Thursday, July 12, 2007

Growing up on El Toro MCAS

El Toro MCASHaving lived in El Toro from 1988-2001, I can remember driving around the El Toro MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) and seeing the base housing. I also remember the old fighter jets on display alongside Irvine Blvd as it cut through the base housing.

Today, Irvine Blvd no longer cuts through there since they re-routed the road, and for the most part, it's hard to even notice El Toro MCAS these days.

Only once did I ever set foot inside El Toro MCAS. My father, being in the Navy, was able to go into military bases and shop at the commissary and exchange, and one time when I was about 10 years old, we went in there. But I don't remember much at all.

The OCTD Bus used to drive into the base as it took passengers from Irvine into El Toro (the community). My wife remembers travelling with her grandmother on the bus enroute to El Toro.

We found some memories submitted by OCThen readers and wanted to group them here, and start a new thread about folks who lived on El Toro MCAS base housing...

Hi Steve - I stumbled across this site, and glad I did. As far as I can remember, my family moved to El Toro sometime in 1965/1966 - our father was an enlisted Marine. We lived in base housing - Wherry Housing, and later moved towards the end of the housing area on Trabuco Road. Next to our house on Trabuco was a field full of carrots, and we used to sneak in there to pick carrots and take them home. And, I don't even like carrots! We later moved to Stanton, off of Beach Blvd, then to Santa Ana on Custer Street, across Santa Ana on Wilshire, then to Cypress, Irvine, Westminster, and finally Garden Grove when I left California and joined the Army. I have many memories of growing up in Orange County, many good, but some not so good. If it weren't for the high prices, millions of people, and the horrendous traffic, I would love to live there again. It was a special time growing up there, and it makes me sad when I go there now and see all those places we hung out as kids all paved over, concrete jungles, etc. Some call it progress...does anyone remember when Featherly Park was out in the BOONIES!!!! :)

By Lee, at June 11, 2007 2:31 PM


Thanks for this web site, Steve! I wasn't born here but my family and I arrived in Orange County in the summer of 1958 when I was almost 7. There were orange groves and eucalyptus trees everywhere and most cities were "islands" between one orange grove or ranch to another. My dad was stationed at El Toro Marine base, becoming the Manager of the Staff NCO club. He used to book entertainment acts for Friday and Saturday nights. I remember my dad getting us a signed copy of a photo from Tex Ritter (John Ritter's dad) after he performed there one night.

We even lived in the military housing on base for a couple of years while I attended 4th and 5th grades. Stanley Cook, the son of the owner of "Cook's Corner" was the pitcher on our little league team. Another pitcher, Dan Peavey, was such a baseball fanatic (he had the best collection of baseball trading cards that I ever saw), that he impressed Joe Dimagio enough that he came to visit us at the El Toro Elementary School in 1962. Our team even took a photo with him that was blown up and mounted in our school cafeteria. I wish I knew what happened to it.

By Gary Zaremba, at August 17, 2006 7:40 PM


Hey steve,
I just found this website and man was it interesting. I was born in Santa Ana California and it says Orange County on my birth certificate. I was born at St. Joseph hospital which I believe was a military hospital. I lived on El Toro base within that community for years. Some of my fondest memories were there on Longstaff way within El Toro. My dad was a marine and worked there on base during my childhood. I was born in 1968 and had many friends there. I was little so I don't remember alot of the hot spots there in Orange County like most people that have left comments but I do remember that I loved the Santa Ana winds and I have longed to go back ever since I moved in 1976. My father was transferred to DC after we left the good old state of Cali...and later retired out of DC. I often wonder if my house is still there where I grew up at with that huge nectarine tree in the back. If anybody out there lived on El Toro military base during the late 60's and early 70's comment this site.

By Patricia "Cole" Vail, at May 21, 2007 12:23 PM

Click on "Post a Comment" at the end of this article, and share your memories of El Toro MCAS.

182 comments:

  1. Hello. I stumbled across this website by accident and thought it was really cool!! I myself being a Marine Corps. Brat was lucky enough to live in El Toro. I have so many fond memories there and have yet to go back since my dad retired in 1990. I remember riding my bike all over base housing to meet up with my friends, walking past the barracks with my friends to go to the base pool. God it seems like just yesterday. We also owned a horse there so I spent many, many hours at the base stable. I always tried to help the manager because they had a lot of rental horse and I loved just to be there. Oh the many trail rides we went on for hours and hours behind base housing. And I will never forget my dad letting me skip school one day because they were filming that show "Highway to Heaven" with Micheal Landon, in base housing and on the air station!! I was so excited!! I got to meet some great actors that day and will never forget it! I have tons and tons of more happy memories in El Toro and are very glad I got to live there for several years. I just hope my kids can look back on there childhood place and have as many happy memories as I do living in Orange County.

    Lisa~
    MCAS~ Yuma, AZ.

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  2. Kelly LancasterJuly 26, 2007 10:14 PM

    I am so glad I found this site. I used to live at 121 Reasoner Lane in the base housing at El Toro. My Father retired from there in 1976. I have wonderful memories of that base, especially the pool. I attended El Toro Elementary right across the street from the runway. Does anyone remember the jet that crashed? I was in the fifth grade when that happened. It had to have been around 1975 or 1976. Just before we moved into Irvine. I remember we all had to be evacuated from the school becuase the jet was unmanned. The pilots had ejected and the jet was flying around all by itsself. Anyway, thanks for this site, I just wish there were picutes of the base housing. I sure would like to see it again.

    Kelly Lancaster (vanderDoes)

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    1. Kelly,

      The jet crash occurred in 1974. I was a marine who served under your father, CWO4 Vanderdoes. My most vivid memory about your father is him teaching himself to play the bagpipes in his office. I was a Corporal who subsequently transferred to MWCS-38, where I was promoted to Sergeant. I left the Marine Corps in January 1976.

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    2. Kelly,

      I remember the jet the crashed vividly. I was at El Toro marine Elementary school when it happened too. I was out in the school field with a friend. I remember staff telling us to come in, so we headed for the school. Then I looked back and saw the jet hit nose down into a huge fire ball. I remember the noise and the fireball. It was hard to imagine an object that huge could just crumble. I don't know if this is true, but I remember people saying one horse died in the stables and about three cars were crashed but people survived and one was a pregnant woman. Both pilots ejected and survied. Amazing memory. -- Barbara Ursini

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    3. KELLY, A GREAT LIFE ON A MARINE BASE. I AM A MARINE OF THE 50'S BUT I WAS IN TANKS. MY REASON FOR THIS LETTER IS TO SEE IF YOU MITE HAVE A PICTURE OF THE CHAPLE BELL ON THE BASE. REASON IS I THINK I HAVE THAT BELL. KELLY IF YOU COULD, MY EMAIL IS MING@TFON.COM. WE WANT TO GIVE THIS BELL IT'S PLACE IN HISTORY WITH THE MARINE CORPS. WE ARE IN THE NORTH WEST STATE OF WASHINGTON. IF YOU COULD WORK WITH US GREAT. ROBERT W. MINGRAM USMC

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    4. I was a young trainee at MCAS El Toro on May 16th 1974 when the TA4 crashed. I was the first guy to the station wagon which had been burnt to a crisp. I thought that those people were dead for over 30 years. I also had an A7 crash on me on the Enterprise 2 years later. I've been trying to get the VA to recognize these facts for over 12 years. It sounds like you might be able to help me. If you have any information to fidomorris2@gmail.com.

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    5. The crash did not occur in 74. I was still in high school in 74. When the crash occurred I was living in base housing at El Toro and had a baby. I remember the incident like it was yesterday. A couple of people on the ground were hurt. The only death was a horse. It was quite the incident at the time.

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  3. I was a Marine helicopter mechanic stationed at MCAS Santa Ana/Tustin from July 1975 through July 1995 and visited MCAS El Toro on a regular basis. I used to coach my son's Little League baseball games at the two ball fields down the hill from SNCO housing at El Toro. It was a sad in history when they closed the gates and turned out the lights for the last time on MCAS El Toro and Tustin back in 1999. They truly hold found memories for this since retired marine aviator and mechanic.

    JamNJerry

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  4. Hello,
    I found your website while researching the El Toro Marine Air Station and have read the many posts on this site with great interest. Currently myself and eight other researchers from California State Univesity, Fullerton, are working with The Great Park Corporation to preserve the history of the El Toro Marine Air Station through the collection of oral histories. This is a great opportunity and a meaningful experience for all those involved. Of greater importance, however, is the preservation of the remarkable experiences and fascinating stories of the many people who served on the base, lived in the surrounding communities, or have family members associated with the base, both military and civilian. This project is of great importance because unless these memories are recorded they will be lost forever. At this time we are concentrating on the World War II and Korean War eras, but are interested in hearing from anyone with memories of the El Toro base. If you would like to be considered for the project, or know someone associated with the base, please let us know. We can be reached at 714-278-8415 or email coph-eltoro@fullerton.edu.
    Thank you,
    Janet Tanner
    Research Assistant
    El Toro Marine Air Station Oral History Project

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  5. Wow, does this bring back memories. I started kindergarten at El Toro Marine School. I attended that school from 86-90, moving during the middle of my third grade year. I absolutely loved that school, the housing, the base. I remember my dad throwing these unbelievably huge parties at our house on base. Not only did friends come, so did people we didn't even know. But, it was ok because everyone was cool then. My friends and I lived on our bikes every weekend, and Halloween was a huge thing for the entire neighborhood. None of my experiences here has yet stacked up to those of El Toro.

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  6. This is in response to Kelly Lancaster's posting: Yes I remember the plane crash. When I read your post it brought chills to me. I was in the 4th or 5th grade (I think) Miss Zeikel's (sp) class maybe. I still remember the jet crashing like it was yesterday. I was out on the playground and watched the two pilots bail out and then the plane circle and then finally take a nose dive into the field at the end of the runway. I remember the fire ball and explosion and a horse that had been standing in that field flying through the air. God it is so cool to have someone remember something that has been in my head for 31 years. Besides that I remember roaming the hills around the housing area (coyotes and rattlesnakes.) I remember the neighborhood quite well too. I lived on 109 Foster Lane. And the Eucalyptus tress that I'd pass one the way to El Toro Elementary. Glad I found this site, and thanks to Kelly for bringing my childhood memories back in a flash.

    George Milligan

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    1. Hi George, my name is Mike Scott. I too was in Miss Zeikel's class 1974 5th grade.Do you remember she when she took us bowling a couple of times? I lived at 13942 1/2 Pusan Ln. I have just learned to use computer 2 years ago, so this is hard & takes alot of work. Any way I have footage of base housing before & after they tore it down,I need to share it & hook up with old friends. Rick Helm,Julie Davis (the General's daughter),Joel Alan, maybe Miss Zeikel. Can U help ?

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  7. Hi Lisa. I also lived in El Toro base housing around that time. I attended University High School in both my Sophmore and Junior year (1976-1977). Base housing, going to the pool with friends, the movie theatre were also fond memories. I also had a lot of friends from my high school since I wrestled and played football. My good friend Ken Dietre and I use to visit Laguna, Newport beach all the time, and we even hung out in Santa Ana once in a while. I remember working at the small general store which was located near the back gate. Near the back gate was housing, where I lived. I spent many hours running from housing to the base gym to work out and then had to run back. :) Before then, I cut so many yards for money so I could save for my first car.

    A lot of good memories. I actually revisited the area back in 1996, but I really didn't explore the housing as much as I wanted, and I regret that I didn't go on the base, because I always assumed that El Toro MCB would always be there. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I also remember playing some baseball at the little league field near my housing too.

    I remember making a good friend that lived in Officer housing. I actually stayed with his wonderful family for about 30 days so that I could finish high school since my father received orders oversea.

    Good to hear everyones stories. Thanks for keeping the memories alive.

    Tony

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  8. I was stationed at El Toro when the crash hppened. It was a TA-4 from H&MS 13,MAG 13. The back seater was actually an inlisted marine named Mark Miller. He "won" a back seat ride for being maintenance man of the month or something like that. He never flew again. The AC lost all hyd power and the pilot and Mark had to punch out. As soon as they did the AC continbued to "fly" on its own for almost two minutes and finally crashed near the end of the runway. It's very weird to hear about this again after all these years. Fun site

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  9. I am looking for pictures of the old base and school. We lived close to the base. 8712 Midway drive, santa ana . My father was stationed in el toro around the late 60's and early 70's. I can't recall the name of the school we attended. Great memories. Father is gone now but still a Marine daughter and will always be.

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    1. Wow, we lived at 8642 Midway Place in the 50's & 60's. Younger brothers & sisters went to El Toro Elementary School, then Tustin HS. Older brothers & I went to Mission San Juan Capistrano (by bus). Like you, Dad is gone now but still a Marine's brat and always will be.

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  10. I wrote earlier about living in the el toro area around the late 60's and early 70's. My father was a helicopter pilot and a teacher on base. He went to Viet Nam to fly rescue missions. We moved in 1971 when my father had a heart attack and we moved to Arkansas. We have great memories of living in Cal. The orange trees and of course the wind. We lived at 8712 Midway drive Santa Ana. I remember skating all over the neighborhood and riding ours bikes up the mountain. I am looking for pictures of the base. My father passed away 5 years ago and I would love to see pictures. Jackie

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  11. Hi fellow El Toro Marine Base School classmates,

    I went to ETMBS from Kindergarten to third grade and lived in base housing from 1968-1972. I remember living at the base of a reservoir and climbing up the hill to the top to watch the Blue Angels perform every year. I remember being able to see the fireworks at night from Disneyland. I remember the long waits in the car for my Mom to shop at the commissary. I remember learning how to swim at the base pool and being terrified. Having community Easter picnics under the BIG TENT and hunting for Easter eggs. I remember the Old Oak tree which we protected from bull dozers. I remember little league baseball games and field trips to Mission Viejo. I remember going to sleep every night to the loud roars of jet engines taking off for night manuevers. Tarantulas, snakes, cactus, earthquakes, fires, Santa Anna winds that would hold you up if you leaned into them. Fogs you could play hide and seek in. Lots of good memories. Hualoni Jones who took my place running against Tommy in the school races, because I had to go home sick with a soar throat. Tether ball - fun times.

