The day Elvis came to McGuire Air Force Base

A look back at 1960, when one of the country’s most famous servicemen returned from overseas — greeted by fans and a snowstorm

On March 5, 1960, a swirling snowstorm buffeted McGuire Air Force Base, but that did not deter hundreds of people who braved the storm to witness a C-118 Liftmaster aircraft touch down on a McGuire runway.

Shortly after the plane rolled to a stop, none other than Elvis Presley, the reigning King of Rock ’n’ Roll, deplaned and received his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army after three years of service in Europe.

Presley became one of the more than 1 million soldiers since World War II to fly into McGuire Air Force Base and be discharged from military service.

Conversely, a similar number of troops have embarked from the McGuire runways to fight America’s wars, keep the peace at global hotspots and provide humanitarian relief after the worst of disasters.

McGuire Air Force Base opened in 1948 after serving as an airfield for Fort Dix in the 1930s.

New Jersey’s only Air Force Base is named in honor of Ridgewood native Thomas B. McGuire, who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II and became the second-most-prolific ace of the war. McGuire, a Medal of Honor recipient, was killed in action in the Pacific in January 1945.

McGuire has been called the “Gateway to the East.” The volume of traffic in and out of the airbase is huge. Since its inception as the joint base, more than 1 million people and more than 650,000 tons of cargo have been moved around the world.

McGuire received a significant vote of confidence in 2017 when it was selected as one of the new homes for the KC-46 Pegasus — the Air Force’s newest tanker and refueling jet. These new jets began arriving at McGuire late in 2021. This was an important achievement for the joint base, and it was equally important for the state of New Jersey, as it helped protect a significant number of jobs on the base.