UPDATED: Vast “underground military complex and government testing facility” discovered under Hemet, officials confirm
HEMET – Less than one day after the discovery of what has been described as a “vast underground military complex and government testing facility,” officials from the City of Hemet, March Joint Powers Authority and Hemet Ryan Airport are scrambling to explain the presence of the “long abandoned” military complex, Hemet Police Chief David Brown and March’s JPA confirmed on April 2.
The shocking revelation came just hours after workers uncovered the forgotten facility that reportedly contains countless miles of tunnels and stretch from March Air Reserve Base all the way to Hemet Ryan Airport and an Army Air Corps facility once known as Alessandro Airfield.
The tunnel networks were discovered by employees and contractors preparing for this year’s biennial air show, AirFest 2016: Thunder Over the Empire, scheduled for April 16.
Few details have been released while speculation and rumors continue to grow, since video was leaked on the Internet that reportedly shows a small portion of the tunnel network and a WWII era, underground railway system.
“We believe that the tunnels were last used sometime after the conclusion of WWII and before the Cold War,” Brown explained after the discovery.
The video, which has since been removed from YouTube, (See attached screenshots,) showed a vast, crumbling network of underground tunnels, supply warehouses, WWII era planes and vehicles, and a munitions depot, as well as a “research center and testing facility.”
The nature of the research center and testing facility has not yet been determined, according to Brown.
The video and revelation have left many incredulous about the discovery and wondering how such a massive network of underground tunnels and facilities could have been forgotten and lost to time.
“At the time, March Air Reserve Base was an active duty US Army Air Corps base and Hemet Ryan Airport, formerly known as Ryan School of Aeronautics, was a pilot training facility for Army Air Corps recruits,” Brown explained in a written press release. “While it was and still is common for underground military complexes to be built without the knowledge of the general public, we were as surprised as others at the discovery.”
Many questions now remain, as military and law enforcement officials work with committee members from the March Joint Powers Authority to determine the next course of action and how best to re-use the established facilities.
The March JPA was formed in 1993 and is charged with the responsibility of base re-use and re-purpose of existing military facilities as well as planning and future development.
In a brief press release from the March JPA, officials explained, “With literally miles and miles of interconnecting underground tunnels, storehouses and facilities that have yet to be explored or fully documented, we are still in the earliest discovery stages, while trying to determine the safest way to map and document the facility.”
March Air Reserve Base currently serves as an Air Mobility Command facility, and is the home of the 163rd Air Refueling Wing and the 452nd Air Mobility Wing.
The McDonnell Douglas KC-10 operates from March, as well as the reserve-flown C-141 and the KC-135 flown by the Air National Guard. U.S. Customs maintains a fleet of smaller planes including two Blackhawk helicopters for use in their drug interdiction efforts.
For almost 50 years, March was a Strategic Air Command base during the Cold War.
Hemet Ryan airfield was first opened in September 1940 by the United States Army Air Corps. It was assigned to the West Coast Training Center and later to the Western Flying Training Command, as a primary (Level 1) pilot training airfield.
The airfield was later activated as an Air Corps Training Detachment with Ryan School of Aeronautics conducting primary flight training under control of 5th Flying Training Detachment. Flight training was performed with PT-17 Stearmans as the primary trainer, along with Ryan PT-21 recruits. Military records revealed over 14,000 army cadets were trained to fly at the facility.
With few other details and much speculation about the underground facilities, many citizens have already begun to voice concerns and fears about the true nature of the complex.
Despite the rumors and the inevitable emergence of conspiracy theorists claiming the facilities are still actively being used, Brown assured the citizens of Hemet the facility is no longer active and based on recommendations by the JPA, could eventually be re-purposed to better serve the community.
Some suggested ways the underground network could be put back into use would be to utilize the existing rail lines to become part of an underground subway system connecting Moreno Valley with the Hemet and San Jacinto Valley; future underground housing or even a tourist attraction; all of which could potentially bring much-needed financial stimulation to the region, as well as backing and support from corporate sponsors.
Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff has reportedly already expedited a request from the County of Riverside to use the underground facilities for future housing of inmates who would otherwise be eligible for early release under new AB109 and Prop 47 guidelines.
Calls to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department have yet to be answered, however a press release is soon to be released from the department.
Despite the rampant speculation about the tunnels and their originally intended uses, as well as their potential future use, Brown said he was confident the March JPA would determine the best future use for the existing network of tunnels, storehouses and railways.
“There is much we can learn from this underground facility, a virtual time-capsule and window into our area’s past, as it associates with WWII and the Cold War era. All or a portion of the facility is expected to be opened for public or government use as early as one year from the date of it’s discovery,” Brown said. “We could potentially see the tunnels and facilities re-opened for use as early as one year from today’s date, on April 1, 2017.”
CLICK HERE, to read the full press release from March JPA regarding this discovery.
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Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.
s a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.