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    1. Wow...I just found this and am reading posts back to 2007. I lived in Wherry housing on Wake Avenue (at the top) 1970-1973. I was there when we were protecting the Old Oak Tree when they started construction! We climbed that thing and swung on the rope swing every day! I went to El Toro Marine Base School 5th and 6th grade (Mr. McKenzie and Mr. Ferazzi), then went to Rancho Jr. High. We used to hang out at the tunnel, the old oak tree, and in our neighborhood. Kids everywhere!! We would get on our roller skates with umbrellas and let the Santa Ana winds pull us around. Use to hike all over the hills, even up the "big V"! And, we'd hitchhike to base to go to the PX, the pool (both E and O), and movie theater, and to visit our friends who live on base. SO many memories!! I could go on and on. A very special time in my life. Growing up as a Marine brat was not easy due to moving every two-three years across country, but I wouldn't trade it for anything! Made me a very well adjusted person! El Toro Marine Base has a very special place in my heart. Thanks for this website!!!

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  12. I was El toro stable rat every day all summer my mom would drop me off at the stables and i would ride my horse and any other horses i could get my hands on, this was before they put in the "new road and The stables was paradise and safe for kids. Mrs. carr was the manager and Mrs belcher then mrs brown. I learned to ride a horse to play sprinkler tag to race up and down the orange groves to really ride. Any one have this childhood. to be a farm girl in orange county what a dream.
    Rode with bob elder on the irvine ranch actually see that there was coyotes and mountain lions. The smell of the orange blossoms. The roar of the jets during my frida y night jumping lesson with linda ellis or cris and marley. My horse Shauny and patches and supermarket. any one out there remember the base stables. and after 10 hours in the dirt and loving it we would go to the oclub pool and swim till they threw us out. Melissa thomason

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  13. Gosh what fond memories all of these posts have brought back to me! My father was stationed at El Toro. We lived in a Quansit hut until housing became available for us! Then we lived in Wherry from about 1950-1955. All of the posts are after I was there but gee, nothing seemed to have changed! My father was in the Korean war and WW11. Clearance E. Tapp, Masterseargent. Some of my fondest memories are of the service families we spent a lot of time with, Art Jensen and family and Ken Sawin and family.

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  14. My dad was stationed at el toro, when I was born in 1955, they wouldnt allow officers wives to have their babies there. So, the parents drove clear to Corona to have me at the Corona/Norco Naval station - go figure? Seems pretty dumb, as my mom tells me she thought they'd just have me in the car on the way. Anyone have any similar stories of being stationed at El Toro and born in Corona? My birth certificate says Norco.

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    1. We arrived at El Toro in 1952. My father trained Marines for the Korean "Conflict", and I was just starting 1st grade at Mrs.St. Claire's class on base. Our housing area was called NaMar (pronounced Name-Mar) We rode our bikes up in the foothills behind the housing area (which was right at the end of the runway -- the housing was). I remember at least 3 horrible crashes. (One blew in our front window as we were directly facing the strip's end) It was highly upsetting. But my father said we had to "get used to such things as Marine Daughters.
      Speaking of daughters; I was the oldest of 3 at that time. Our youngest sister was born there in 1953, but like a previous writer described, we had to go to the Navel Station in Corona, CA. Mother calmly made sandwiches and Kool Aid then called my father and we all Ran for the car to get there. I was told we were 40 miles away. We got there just in the tiniest nick of time, as we were there for about an hour in the car with the lunch (we were not allowed in there, we were told). The Hospital was a pink color in a semi Spanish style and very pretty to my kid-eyes. Our father ran to the car and drove us to the other side of the hospital, and there up on a balcony (top floor) was our mother holding our new little sister!! We just missed seeing her born in the car! I have not seen my sister's birth certificate, and don't know if she ever has, either. When I joined the Army in 1974, I was stationed at Ft.Ord, CA, which is also closed. I tried like crazy to go see where all this happened, but was not able to locate anything.
      Sorry this is so long, but you did want some details. Hope this helps!

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  15. To anonymous Nov 14: My father served in WWII and Korea, Jack Barney, MSgt. We also lived in the Quansit Huts. We moved from Camp Pendleton to El Toro in 1955 and lived on base in Quansit huts but soon got the house on Mc Fadden Street in Santa Ana. Are you one of the Tapp’s that lived on the corner of Bristol and Mc Fadden?
    To Anonymous Nov 24: My dad was stationed at El Toro, my brother was also born at the Norco Naval Station in 1955. It wasn’t just Officers wives who gave birth at Norco, my dad was enlisted, since El Toro did not have a maternity ward almost all births were delivered at Norco. Did you know the Norco Naval Station is right next door to the Norco Federal Prison? We used to kid my brother about the “prison” birth place!
    My mom and dad used to play BINGO Tuesday nights on base. They would drop us kids off and the daycare center. They used to win prizes not cash when playing bingo. I think every appliance in our house was a bingo prize! I used to love to shop at the commissary, prices were good and no TAX. I also remember the milk and bread store at LTA (Lighter then Air Base) in Tustin. Good memories!

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  16. Hello i also stumbled across el toro website my three children where raised there in base housing for about three years back in the late 80's last year 1989 wow can't believe there is still people that remember what a small world

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  17. Just to let you know-for those whoe were born at Norco Naval Station: it is now a Womans Correction Facility!

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  18. Memories of MCAS El Toro so many
    I arrived at El Toro in 1060 I remember driving up the freeway and seeing that large Golden Wing I had arrived at the 3rd MC Air wing. I spent 12 years at El Toro
    from 1976 to 1984 our family lived on base at 171 connor ave at the top of T-Street. Our children played baseball, attained the El Toro elementary school on trabuco at that time. Today our children are members of the El Toro base kids, they had a reunion last july
    It was a sad day when they closed our base,however they will have a museum we will be remembered.

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  19. I was on base housing from approx 72-75 and from 78-82. One of the first kids in the MGM program- anyone out there remember the MacDonalds bus to Sea World? I was around for the jet crash also (I think I was in 4th or 5th grade) Anyone remember hearing the race cars from Orange COunty Raceway late at night? And the night or two after the air show there would be plane after plane taking off late into the night. The howling and yipping of the coyotes outside your bedroom window? Many, many good times. Robert Haugan

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  20. What memories. I too was born at the corona naval base. At that time by family lived in "Namar". Remember that housing area? It was the years we lived in Wherry housing in the late 60's to early 70"s that were the best, the wonder years. I remember riding the base bus from housing onto the base. It took us anywhere we wanted to go. I remember hanging out with friends that lived on Midway pl/dr. I know it went in a circle. Sitting on the wall on the corner of Inchon and getting harrassed by the MP's for doing so. Walking thru the ditch, walking downhill to get the school bus. Split sessions with Mission Viejo and University High Schools. Remember the orange trees? So many friends, so many memories. I can still remember the names of all the kids that lived there. Remember arm forces nights at Disneyland? Going to special services to get the tickets. How about the picnic area on base where units thru the parties. I remember the movie theater. I remember when the new base exchange opemed. I still remember the old one. Walking to the mag store at the back gate. How about the gas station there. Wow. Like it was yesterday. Thanks for the memories. Oh yes, and remember when president Nixon would land there. If only we could go back to those times. Donna Sylvers

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    1. Could not remember the enlisted housing area name. Thanks for "Namar". We are set for vacation out there in Sept 2013 and just looking up the "good ole days". What a shame it is all gone. I used to work at the PX in Sporting Goods with Mr. Hutton then during renovations moved over by the toy store. What great memories and wonderful friends I made there. Still keep in contact with some of them-what stories we have to tell. Thank you. Linda Eads-Enss lindaenss@hotmail.com

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  21. The 1970s jet crash? Wow, I am in good company!!! I also remember the jet crash vividly. I lived on 120 Johnson Lane and lived on base from 1974 to 1977. I can’t remember if I was in 5th or 6th grade (Mr. Farazzi or Mr. Kerstings class) during the crash period. I was a very shy and withdrawal child growing up and usually only had one good friend. That particular day I was with a close girlfriend and we were strolling in the huge back field of the school quite close to the stables and grazing horses just talking. During our stroll, we noticed a low flying jet and saw it sweep near the school and off near the base housing circling back, possibly out of control. Undaunted, we headed back to the school grounds at which point school staff were busily rounding up students and recess ended abruptly. Then I remember hearing the noise of the jet and looked back and before my eyes I saw this jet literally nose dive into the ground and a huge fire ball appeared with a deafening boom. I had never seen anything like it in my life. That image is forever etched in my memory. I have thought of the experience often and shared the experience with others through the years. I did hear that one horse had died and some people on the ground in cars were injured by falling debris. At the time I didn’t know that the pilots had ejected from the plane, but this was the case. I don’t recall people dying, but I think there was rumor that a pregnant woman was injured in a car. The days following I remember traveling along the road were the incident happened and saw the burn marks on the grass and concrete areas. I have tons of lighthearted childhood memories living on the El Toro Marine Base. I attended El Toro Marine Elementary school from 4th grade to 6th and 7th grade at Rancho Junior High from 1974 to 1977. I remember walking to school and often times climbing a nearby grassy hill and running as fast as we could down the other side in a frenzy while kicking up a trail of dust behind us which the kids named “the roller coaster”. I remember always hearing rattlesnakes in the tall grass so close to the trails but never saw a live one nor did we fear we were in any danger. At the bottom of the hill we crossed some farm lands and walked past the stables were often times I fed the horses apples or carrots from my lunch either going to school or coming back. I fantasized that one of the horses was my very own and named him “Freddy.” I spent a lot of time next to the fence with this particular horse. I remember playing in the drainage ditches and catching tad poles, and so on. I remember skating with my new white boot outdoor skates on the many winding sidewalks all the way to the vacant basketball court in the dead of winter and pretending I was ice skating. Later, I remember skateboarding on these same winding sidewalks. I also remember stealing oranges from a nearby grove periodically as a childhood prank. The good ole’ days. – Barb Ursini, 44 years old.

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  22. Hey Melissa... I too was a Stable Brat during the Mrs. Carr and Mrs Belcher era along with my little sis Michelle.. and we spent every minute we could at the stables riding my horses. What years were you there? I used to ride a horse named Banner and my horse was Henry which I bought from Chris and Marley!

    Any chance you remember Lydia Couch, Linda Chapman, the Janis girls, Mary Stavros or Ci-Ci? We are trying to plan a Stables Re-union dinner and trying to find as many "stable rats" as we can to get together sometime in February!

    Hope you see this post!

    Barb Linder (Turley)

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  23. Melissa Thompson I spent all those memories with you. It's Michelle Turley. My sister Barbara and I rode at the stables for many years. I was in the friday night lessons with you and remember the jets going over in the middle of class. I remember our summers together at the pool and with the horses. Riding in the horse shows and playing in the play days. And of coarse Mrs. Carr, She was such amazing woman. I think of her often. My sister is in contact with Lydia, Chris, Marley & Mary. She is going to be having a reunion with them next month. What a great childhood we had. I am so blessed that I was an El Toro Base kid. It is really exciting to beable to reconnect with my childhood. I never thought I would see or hear from anyone again. So many amazing memories of a time and place that seemed lost forever. Melissa when you get this message email me at
    Acu4harmony@aol.com My sister and I would love to hear how you and your sister Heather are doing. Michelle

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  24. I arrived at El Toro (MABS-37) in 1960 I remember driving up the freeway from CAMP Matthews and seeing those big Golden wings. I was at El Toro and (LTA) til 1963.
    Then returned in 1976 with my wife and three children.We lived on base at 171 connor at the top of T-street.and now we where part of a very special community.Our youngest attented El Toro Elementary and our oldest at University high. We saw a lot of Air Shows, baseball and today so many memories. Our chidren are part of The El Toro Base Kids. We retired in 1984 with MWSG-37 WTS-37 Soon we'll have a Great Park,I know that El Toro, and those that served both Military and the families will be remember in the El Toro Military museum (Legacy Project)
    Semper Fi
    MSgt R.M Barbee

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  25. Hi Barb Ursini, I think I remember you. I am Denise Musser we walked to school together. I lived on base from 1973-1976. E-mail me.
    croaker39@sbcglobal.net

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  26. Hi El Toro Kids 1973-1975,
    The Musser Bratz here Amber, Denise & Bryan.
    I had many memories of the stables,
    the paper weight that sat on the sign in desk, that came out of a horses stomach.
    But the best is, me (Amber) and a few friends, like idiots, walking across the air strip on the base to get to the movies faster. We didn't see any planes coming in! Oh, they come in really fast? Well, after the MPs took us up to the control tower and called parents/my Dad, I didn't think I would ever see the light of day again,.... or be able to sit down.
    Why aren't any of the bratz signing in for classmates.com and sign up for the el toro military school community. MGM mentally gifted minors. My Sis Denise was in MGM and has never let us forget it.

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  27. El Toro kids circa 1954
    Looking for the Fasano kid(s). Their dad was a lt. in the legal office at the time.
    Email christy_brown@hotmail.com if anyone has information. Thank you

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  28. So Berkeley thinks they're making a real impact against the Marine Corps by telling them they are "not welcome", along with issuing a parking permit for Code Pink to protest the local recruiting office. At the worst, they are making things inconvenient for maybe a couple of recruiters.

    However, they got nothing on the hometown of another UC Campus, The City of Irvine, which has has screwed over thousands of Marines and veterans! Within that city's limits is the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Irvine successfully managed to rebuff a group of veterans that were lobbying the Navy to re-open the commissary, and set aside the 1200 plus existing units of housing for local Marine families on the waiting list at Camp Pendleton.

    Irvine wanted control of that valuable real estate so badly that they even resorted to having hired goon "Colonel" Tom O'Malley from the local anti-airport NIMBY coalition (aka El Toro Reuse Planning Authority) threaten one of the veteran leaders with violence.

    So top that Berkeley and Code Pink!
    ===================

    Seriously Irvine should be boycotted. They have screwed the Marines far worse than Berkeley could ever dream of!

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  29. I arrived at MCAS El Toro May of 1977. I was assigned to WTS-37. Being a Georgia boy the entire place was interesting and a change. I lived in a barracks building next to the mess hall. Made a lot of friends who I still have found memories of. I was quite shocked to learn of BRAC closing MCAS El Toro. I hope this Great Park Project goes well and provides a great facility for the locals. A lot of history and many lives were touched at this place.
    Lance Corporal R Hogue

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  30. It's so awesome to know I'm not the only one who loved my stay at El Toro MCAS. My father was stationed there from '78 to '88. I was born there in '80 and left in late '88 when my dad retired. We lived on Midway Place first & later moved to Trabuco Road. I remember going to the seven day store for candy and going to see the airshows. I still recall the plane crash in '85 that hit our chapel. I remember riding my big wheel down the long driveway where all the garages were connected to each other. I remember feeling like the PX was the greatest show on earth with all the different sights and sounds. My brother & me were bused to Vista Verde Elementary in Irvine. Those were the best years of my life!

