Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton USMC Marines Oceanside


Military Personnel

The largest of all United States Marine Corps amphibious training bases, this former Rancho provides unique insight into the native chaparral (coastal desert) landscape that urban Southern California was built upon. Camp Pendleton’s motto boasts of “Preserving California’s Precious Resources” as it is home to endangered species and contains many historical landmarks.

Originally named by the Portola Expedition (the famous Portuguese explorer) “Santa Margarita y Las Flores,” the base was dedicated in 1942 in the name of Major General Joseph H. Pendleton, famous for his vision of Southern California coastal lands as ideal Marine Corps training grounds. The 125,000+ acre site’s ownership history reflects dramatically the history of California and the nation. Visit the base website at

Camp Pendleton Phone Numbers:

Directory Assistance (760) 725-4111

Marine Locator (760) 725-6662 (available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed Saturday, Sunday and holidays)

Information and Referrals (760) 725-3400/6090



I MEF (760) 725-9114/9307

1st Marine Division (760) 725-5201/9379

1st Marine Logistics Group (760) 725-5966

Marine Corps Base (760) 725-5617/5618

Marine Aircraft Group 39 (760) 725-3900


Locating Marines

The Marine Corps can only assist you in your search for active-duty Marines. To locate Marines aboard Camp Pendleton, please call (760) 725-5171 as there is no online search option. The locator’s hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If your Marine is just reporting to recruit training, only a portion of his training is conducted at Camp Pendleton. Visit the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego webpage for more information. Families of Marines checking in to the School of Infantry can go to the SOI homepage for more information. Please remember that it takes a couple of days to complete the check-in process so your Marine may not be able to contact you right away.

You can also contact the Marine Corps World Wide Locator at Quantico, Va.

That address is:

QUANTICO, VA 22134-5030

For Marines with common last names, a Social Security Number may be required.


Base Information

Welcome to Marine Corps Base Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, the nation’s busiest military base.

Located 38 miles north of downtown San Diego, Camp Pendleton covers over 125,000 acres and approximately 200 square miles of terrain. The stretch of shoreline along the base– 17½ miles — is the largest undeveloped portion of coastal area left in Southern California.

Camp Pendleton provides training facilities for many active-duty and reserve Marines, Army, and Navy units, as well as national, state, and local agencies. Over 60,000 military and civilian personnel work aboard the base every day.

The base is the home of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group and many tenant units, including elements of Marine Aircraft Group 39 and Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity (MCTSSA).

Pendleton Marines are environmentally conscientious as they share the land with nearly 400 species of mammals and birds. The protection of several endangered species is carefully considered when planning for training.

A wide variety of recreational facilities and activities are available on base. Combine these with the unlimited number of local points of interest, to make your tour here a pleasant and memorable one.


Base History

Of all the Marine Corps bases throughout the world, Camp Pendleton has one of the most intriguing pasts, filled with historical charm and vibrancy. Spanish explorers, colorful politicians, herds of thundering cattle, skillful vaqueros, and tough Marines have all contributed to the history of this land.

In 1769, a Spaniard by the name of Capt. Gaspar de Portola led an expeditionary force northward from lower California, seeking to establish Franciscan missions throughout California. On July 20 of that same year, the expedition arrived at a location now known as Camp Pendleton, and as it was the holy day St. Margaret, they baptized the land in the name of Santa Margarita.

During the next 30 years, 21 missions were established, the most productive one being Mission San Luis Rey, just south of the present-day Camp Pendleton. At that time, San Luis Rey Mission had control over the Santa Margarita area.

In 1821, following Mexico’s independence from Spain, the Californios became the new ruling class of California, and many were the first generation descendants of the Portola expedition. The Mexican governor was awarding land grants and ranchos to prominent businessmen, officials, and military leaders. In 1841, two brothers by the name of Pio and Andres Pico became the first private owners of Rancho Santa Margarita. More land was later added to the grant, making the name Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, and that name stayed with the ranch until the Marine Corps acquired it in 1942.

In 1863, a dashing Englishman named John Forster (Pio Pico’s brother-in-law) paid off Pico’s gambling debts in return for the deed to the ranch. During his tenure as owner of the ranch, he expanded the ranch house, which was first built in 1827, and developed the rancho into a thriving cattle industry.

Forster’s heirs, however, were forced to sell the ranch in 1882 because of a string of bad luck, which included a series of droughts and a fence law that forced Forster to construct fencing around the extensive rancho lands. It was purchased by wealthy cattleman James Flood and managed by Irishman Richard O’Neill who was eventually rewarded for his faithful service with half ownership. Under the guidance of O’Neill’s son, Jerome, the ranch began to net a profit of nearly half a million dollars annually, and the house was modernized and furnished to its present form.

In the early ‘40s, both the Army and the Marine Corps were looking for land for a large training base. The Army lost interest in the project, but in April of 1942, it was announced that the rancho was about to be transformed into the largest Marine Corps base in the country. It was named for Major General Joseph H. Pendleton who had long advocated the establishment of a West Coast training base. After five months of furious building activity, the 9th Marine Regiment marched from Camp Elliot in San Diego to Camp Pendleton to be the first troops to occupy the new base. On Sept. 25, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived for the official dedication.

Camp Pendleton is proud of its colorful heritage and has been careful to preserve the past, as reflected in the home of the I Marine Expeditionary Force’s commanding general, which is now a National Historic Site.