Flying over MCRD San Diego

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.

In ’81, I spent many hours marching on that parade deck.

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!

Roger Herman & Jim Moriarty (left)

The Marines at Miramar were fascinated with the UH-34D

A perspective I never had before.

We flew all over San Diego and up and down the coastline.

Ah, the obstacle course… Hell yeah!

Piloted by Marine veterans Jim Moriarty and Roger Herman. Photo taken by SSgt Hottle (website), Miramar PAO (released to Wally Beddoe for reproduction).


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.

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Cpl. Beddoe
2014/07/17 21:23

E9 Semper Fi Master Guns!

2014/07/16 17:17

Marines are not housed in quonset huts at MCRD. There are very few left but no one lives in them.  Some are still used to store gear.  Again, no one lives in them. That stopped in mid 80’s.  At Camp Pendleton we lived in them during the early 90’s.  I’m a retired MGySgt (30 years active duty service)

Dave Yaros
2010/06/25 18:16

>I can't believe that in 2007 they are still housing boots in quonset huts! As usual, the Corps gets no respect (or money) from the government to do what it does best, MAKE MARINES!

2010/06/05 14:08

>I first set foot on the "Grinder" 9-1-54
A lot has changed since then. I guess the wooden WW2 barracks we were in are long gone. I would like to see more pictures of the place I was born again.

2009/04/15 11:39

>WOW! Talk about time travel. I can see my old hut and squad bay from 1969. And who can ever forget the Parade Field “grinder”? Great job Marines Semfer Fi!