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  31. (03/19/2008) Wow! Thank you so much for this web forum! I have found a long lost childhood friend that left a message for me. I am going to quickly email a reply and reconnect with Denise Musser. More El Toro memories to relive!! Blessings all!!! -- Barb Ursini, beearrry@aol.com

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  32. Today I was looking at Mapquest to see my old neighborhood in Oceanside when my dad was stationed at Pendleton. I then remembered the name "Namar Housing" and found this site. Wow, so many memories. I went to Irvine school for Kindergarten around 1955. I had Mrs. Headberg and I lived for awhile on the base, next door to Chicky. And for awhile at Tustin Apartments. The memories flow back and forth between those two living locations and schools, because for first grade I had Mrs. Curtis at a different school in Tustin. Later, in Oceanside, I attended Ditmar Elementary for first grade (also) and N. Oceanside Elementary for second, for which I had Mrs. Major. I remember from Oceanside, Kelly, Denise, Bonnie Blankenhorn, and Cecelia, or was it Celia, whose father was killed in Nam by jumping on a land mine. We were so young then, and it just didn't register. Then my dad got out and we moved to Ohio. If anyone remembers Debbie McQueen please email me at dlmh@embarqmail.com

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  33. Hey, this is a wonderful site. My family actually lived in the area a couple of times. In late 1969, we left Memphis and moved to Borchard Drive in Santa Ana. My dad was stationed at EL Toro. Were were only there for a few months into 1970 when Dad was sent to Viet Nam for his second tour and my Mom, baby brother and I went back to live with My Mom's family in Illinois. We returned to Santa Ana in 1971. In 1972, we moved into base housing on El Toro. We lived at 15513 Wake Ave until 1974 when Dad was sent to Okinawa, Japan. I'm trying to piece my early school days together right now, which is hard when you move around as much as many of us did. But I remember when I was in the first grade, it was in a big building they called the BeeHive. I'm not sure if that was in Santa Ana or on El Toro. My teacher was Mrs. Daly. Our house on base backed up to the mountains. We would regularly get rattlesnakes and scorpions in our yard. We had a garden out back and I remember having fresh carrots and parsnips and tomatoes all the time. My brother and I were in the YMCA Indian Guides program in the Cahuilla Tribe. We had a teepee in our back yard and a totem pole. My Dad had a Yamaha motorcycle he'd bough while overseas and he take me for rides up in the mountains. Once we tried to jump a cactus patch and wrecked, falling into the cactus. Dad pulled all the thorns out of me and told me not to tell my Mom. I think this is the first time I've ever said anything about that. I remember the Santa Ana winds fondly because as a skinny little kid, you could lean into them and the wind would hold you up. We would often lay in a line on the playground and let big tumbleweeds blow over us. Up the street from our house on Wake Ave was Bouganville street which was a huge hill. We would often ride our bikes down it hoping no traffic was coming at the intersections because you got to going so fast it was hard to stop. When the skateboarding craze really got going, all my friends had skateboards and we would race down Bouganville hill. Once I was wearing bell bottom jeans and the bottom seam got caught in the skateboard wheel and the board stopped. I of course went flying and landed on my face, knocking out 2 teeth and had to get stitches. We spent weekends at the theme parks or at Laguna and Newport beaches. We loved Knotts Berry Farm especially but my brother and I would go to the beach over the theme parks anytime. I remember watching old men playing bocce Ball I think at Newport Beach. My brother almost drowned at Laguna when he got caught in an undertow. In 1974, Dad was sent to Japan and the rest of the family moved back to Illinois to wait for him. Afterwards we got transferred to Cherry Point MCAS in NC.

    Thanks for this wonderful site and bringing back the memories.

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  34. Wow, what a great website. I was a Marine Brat stationed at MCAS El Toro from '83 to '91. Many of my fondest memories as an impressionable young child were skateboarding all over the base similar to Sean Astin in the TV Disney movie, "BRAT Patrol." or running rampant all over the officer housing area playing laser tag. Like many of the people who posted here, I too went to El Toro Marine School but transfered after my 4th grade year to Vista Verde and then onto Irvine High. To this day I can't say I never felt more safe than living inside the gates of El Toro. Later, from '94 to '97 I returned to El Toro when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton to visit with fellow Marines, friends from school or simply drive by my old house inside the main gate. Today, I still refer to El Toro as home even though my house at 5131 E street no longer stands. In '03 I went back to El Toro one last time and video taped my old stomping grounds before the base was sold at auction. I have to admit as odd as it may seem, anytime I hear the song by Madonna, "This Use To Be My Playground," I often find myself thinking back to those years when life as a child was so perfect, my idols were my next door neighbors(fixed and rotor wing pilots), my summers were spent at the pool, and the PX was my stomping ground. I will never forget El Toro and all of the great Marines and families I met. To all the Marines and their families who served and Lived at El Toro, Semper Fi - Jeremy

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  35. Hello fellow bratz!! My name is Carmella Callahan and we lived on the base early in the 70's and again 88'-90'.. Great times but why i decided to post was beacause I am a member of the base kids and I wanted to give ya'll the address and see how many more friends you can find. We have I believe 200 or so members and growing on a daily basis so here it is and come join just sign up and wait to be accepted and then you are in: ElToroBaseKids@yahoogroups.com

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  36. Amber Musser,
    I am not sure if you are the Amber Musser that went to school with my older sisters. Susan was the oldest,and alittle wild.Brenda was alittle shy and the middle one.I'm lisa and the youngest of us so i don't remember much.After all these years i still remember some names and you are one. Our last name was wood.We lived @ 10411 Wake Ave.We left in 1977 i think?
    A few other names i remember is:Mike Stonestreet the Monahan family ,Walker family just some of the older kids that were friends with my sisters.Are you the Amber Musser i was thinking of?
    God Bless You
    Lisa Wood(Edwards)

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  37. I was stationed at El Toro from 1973 until 1977.I was also there when that A4 from MAG13 was flying around with no pilot. It was right around lunch time and they sounded an alarm. It ended up crashing at the end of the runway right on the PT field track close to the curve. THey told us it was a Corporal in th back seat. I live in Texas and go to see the El Toro site every year in Feb.

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  38. Raul Contreras Sr.June 26, 2008 5:58 PM

    I was a L/Clp Station in MCAS,El Toro back in 11/1976,Motor-T WTS-37
    One accident I remember was a
    disturb Marine that wanted to jump off from the red and white water
    tower,it was around chow time,thank
    god he did'nt.Any veterans Marines
    remember back then. Semper-Fi Bros.

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  39. GySgt William Sabin USMC/RetJuly 12, 2008 5:30 PM

    I was statined at MCAS El Toro between 1980 & 1982. I was attached to WTS (Wing Transportation Squadren) 37. I meet my wife at the Rib Rack Bar & Grill in Mission Veijo in 1981. We were married in Trabuco Canyon. I have many good memories of El Toro MCAS. It was a sad day when it closed.


    GySgt William L Sabin USMC/Ret.

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  40. I was stationed at MCAS El Toro as an MP from from Dec 88- May 91. It was my first duty station. Great memories, good times. I have some pics I took then, and some others took if anyone's interested. email me. bmgilley35@yahoo.com.

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  41. Wow! I am reading all theese great comments about El Toro! Where was I! Another El Toro perhaps!

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  42. I too remember growing up a MCAS El Toro. We lived in officer housing from 1960 -62. Our home was the first house to the right of the main gate right next to the generals homes. I often visited my friend to lived in the Irvine Company farm worker house just outside the gate. We had dug a hole under the fence to go back and forth. I attended elementary school at San Juan school in the town of Irvine.
    Gary
    La Grande, OR

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  43. This is pretty cool. I think it might not be so cool if you didn't actually live on base as I did from 1957-1959 and later in 1962 to 1965. My dad was a pilot with VMFA-314 until his ejection where he was blinded in one eye in '59. We lived, as my memory recalls, on Inchon Place in Wherry Park officer housing. As someone else earlier wrote, at the base of a reservoir. I have many great memories as a young boy riding horses at the stables, exploring the big gravel pit or whatever that was, shooting arrows straight up into the sky, yikes! My parents bought our first house finally in Laguna Niguel where we lived shortly before dad getting oders to Cherry Point, NC. We were bummed out about that but found it to be another great place. After 4 years we came back to El Toro. Living off base was different. My dad took my brother and I to the great woodworking shop a couple of times. What an awesome place. We also practiced judo at the base gym judo club. How about 10 cent movies at the theater. We almost had a cardiac when they more than doubled in price to a whopping .25 cents! My brother and I also learned how to polish stones at the base hobbyshop/lapidary shop. I also learned how to make ceramic castings with my mom at the ceramic hobbyshop on base. I eventually went and got my bachelors in fine arts, and now I am a professional artist/potter. I along with my sister and brother have great memories of base living and especially of life at El Toro. We would love to hear from any that were there around our time. I remember a few kids from El toro Marine School in kindergarten, Mrs. Smith's class, Tranna and in 1st and 2nd grade Carla. I remeber the older boys in 4th and 5th grade at recess play there air guitars and mimic the Beatles and the girls scream and go crazy over them. Also I remeber the principal, Mr. Henry, chasing the boys squirting everyone with the sprinklers with his belt trying to swat them. Those were the days.
    Craig

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  44. Carmella Callahan, my next door neighbor! WOW! Get back to me some how, some way, my e-mail is karrasmith@ochca.com or
    my2babeska@yahoo.com! Love to hear from you and lots of love to you and your family! Whenever I hear of a quincianera I still think about how much fun we had dancing and other things! That was and still is the best darn party I've ever been too! Many memories of baseball, wiffle ball in our back yard(it was huge by the circle park) Broken windows from balls flying through them, riding bikes through the tunnel from officer housing to the general store! Stables, school, and the community itself! It's so sad to drive by there and see El Toro almost gone! No more orange groves between the base and Irvine. No more air shows!All my other base kids/brat friends from Iwo Jima to Connor and T-Street hi to you, Rachel G, Glenn E, Mike D, Catrina P, Stephanie G, Adriana P, Vivian, Christina A, Eddie M, Chad, Ray, Mikey, Aaron G., Michael B, anyone I've missed and to all our baseball buddies who played with my brother Bobby and I! 1979-1991 Kathy

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  45. I was stationed at El Toro from 1974 to 1976. It was such a beautiful place. Ended up making a career of the Marines, largely due to reenlisting there and having a great time. I was sad to see the place de-commissioned, but at least they kept it from becoming an airport.

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  46. Lisa Wood!
    I didn't think anyone would ever remember me. I have tried many times to find your Sister Brenda. Where did you all end up. Do you remember which Monahans? Tracy or Kelly. Kelly was killed in a car accident in Wisconsin 8 months after her family moved back to Wisconsin. How old were you Lisa? amberrwinter@msn.com Tell me more!
    Amber(Musser)Winter

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  47. Amazing what a google search will uncover! Great memories of El Toro MCAS are brought to mind here. My husband was a radar tech on the TPQ10 and the UPS1. We lived in the NAMAR Housing area(don't recall the address). As I understood they were referbished WWII barracks. I believe it. I loved the stables and spent many hours with the horses. I remember the smell of the oranges in the wind. I also remember the Phantoms revving up their engins in the early mornings. The crash in the hills in 1965 was something I won't forget...all men pulled duty to handle the hillside. The men were as serious as I've ever seen them. My first born son was born at St. Joseph's in Orange because we didn't have facilities for birthing. One of our neighbors had a pet raccoon which was often put on a long chain and attached to the wire cloths lines between the poles. Friendly little critter too! Times have passed. My second to the youngest is now a tanker in the Army in Baghdad and I listen to tanks instead of jets. Still big noises. Thanks to you all for your rememberances.

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  48. This site has brought such warm memories. It's been nice getting reacquinted with people from my childhood years. I have not been to El toro for the last 30 years, but I decided to go there last month (Sept 2008). Unfortunately there wasn't much left. Maybe I shouldn't have waited so long. lol There was nothing but tumbleweeds and piles of rubbish. But, somewhere in that mess I found lots of old memories which brings me to the point of this blog.
    Does anybody have ANY PICTURES FROM EL TORO, whether it be baseball games, buildings, school, class pictures, I would appreciate any photos that you could share. I lived at 10411 Wake Av. (1970-1980). My email is kayjon@sbcglobal.net. Thank you. God Bless,

    Lisa Wood

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  49. Thanks so much for this blog. Our family was at El Toro in 57 and 58. I went to El Toro Elementary for 5th grade and Irvine School for 6th. But what I remember most are the stables. My sister and I spent every spare minute there and that's where we learned to ride. The fella who taught us (and who we idolized) was named Phil. I don't remember his last name, but he was a Sgt. If anyone was there and riding at the time, I'd love to hear from you, especially if you know Phil's last name.

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  50. I moved to El Toro in 1972. I lived near El Toro Rd. and Jeronimo. I remember the fire station on El Toro Road near Jeronimo had this massive horn that you could hear for miles to summon the fire fighters in an emergency. I think it was to call the volunteer firefighters. El Toro High School was a junior high that was being torn down to build the high school. I went to the base all the time to watch the Blue Angels. I remember the street speed limit signs. They didn't just say "25 MPH" they said "25 means 25!" My dad started at Pendleton, then Okinawa and then El Toro. Alot of the Marines hung out at The Iron Mule on Trabuco Rd.

    I live in Arizona now. My parents are still in E.T., or i guess they now call it Lake Forest.

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  51. Peter "Bub" CavagnaroDecember 19, 2008 11:27 PM

    I spent the first six years of my life on "E" Street. I remember the palm trees that lined the street, and the the avocado tree in front lawn, and the red ants that would occasionally bite me when I played in the ditch underneath the power lines. I remember the endless rows of orange trees behind our house and the equally vast row of eucalyptis trees that lined the long road into the base. I learned how to swim at the base pool--where my mom would occasionally give me a quarter to buy a Marathon Bar. The base was so safe that I used to be able to walk pretty much anywhere unattended even at such a young age. I remember walking to find my dad at the Officers Club at Happy Hour. I remember shaking President Gerald Ford's hand after he touched down in Air Force One. I remember salivating at the Hanshin Warriors and GI Joe action figures at the store. Mostly, I remember playing with my friends Thaddeus and Quentin. Hope you guys are well.

