Ray Stone Senior Living communities are founded on the premise that each individual's life experience is important and deserves to be celebrated. Our top priority is our residents. And we are committed each and every day to bringing continued enjoyment through a life free from the worries of home maintenance with more time to enjoy what really matters.
The Merced/Atwater area is rich in history, with the most notable attraction being Castle Air Force Base and Museum. Castle Vista Adult Community was originally built as housing for the officers and families of Castle Air Force Base. As the Air Force officers went off to their assigned posts, CAFB was a warm and family-like community for the wives and children who looked to each other for comfort and camaraderie during this difficult time.
Please read below a short history of Castle Air Force Base and how it came to be.
Castle AFB was named in honor of Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle (1908–1944) on January 17, 1946. When on Christmas Eve 1944 near Liege, Belgium, seven Messerschmitts set General Castle's B-17 Flying Fortress afire, he remained at the controls while his crew bailed out. He bravely refused to release his bombs over territory occupied by friendly forces and died with the pilot when the aircraft exploded. General Castle received the Medal of Honor posthumously.
The facility was officially renamed Castle Air Force Base on January 13, 1948, whe the United States Air Force was established as a separate military service.
The airfield was opened on September 20, 1941, as the Army Air Corps Basic Flying School, one of the fields utilized to meet the needs of the 30,000 Pilot Training Program. As the original name indicated, it provided basic air training for beginning pilots and crewmen. Many pilots and crews were trained here during the war including a number of Women's Air Service Pilots (WASP).
The end of the Cold War brought many changes to the Air Force, and Castle AFB was selected for closure under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 during Round II Base Closure Commission deliberations (BRAC 91).
On June 1, 1992, the 93d was relieved from assignment to SAC and was reassigned to the newly formed Air Combat Command (ACC). It was then designated as the 93d Bomb Wing and its B-52G aircraft given the ACC tail code of "CA" and carried blue tail stripes. The 328d Bomb Squadron was inactivated May 3, 1994, and the wing was placed on non-operational status.
However, the 93d continued to supervise the closure of Castle AFB. The 93d Bomb Wing was inactivated on September 30, 1995, with the closure of Castle AFB.
Just four months later, however, it was redesignated as the 93d Air Control Wing and was reactivated at Robins AFB, Georgia on January 29, 1996. It was equipped with the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) and it accepted its first production aircraft on June 11, 1996.
As of 2008, local government plans to convert the dormant facility to civilian commercial use. It has been identified as the preferred location for the central maintenance facility of the proposed California High-Speed Rail system. This would bring employment to the area along with a renewed use for the facility.
Today, Atwater is home to Castle Air Museum, boasting one of the largest displays of vintage aircraft in the western United States. Residents of Merced County along with many airplane and military veteran enthusiasts enjoy strolling the many planes and memorabilia from Castle Air Force Base’s heyday.
The museum opened in 1981, and currently displays 54 restored World War II, Korean War, and Cold War era aircraft. The outdoor museum covers 11 acres, and among the exhibit highlights is a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (one of only 19 surviving), a Boeing B-52D Stratofortress, and the massive, ten-engine Conair, one of only four surviving and the largest mass-produced piston aircraft in history. An indoor museum features photographs, uniforms, war memorabilia, aircraft engines, and a flight deck. A crew of 35 volunteers restore and maintain the aircraft on display. The museum also hosts a periodic "open cockpit day" in which visitors can actually view the interiors of certain planes.
Castle Vista Senior Community is honored to be the home to Air Force veterans who served when the base was active. Whether you are looking for affordable adult living in a charming area, or are attracted to the rich history of CAFB, you can rest assured that the same warm and family-like community that served our country well, continues in fine tradition today at Castle Vista Senior Community!