From 1942 to 1999, the Irvine area was home to Marine Air Station El Toro, the largest Marine Corps Air Station on the West Coast.
During World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War, thousands of United States Marines, as well as airmen, sailors and soldiers, departed for war from MCAS El Toro.
Many never returned.
In July 2014 the Irvine City Council voted to approve 125 acres in what was once MCAS El Toro and is now the Great Park as a Veterans Cemetery and Memorial.
As the daughter of a combat veteran and as an Irvine resident, I believe that a portion of the Great Park in Irvine, once the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, is the perfect location for a Veterans Cemetery and a fitting memorial to Irvine’s proud military heritage.
I strongly support the veterans who are now insisting that the City Council keep its promise.
This Saturday, June 20, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., the Great Park’s historic Hanger 244 will host an opening reception for the Heritage and Aviation Exhibition, featuring images, displays and artifacts that tell the story of the Great Park’s role as Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.
The exhibition includes:
- World War II Airplanes – N3N Canary and SNJ-5 Texan
- Air Force C-135A Stratolifter Memorial – in honor of the 84 United States Marines and Airmen who perished in the tragic Loma Ridge crash 50 years ago on June 25, 1965.
The exhibition will remain open until 4:00 p.m. following the reception. Regular exhibition hours will be Thursdays and Fridays from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The reception and the exhibit are free and open to the public.
You can find a map and directions here.
The exhibit is a terrific opportunity to learn more about Irvine’s proud military heritage and why the former MCAS El Toro continues to hold such tremendous significance for area veterans.
I hope to see you there!