Other names around base were selected in the traditional Marine Corps manner, honoring well-known Marines or battles. Following the purchase of the vast rancho, the new West Coast Marine Corps training base would be named Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, in honor Maj. Gen. Joseph H. Pendleton. He pioneered Marine Corps activities in the San Diego area during his 46-year career from 1878 to 1924.
Born in Rochester, Pennsylvania, on June 2, 1860, “Uncle Joe” Pendleton, as he would later be known, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on July 11, 1884.
Pendleton’s distinguished service career included duty in the jungles of Nicaragua, Santa Domingo, Guam and the Philippines, in addition to several stateside and ship tours. In 1914, the 4th Marine Regiment was reactivated and Pendleton was ordered to organize and command this expeditionary force. Pendleton and his regiment served aboard USS South Dakota and Jupiter, when it withdrew to land at Camp Howard, North Island, San Diego, on July 10, 1914.
With the arrival of Pendleton’s regiment in San Diego, his love affair with the area began. He immediately recognized the value of San Diego with its good weather and harbor as an ideal choice for the Marine Corps’ Advance Base Force to be stationed on the West Coast.
Pendleton openly advocated a major Marine Corps installation in San Diego from his first stay on North Island until after his retirement 10 years later. Between July 1914 and June 1916, Pendleton and his regiment improved facilities at North Island while the Marines made a favorable impression on the San Diego community.
Meanwhile, visits of high-ranking dignitaries to various expositions during this period helped to win government approval for a large Marine Corps base at San Diego. Pendleton himself bought a house in Coronado near the harbor and became active in civic affairs in the city. He served as mayor of Coronado from 1928 to 1930. Married to the former Mary Helen Fay, he died in San Diego at the age of 91.
Gen. Alexander Archer Vandegrift earned the Medal of Honor in World War I and served as the 18th commandant of the Marine Corps. The general was born March 13, 1887, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1909.
He commanded the 1st Marine Division, Reinforced, in the battle for Guadalcanal, and the 1st Marine Amphibious Corps in the landing at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, during World War II.
For outstanding service as the commanding general of 1st Marine Division, Reinforced, during the attack on Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Gavutu in the Solomon Islands on Aug. 7, 1942, he was awarded the Navy Cross. For the subsequent occupation and defense from Aug. 7 to Dec. 9, 1942, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. His citation for the latter reads in part: “With the adverse factors of weather, terrain and disease making his task a difficult and hazardous undertaking, and with his command eventually including sea, land and air forces of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Maj. Gen. Vandegrift achieved marked success in commanding the initial landing of the United States Forces in the Solomon Islands and their subsequent occupation.
“His tenacity, courage and resourcefulness prevailed against a strong, determined and experienced enemy, and the gallant fighting spirit of the men under his inspired leadership enabled them to withstand aerial, land and sea bombardment, to surmount all obstacles and leave a disorganized and ravaged enemy.”
Vandegrift declared in October 1944 that Camp Pendleton would be a permanent installation. During his visit to the base in July 1946, he outlined the base’s future role. It was to remain the center of all Marine Corps activities on the West Coast. It was also to be permanently maintained as the home of the 1st Marine Division.
The general died at the age of 86. The main east-west road is named Vandegrift Boulevard in his honor.
At Guadalcanal at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 24, 1942, thousands of Japanese attacked 600 Marines of 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, shouting at the Americans, yelling in English, “Blood for the emperor! Marine, you die.”
The order came for Col. Lewis B. Chesty Puller: “Commence firing.” It was an order that was to be obeyed almost nonstop for 72 hours. The extraordinary bravery and tenacity shown by the American troops, who in that weekend defeated an estimated 15,000 Japanese soldiers and changed the course of World War II. It might not have happened but for the heroism of Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone.
As the Japanese developed plans for their offensive, U.S. leaders judged that the main thrust of the enemy ground attack would come against “Bloody Ridge,” where Basilone and his gunners anchored the main line of resistance.
They were right. The enemy came in waves, each attack lasting some 15 minutes, sometimes several attacks in an hour. Again and again a report reached Basilone that the right flank, similarly manned, had been hit. Both guns were out; five of the seven men were killed or disabled. Taking one of the guns from the left flank, Basilone pushed his agonizing way through wet undergrowth to the right flank, about 40 yards away.
On the way he encountered and killed eight Japanese. Grabbing a disabled gun, he disassembled it in complete darkness, discovered the problem and fixed it. He then reassembled the weapon, set it up and began to fire.
Commanding two men with rifles to cover him, Basilone took his pistol and dashed back to where the supplies lay. He returned more slowly, burdened by 100 pounds of belted cartridges for the machine guns.
These acts of heroism earned Basilone the highest military award, the Medal of Honor. After several months in the United States, Basilone turned down a commission and a tour of duty in Washington, District of Columbia, to return to the front lines. He was killed Feb. 19, 1945, in the first wave attack on Iwo Jima.
The north-south road, which winds past numerous infantry units on base, is named Basilone Road in his honor.
Throughout the base housing areas, many of the roads are similarly named after heroic Marines who died in battle or performed valiantly in the service of their county.