1940 — In the summer of 1940, the Marine Corps embarks on a critical mission — to find a site for a new base. For the search, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Maj. Gen. Thomas Holcomb, sends Maj. John C. McQueen and pilot, Capt. McCaul, to conduct aerial reconnaissance from Norfolk, Virginia, down the Atlantic Coast and along the Gulf Coast as far as Corpus Christi, Texas. At Onslow Bay on the New River, they survey 14 miles of undeveloped beaches and a large expanse of coastal pine forest and swampy wetlands, near what would become Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. Marines must train in tangled thickets, wade through mucky swamps, and contend with mosquitoes, bears, alligators and several species of venomous snakes. The area turns out to be the perfect proving ground for both amphibious assault and jungle warfare.
Dec. 30, 1940 — Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, the namesake of Camp Lejeune’s Camp Knox, approves the site selection for the East Coast divisional training center at New River. Maj. McQueen and Capt. McCaul receive Letters of Commendation for having found and recommended the New River area for the training site.
Feb. 15, 1941 — Congress appropriates funding and approves the construction of a new and extensive base for Fleet Marine Force operations on the eastern seaboard, to be located at New River. The site of the new Marine Corps training facility is spacious enough to train entire divisions.
1941 — Twenty-nine parcels of land are purchased by the federal government, from the state of North Carolina, in conjunction with the land purchased for the Camp Lejeune area complex for $64,502.08. The area covered by the station comprises 2,672 acres, about 560 acres of which are swamp lands suitable only for wildlife ranges.
Nov. 1941 — Land clearing activities in the area of the “airport” Peterfield Point began.
May 27, 1942 — Shortly after the completion of the runways at Peterfield Point, Camp Lejeune was tasked to further develop the landing field for use as a glider training base, and a site plan for the base is approved.
June 23, 1942 — In accordance with instructions from Headquarters Marine Corps, Capt. Barnett Robinson, Marine Glider Group 71, was ordered to go to New River to investigate an area with facilities for glider operations and an existing airfield to host aircraft units in support amphibious operations.
June 26, 1942 — Capt. Barnett Robinson, Marine Glider Group 71, concludes in his search that with recommended changes and installations (facilities), the New River area would be suitable for limited landplane and seaplane operations in three months. The location was placed under the command of Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune.
August 1942 — Construction of glider facilities is initiated at Peterfield Point.
October 1942 — Camp Lejeune needed an air field of its own for emergency purposes and for the planes used in training parachute troops. Peterfield Point, southeast of the Tent Camp, was chosen as the site of this facility in late 1941. By October 1942, a Glider Training Base consisting of three 5,000-foot runways, taxiways, a warm-up pad, a seaplane ramp down to the New River, and glider repair shops had been built at Peterfield Point. The addition of the apron and seaplane ramp gave Peterfield Point five designations — a landing field, emergency landing field, parachute landing field, glider training base and as a seaplane base. Despite the substantial improvements, Peterfield Point was never used as a glider training base. Over the war years, the installation was referred to as the Emergency Landing Field, the Glider Base, the Seaplane Base or the airfield at Peterfield Point. The Marine Glider Group moved to a Texas base in November 1942, and the Marine Corps scrapped the glider program in June 1943.
Dec. 20, 1942 — The airfield is named Marine Base, New River (Peterfield Point), which was utilized as an outlying field under Marine Corps Air Base (MCAB) Cherry Point.
March 9, 1943 — Marine Bombing Squadron (VMB) 612 was the first squadron to arrive on station, while New River was in an experimental caretaker status under Camp Lejeune. VMB-612 flew the PBJ-1C and PBJ-1D model aircraft that were used in reconnaissance, anti-shipping, and support roles. These twin-engine aircraft were similar to the Army’s B-25 Mitchell and were fitted with search radars mounted in place of the lower turret.
April 26, 1944 — The station is activated as Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Facility (MCAAF), Peterfield Point, Camp Lejeune, New River. The commissioning delineated the air station from Camp Lejeune and marked April 26, 1944, as the birth of the air station as a Marine Corps installation.
March 31, 1945 — As the end of World War II is taking place, the installation is deactivated and placed under caretaker status, which it remained until its reactivation in 1951. Although deactivated, the airfield remained operational and continued to function as an outlying field, with rocket loading and firing training programs, under MCAB Cherry Point.
Sept. 25, 1951 — The Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the Secretary of Defense, authorized $6,291,000 towards the construction of helicopter air facilities for MCAAF, Peterfield Point, Camp Lejeune.
Sept. 26, 1951 — Operational Control of MCAAF, Camp Lejeune, New River changes to MCAB Cherry Point.
Oct. 1, 1951 — The station is reactivated as Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Peterfield Point, Camp Lejeune. Its mission is to provide facilities to support regular operations of Fleet Marine Force helicopter transport and observation aircraft in direct support of ground forces. Major activities include three Marine Helicopter transport squadrons and one Marine observation squadron.
June 16, 1952 — Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 26 is commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point and relocated to New River on July 14, 1954, becoming the first helicopter group assigned here.
July 22, 1952 — The station is redesignated as MCAF New River, Jacksonville. The name changed is due to considerable confusion arising from time to time as a result of the installations sharing the name Camp Lejeune. The name implies that MCAF Peterfield Point, Camp Lejeune is integral with the main activity at Camp Lejeune, whereas they are in fact, separate activities.
July 14, 1954 — This marks the arrival of the first operational helicopter group when MAG-26 transferred from MCAS Cherry Point.
July 1959 — To provide a more structured command element aboard the facility, the first commanding officer, Col. J.R. Little, is appointed.
Sept. 1, 1968 — The station is redesignated as Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter) New River, Jacksonville, marking its growth from a small training area to a major operational airfield.
1968 — In 1968, Marine Corps Outlying Landing Field (MCOLF) Oak Grove was placed under the jurisdiction of MCAS (H) New River for use as a helicopter base. During World War II, the field was under the command of MCAS Cherry Point. At the end of World War II, all structures were destroyed except the runways.
June 30, 1969 — Marine Helicopter Training Group (MHTG) 40 is commissioned on MCAS (H) New River.
May 1, 1972 — MHTG-40 was deactivated and MAG-29 was established to provide helicopter support for the Marine Forces Atlantic.
June 8, 1972 — The airfield is designated McCutcheon Field in honor of the late Gen. Keith Barr McCutcheon, who died in 1971 after a long and distinguished Marine career. McCutcheon had been instrumental in the development of many Marine Corps aviation concepts and techniques. McCutcheon was the first Marine Corps four-star aviator and was thought of as the “father of Marine helicopter aviation.” Later that same day, the Memorial Chapel was rededicated as the McCutcheon Memorial Chapel in honor of all aviation Marines who served and paid the supreme price of freedom.
July 4, 1976 — The air station is designated a Bicentennial Command in commemoration of the nation’s 200th anniversary.
June 1, 1985 — The station is redesignated as Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville.