Build the Veterans Memorial Park
Honoring Southern California’s Military History
For 60 years, Irvine was home to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS). After MCAS was decommissioned, 125 acres of the former base (known as the “ARDA” site) was designated to become the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park. (Currently, there is no State Veterans Cemetery in Southern California, even though we are home to the largest veteran population in the United States.)
The ARDA site was chosen because of its Control Tower and Aircraft Hangars — iconic symbols from the base to be preserved and repurposed as lasting tributes to the thousands of men and women who served at El Toro.
Below is a rendering of the proposed Veterans Memorial Park:
Years of planning, designs and approvals took place for a State-built and State-operated Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery at the ARDA site.
In 2018, Irvine residents voted to support the Veterans Cemetery on the ARDA site. When the Irvine City Council ignored the outcome of the 2018 election, our committee — made up of veterans, our families, and our neighbors — gathered 19,790 signatures for a ballot initiative to officially designate the ARDA site as the only legally available site in the City of Irvine. As a result of that effort, on May 12, 2020, the Council relented and adopted our citizens’ initiative as an ordinance, making it effective immediately.
However, our job is not over yet! Recently, Irvine’s new Mayor and her Council majority voted to abandon the long-promised Veterans Cemetery in Irvine, pushing it off to a site alongside the noisy 91 freeway in Gypsum Canyon, a few miles from Riverside County.
One of our committee’s leaders, Air Force veteran combat pilot Frank McGill, recently drove out to the Gypsum Canyon site. Here’s what he discovered:
If you are a veteran or the family member of a veteran, click here to add your support for our mission.
Irvine’s Promise to Veterans and Their Families
The Veterans Memorial Park at the ARDA site was originally scheduled to become operational on Veterans Day 2019. Instead, years have been wasted because of a greedy land developer and a City Council majority beholden to that developer.
Below is Larry Agran’s proposed “Build it NOW! Plan” for the initial construction of the Veterans Memorial Park:
Join the Fight
We are a volunteer, veteran-led grassroots campaign that depends on small donations.
Please help support our efforts!
What the Community is Saying
I cannot think of a more fitting addition to the Great Park than this tribute to the thousands of Armed Forces personnel who, over the decades, served at the Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro.
Charles was my husband for 54 years. He passed away on 1/30/2018 and was cremated. I have held on to his ashes since then as I want him to be buried at the Veterans Cemetery in Irvine. He deserves a final place in Orange County, where we have made our home since 1964. I will continue to wait on his behalf.
We didn’t hesitate or procrastinate when called to duty — whether in country, in remote areas of the world, or theaters of combat. We answered when the call came. Now it’s time for the City of Irvine to answer the call.
Having served my country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I feel the cemetery should be located 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.
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.
My husband, Robert passed on June 16, 2019. He served in the Air Force and retired after 20 years. His wish was to have the OC Veterans Cemetery be his final resting place. I hope it is open soon. We are waiting to have the proper funeral until it is built.