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  • Writer's pictureRay Sanford

11th Marines Ceremonial Garden

As part of an honored tradition, upon returning from battle, Marine units always conduct a formal memorial service at Camp Pendleton for their fallen brothers and sisters and for their families. This is the fulfillment of the Marine promise that "no one is left behind and no one is forgotten." These services, held at the unit's home location, are both beautiful and heartbreaking. These locations become a very special place of remembrance and reflection for the Marines and their families and provide a tranquil setting to gather together, to grieve and to commemorate the loss of their loved ones.

In the fall of 2015, the Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division asked the Commanding Officer of 11th Marines why they did not have a memorial site at Las Pulgas to recognize the regiment’s fallen Marines and Sailors. In response to the CG’s challenge, and with some guidance from the Regimental Commander, a group of retired Marines from 11th Marines began the process to establish such a site.

The Veterans of 11th Marines partnered with the energetic patriots of the Rotary Club of San Juan Capistrano to make it possible.

SJC Rotarians Yvonne Murai oversaw the fundraising challenge while Steve Rose and John Taylor took on the challenging tasks of landscape design and construction oversight. Funds were raised through donations by Rotarians and other community members who supported the project. The concept included a two-tired plaza large enough for formations and visitors, unit emblems and signage to commemorate our veterans and the battles they fought, surrounded by a landscape of native plants and trees.

Formed a century ago, the 11th Marines have served in every major conflict America has fought since World War I, including quashing guerrillas in Nicaragua; the World War II battles on Guadalcanal, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa; duty in Korea’s Pusan Perimeter, Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir, plus campaigns in South Vietnam, Kuwait and Iraq and Afghanistan.

The site features a two-tiered plaza big enough to hold unit formations and their visitors, plus emblems and signs that commemorate the veterans and the battles they waged overseas, all of it framed by native plants and trees.


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