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  52. Hello and thank you for this website. My name is Michael Bray and my father who was pilot in the Marines was killed in January of 1957 and while taking off from El Toro his plane crashed where Leisure World in Laguna Beach is now. I have wonderful memories of my Dad and I also remember playing baseball with his fellow Marines and I think because of that, is why I was able to play high schoo, college and 4 years of professional baseball. Thank you again for this website

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  53. This is in response to Robert Haugan!
    I too was on the playground for the plane crash. I was in the 6th grade at the time. And yes, I remember hearing the Racing too. Does anyone remember Kim and Kandy Foster? The twins? They were in my grade and are the only names I can remember. LoL Good to hear from all of you folks! I was unaware they had shut the base down. We moved to Texas shortly after leaving El Toro, and I'm sad to say that I've never returned. Anyone remember "skateboarding at the Spillway Tunnel"? or "Dirt-bike riding in Tustin at LTA"? If you lived in the military housing, I was your Paper-boy for about 2 Years!

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  54. I just found this website and it brings back more then just memories. It brings back how I fulfilled my dream of always wanting to be a cowgirl but yet I lived in Southern Calif. I started riding rental horses and taking lessons in 1967 and then got my own horse in 1969. I went thru alot of stable managers, Burt Phillips, Mr. Smith, Ron Burtsell, Nola Carr, Jim McNalley, Roland and finally Mrs. Brown. Every day, rain or shine, healthy or sick with the flu, I went to take care of my horse. I can remember the smelly chicken farm across the road, the blue angels and the air shows, riding on trail and getting in trouble for riding near the ammo dump and the honor farm (now called the James Musick facility, in otherwords, a jail), the Vaquero Club and their horse shows. I, too, remember the jet crash and the original tackroom burning down and a new one not being built until the mid '70s by the SeaBees. I also remember a stablehand that was mad at Mrs. Carr trying to set the office on fire and while the office was being rebuilt the bunkhouse became the temp. office (I think that was early '80s). Also remember in 1990 when Irvine Blvd. became a 6 lane road and we all wondered how would we ever be able to cross that road to get to the trails. Melissa, Barb & Michelle, I definately remember all of you. I guess that was about a year ago you were trying to put a reunion together. Let me know if you have another. I could ramble on forever with the names of people I rememeber, so I may post another comment and break it down to the '70s, '80s and '90s. I left the stables in 1996 after I put Spicy to sleep (she was 30 yrs. old), and then the base closed in 1999. Those were some of the best years of my life.

    Forever Spicy's Mom,

    Cici

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  55. My dad was stationed there from 1962 through 1973 (when he retired). I attended El Toro Marine Elementary School (K-6) then was bussed to Rancho San Joaquin Intermediate School (in Irvine) during 7th and 8th grade. I remember riding our Stingray bikes to the top of the reservoir and blasting down the hill. Hanging out at the "Sand Pit" untill after dark and our moms would be out waiting with the belt! Hearing the F4 Phantoms take off in pairs before the sun came up and also hearing the dragsters at Orange County International Raceway (OCIR) on Friday and Saturday nights. Did anyone remember seeing all of the Japanese Zeros and other planes flyby and stay overnight? They were used to make the movie "Tora, tora, tora" (I even have a few pictures my dad took of them lined up on the ground.)

    It was great finding this site and thanks for allowing me to relive some happy days.

    Chris L.
    Aliso Viejo, Ca.

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  56. I stumbled across this website and it just brought back so many memories. I grew up on El Toro and lived there for about 10 years in the earlier 80's to 90's. I went to El Toro Marine School from Kindergarten through 5 grade when my parents split. My mom Star had horses at the stables and after the divorce she started teaching lessons there. I still remember rollerskating all summer in are bathing suits and just hanging out on the hills on the way to the stables, or wandering the wooded areas looking for a secret hiding place. Going to the dances at the community center with my best bud Tiffany and my brother Daniel. The hay rides at christmas. To go back to those good old days would be great. Thanks for this website and am forwarding it on to my mom and dad. He was stationed at El Toro for probably 15 years at least, before he transfered to NC. Thanks again for the memories Trinity Smith

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  57. I did not grow up at El Toro, but my family spent many great years there. I got my first horse,Tina, in 1976, just 2 months after my son Daniel was born. Trinity came along 2 years later. There were lots of little league games, ballet, lessons at the stables, drill team. I see a lot of names that I recognize. The stables was where I became more of a horse woman. I miss the good times there and all the good folks. thanks for the memories, as Bob Hope always says. Love to all, Star

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  58. This is in response to Robert Haugan!

    I too was on the playground for the plane crash. I was in the 6th grade at the time. And yes, I remember hearing the Racing too. Does anyone remember Kim and Kandy Foster? The twins? They were in my grade and are the only names I can remember. LoL Good to hear from all of you folks! I was unaware they had shut the base down. We moved to Texas shortly after leaving El Toro, and I'm sad to say that I've never returned. Anyone remember "skateboarding at the Spillway Tunnel"? or "Dirt-bike riding in Tustin at LTA"? If you lived in the military housing, I was your Paper-boy for about 2 Years!

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  59. To Me, the most facinating thing about being a Kid at the base was the old "packaged Goods" Store benind the original Commissary

    I bought many a 10 cent ice creams(Not to mention "near beer" and beer nuts) there while waiting for my Mom to come out of the store

    Back in those Days Kids that were under 11 I believe
    couldn't actually go in the commissary unless you stayed in the Cart!

    thats No Fun! We'd listen to wolfman jack on the AM radio in the '64 country squire


    We'd Eat our Ice creams while literally stting in the run way drainage ditch
    watching the F-4's
    take off

    I swear We were litterally close enough to feel the thrust/heat

    Nowadays My Mother would surely have been locked for child endangerment

    Can you imagine leaving a 10 year old to fend for Himself sitting in a counrty squire with the keys by himself eating ice cream listening to the X-E-R-B "Baby"

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  60. I moved to El Toro in 1970. I lived by El Toro HS before it was built. There was nothing but forest to cooks corner. I remember El Toro race way what is now by Coco's at the Lake Forest exit. The Berg's house was the olny house around up on the hill. I remember the motorcycle track where the high scholl is today. The lake 2 as I called it was like the river. People used to drive their cars to the edge BBQ and us kids used to swim all day. OCIR (Fox Night) What a blast. The old school house on El Toro and Jeronimo. Daring each other to go inside and up to the bell house.

    Those wre the days.

    NR

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    Replies
    1. Ramirez Bro...
      Thanks for this post! For years I've told long-time residents about the motorcycle track at what is now Coco's and they think I'm nuts!
      Are there any memories of the Tomato Springs pond and trap shooting range in south east Irvine (behind MCAS)?

      Delete
    2. Ramirez Bros...
      Thanks for the note here. Many times I've told long-time residents of the motorcycle track where the Coco's /Carl's Jr is now and they think I'm nuts!
      Have any memories of the Tomato Springs pond/trap shooting range behind ET MCAS?
      C_miz

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  61. I'm sorry that I am so late in discovering this site..such memories. To introduce myself, my name is Eric Cooper and if you dialed 911 in base housing (or 9-911 on the base itself), between 1983 and 1998, you might have been speaking to me. I was one of the dispatchers for the civilian Fire Department during those years. Our "office" or radio room was located at West Marine Way and North 3rd Street, Mainside (Bldg 376) right across the street from Fire Station 1. Remember the Air Show crash of 1985 when the WW2 stunt plane crashed in to the chapel? I was on duty when that happened. The Military Police (PMO) also dispatched out of our office during most of those years. I worked there five dsys per week between 8 and 12 hours per day (more than that during the air shows). This site has brought back a zillion or so fond memories.THANK YOU!

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  62. Hi: I was the NCOIC OF W.E.R.S-37 REFUELERS IN 1972-1978. I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM ANY OF YOU MARINES WHO WAS THEIR AT THAT TIME, I REMEMBER THE PLANE CRASH AT THE PFT FIELD, I WAS WITH THE BASE FIRE FIGHTERS THAT DAY.I LIVED AT 8511 MIDWAY PLACE, I NOW HAVE 2 SONS AND 2 DAUGHTERS AND 14 GRANDCHILDREN. MY WIFE KATHY AND I ARE STILL TOGETHER GOING ON 38 YEARS IN OCT. THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES-SEMPER-FI. SGT.HAGAN

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    Replies
    1. Hello my name is Mark Tuttle I was part of mwsg-37 with the refuelers from 1981 thru 1982. I was on the bas from1978 thru1979 as well with heavy equipment at the motor pool. I went to okinawa japan late 1979 -1980. I always was involved with the motor pool. Spent a lote of time in twenty nine palms on various little training excersises

      Delete
  63. Hi - this is a great website to find. My dad was a Major stationed a El Toro, I was born in 1952 at Oxnard (Pt Magu), then we transferred to El Toro after he spent a year in Korea. Sadly, he died in 1958, so we moved to nearby Tustin.
    I recall hanging around near the runways, at the age of 4 I could recognize and name most of the aircraft types landing and taking off. I also recall the baseball fields, my dad was involved in the little league, and my older brother (+6 yrs) was a player and I was the batboy!
    I toured the base in 2005, sad to see the decay and dis-repair since the closing. I did find the old ball fields and the house we lived in.
    Great memories, thanks for the postings!

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  64. Left El Toro in 1983...saddest day of my life, was also the time I became a Missourian...the worst! I would like to see pics of the old school as well...I only attended until the end of 2nd grade and being 35 now my memory is a bit blurry. I do know that I enjoyed every minute of that school and the time spent in base housing (I lived at 13542 Iwo Jima). If anyone has any pictures, please share...or contact me at blkie19@gmail.com.

    Thanks so much for this page...it was great reading through all the different posts.

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  65. OMG!!!! Some of these memories! My dad was stationed at El Toro in the 50's, 60's and finally retired in the 70's. My mom worked on the base in the offices. I remember the swimming pool as well, and being terrified of swimming lessons. To this day I still do not know how to swim! And the ceramic hobbyshop!! Spent many hours in there with my mom. I loved going shopping with my dad at the PX every Saturday morning, and at night we would go to the movies. I remember the club and we would go to eat there, and I felt so grown up because they SERVED ALCOHOL!! and I got to have a Shirley Temple. I remember my mom's bi weekly grocery shopping at the commissary and she would come home with a trunkload of groceries in brown paper bags. We didn't live on base, but spent a lot of time there. I remember you could go to the store there and buy jeans really cheap. And during the summer, I would stay at the school for day care because they had a summer program, anyone remember that?

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  66. We lived in base housing at El Toro from around 64-66. My dad was a Capt and/or Major at the time, living one year with us and then going to Viet Nam. We were lucky to get to remain in base housing while he was gone--the base at Kaneohe kicked us off the next time he served in Viet Nam (around 1970). But the tour out of El Toro in 65 was his most difficult tour. They flew a record number of missions and lost several men and jets. The pool and the movie theater were real treats. Listening to wolfman Jack on a transistor radio. Wandering around without any adult supervision. Waiting in the car with crazy siblings while mom took forever in the commissary. Today my own children can't believe we could go to a movie AND get a drink and candy all for a quarter. I think we were lucky to meet civilian kids when we got to attend Irvine Elementary. The life of a military dependent is an odd one, the whole concept of a kid being issued a military ID card and getting "privileges." Those privileges were serious, a little mysterious--not the kind that make you feel "privileged," at least not in the civilian sense. How different I would be today if I had been a military dependent in a time when the country supports its troops, no matter the politics of the war--myself and that whole generation of Viet Nam military dependents.

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  67. Was stationed at Eltoro from 1982 to 1989 then again from 1990 left for 3 years to Florida and returned to ET in 94.
    My first unit was VMFA-314 and then later served with 121, 323, As well as Hams-11 back then. I remember when Michael Landon was filming the Heaven Can Wait...I was on the jet working on a parachtue and seat pan during the filming. I remember when he walked over to me and asked me be normal while he was shooting...I was in the pan shot when they filmed the flight line. It was a great base in a great location...made me mad when the local community started crying about the jet noise.....after all the base was there first! The orange groves did not complain about the noise (lol). I guess no one remembers the one Marine (enlisted) who wanted to fly...took an A-4 and went on a joy ride...good friends and units on that base! Long Live The Bull!!

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  68. Wow...reading through all this sure brings back memories. My name is Jim Smith and my dad was stationed at El Toro several times throughout his career. The lat time we lived in ET base housing was the 1976-1978. My good friends from then were Victor/Vonda Bautista, Greg Miller, Ray Fontenot, Dawn Shutz, Wendy Wiffler, and others. Would love to hear from any of my friends from back then. I'm on Facebook. Search for Fluidmaster and you'll find me (listed as James Smith). Or you can email me at jls_lhills@yahoo.com.

    Jim

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  69. This site is a time capsule: I lived at 13331 Wake Avenue in Wherry Park from 1955 to 1959, the eldest of seven kids who each enjoyed our Dad's Tour at El Toro. I attended St. Anne's in Santa Ana, then the Old Mission School at Capistrano. I fell into big trouble once leading a group of kids to the base ammunition storage -- just following the sheep that would graze there. Thanks for the memories.

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  70. Wow ! What a previlege to read these comments. I have great memories of El Toro. I lived in Wherry Park in the 50's when my father was stationed there. I came across a 3rd grade class photo the other day when I attended El Toro Marine School. I remember when I was just a little older getting up before school and selling papers in front of the mess hall before going to school. We moved to Tustin in later years and I worked for the Marine Corp Exchange at El Toro my first year out of high school. Then I moved to the midwest. cb

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  71. I'm looking for Paul Self. He was at El Torro Corps Air Station, in 1958. If anyone has any information, on how I can find him. Or any info on him, please let me know? Thank you, so much.
    Trish Judkins Please email me. TrishJud@Hotmail.com

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  72. I was stationed at El Toro from 1990-1994 and was with Mals 11 Powerplants and lived in base housing at 8711 1/2 Midway Pl. It was the best duty station ever !!!! I was just there 3 weeks ago when I was on Leave from Iraq and took several pics of what used to be the most thriving and alive base I have ever known. It is so sad to see it as a ghost town and run down, base housing that was across from the back gate is all gone, all that remains there is a field. I remember base housing as a scandalous magical place with all kinds of goings on when husbands were away on West Pacs. I was a bouncer at Baxter`s on Culver Dr in my off hours and saw a whole lot of West Pac widows flood the place as soon as hubbies were gone. I met my wife in base housing and have been Married 14 years and going strong. I am in the Army now but must say my Marine Corps days at El Toro will always outshine anything I will ever do in the Army. I also remember the Lcpl that took the jet out for a spin, he is probably still in the Brig. Thank you for this site it makes me sad though to know that there will be no more new El Toro memories for young Marines. Noone will ever be stationed there again and that is sad. if anybody wants to swap stories and photo`s e-mail me at kevin.m.watson@us.army.mil

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  73. anyone remember the ponderosa stables on the santa ana river bed on 5th st. you could rent a horse for $2.00 an hour back in the mid 1960's thru 1980's the owners were howard and winnie gravitt theyre son allen they had over 75 head of horse you could rent and they sponserd far west little leage at el salvador park in santa ana. also remember orie tuckers pony rides on 17th st? the good ol river rat days, im one of the original river rats still around. Isaac O.

