Irvine’s Military History

Long before Irvine became a city, it was home to the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro.  For nearly 60 years, the military played a critical role in shaping the region.

After MCAS was decommissioned, the City obtained 1,300 acres of the former base, which became the Orange County Great Park.

In honor of the iconic military base, 125 acres — just under 10 percent of the Great Park — was designated as the site for the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery.

The site was chosen to ensure iconic landmarks on those 125 acres (including the Control Tower and Hangars) are preserved and repurposed as lasting tributes to the thousands of men and women who served at El Toro.

In 2016, CalVet released a 333-page design which was approved by both the State and Federal government.  In 2017, funding was secured and construction was set to begin, with the first phase scheduled to become operational on Veterans Day 2019.

Just before construction was set to begin, a commercial developer (FivePoint) convinced the Irvine City Council to kick the planned Veterans Cemetery out of the Great Park so that FivePoint could build on the site.

Outraged by the betrayal, our citizen-led grassroots campaign gathered the necessary signatures, forcing FivePoint’s scheme onto the June 2018 ballot.

Even though Irvine voters overwhelmingly rejected the FivePoint scheme, with 63% voting NO, the Council refuses to begin construction of the Veterans Cemetery.

That’s why we are asking the community to join our fight to ensure that the planned 125-acre Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery — a small part of the former El Toro Air Base — becomes a lasting tribute to the service and sacrifice of our veterans.

Fighting for Our Veterans

If the Irvine City Council had not delayed this project with their backroom developer deals, the first phase of the Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery would have become operational Veterans Day, November 11, 2019.  Instead, the City Council has delayed the project indefinitely.

Think about how many families will be forced to bury their loved ones far from home — in Riverside or San Diego — because of a greedy developer and a complicit City Council.

And now, the Council is proposing an entirely different site, which would require all new studies, designs and approvals; and, according to Irvine City staff, would take 7 years to complete.  This is totally unacceptable!  Veterans deserve better!

The plain truth is this:  The already-approved 125-acre site at the former El Toro base can be built and become operational within just 30 months. 



Join the Fight

Click here to sign our petition, urging elected officials to move forward with construction of the Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery at the already-approved site on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

Click here to donate!  We need to raise thousands of dollars right away to pay for informational materials to get our message out to every part of Orange County.

Together, let’s make sure the delays end, and construction of the Veterans Cemetery begins at the original 125-acre site!

What the Community is Saying

While I don’t like the idea of another fight, I do feel that our elected officials must listen to the will of the people. This has gone on long enough. I don’t think we have any other choice….RECALL!

Linda Shoham

As a veteran of two 13-14 month tours in the war in Vietnam, I feel that the City Council is letting us down and I am so sorry that I voted for them!

Pedro Chavez

I believe the current council will not deliver a Veterans Cemetery.  Mayor Wagner and Councilmembers Fox and Shea decided to side with FivePoint and deny the citizens of Irvine what they actually voted on.

Michelle Johnson

As a veteran, I want the Veterans Cemetery located in a peaceful and well planned setting, not a location selected as an after-thought that is surrounded by freeway traffic.

Robert Sapinski

I am a veteran myself and believe the Cemetery should be in the Great Park and any other location is a complete sham!

Frank Liger

 I am a retired military member who served 30 years in the Air Force. What the Irvine City Council has done is a slap in the face to all veterans living in Orange County.

George Gumbrecht

The Great Park location was approved long ago after a lengthy permitting and environmental impact process. I’m a Vietnam-era veteran whose remains will probably be interred at the Vet Cemetery when my time comes.  We need to back the original location without anymore delays.

Timothy Hoffman

I’m both a proud US Navy veteran and a shamed resident of Irvine. The decision to literally give away valuable property for less valuable property to facilitate further commercial development, is unconscionable and outrageous.

E.R. Hilderbrand

I am an Army Veteran and was part of the Honor Guard for 5 years. We were excited about the Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park and disappointed that greedy City Council members would mess up a plan that was about to be implemented at the last minute like they did.

Jeffrey Woo

I am a Vietnam era veteran and have served 40 years in the military.  Let the veterans who have served this great nation of ours and who have sustained our freedoms have a final resting place on the historical and hallowed grounds at MCAS El Toro.

Colonel A. S. Marraccino

Having served my country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I feel the cemetery should remain on the old El Toro Marine base. I currently reside in the Great Park and would be honored to have those who served our great country interred as my neighbors.

William C. Hyser

I served in Vietnam and have lived in Irvine for over 30 years. Please keep the cemetery where it was originally planned. The Great Park is here only because of the men who served and died for our country. Don’t let the builders win!

Ronald Davis

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