Ross Field was a permanent military reservation
located on the site of the former Baldwin Race Track at Arcadia,
Los Angeles County about 16 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
It was initially known as the Army Balloon School.
The Field was established on June 3, 1918 and acquired on 1920. Ross Field had the School for Enlisted Balloon Specialists, the School for Balloon Company Commanders and Observers. The student capacity was 2,150. The field covered 185 acres.
Ross Field was constructed at a cost of
$403,500 through June 30, 1919. Numerous non-divisional units
were stationed at the Field.
While at Camp Arcadia, the California National
Guard's 143rd Field Artillery Regiment was "adopted"
by actress Mary Pickford. Ms. Pickford took her duties seriously
as Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, and the 143rd was known as
"Mary Pickford's Fighting Six Hundred".
With an airfield being established in June
3, 1918, the Balloon School at Camp Arcadia was started by balloon
companies from Camp John Wise in San Antonio, Texas. On June 25th,
1918, the 37th Balloon Company Commanded by 2nd Lieutenant John
H. Bishop and the 38th Balloon Company, Commanded by 2nd Lieutenant
Benjamin B. Cassiday, left Camp John Wise for Camp Arcadia to
provide men and equipment for the School that was being started.
The School was named in November 1919 after
Lieutenant Cleo J. Ross of the Army's Air Service. He was an observer
with the 8th Balloon Company. While aloft on September 26th, with
Lieutenant Herbert Hudnut at Brabant, France, a German Fokker
attacked them and their balloon burst into flames. Lieutenant
Ross delayed his jump until Lieutenant Hudnut was clear. After
Lieutenant Ross left the basket, burning balloon parts dropped
on his opened parachute and he fell from several thousand feet.
Lieutenant Ross was the only balloon pilot or observer to be killed
in action. He was buried in France, near where he fell.
The local publications show that the balloon
school was still operating in April 1919. After that time all
balloon activities were consolidated to Brooks Field, in San Antonio
and later to Scott Field.
John H. Hoeppel, who served in the U.S. Army at the School and later became the Congressman from the area, was instrumental in having this Army land transferred to Los Angeles County in 1933. His original plan was to have the land developed as a municipal park. He was unable to interest the City at that time so he approached the County with the idea and was able to help convince General Douglas MacArthur, then Army Chief of Staff, to approve the transfer of 183 acres of the Ross Field Balloon School to the County without cost for the development of the park.
References: The Army Balloon School by Richard Des Chenes, Camp John Wise Aerostation, San Antonio, Texas.
||World War I||
|California State Budget Documents||1918-1919||California High School Cadets Annual Training|
|US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941||1919-1920||
|US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941||1919-1922||
|US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941||1919-1930||