Throughout March Field’s preeminent history, the base’s community partners have supported personnel working on and off the base. Over the years, many community partners, like the Visterra credit union, have changed but are also a part of the base’s history.
With the end of the Korean conflict in 1953, March converted from the propeller driven B-29 Super Fortress to the B-47 Stratojet bomber and its supporting tankers, the KC-97s. The support of a credit union during these changing times was crucial for the airmen here as they transitioned from a wartime posture to a peacetime mission and implemented an entirely new mission and job set with the new aircraft.
Visterra Credit Union, originally chartered as March Federal Credit Union on October 23, 1953 began its legacy on the base. The credit union opened with five members and one loan of $50. At the time their membership consisted of only military members and their families.
The base continued to evolve in its missions and aircraft as the KC-97 Stratotanker belonging then to the 17th and 22d Air Refueling Squadrons here represented an amazing jump in technology. Planes and crews began breaking altitude and distance records. The new air refueling planes introduced a significant advance in operational range. Overall capability could now be measured in global terms, which had been demonstrated, earlier when General Archie Old, the Fifteenth Air Force commander, led a flight of three B-52 Stratofortresses in a non-stop around-the-world “Power Flight” that took just 45 hours and 19 minutes.
Continuing to evolve, in the early 1980’s, in addition to the KC-135 Stratotanker, the KC-10 Extender became the vehicle carrying March Air Force Base’s air refueling mission into a new technological epoch. The large KC-10s with their versatility and dependability again gave the base a featured part in America’s efforts to maintain a strong and flexible military air arm.
At this same time, as aviation technology and military missions evolved, so did technology at the Visterra Credit Union as they continued to serve team March members. They opened teller windows and the first automatic teller machine was installed. The credit union’s headquarters moved to its current location on the corner of Cactus Avenue and Graham Street in Moreno Valley, Calif. and it began serving Small Employer Groups (SEGs) as well as military personnel. In December of 1998, the credit union’s name changed again to March Community Credit Union, and began serving anyone who lived or worked in Western Riverside County. This change was followed by the opening of their second branch in Corona , Calif. in 2001.
In 2006, the credit union changed its name one more time to Visterra Credit Union to better reflect their strategic vision. During this period, Visterra’s field of membership was changed to accept anyone living or working in Riverside County. A third branch was added in Murrieta Murietta, Calif. in 2006, followed by a merger with Raincross Credit Union in 2007, adding a fourth branch in the city of Riverside, Calif. Visterra CU opened their 5th branch in the Stoneridge Towne Centre in 2008, their second in Moreno Valley.
Moving forward March’s missions continue to evolve and with the support of the base’s community partners members can continue to focus on the mission. Visterra Credit Union, a full-service financial institution locally headquartered in Moreno Valley is celebrating its 60th anniversary this month. While it has since grown from 5 members in 1953 to 32,000 members today, and has become a community credit union, they are proud to still serve as the official credit union for March Air Reserve Base.
Not only has Visterra Credit Union served the financial needs of March and Riverside County communities for the past 60 years, their biggest give-back is their time. Employees from Visterra CU donate over 1,000 hours of their time annually. They sit on local boards including Riverside Chamber of Commerce, Moreno Valley Chamber of Commerce, Perris Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army, Moreno Valley Optimist, and March Field Air Museum. Their employees chair committees and local events and every Wednesday two of their employees are sent out to deliver food to home bound seniors through Riverside Meals on Wheels. They adopt schools, read to students weekly, participate in a teen advisor/mentor program, and volunteer on March Air Reserve Base for their annual military appreciation day picnics and at the deployment center all hours of the day and night. Visterra Credit Union is truly a home-grown, community credit union committed to giving back to the communities they live and work in.