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  74. can any one tell me if the stable is still there?

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  75. I just googled the base and the stable is gone. You can see where the barns and arenas were, but it is now just a dusty memory. We have our memories and the friends we made. Mrs. Brown made it to Hawaii and just passed away recently. I moved back to Florida and work at Disney World at the TriCircle D Ranch with the ponies and draft horse. star

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  76. to melissa t., no it's been gone since the late 1970's the wild wild west trully will be missed. Isaac.

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  77. i met jimmy dial in okinawa. he was from lubbock, texas, and i hailed from plainview, texas; a fourty-mile difference. he told me tales about lta el toro, where he had been stationed earlier, and i never forgot it. once, while on liberty in naha, okinawa, jimmy got messed up on sake, the japanese rice wine. it can literally make you go blind. he was arrested by the mp's, and fought and whipped most of them before being subdued at a near-by hospital.

    i will always remember el toro and my jimmy dial connection.

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  78. Hello! Anyone else from H&MS 13 MAG 13 3rd MAW MCAS EL TORO? i worked in the S2 shop for Lt Matthews, a mustanger. wondering if anyone else remembers MAG70 starting up in 80 or 81 in response to Iran, etc. we mobilized on the runway ready to go, but never deployed...

    i also remember the terrible traffic off-base; made you wish you owned your own private mini chopper! Thanks for a great site with these memories & Semper Fi!

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    1. Hello Anonymous,
      Yes I remember that very frustrating day as we sat on that run way as part of the MAG-70 Task Force. It was pretty much a let down for me as I was kinda pumped up to go but yet I have to admit I did breath a sigh of relief when they ordered us to stand down.
      I was stationed at El Toro from 1977 - 1984 assigned to MABS-13 Communications.
      I have so many memories, I really loved being stationed there. I even met Wolfman Jack there at the chowhall November 10th, 1977 where Wolfman Jack and I cut the Marine Corps Birthday Cake.
      Its really great to hear from other fellow Marines from El Toro. Semper fi to everyone.
      SGT Robert L. Williams Jr

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  79. I was at LTA 64-68, with a vacation in RVN. I'm looking for the El Toro stable manager during that time period, Burt Phillips. I'm not even sure he is still alive. If any body knows about him, please let me know. dlbuck2(at)earthlink(dot)net. thank you

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  80. Hey guys, I was station on mcas el toro in the late 80's. I'm from Massachusettes, but my times there were the best memories. Love California. Sorry you guys lost the base. your not alone. I never found out till of late,just haven't kept up.Almost choked up when i saw the video on youtube"mcas el toro-2005 present final look".Had a friend that was a "military brat",you guys are definitely cool.Just in case, I'm married to a filipina with 3 kids.Sad to see Subic Naval Base go too.They never let us keep the good stuff anyways. At least we had cool times and great people. Semper Fi always. My Gmail account is GuitarNineteen@gmail.com.

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  81. I was with Second Battalion/Fifth Marines in South Vietnam and rotated back in March of 1967 with orders to report to El Toro, where I was assigned to the rifle range as a marksman instructor. Had just turned 21 and thought I died and went to heaven. Range duty was unbelievably good. I gave classes on shooting positions and then, among other things, ran the center of the line on firing days. We secured every day by mid-afternoon and had every weekend off. There were girls everywhere. I had not gone on R&R in Nam in order to save my money to buy a car. On leave, before reporting in to El Toro, I bought a '65 Pontiac with a big V8. What a ball. I could tell stories about that drive-in back up the freeway toward Disneyland, but won't. And that Pontiac could fly to Vegas. . . . Loved to watch the F-4s go to burners after lift-off and point the nose to the sky. One day, out of the blue, I got orders to report to 29 Palms, and the dream-duty ended. 29 Stumps was okay, but after El Toro it seemed like I was back in the Marine Corps. The big entertainment there was either going to the NCO club or the 29 Palms Inn in town. Or the classic main gate place, the Tahiti Reef, strictly a MC hangout, with warm beer and fishnets on the wall and a nice elderly couple who ran the place. OC it was not. I spent only 7 months at El Toro, but if they'd let me stay forever I would have shipped over. It was a wonderful time and one of the greatest chapters of my life.

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  82. The Marine that took the A-4 on a joyride was LCpl Foot. He was an accomplished glider pilot (had some high altitude records as I recall). He failed his flight physical to get his commission and fly and was very upset. He took an A-4 up, did a mnual disconnect, and landed on 34R without incident. The F-4's were just getting started to intercept as he was on final.. He was friends with the CG, 3rd MAW which helped him reduce his sentence, but his military career was over after the Court Martial convicted him...

    It's sad that one of our premiere jet bases was closed because of the liberal morons there in Irvine.. Who knows how many billions they lost in revenue due to the 2 bases closing..

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  83. forever spicy's momJanuary 04, 2010 8:19 PM

    hey melissa: it is gone big time. i was in el toro and wanted to go to tustin without getting on the freeway, so i drove from el toro to tustin via irvine blvd. when i drove past the stables it looked like a bomb had gone off. the only left is some trees. it just gave me the chills to see that. and as for the Isaac guy, dude what are you talking about? gone since the 70's? i boarded my horse, Spicy, out there until she passed away until 1996.

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  84. Lived on the upper end of Wake Ave from 62-64...what a great time as a kid...Chaz Rozycki, tommy Valentine, John Hepert, Bruce Rose amoung many other friends...craig cummings, peter bent...remember good times on base swim team(guppies) playin little league with the 7up Yankees and Irvine Eltoro Allstars...lot of go-cart races down the resevoir hill...skate boarding on sidewalks of wake ave...sitting in Miss Warren's 6th grade class at the Marine elmementary school when announcement of JFK assasination came over the loud speaker via Mr. Henry the principal....Mr.Martini and flag football games against Irvine Elementary...Beatle Wigs at recess...learned to play clarinet at before school musice class at the elementary school...god it was a fun, innocent time
    Chris Westcott

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  85. I was in VMA 224 and then VMA 223 in 1956-57-58 and love reading these stories. Sure wish I could drive back there now and see El Toro again. My oldest son was born at the Drs. Hospital on 17th St in Santa Ana in Feb. 1958. Does anyone know if that hospital is still there? Also lived in NAMAR housing and seeing pictures of it just about makes me cry. Sure was some happy years there. In fact the happiest of my life. All you youngsters getting to grow up there sure have some happy memories. Good luck to all who lived, served and have memories of El Toro. An awesome duty station. Does anyone have any memories in the 50s of anyone with the last name of Day, Bartley or Bartly, Summers or Overmyer?

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  86. I was stationed at El Toro from 4/81-4/85.
    I was a "plane Captain" on the Douglas A4-M Skyhawk. My unit was VMA-311. Although we deployed quite often, things at MCASET were pretty uneventful (no planes crashing into chapels or anything). It was a great location to be stationed. Lots of memories. If Gonzo or Simp or Marge or Brooks or Bailey or... whoever wants to chat, here is my email:conurelover@frontier.com
    Chow,
    Pete

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  87. I was stationed at El Toro from 72 to 75, While there I reset the firing range record, I think it was in 73 or 74, anyone know how to find out if the base was retired with my record intact? would be great to find out.

    Peter Stone
    USMC 71/75

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  88. I lived at 13301 Wake Ave. '67-'68. My dad was a captain - Avionics Officer, not sure who he was attached to at the time. His name was Fred Gant He had been at El Toro 2-3 times before this, having done his proudest time with VMF-214 during the Korean War. Would love to hear from anyone who remembered the base at that time, especially if you knew my dad. I attended El Toro Marine School 3rd and 4th grade at this time. Remember the fires on the distant ridges that threatened to come towards us, the day Pres. Johnson landed at the base, etc. Remember when Tustin was a sign in the road and not much else and you could actually see Saddleback pretty much every day . For those who are interested there is a yahoo group called ETBK - El Toro Base Kids, made up entirely of folks who grew up at El Tore. http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/ElToroBase Kids/

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  89. Great site.
    I was stationed at El Toro from '85-'88. VMA (AW)-121.
    I remember the aire show plane crash that hit the chapel and I remember Foote stealing the A-4. I was aquainted with him and knew about his glider exploits.
    Those were some of the best years of my life. Sad to see the base gone.

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  90. OMG Can't believe there is a site such as this. It was interesting and nostalgic reading all the comments. My father was a lifer and was stationed on and off for about ten years at El Toro, from 1952 to about 1962. His name was Benjamin Ford. I, too, remember living in Quonset Huts, by the beet fields, before moving to 8682 Midway Place. We lived in Wherry housing from 1955 to 1958. Wherry was a wonderful place to live and explore during those days. The hills would get the sheep herders who would herd the sheep to be sheared at the stables. The elementary school would has a walking field trip to view the shearing of the sheep. Mr. Kolstad was the principal at the elementary school at that time. The Somdahl's, and the Dembroski's lived on our street. The stable also held a rodeo each year. There would be stars from
    Maverick, or Broken Arrow (John Lupton and Michael Ansara), among others that would be at the rodeo. It was great!! Last I was out in Cal, my sister and I drove thru Wherry. They had the hills fenced off. Sad, as some of the best times were exploring those hills. Back then, you had to be 9 years old to get your ID card, which you needed to enter the commissary. So we kids would be outside the commisssary waiting. It was an exciting day when you finally did get your ID card.

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    1. You must be a Kathy or Susie Ford. You guys and Uncle Ben & Aunt Vi are among my very favorite memories - but how you tolerated all us Somdahl's is really amazing. We're all spread out all over the country now. Dad is gone now, too; but, Mom is still in San Francisco and doing as well as can be expected. Ah the memories! Hope all is well with you and yours. Shari

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  91. I Lived on the base from 86-96. I remeber the blue angels and how the whole place would go crazy for trick or treating. It was a good safe place.One sad event happened to me when we had a house fire that destroyed out home. It was big news back in the day on the base.

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  92. I was stationed on El Toro from 96-99. I was with MTACS 38 and I was apart on the base relocation to Miramar. But fortunately I was able to spend 3 years on El Toro. It was great! As a 20yr old male it was a California dream come true. I often reminence the good people and good times I had there. I recently visited the site and I had to turn away......I didnt want to erase the images I still had in my mind of such a wonderful place. I could go on and on about all the stories but I will just sum up my experience at MCAS El Toro as a unforgetable time in the best time of my life.

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  93. all el toro stables folks, join the facebook group! http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=111131155592730&ref=ts

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  94. i was randomly googling stuff and i found this site. i grew up here from 95-98. lived on iwo jima dr and went to rancho san joaquin middles school then to university high school. probably the funnest times in my life. it sucked seeing all my friends leave because of the base closure. hit me up on twitter @IamSHINS

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  95. I found your website about two and a half years ago while researching the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and once again stumbled upon this great resource. Currently, myself and several graduate students from California State University, Fullerton, are working with the Orange County Great Park Corporation to preserve the history of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station through the collection of oral histories.

    To date, we have conducted over 225 interviews with WWII, Korea, and Vietnam war veterans, in addition to spouses, dependents, and community members. We are currently in phase III of the project, 1954-1963, however we are interested in speaking to anyone with memories of the air station. Ultimately, we hope to conduct 1,000 oral histories chronicling the entire history of the base from 1942-1999.

    If you would like to participate or would like more information please contact us at 657-278-8415 or via email coph-eltoro@fullerton.edu. I have included a link to sample interviews as well as a press release about our project.

    Thank you.
    Kira Gentry
    Project Manager, El Toro MCAS Oral History Project

    Press Release:
    http://www.ocgp.org/2007/03/oral-history-project-to-preserve-military-heritage-for-great-park/

    2009 Project Selections:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/ocgreatparkcorp#p/u/7/MuVKFNpqEIo (part one)

    http://www.youtube.com/user/ocgreatparkcorp#p/u/6/hshBADfINSk (part two)

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  96. WOW...Glad I came accross this site. I lived at El Toro from 81-85. WE lived on 107 Johnson Lane. I love it. I always refer to my childhoon as living here. Riding bikes all day, climbing in the hills, the canyon, 7 Day Store. I loved Halloween here. We would be out ALL night getting candy. I went to ETMS from K-4th grade Then went to Vista Verde for 4th and 5th. My Kindergarden Teacher was Ms. Johnson, AM class in 81. LOL

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  97. Chris Somdahl-AllenMay 12, 2010 6:14 PM

    I feel like a broken record... WOW this site is so cool, my father was Master Sgt. Somdahl we lived on the base until I was 4 years old, I have 5 brothers and sisters all older then I. My father retired in 1959. Ben and Vi Ford were our neighbors on Midway Place. My father passed in 1996 he is buried in San Francisco on the base, he over lookes the Golden Gate. He would love this site. My mother still has many reels of film with all of us in the swimming pool and front yard.
    Thank you so much to all of you for your time and memories.

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  98. Wow so many memories,from so long ago...
    My family lived on Reasoner Lane from 1978 to 1982, when my father retired. If anyone remembers any of us, please contact me I would love to hear from you.

    Donna Rosanelli- donna.rosanellibarnhoorn@gmail.com

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  99. star, star, are you there. i can see that occasionally you have made a post, so i thought you might read this. you need to check out on facebook, a site called "i loved el toro stables". there are a bunch of us (including the old, old timers like me) on there. plus people have been posting pictures of the stables thru the years. hope to see your name there. signed: spicy's mom

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  100. I have Hundreds of Pics of the Area on My facebook Site:

    MCAS Tustin Is Gone, But Tustin Lives On (And So Does Orange)

    Semper Fi,
    "Major Pain"

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  101. Additionally, there is no one else who coms close to the amount of Otrange County Photographs which I have on my various Facebook sites. A few are:

    Facebook | Fullerton, California Loves You

    Facebook | SURFING CALIFORNIA TO SOUTH CAROLINA

    Facebook | Orange County, California (North)

    Facebook | Orange County, California (South)

    Semper Fi,
    "Major Pain"

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  102. Susan WhiteselJuly 02, 2010 1:04 PM

    My name is Susan Whitesel. Lived on the base from 78'-81'. Enjoyed reading the memories and yes it brought up many. I remember sadly how every year there was a Christmas tree fire on base. I love my years as a militry brat and miss it to this day. Thank you for the memories.

