A lot has changed in the 100 years since the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego was commissioned on December 1, 1921. Marines have fought and died in one world war, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and they fought in Iraq and Afghanistan for the better part of the last 20 years.

The Marine Corps has changed significantly during that time as well. While, for the first 99 years of its existence, MCRD San Diego exclusively trained all males west of the Mississippi River, this year — year-100 of its existence — MCRD San Diego graduated its first platoon of female Marines.

While the name of the base changed a handful of times between 1921 and 1948, on 1 January 1948, Marine Corps Base, San Diego was officially renamed Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. That name remains to the present day.

Marines San Diego
1st Battalion Marines, San Diego, unknown year. (Marine Corps)

The Beginnings

Located on 388 prime Southern California acres, MCRD San Diego was first considered as a good candidate for a Marine Corps base by then-Colonel Joseph Pendleton, due to its proximity to Latin America, the Panama Canal, the Hawaiian Islands, and Asia. According to a historical piece compiled by the MCRD Museum Foundation, Col. Pendleton also recognized that San Diego’s weather would allow for the Marines to train outdoors year-round.