The original Foundation was established in 1989 at MCAS El Toro. When Base Realignment closed El Toro in 1999, a group of retired Marines from San Diego, led by Major Generals Bob Butcher and Frank Lang, formed the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and moved the aircraft and artifacts to MCAS Miramar.
In March 2021 the leadership of MCAS Miramar announced that it could no longer host the museum on the grounds of the base. The City of Irvine offered to host the museum in its original hangars at the closed MCAS El Toro, now called Great Park. The move of the aircraft and artifacts to Great Park is being overseen by Brigadier General Michael Aguilar, the Executive Director of the Flying Leatherneck HIstorical Foundation. The target date for opening the museum at its new location is August 2023.
The Foundation provides volunteers to restore historic aircraft and staff the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. It also provides funds and materials to support the restoration and maintenance of historical aircraft and artifacts, offers educational programs, preserves oral histories and hosts military service awards and ceremonies.
The Foundation and its University of San Diego partner host workshops for San Diego County teachers. The workshops fill a gap in teacher training. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 12% of America’s high school seniors are “proficient” in U.S. History. Surveys of educators indicate teacher resources are badly needed.
Essay Contest for 6-12 grades
A regional, patriotically-themed essay contest for grades 6-12 is held each year.
Art Contest for 6-12 grades
A regional, patriotically-themed art contest for grades 6-12 is held each year. Winning artwork is put on display at the offices of the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and in a gallery on the website.
Marine Wife Recognition Award
A Marine Wife is recognized annually with a plaque and stipend for outstanding service and dedication to her community, her family and the Marine Corps.
Distinguished Service Award
Periodically an American citizen is recognized for his or her service to the nation. In 2018, Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr., USMC aviator, patriot, astronaut and NASA administrator was recognized with the award.