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Camp Pendleton, Ca
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is the major West Coast base of the United States Marine Corps and serves as its prime amphibious training base. It is located on the Southern California coast, in San Diego County, and bordered by Oceanside to the south, San Clemente to the north, and Fallbrook to the east.
The base was established in 1942 to train U.S. Marines for service in World War II. By October 1944, Camp Pendleton was declared a "permanent installation" and by 1946, it became the home of the 1st Marine Division. It is named after Marine General Joseph Henry Pendleton, who long advocated setting up a West Coast training base for the Marine Corps. Today it is the home to myriad Operating Force units including the I Marine Expeditionary Force and various training commands.
In 1769, a Spaniard by the name of Capt. Gaspar de Portola led an expeditionary force northward from lower California, seeking to establish Franciscan missions throughout California. On July 20 of that same year, the expedition arrived at the location now known as Camp Pendleton, and as it was the holy day St. Margaret, they baptized the land in the name of Santa Margarita.
During the next 30 years, 21 missions were established, the most productive one being Mission San Luis Rey, just south of the present-day Camp Pendleton. At that time, San Luis Rey Mission had control over the Santa Margarita area.
In 1821, following Mexico’s independence from Spain, Californios became the new ruling class of California, and many were the first generation descendants of the Portola expedition. The Mexican governor awarded land grants and ranchos to prominent businessmen, officials and military leaders. In 1841, two brothers, Pio Pico and Andres Pico, became the first private owners of Rancho Santa Margarita. More land was later added to the grant, giving it the name of Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, which stayed with the ranch until the Marine Corps acquired it in 1942.
In 1863, an Englishman named John (Don Juan) Forster (Pio Pico’s brother-in-law) paid off Pico’s gambling debts in return for the deed to the ranch. During his tenure as owner of the ranch, he expanded the ranch house, which was first built in 1827, and developed the rancho into a thriving cattle industry.
In the early 1940s, both the Army and the Marine Corps were looking for land for a large training base. The Army lost interest in the project, but in February 1942 it was announced that the 122,798 acres (497 km2) of Rancho Santa Margarita y Los Flores was about to be transformed into the largest Marine Corps base in the country. It was named for Major General Joseph Henry Pendleton who had long advocated the establishment of a West Coast training base. Construction began in April but the base was considered a temporary facility so it was built to minimum standards of wood frame construction. After five months of furious building activity, the 9th Marine Regiment, under then Colonel Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., marched from Camp Elliott in San Diego to Camp Pendleton to be the first troops to occupy the new base. On September 25, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt officially dedicated the base.
During the Korean War, $20 million helped expand and upgrade existing facilities, including the construction of Camp Horno. When Camp Pendleton trained the country's fighting force for the Korean and Vietnam Wars, approximately 200,000 Marines passed through the base on their way to the Far East.
Camp Pendleton has continued to grow through renovations, replacing its original tent camps with more than 2,600 buildings and 500 miles of roads.
Efforts today continue to preserve the heritage of Camp Pendleton's founders and the Marine Corps' history. The original ranch house has been declared a National Historic Site.
The base's diverse geography, spanning over 125,000 acres (506 km2), plays host to year round training for Marines in addition to all other branches of the U.S. military. Amphibious and sea-to-shore training takes place at several key points along the base's 17 miles (27 km) of coastline. The main base is in the Mainside Complex, at the southeastern end of the base, and the remote northern interior is an impact area. Daytime population is around 100,000. Recruits from nearby Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego spend a month on Pendleton's Edson Range receiving field training, and after graduating from boot camp return to the base's School of Infantry for further training. Camp Pendleton remains the last major undeveloped portion of the Southern California coastline, save for a few small state parks. In this way, it acts as a kind of buffer between Orange County and San Diego County.
Camp Pendleton, California Links:
Camp Pendleton Mud Run Blast from the past
Camp Pendleton, California Map:
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