Military memories: Giving thanks for their sacrifice
The Marine Corps family history is particularly strong in Irvine. It all started in 1942, when the U.S. was building up its military after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Looking for West Coast air station sites, the government paid then-farmer James Irvine Sr. $100,000 for 4,000 acres of agricultural land. The plan: build the largest Marine Corps Air Station in the western U.S. By January of 1943, that was a reality, with the first operational units arriving at MCAS El Toro.
Decommissioned in 1999 after 57 years of service, it’s now The Great Park Orange County. Nearby, what would become Marine Corps Air Station Tustin, better known today as the Blimp Hangars, was established at the same time. The base played an important role in naval aviation for 50 years.
One of the best places in Irvine to remember the military at Thanksgiving, and throughout the year is the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial, which is “the nation’s only memorial dedicated exclusively to honoring by name all of America’s fallen from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
The memorial started informally, when Irvine resident Asher Milgrom began building wooden crosses for each service member killed as the Iraq war began in 2003. The permanent memorial was dedicated in August 2013 honoring by name each American who died in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to official casualty lists.
For more information, visit northwoodmemorial.com