Flying over MCRD San Diego (August 25, 2000)
Having a bi-annual reunion nearby, the USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association flies YL-42 (restored Sikorsky UH-34D) over the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego shortly after graduation ceremonies.
I was listening in on the air traffic comms and we never really received permission to fly directly over the recruit depot so we made a ‘wide’ bank to clear the area. Gotta love Marines!
Flying in the H-34, legs hanging out, taking it all in. That was one of the best days of my life. Not only was it a super day of flying in a restored Marine Corps helicopter but to fly over MCRD where I trained twenty years prior, was simply euphoric.
I spent several years stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter) in Tustin. All that time, I had never flown in a helicopter. I had one or two opportunities but just didn’t take advantage of them.
The first time I flew in the H-34, I didn’t know what to expect. We were on the runway, taxiing slowly then the old bird started jumping and roaring and we lifted up and took off upward. I was one happy Michael Foxtrot!
A BIT OF HISTORY ABOUT MCRD:
United States Marines have been stationed in San Diego since July 1914; however, a permanent Marine Corps base was not established until (then) Colonel Joseph H. Pendleton, USMC, campaigned to establish such a base in the area. Groundbreaking on 232.24 acres took place on 2 March 1919. Construction and occupation of the base took place from 1919 through 1926.
On 1 December 1921, Pendleton (now a General), placed it into commission as the Marine Advanced Expeditionary Base, San Diego. In 1923, the Marine Recruit Depot for the west coast relocated from Mare Island Navy Shipyards in Vallejo, California, to its new home at the San Diego Marine Base.
On 1 March 1924, the base that had been developed as a result of the vision and efforts of General Pendleton became, officially, Marine Corps Base, San Diego, and would be known by that name for the next twenty-four years. The base now consisted of approximately 388 acres, of which some 367.76 acres had been reclaimed tidal area.
Throughout World War II, the principal activity of the base, recruit training, overshadowed all other functions. After the war, the recruit training detachment remained the principal tenant. Official recognition of this fact occurred on 1 January 1948 when Marine Corps Base, San Diego, became the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Western Recruiting Region, San Diego.