RIVERSIDE — The Veterans Administration has purchased the General Old Golf Course for $12.5 million and will use the land to expand the Riverside National Cemetery.
Expansion plans have not yet been announced. The course is expected to stay open for the foreseeable future.
The course was a source of recreation for the airmen, noncommissioned officers, and officers assigned to what was March Air Force Base for decades.
Archie Old was a member of the Texas National Guard, having enlisted as a private. An Army Air Corp Pilot in World War II, Old was often leading bombing raids over Germany while commanding a bomber group. Old had a distinguished career and, post World War ll, is credited with flying the first around the world jet flight in a B 52.
Amongst his military decorations are the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star, Air Medals, and Purple Heart along with numerous service decorations and ribbons. He died at March Air Force Base Hospital in 1984.
The Golf Course at March Air Force Base was named in his honor.
Adjacent to the National Cemetery the purchase makes sense for future expansion.
After the Congress shut down the active duty mission and converted the base to a reserve installation, the course, which opened in 1955, saw less play by active duty forces and more military retirees utilized the course.
Today, Riverside National Cemetery is hallowed ground and the final resting place for 250,000 veterans, their spouses, and children. Now the largest graveyard, in land mass, among the Veterans Administration cemeteries, at build out 1 million veterans will be laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery.
Veterans are buried free of charge at the Riverside National Cemetery. Last year, more than 8,000 burials were conducted. Arlington National Cemetery, best known for being the home of the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier “ has 400,000 veterans resting in honored glory on its grounds but has almost no space to expand.
The burial ground covers 921 acres, making it the third-largest resting place managed by the National Cemetery Administration. Since 2000 it has been the most active resting place in the system, based on the number of interments.
Riverside National Cemetery was established in 1976 through the transfer of 740 acres from March Air Force Base, a section that during World War II was called Camp Haan. The site was selected in 1976 to provide full burial options for Southern California veterans and their families by President Ford’s Commission for National Cemeteries and Monuments. An additional 181 acres was transferred by the U.S. Air Force in 2003.
The National Cemetery at Riverside is also home to the Medal of Honor Memorial and numerous other memorials honoring soldiers, marines, sailors, airman, and the units with which they served.
The park-like grounds and memorials are open to the public.