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  103. Tony V here. Stationed at Tustin from 85-89 with HMH-466 but lived in El Toro housing. My kids went to El Toro Marine School. Came back from 97 to 99 with VMGR-352 and stayed in SNCO housing up on the hill above Trabuco road outside the back gate. Ah, the memories. Wife and I never wanted to relocate to Miramar in 99. I had been stationed in Japan, Hawaii and the East Coast and El Toro was the best. The kids could play outside and you had no worries. Firends were all close by. We had block parties. Son went University HS. Remember having a few drinks at the Iron Mule. Good times.

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  104. We moved to Wherry Park sometime around 1950 and stayed there until the end of the Korean War. My memories are so fuzzy and disjointed since I was only 5 years old when we arrived and I'm trying to piece things together for my kids.

    I remember glimpses of the small place we lived in and where my mother would get together with the other lonely wives and have seances (table bouncing) while drinking wine and laughing a lot. They all seemed to know a lot about the other lonely wives who weren't there and then some more laughing about "Party lines'.

    I recall shooting arrows into the sky and holding the top of a trash can over my head like an arrow proof umbrella. Lots of exploring in a near by pit area, there were some climby things and horned toads; and, feeling like I was at the end of the known universe.

    My friends and I thought that castor beans were coffee beans and we tried to brew some but got caught before we could kill ourselves.

    There were these little birds that made beehive nests near the roof of the house and I was told to never touch the babies when they fell out of the hole because their mother would not come back and get them. I guess someone else must have touched them anyway because they were still there for a long long time.

    I remember riding my bike to a theatre of some kind on Saturdays and enjoying the weekly serial showings of Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe.

    My mothers large garden watering can served me well as a helmet-mask until there was a little incident involving an earth vehicle that didn't know I couldn't really fly and it sent me spinning to the curb in front of our house. It broke the long nose off of my helmet-mask.

    I swiftly changed heroes and went totally Davey Crockett with his improved visibility head-wear. And, since Davey Crockett didn't use a death ray to kill ants and start little fires in the field across the street my mother and the firemen were happy to encourage my new habit of spitting sideways and saying things like "Is this cannon loaded colonel?"

    Sometimes when we left the theater we went to a place, I think it was like a big cafeteria, where there was a guy who wore a tall puffy white hat and an apron that was mostly white with new splashes on it every week. We'd sneak in the back door where there was a long freezer full of little square boxes of ice cream and after we'd grab a few the tall hat guy started chasing us and yelling real loud. He never did catch us and he always waited we had a couple before he'd begin hollering.

    If I broke your window with a baseball or a rock I'm really sorry, I was aiming at the butterfly.

    Please keep this site going and alive, it's a great memory stimulator.

    If anybody has pictures of the neighborhood I'd love to see them.

    God Bless my Father, George "Bill" H. Beam and my Mother, Minnie.

    Thank you,

    Ken Beam kgb123@yahoo.com.

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  105. I live at the base inthe early 70's. I also remember the jet crash, remember being on the playground playing tetherball when the crash occurred. I was in Mr. Kershings class. Some people I remember are; the Foster twins, Bill leary, Joe gonzales(he was a very fast runner),our PE teachers,Mr. Toomay, and Mr. Smith. I played little league baseball for three years,from72 Angels,73 Tigers, 74 Rangers.I also remember whe the hill where the new base housing was located, caught on fire. Good times at the movies and base pool. Those were very good memories.

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  106. I've lived there twice. Once as a dependent in 1959ish. My father was the avionics officer for VMF-(AW) 314. I was 2 years old and remember the Goodyear blimp flying over our house; POP, not being big enough to go on the roller coaster and going to Disneyland.
    The second time was as a Marine from 1981-1989. I made 4 WastPac pumps overseas, so I was there a total of only 6 years. I remember climbing the perimeter fence to watch the drag races at OCIR; all of the chickens coming on base from the Irvine farms just off base next to base housing; Cook’s Corner Bar having the best patty melt in the world; Lion Country Safari; Just up the hill from Scotsman Cove being yellow grass instead of Timeshares, and going to Disneyland.
    I loved it there and am saddened to see it gone.
    Check out this Marine site if you have a chance:
    http://marines.togetherweserved.com/usmc/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=Profile&type=Person&ID=21452

    Semper Fi,
    Bill Cline

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  107. Sheree Treece-EdingtonNovember 01, 2010 11:04 AM

    This is a great site! My dad was stationed at El Toro when I was born (1956). He was an enlisted man at the time, but I was born in Corona (the Navel Hospital). Before he died, he would call me every year to remind me that he was listed as AWOL because he was at the hospital with my mom and me. He was later stationed at El Toro before and during my kintergarden years. I'll never forget Miss Berry, my teacher and the "bomb drills" (curl up in a ball with hands over our heads). Dad worked at the stable that time and bought and trained the horses and rode in the rodeos. We met a lot of neat stars that would be at the rodeos too. I just hated it when I heard they were closing the base. It has been a nice memory for this old Marine brat.

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  108. SaddlebackMac USMCNovember 15, 2010 4:01 PM

    I just plain miss MCAS El Toro.

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  109. I was stationed as an MP at MCAS El Toro from 1982-1989. It seems as though the main events at the base were aircrafts either being crashed or stolen. Lots of things going on that were not known at the time also (I won't get into Col Sabow story). When I first got to El toro myself and a few of my fellow MP's did not go to Lacland or McClellan for our training as it was the transition time between the two locations for MP training so we did OJT right there at El toro. We were hazed by being told we needed to get in formation anytime we needed to walk anywhere on the base and did so for a couple weeks until a kind Cpl (Bailey) pulled us aside and said we don't need to march everywhere LOL. Lots of good memories over 7 years there. I agree it is sad to see what happened to the base, but it's nice to know we can still see lots of pics on google and Facebook.

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  110. My father (Jerry McGrath) was stationed on El Toro from 1970 to 1975 as a Naval Supply Officer. He was transferred to El Toro from Keflavik Iceland (where I was born) and he was then transferred to Yuma. I don't remember too much about the base as I was 6 when we moved, but we lived in a house in a nice neighborhood and had some huge trees in our yard and a big open area behind our house to play (later on I learned we were fortunate to live in our own house). I attended pre-school and Kindergarten on the base - I saw the class pictures in my parents home a few years ago. I remember that one of my birthday parties had to be moved due to a big gas leak in the neighborhood. Between the jets at El Toro and the jets in Yuma, I could identify any military jet by their sound. In Yuma we lived off base and I would win bets with my friends by guessing the jet that was flying overhead or taking off. Anytime I get near an air station these days (usually Luke in Phoenix or Davis-Monthan in Tucson), I always pull over and just watch the jets land and takeoff, remembering when I could do that from my bedroom window when I was a little kid. My Dad took me to many California Angels games and we visited Laguna Beach nearly every weekend. I tried to get on the base about 10 years ago when I was out there on business, but the security guard wouldn't let me on for some stupid reason. I have nothing but great memories about El Toro.

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  111. Anyone know the contact info of the company which controls the old housing area? I'm headed to California for the first time since I was 9 and would really like to see where my childhood home once stood. I realize the house is gone, but I'd like to go in and see it.

    Thanks

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  112. My name is Mark Tuttle, I worked as a Marine on mcas el toro from 1978 - 1982 I worked as a refueler driving trucks around the flight line either refueling or defueling as needed. I have real found memories of my time in the Marines. I had many friends who had a great effect on my life, but over the course of many years the names have faded away unfortunately. I never had any real way to try and regain contact with any who may still be alive and well but would like to post this on this site in hopes that someone may see this with some knowledge of myself and others we had served with thru this time frame. If anyone wishes to make contact with this old Marine and just relive some memories my number is 701-893-5890 Semper-fi

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    1. Also you can reach me on facebook or at my e-mail address of tuttle.mark72@gmail.com I hope to hear from any of the men or women that I served with

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  113. Does anyone remember MCAS Santa Ana? I was stationed there from Sept 65 to Dec 1966. I worked in the messhall there and had some real good times.Would like to hear from anyone who worked there also.

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  114. Went to MCAS, El Toro late in 1948 when Col. Ennis was commander of MAG-12. Our first assignment after I arrived was to spend several days and nights nearby fighting brush fires. Korean deployment came along in summer of 1950, back to MCAF (LTA)Tustin, and then back to MCAS, El Toro. Overseas again, then back to MCAS, El Toro. To Recruiters school at PI, then back to MCAS, El Toro after recruiting tour. Two deployments to Vietnam, then retirement in 1971. Things have changed, of course, but the more they change, the more they remain the same. Looking for info on Major Joe Ezell who crashed into the ocean off Laguna Beach with his RO in an F4B (or F4J)during the 1970's. I find out now that he was probably a cousin of mine. From Texas, I believe.

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  115. You will find quite a bit on this site if you just search aircraft crashes.

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  116. Wow what memories this has brought back!!! I lived with my parents Derek and Malinda Cook on Connor Street from 1988-1992. I have some of my best memories from that place! I attended Westwood Basics Plus school in Irvine and rode the bus every morning from the basketball court where it picked me up at. I remember going to the stables and feeding a horse named Wobbles carrots everyday. I remember all the homecoming festivities when my Father returned from the first Gulf War. I loved going to the Commisary and the General Store that was at the base of the hills all our base housing (back part) was on. One of my uncles came out to live with us for awhile too, Daniel Cook, and attended University HS. I remember watching the air shows every year including one where the jet crashed at the show, no one was killed. I can remember hearing the constant roar of the jet engines flying over our house, having to frequently light candles cause it always seemed like the power was going out, and I remember all the Easter egg hunts on base by the park and the Hallowedn festivities every year! So many memories I can't possibly list them all. I went back before the housing complex was torn down and it was so deserted but good to see the old neighborhood one last time. I also was able to drive onto the back side of the base recently and walk around some of the old apartment and commercial buildings that have long been vacant but are still there. Yall may like to go drive around if ur still in the area and get a look for yourselves before they demolish those. Hope other Connor neighbors see this site too!!
    If anyone is looking for the Golley or Vanderhoefs families let me know I have kept in close touch with them. They were on the base at the same time as my family was.

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  117. I love all the memories! I was born on base in '80 and we left in '89 but I still call El Toro home. My father was a diesel mechanic. I still think the Commisary was the greatest show on earth.I remember the 7 day store and living on Midway and Trabuco Rd. I remember the big driveway lined with garages that we would ride our big wheels around on. I went to school in Irvine at Vista Verde. I truly regret that I never got back but at least the memories are strong.

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    1. who was your father cause I worked in the refueler group refueling planes

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  118. Wow Can't believe I found this site. CiCi how have you been all these years? I was so sad to hear Spicy passed away, she had a long wonderful life. I still miss my Princess. I can't wait to check out the facebook site tonight.
    If anyone knows where Liza Doan, Julie Graham, Earl Pennel, Lance, George Campbell ( Pancho )
    Spike, Candy Nolan , Katie Newbell so many , please write me simplyexclusive1@roadrunner.com

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  119. Im so very grateful that i had the opportunity to be apart of era that is now gone forever.My ex was stationed at El Toro with VMFA 531,and we lived in new base housing at 6832 Super Stallion Drive on MCAS Tustin base.I just can't believe that both bases are gone,so sad.Me being a pack rat i saved lots of things from that time in 1990 and 1992 since my 1st born son was born at Irvine Medical Center in Irvine,i wanted to save all these things for him,and im glad i did keep everything.I saved a El Toro /Tustin Housing Handbook Booklet,and a map from the MCAS Housing Referral Office,another fold out map of both MCAS El Toro and Tustin Bases,i even kept the copy of the MCAS El Toro And Tustin Guide And Directory 1990-1991. I Kept alot of copies of the newspapers "Flight Jacket" mostly 1990 and 1991,and i also kept a flyer that was handed out for the May 19th,1991 Homecoming held on Tustin base.I have so many fond memories being there.I worked for a short time at The child care center on El Toro,and worked at the old Mervyn's Department store near the corner of Barranca Pkwy.And Jamboree Rd.which i heard was closed and torn down to make a fitness center complex,if i were to visit there now i probably would not reconize anything.One thing i regret when i lived out there was not taking enough pictures.i really wish i had more pictures of the base like i remember it from before,and i wish i had more pictures of the housing areas.I found 1 picture of new base housing on Tustin base that was taken from my balcony looking down the street,wow! lots of great memories.They can tear down our homes and the places we roamed however they cannot take our memories....Long live El Toro and Tustin....You Are Missed!If you would like to see any of the items i mentioned please feel free to contact me at smhuskey68@yahoo.com

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  120. I lived for a few months on base during late 1960
    in officer family transit quarters. They were
    Quonset huts. I was 4 1/2 years old. We had just moved from Cherry Point. My Dad was a maint officer for VMA-311. I remember being upset that a neighbor had Television and we did not. Other memories were my brother drawing on the walls with crayons with my Mother being very upset.
    Some sort of emergency on the runway with maybe
    a C-119, saw smoke. Playing with a rubber motor
    cycle in the back yard, Still have the toy.
    and something about bad Parmesan cheese they sold at the Commissary. Before Christmas 1960
    we moved into our home at 1047 W. Orange Rd
    in Santa Ana. I use to think that the homes
    in Red Hill and Lemon Heights were the Ghost
    Town,(Arizona) I saw while we were driving to California. Lyons Moving and Storage provided
    the Service, so I always got excited seeing their facility next to the I-5 in Tustin.

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  121. Greetings from an old-timer - I was stationed at El Toro from 1952-54, Hdqtrs Squadron, AirCraft FMF Pacific and worked in Special Services. I do have a few pictures of the old base area (WWII wood buildings) very few buildings of a permanent nature. Great duty and good liberty area. Bob Anderson

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  122. We were stationed at MCAS El Toro 1975-1978 in VMFA 314, then 1980-1983 in VMFA 531 and VMFA 323 and H&MS. After my husband Andrew Sargent retired in 1987, he was the site manager for the training package at VMFAT 101 until the squadron went to Miramar in 1999.

    Lots of stories on my blog http://wingwife.blogspot.com

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  123. i lived at el toro base from 1961 to 1966..had lots of friend there..lost contact with a lot of people.does any body know jane ridge, sharon cook. lisa kilpatrick, marsha mason..gary orrbaker, john herpert.. diane arron..we all went to the same school.this school was located just off the freeway. near the base..

