged closer to artillery firing sites and impact areas.
  • The planned Stafford County Airport has the potential to further restrict access to the Quantico SUA. This airport is being developed to a "Boeing 737" standard; however, its proponents initially intend to certificate it as a VFR facility. Recent information suggests that the Stafford County Airport will be equipped with an instrument approach capability (ILS). All weather capability will encourage growth and perhaps support extended hours of operation. This issue is exacerbated by the airport's location, in relation both to the SUA controlled by Quantico and to other airspace impacts/limits. The south end of the planned runway is adjacent to Interstate Highway 95. The FAA [is alleged to have] stated that no ILS could be installed at that end of the runway due to the excessively low crossing altitude (<200'AGL) over I-95. Therefore, the ILS approach will have to be located at the north side of the airport, where its protected airspace will interfere with the existing R-6608 and Demo MOAs.

The Marine Corps has recognized the importance of retaining unconstrained access to the SUA currently used to support their mission at Quantico. They are currently engaged in discussions with senior officials of the FAA from Washington ARTCC and the Eastern Regional Office to identify the specific expectations of the FAA regarding the Marine Corps assumption of Approach Control responsibility at Quantico. This responsibility would not only include the responsibility for supporting the Marine Corps operations but would include assuming the approach control responsibility for the Stafford County Airport. The planned establishment of the Potomac TRACON may influence the final deliberations between the Marine Corps and the FAA.

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