Camp Pendleton gets ready to mark 75th anniversary
By LINDA MCINTOSH | The San Diego Union-Tribune | Published: January 11, 2017
Camp Pendleton marks its 75th anniversary this year, which will be highlighted at the annual Awards Dinner put on by the Camp Pendleton Historical Society to kick off the base’s yearlong celebration. The nonprofit group works with the base to preserve its history, including a number of landmark buildings, some of which go back nearly two centuries.
The guest speaker at the Feb. 11 event is retired Marine Col. Rocky Chavez, Assemblyman representing the 76th District. Among the dignitaries on the invitation list is the base’s commanding general, Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea.
The base was established in 1942 to train U.S. Marines for combat in World War II.
When expansion of U.S. armed forces was authorized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's proclamation of an unlimited national emergency in May 1941, additional facilities were needed to train amphibious forces, which led to the construction of Camp Pendleton.
The federal government paid roughly $4.2 million for 125,000 acres of land in northern San Diego, known as Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores. The land had been used as a cattle ranch going back to the early 1800s and the cattle brand later became the base’s logo. Some of the early buildings are national landmarks.
The first troops to occupy the new base were the 9th Marine Regiment with the 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, who marched from Camp Elliott in San Diego to Camp Pendleton.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the base on Sept. 25, 1942, in honor of World War I Maj. Gen. Joseph H. Pendleton who had long supported establishing a West Coast training base.
The new base was one of several Marine training facilities across the country, including at Quantico in Virginia, Camp Lejeune in South Carolina and Parris Island in South Carolina.
By October 1944, Camp Pendleton was named a "permanent installation" and later became the home of the 1st Marine Division.
In 1950, the 5th Marine Regiment trained at Camp Pendleton before going to combat at the Pusan Perimeter in Korea. The regiment was followed by the remainder of the 1st Marine Division, which made the strategic landing at Inchon that changed the course of the war.
Subsequently, Marines and sailors who have been trained at Camp Pendleton have fought in Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the Vietnam War in the mid-1970s, Camp Pendleton also served as the port of entry for thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees.
The annual event includes a reception at 6 p.m., awards ceremony at 7 p.m.and dinner at 7:30 p.m. along with a live auction at Pacific Views Event Center, Bldg. 202850, Camp Pendleton. Reservations are being taken for the event.
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