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  124. I don't have any connection to the base but discovered this thread while researching history of the area. I moved to Mission Viejo last year and have enjoyed reading all of the memories of the great times. Thanks for sharing!
    I'm sad to see the base in the condition that it's in today and wish that more could be done to preserve the past of this place. The city of Irvine had better do something to commemorate the contributions made by all who served our country while walking the grounds of that property.

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  125. Hi, my stepfather was a Marine aviator and we moved onto El Toro when I was in first grade (1947). I remember the base was new, because they were still building BOQ's near our quarters. When you drove through the main gate, you turned right and our quarters were against the fence on the front side of the base. There were bean fields of some kind outside the fence. We spent a lot of time at the pool. They must of done some jump training at the pool, because there was a huge structure with a drop line at the deep end of the pool.

    Prior to that, we lived temporarily at the LTA base while awaiting quarters at El Toro. I remember living in a quanset (sp?) hut for awhile and knocking on the wall between our hut and someone living on the other side. As you passed the LTA base on your right, and approached the Main Gate, there was one intersecting road. On the left corner was an old farmhouse surrounded by orange groves and bean fields. I went to elementary with Jerry ?? who lived in that house. His older brother was killed in an auto accident when we were 8. If you went to the right, you eventually ended up at the Beach. I don't remember which one. I don't remember anything but fields if you went to the left.If you went straight, you got to the base. I attended a very old spanish style elementary school near the base. There was an old general store across the road where we bought sodas.

    We were stationed there a second time when I was in the 7th grade (1952), and actually attended the same elementary school that I had gone to previously. We lived in Wherry Housing this time, and I remember going to the Base stables, and riding up in the hills behind the base. There was nothing around but a few farm houses. It seemed to me as a kid that you got off the freeway in Santa Ana, then drove forever on one road, past Tustin High School, then past the LTA base, and the road ended at El Toro. We bought a house in Santa Ana after that, and I went to Willard Jr. High until 1956, when my dad was transferred to Hawaii and we lived in NHA 1. After living on an different airbases for so many years, I now live near Dobbins in Atlanta and I still love to hear the sound of the jets starting up their engines, Never realized until I was a Mom what a safe childhood I had living on all those Marine bases. Hard to believe that was 64 years ago...!!!

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  126. Lennie Lippert clubcollectorgolf@yahoo.comApril 22, 2011 9:22 PM

    Lived at 5154 S. 5th street from 1977-1990 (no kidding). Nobody gonna beat that record. Was a great place to grow up. So many wonderful memories.

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  127. El Toro VMGR Marine. I had a blast there from 1981/83. Loved every minute of it, from Saddle Back to the orange groves, riding my Harley in through the back gates. Made alot of friends there, military and civi alike. Going up to Big Bear and Camping. Very cool site... takes me back! I'll scan some old pics and send them to ya...

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    1. I wish you would scan some and send them to tuttle.mark72@gmail.com I was there 1978-1982

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  128. We lived on El Toro MCAS from June 1988 thru June 1989. My dad was Army and worked at the Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Center, but we were lucky enough to get on base housing while stationed out there.

    I remember that even the officer's quarters housing did not have A/C back then, unless you installed your own, and we couldn't afford it...

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  129. My father was a naval supply officer at El Toro during 1969-1972. We lived at 8614 1/2 Midway Place. We moved there from Pearl Harbor. I remember teachers: Mrs Aldridge (2nd grade), Mrs. Miller (3rd), Miss Marshall (4th). Mr. Toomey, Mr. Smith (PE Teachers), Mr. Henry (Principal). Classmates, Anthony and Tony Smith, Nicky Balderama, Kim Foster, Ray White, Bill O Leary, Andre McCollugh, to name a few. I remember the bus rides and Barbara was the bus driver who dated the custodian? I was also involved in our first school newspaper (Hotline), I drew the hot phone on our first paper.

    That was a different place, time and culture. I don't remember anything bad??? It was a great time to be a kid.

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  130. OMG, Reading all the posts... as a Marine Corps Brat!Talk about a stroll down memory lane! I LOVE it! I also lived in Wherry Housing..Midway Dr/PL,(1962) went to kindergarten-2nd grade-(1963-66)before dad retired and we moved to Santa Ana but still spent a lot of time on the base and in housing visitng. WOW! LTA (Lighter than Air) haven't heard that in a minute!! Lived there also..then as a military wife! Wonderful memories growing up and even more having my kids grow up in the military life (MCAS Tustin-Dowell Ct)Okinawa Japan (Camp Kinser) & Camp Pendleton-San Onofre Housing) and now a Marine Son, stationed at Camp Pendleton! So proud to be a part of the Marine Corps Family!

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  131. I went to kindergarden AND first grade My first Teacher was ms shoemaker. I went their 1971,1973. My name is Stephen Coombes.any pics appreciated
    . Costaricasteve@netzero.com. Many great memories .

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  132. Found this site while researching all the places we lived while my dad was in the Marines. We moved into base housing in 1965, I went to Kindergarten at El Toro Marine School. I still have my report card, with my teacher being "Mrs. Gerson". Does anyone have pictures of the base housing in 1965? I remember the houses were situated in a square, with a large lawn of grass in the middle, where all the "Marine Brats" played in the evenings. We don't have any pictures from this time, and would sure like to see what things looked like!

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  133. Hi everyone I remember having lots of fun there growing up I lived at 178connor avenue , my best friend was hana and carlene ......went to rancho junior high in 1982 my boyfriend before we moved away was David sample. Time does change but your memories stay the same ....

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  134. My dad was stationed at El Toro from 62 to 67. We lived in Santa Ana and I went to John Adams Elemenary, Smedley Jn, Valley High. We moved to Mission Viejo when my dad retired in 67.

    Later, my friends and I spent lots of time at the EM club on base from 70 to 73. Lots of good times there!

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    1. dan@daniellatch.comAugust 20, 2013 10:59 AM

      I was the senior bartender at the EM Club from February, '71 to October, '72. Send me a pic from then and say, "Hi!" I'll buy you a drink and pet your poodle.

      As posted elsewhere, please let me know if you remember the riot at the club in 72. It started at my bar, spilled into the entertainment and seating area, and then the MPs came pouring in. It was a real melee, as I recall.

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  135. My uncle, MSgt. James O'Leary was stationed at El Toro for 3 years before being sent to Vietnam in '68 or '69. My aunt, Mabel (May), worked in the Payroll Dept. and was sent to Okinawa. He fought in WWII and Korea as well. Does anyone remember him? Please post a note here. Thanks so much. Gail

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  136. Is there any truth to having tunnels built from El Toro to Tustin Marine Base and Seal Beach Weapons station. I Have heard about this but never have had any confirmation. It should not be classified anymore. Thanks. Curious.

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  137. My name is John Hesse. Raised in VT. I was stationed at MCAS El Toro from either late 1972 or early 1973 until mid October 1974. Became Cpl. Hesse while there and regret taking terminal leave because my Sgt. Boards were two days after I left for home. I was displaced waiting for my Primary MOS School to form again. A week in the hospital at Mainside Camp Lejeunne put me out of sync with everyone after I was TA'd to the MP's at Camp Geiger. After Demo School at Courthouse Bay I was sent to El Toro and became part of H&MS 37 Utilities. I was there the day the A-4 circled (didn't know they punched out intil later) It seemed like a half hour instead of the 10 minutes or so. We were all watching from the roof of our building when it seemed to climb then nose dive in the far corner of the PFT area. That long curve had two vehicles on it as the A-4 fireballed on impact. One vehicle was I think a new mother with her infant (read elsewhere a pregnant woman) who luckily was passing a fairly large truck so the truck absorbed the debris and protected the car and it's occupants. No one killed was a miracle. If it hit that area during lunch many Marines would have been hurt or worse. I also remember during the fuel shortage many military vehicles were red-lined for lack of fuel and a C-130 0vershot the runway and plowed into dozens of those vehicles but it never made the papers and don't see any mention of it on this sight. I was also there the day Nixon flew back to California after resigning. Thousands were there to support him. Was it San Clemente where he had quite the compound. Many good times in Southern Cali back then. I googled MCAS El Toro and saw the ghost town it has become in 2009. Heartbreaking. When I arrived the barracks were brand new . Anyone remember Gary Rathburn from that time period ? He was from Oregon.

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    1. dan@daniellatch.comAugust 20, 2013 10:55 AM

      I'd like to be contacted by anyone with memories or information about the riot at the El Toro EM Club in 1972. Several people went to the hospital and brig.

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  138. Hey everyone, I never lived in El Toro but I live in Irvine and I'm a Navy brat. I was just wondering if there was maybe a hospital, clinic, or dentist office there? I actually went there today and I knew the name was familiar, I've been searching trying to find it for hours. I was inside an abandoned building and I saw the insignia. There were all sorts of weird chairs that you would see at a dentist but there were also rooms with little bathrooms attached. It was falling apart but the electrical outlets didn't look too old, so I was just wondering.
    I would greatly appreciate it if anyone responded.

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  139. Having grown up in the area (Woodbridge) I spent many hours on El Toro, hanging out the Pilots at the various Squadrons, Military Aviation was my thing, have an Uncle that flew for 323, and originally intended on going that route when I joined the Marine Corps. I joined after graduation, went to College, graduated and planned on getting a commission, but got sidetracked into the civilian sector, making more money, so my dreams of flying for the Marine Corps never came to fruition, and seeing the state of the abandoned Air Station, I regret not having gone that route. Many fond memories there, it was a fun base, the Marines that served there seemed to enjoy it, and the Air Shows definitely brought the area to life in late Spring every year. El Toro will be sorely missed, I wish that BRACC weren't so political, as that base served a great strategic purpose, regardless of what those suits on that commission claimed. It's hard to believe that both El Toro and Tustin were closed so abruptly.

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  140. Judy Rose of Coronado writes: My father was stationed at El Toro from 1966 to 1967. He was supposed to retire from this duty station but was suddenly sent to Viet Nam with the 2nd Marines in DaNang. As someone else mentioned, we too were fortunate to be allowed to stay in base housing until I graduated from Foothill High in June of 67. It is sad to see in these posting the scattered lives we brats lived. We are all yearning to be able to return HOME, but there is no home for us. My husband thinks I am crazy because I have fond memories of Dempsey Dumpsters. As children we had one near our base housing at Barber’s Point, Hawaii that stayed pretty clean so we made it into our fort. We are a resilient breed.
    At El Toro, we lived pretty far up the hill on Wake. Our house looked out on the deserted prairie hills in one direction and the orange groves and growing city of Irvine in the other. I belonged to the Girl Scout Riding Troop out of the stables. We practiced in the arena and took trail rides all over those hills.
    Each morning, the school bus picked us up at the base of the hill and started an hour and a half trek to Foothill High by way of the back roads of Trabuco Canyon to the brand new high school in Mission Viejo where we would wait for another bus to take us to Tustin High School and then finally to Foothill. We were late every day of the first quarter. I remember the few days I drove Kathy Holben in, because she had a test in Physics, the ASB president, Jack Hawkins, would always end the announcements with, “And the El Toro bus is late again.” Finally someone worked out that the bus picking up Matt, the general’s son, and the other front gate brats could swing around the base and get us too.
    I have lived on a number of bases and I have to say El Toro was the only base where none of the kids wore their father’s rank on their sleeve. My father was Navy Hospital Core so this was my only Marine base. Maybe that was the difference. Marines are tight. The kids at the Teen Center were a tight group, too. We didn’t date in the traditional sense, we just hung out together. When the school insisted we had to have couples for the big dances we would pair up, as needed, and still go as a group. It was a wonderful time. sdbvjdc@hotmail.com

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  141. Sorry, I believe it was Ann Holben, not Kathy who had physics class

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  142. My name is Ben Long and we lived at 162 Conner Ave from 1977-1979. I remember playing basketball on the courts with Melvick Weathersby, Andre Robinson, Donny and Calvin Jones and many others. Great times on the base. Loved to walk down the hill to the "small store" and get a soda! LOL What I loved the most about the base was there was no racial problems at all!!!! The Black kids could hang out white kids all day; play all day and never were there any issues! Some of the best times of my life... I graduated from Irvine High and UCI and subsequently moved to the DC area. When I come "home" tom Irvine to visit I ride by the Base, damn shame it's all gone!

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  143. Many fond memories of El Toro 1988-90 as a child.
    The experience of being on that base really fuelled my passion for aviation and appreciation for Marine culture
    & history.

    I remember the F-4 two-ship takeoffs at sunrise. Wow, that was incredibly loud! I couldn't even talk to the person next to me and we were over a mile distance
    from the runway.

    During the '88 airshow Lt. Col. Jerry Caddick flying an F/A-18 performed a loop directly over the top of where I was standing & when he tried to pull out of it I remember it in slow motion staring directly down the spine of the aircraft as it disappeared from view from the crowd in front of me. The whole crowd gasped & started asking what happened to the plane because we didn't see any explosion. He tried his best to recover & the fact that the wings were level & his unwavering angle of attack before impact helped keep the plane mostly intact.
    He saved many lives by steering away from the crowd until impact. Want to see how to crash a jet like a man? Google the video. It's incredible that he survived that and went on to fly again.

    Growing up with my friends in OC we were adventurous, daring, and licensed to fly at an immature age. We had our dreams of epic aviation adventures just like LCpl. Foote. And those dreams outweighed our judgements in
    a similar manner. We didn't get caught in the air, and I think we were damned lucky in that sense. But we did get caught hiding the same year in a bush in the middle of an LZ for a CH-53 from MCAS Tustin. We were partying in the Santa Ana Mtn. foothills and saw one doing touch & goes. Let's have a closer look!!! So we hide in the only bush in the LZ and he comes in and it becomes quickly obvious from the trajectory that the helicopter is about to land directly on top of us! We panicked when the helicopter was about 100' from us
    and ran. The aircrew saw us at the last second and we
    hear this sudden changing of blade pitch & engine RPM
    as they abort landing. Damn lucky they didn't jump out & beat the shit out of us. Duh, that was a stupid thing of us to do. Twice then the Marines had avoided landing on my head. Let's not go for a third & get somebody killed. How about something constructive with aviation?

    So the next four years after that I was USAF F-16 maintenance. Honorable conduct & discharge, believe it or not.

    Today my endeavors aren't military or aviation related but past experiences remain a guide & inspiration.

