MCRD San Diego Centennial

The year 2021 has been a year to celebrate the centennial of Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego. During a meeting in downtown San Diego, December 6th, 2021 was declared Marine Corps Recruit Depot Centennial Day in San Diego. Training recruits has been the principal activity for the base since World War II. While that is still the main priority of the base, within the last couple of years the depot has instituted changes to include training female recruits.

In September of 1914, Colonel Joseph Pendleton gave a speech at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego citing the poor conditions at Camp Howard, a base that had been established a few weeks prior on North Island in San Diego. He also wrote a letter to the Commandant of the Marine Corps describing the conditions at Camp Howard and presented the idea of establishing a permanent Marine Corps base in San Diego.

In January of 1916 the Navy General Board approved the establishment of a base. Groundbreaking took place on March 2, 1919 and construction took place through 1926. On December 1, 1921, Pendleton (now a General), officially placed the base into commission as the Marine Advanced Expeditionary Base. The Marine Recruit Depot for the west coast relocated from Mare Island Navy Shipyard in Vallejo, CA in 1923 and officially became Marine Corps Base, San Diego in 1924.

The main focus of the base has continued to be about training recruits despite being home to several Marine Corps units over the years. On January 1, 1948 the base was officially renamed Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. In order to handle the troop requirements during the Korean War, the Recruit Training Command grew from three to eight battalions. More than 700 Quonset huts were built to handle the influx of recruits. A Quonset hut is a lightweight structure made of galvanized steel having a semi-cylindrical cross-section. Some of the Quonset huts are still standing to this day. During the Vietnam War a 100-tent camp was built to handle the next overflow of recruits.

Today, the Depot provides the Marine Corps with basically trained Marines to fight in the current conflicts our country faces. The Depot has 388 acres and 25 buildings listed on the national register of historic places and 13 of the buildings are named for famous Marines, such as Daly Barracks, Pendleton Hall, McDougall Hall, and Day Hall.

Quonset Huts

Quonset huts at Las Pulgas (1964).
—Photo courtesy of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Written by David Ogden, Sgt. USMC '11-'16.

David Ogden, USMC

David was a Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps from 2011-2016. He is a combat veteran. He has worked at Marine Parents as a writer since he left the Marine Corps. He is currently in college and writes for the organization full-time. Click here to read more about the author.


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