    I'm fortunate to have had my military experience begin at El Toro and witness this awesome base and Marine culture before the end of the Cold War. You know, when America still had balls. The saddest part about the closure of the two bases was the loss of Marine culture. A great symbol of strength, security, & honor
    removed from the community. Well, what's done is done.
    All that's left are a ghost town & memories. I'll keep on remembering the good ones.....











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  144. Hi there,
    Terrific to see these great memories, so vividly retold all these years later. I'm doing a video documentary on the history of Orange County International Raceway (OCIR), next door to El Toro (1967-83). Would like to hear from anyone who has memories... especially FILM, or even photos (!) from any events there. I'm guessing some of you have vivid memories of hearing the dragsters on a Saturday night, or hopping the fences as a brave youngster. Please email your memories to: Dgillespie02@hotmail.com.

    Thanks, Don Gillespie

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  145. JUST ANOTHER POST FOR ANY OF THE MARINE'S I MAY HAVE KNOWN WHILE BEING
    STATIONED WITH MWSG-37 AT EL TORO DURING THE YEARS 1978 - 1982 MY NAME IS MARK TUTTLE MY PHONE NUMBER IS 701-893-5890 I CAN REMEMBER A FEW NAMES OR NICK NAMES LIKE RANDY MOUSE HAUK, CHRIS CASPER, BROWN, TORES, GONZALES, KEVIN FRAMPTON, ROBERT ROBERTS, BILLY STOLLE, I'M SURE THERE ARE MANY MORE IF ANYONE CAN REMEMBER BEING THERE AT THE SAME TIME YOU CAN CALL OR FIND ME ON FACEBOOK IN FARGO NORTH DAKOTA... LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU

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  146. Pretty much grew up on El Toro, my father, Earl Green, was the manager of the Exchange until 1984. I remember sitting in one of the F4s during a display, must have been 4 or 5, the guy who was helping us in the cockpit said something like "go ahead, start it", I found the battery switch and flipped it, he kinda freaked out. My mother, Jerri Green, was assistant manager at LTA. Lots of memories. I worked at the NCO club as a cook from '77 to 79.

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  147. I lived in Wherry housing (13316 Wake Avenue)1970-1973 and attended El Toro Marine School in 5th and 6th grade (Mr. McKenzie and Mr. Ferazzi and the wonderful Mr. Smith was our PE teacher). I then went to Rancho Irvine in 7th grade. Some of my all time favorite memories were created during the 3 years we lived there! I was there when when they were going to cut down the old oak tree for new houses and we all rallied around it and wouldn't let them. We used to hang out at the old oak tree (climbing and rope swing), the tunnel, the Big V, the reservoir, even the dumps, hiking around the hills, and of course, just hanging out in the entire neighborhood...all the way up and down Wake Avenue! When Santa Ana winds came, we'd grab our roller skates and an umbrella let the winds take us up and down the street! And, of course we would hitchhike to go on base to the movies, the PX and the pools (E and O)....oftentimes getting rides from MPs! SO many memories...I could go on and on and on! We would go door to door to wash cars, sell mistletoe, and mow lawns for money. And, I had a paper route delivering the LA Times. Growing up as a Marine brat and moving back and forth across country every 2-3 years was tough, but I appreciate every bit of it now. Made me a well adjusted girl. El Toro was most definitely one of my favorite "pit stops"!!

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  148. Kevin Frampton this is mark tuttle you should look me up on facebook or just call me. would like to chat

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    1. Hello this is Mark Tuttle I was at el toro from 1978-1982 If anyone remembers me I'd like to hear from them. My number is 701-491-0775

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  149. Hi just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the
    images aren't loading correctly. I'm not sure why
    but I think its a linking issue. I've tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same outcome.

    my web-site: growingsmes.org

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  150. Aloha! I lived on the base in the officers housing on E street for 6 years ('74-'80). My father was a Marine Aviator. Spent my summers swimming in the O-pool and running around the neighborhoods. I can still pick out the lot on google earth. I look ever few years. Good memories. it seem like the base is open these days. I might have to drive through. I have a few pictures. lmk if you would like to see them or where to uplaod them. :)
    jdchee@gmail.com

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  151. Aloha! I lived on the base in the officers housing on E street for 6 years ('74-'80). My father was a Marine Aviator. Spent my summers swimming in the O-pool and running around the neighborhoods. I can still pick out the lot on google earth. I look ever few years. Good memories. it seem like the base is open these days. I might have to drive through. I have a few pictures. lmk if you would like to see them or where to uplaod them. :)
    jdchee@gmail.com

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  152. Aw, fond memories!! My dad was stationed at El Toro MCAS from 1966 to 1975. We lived off base until 1973 then we moved into base housing. If memory serves me right, we lived at 100 Graham Dr.. I loved it there and had many friends who I have searched for but haven't found yet...ugh!! I attended Rancho San Joaquin Intermediate School during my days on base. I did babysit while living there and can remember the little guy that lived next door to us. I caught him streaking all the time, he had on nothing but a smile....LOL I remember hiking in the hills close to our house finding all kinds of creatures plus a little tented area someone made. My dad did his time in Vietnam plus he did do a tour in Japan as well. My dad flew jets, not the pilot but the co-pilot and no he was not involved in that crash....LOL I also remember going to the Christmas parties in the hangar at the squadron, VMCJ-3 (I believe). They had cookies, punch and of course, Santa Claus. After you told Santa what you wanted for Christmas you got to put your hand in a jar filled with silver dollars and whatever you could take out was yours to keep, my hands never seemed to be big enough...ugh!!...LOL Also, the open house at the hangar where you got to go see what the cockpit of the jets looked like. After our time at El Toro, my dad's next tour of duty was Kaneohe MCAS on Oahu, HI. We spent three years there before we returning to El Toro MCAS for my dad to retire. I am very sad that the base was closed and shocked that they knocked down all the homes that we had memories in!! Why would they do such a thing? I too visited El Toro many years later and am sad that I did not take the time to take a look at our old home!! The person that I would most like to get into contact with is Shirl Wilbanks. She had a sister named Regina. Anyone know them?

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  153. Hello! My name is Cindy and I live in Basehor, Ks. I just happened upon this web-site last night and wanted to share my memories of living at El Toro. My dad was a Marine from 1950 to his retirement in 1971. We lived on the base from 1956 to 1957 moving to Santa Ana after that. We lived on Baker St in Santa Ana and I went to George Washington School until 1960.

    The memories that I have living at El Toro was the Commissary and the huge covered “sandbox” that we played in while my parents shopped as we were too young to go into the commissary, you had to be 12 years of age.

    I remember going to the rodeo’s every year and I remember the bowling alley with the Marines that worked (extra side job) there setting the pins…no automatic pin-setter back then! ;)

    I remember when my parents would go out with friends to the NCO club, we stayed in a Quonset with babysitter’s and wore our pajama’s…the babysitters would put white tape on the back of our jammies to identify us and when it was bed time, they would lay us down in a row of beds with one child’s head at the head of the bed and the next child’s head at the foot of the bed, etc. No talking allowed once you were put to bed.

    I remember the base swimming pool and all Marines had to wear shirts with collars to be allowed in. We had gone to a picnic with my parents, friends/families that were also Marines and all of us kids wanted to go to the pool but we couldn’t as all of our Dad’s had on tee shirts, one older child suggested making collars for the Dad’s out of the paper picnic tablecloth!

    I remember having dinner on occasion at the NCO club and my parents would order me a “Shirley Temple” and my brother got a “Roy Rogers” – that was pretty special!

    I remember the bread truck that used to come around and the hot, fresh glazed donuts that Mom would get us kids once in a while, they were wonderful!

    On a sad note, I remember a jet that crashed along a back field killing the pilot. I remember all the Mom’s sitting on a neighbor’s porch and pointing to the sky, I remember the sound it made and the crash and the fire along with that tragedy. That memory will never fade.

    I remember my little brother always saluting as we came into the gates of El Toro.

    Thank you for this awesome web-site and for letting me share these wonderful memories!

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  154. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on
    this blog loading? I'm trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Here is my weblog: http://notevalley6.webgarden.com/sections/blog/the-ways-to-choose-the-most

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  155. Wow ! I'm going nuts, I have to read all this, I've got the MCAS El Toro gee-bees, I have been digging around the web for info on El Toro, ie MCAS El Toro, MWHS-3 circa 1972 to 1974. I was with VMFA 323,MABS 11, them the real deal... MWHS-3 I was one of three stewards for the CG, MGEN H.S. Hill. I can't sleep until I find the name that I have forgotten after 40 years, the last name of the major that flew the Gen. and I on a C-117 to HQMC that year. The other Marine stewards GySgt Mitchell and SSgt David Hackett, the Generals daughters name then was Diane Hill. Her best girlfriend was Nedra Young, the daughter of Col Young. The name of the pilot was?
    He was a major in 1973, CO ? XO ? maybe the Ops O he flew the C-117, ie DC-3 it was the CGs VIP plane. If anybody can help me out, please send info to dmkrme@aol.com
    r/s
    GySgt Winston Pritchard USMC Ret. AKA Rookie !








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  156. I was at ElToro from.May 1972 to June 1974
    Lots of history/storys. E Club SNCO Club O-club.
    VIP Quarters PX robbery,murder at the Hostess
    House, CMC visit,Nixon Tower,Drinking on the Plane from the USSR. Chickens on Air Viet Nam.Jet. Big MP bust. WMs at the MessHall.and lots more. I was the steward for the CG 3rd MAW
    GySgt Winston Pritchard USMC Retired
    dmkrme@aol.com
    Don't forget the club outside the front.gate,The Tail.of the Bull !!

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  157. Hi, I also lived there when this plane crashed. My neighbor Paula was going on the base when it happened and the crash sent the motor of the plane into the side of her car. Her little boy Chris was in the back seat. I went to Long Beach Naval Hospital to see her and she had a CHUNK of her thigh missing and burnt. Chris had put his little hands up to his eyes and when I had to put on a mask and smock to see him the only part not burned was the eyes. They both survived and I have lost contact with them but the emotional scars must still be there. Paula sued the Marine Corps. Her husband left her for another woman The last I knew she was somewhere in the Midwest.

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  158. dan@daniellatch.comAugust 20, 2013 11:03 AM

    I was the senior bartender at the EM Club from about 3/71 to 10/72 when I wasn't working in the reconnaissance avionics shops of H$MS-12 ior on deployment with VMCJ-3 to MCAS Yuma or NAS Fallon.

    I've visited since the base was put down and do feel the sadness spoken of above. Good times. Great memories of the area drew me back after retirement.

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  159. Hello again!
    I'm back, after reading so many memories of others that sparked more of my own. Mainly, that we were stationed @ El Toro 2 x's. The first was as I said about 1952 when we lived Quonset huts, but I couldn't have told you where they were. I do remember a very nasty earthquake that tossed me onto the floor of the kitchen (I had a cot there and was about 6 yrs old)with the refrigerator (which was not anywhere as large as they are today) looming over me, then retreating, then looming... etc. It was my very first quake, and my parents' too. Does anyone else remember this quake? It was the stuff of nightmares for many years. Rattlers, too. Still terrified of them, but I know a lot about them... yeah, weird, huh? We played in dirt a lot, but we liked that.

    The Stables: the Best gentlemen for kids I have ever known worked those stables. They would have their little jokes, but always we were allowed to be in on them, too. They taught me how to ride -- and how to muck out stalls (they weren't dumb by any means!) but I did get to ride for free if I did that bit of work for them sometimes.
    Anyone remember the late 1950's Summer Craft programs for kids on Base? We learned to ride (as noted); make enameled metal jewelry; make ceramics; play tennis (I was not really into it at that time); and also dancing, and golf (which I now cannot play enough of) but got kicked out of -- I kept picking up "abandoned" golf balls left by the side of the road, and they were the best for playing jacks with. My name then was Sandy Cooper. I think I was a mouthy brat, but grown-ups seemed to like me, anyway. I've never figured that one out. Oh! I just remembered that our class had a field trip to the hangers where the Blimp was. We go to go on board! It had a kitchen that was nicer than my mother's and one could live in it very comfortably. Which is exactly what I wanted to do, but they weren't listening (of course! Today's adult Me wouldn't have let the kid know I was listening, either! She'd probably never be quiet!)
    The second tour was when we moved out of Namar and into the "new" housing that was closer to the stables. I don't remember for sure, but Wherry is familiar sounding to me -- it was a couple of hundred years ago to most people I know.
    Anyway, I promise; I'm not trying to make everyone crazy by writing two blurbs here. (the first was about my sister's close call birth at Corona Navel Hosp (I think it would now be part of Riverside?), about 40 miles away from El Toro.
    When we got attached to Lincoln AFB in Nebraska to train civilians in Civil Defense (you know, turn yourself into a ball or under your desk, etc. and watch a movie about it before-hand?). We were all heartbroken for a loooong time. And now, I don't think Lincoln AFB is there anymore, either.
    Okay. So now you have my second installment of Memories of a Marine Brat (as so many civilians called us). Hopefully, that's it for now. I hope this helps you remember things as much as reading yours did for me.

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  160. We lived at 8721 1/2 Trabuco Rd from 1993 to 1997. We loved our life there n our friends! We lived on El Toro but hubby was forecaster at MCAS Tustin! Our boys had best friends with the Jones (anna was his best freind) family which I believe was Army. They moved up the hill sometime in our last few years! Also Gloria was my Freind she had a son named Timothy n daughter Lizzette but don't remember her last name. I still keep in touch with several of my military wives! N cherish them!! We always walked up the hill for fun, played in the fields! My boys r phillip , Aj n Matthew. Matthew was born at irvine medical center but had to be transported to C.H.O.C he was ther for first month then back to irvine for a few weeks before he came home. He was in n out of C.H.O.C for fist year before we moved home to Iowa. A great story is after the jones moved up the hill my boys stayed the night. Mom jones woke up to call me at 6am that my son had made a bowl of ceral left the fridge open n milk out but couldn't find him. I went to his room n he was in bed we still don't know how he got in when we lock the doors! Needless to say it was very scary to find out when I woke him he didn't know how he got home nor remembered eating!! I was so glad we were on base behind a guard shack!! They went to the school n we walked under the tunnel we would always sing going under it to hear the echo, n my middle son AJ always did the batman theme song! We had many good freinds move in n out of the unit right next to us! N we think of all our friends often. My last name was Van Alstine then. My oldest 2 boys r now fathers themselves n it's fun to talk about our time at MCAS EL Toro!. Aj had went to college in Santa Barbara for 2 years and we went down to see the old base, the school was about the only thing still there! It was so sad!

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  161. Jackie was your dads name John

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