Naval Hospital in the Beginning
On March 5, 1942, the Secretary of the Navy approved Santa Margarita Ranch located in San Diego County, Calif. as a Marine Corps Training Center. Subsequently, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery recommended the construction of a hospital to be built on the western shore of the Training Center’s Lake O’Neill. It was designated the U.S. Naval Hospital, Santa Margarita, California
As a result of confusion in mail delivery with a town of the same name, the hospital was re-designated as U.S. Naval Hospital, Santa Margarita, Oceanside, Calif. Aug. 1, 1950. Since then, the hospital has had five names until May 25, 1967, when it was given the current name of Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The construction of the hospital took about one year. The facility was placed in commission Sept, 3, 1943, with Captain Joseph l. Schwartz, MC, USN, as the Commanding Officer.
The hospital compound consisted of 117 acres of former farmland, 91 acres of river bottom, 7 acres of slough and steep hillside, and 37 acres of lake for a total of 252 acres.
Initially, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton consisted of 76 separate, temporary, wood frame buildings. The hospital had a bed capacity of 600 and a network of corridors connected the buildings.
In August of 1967, the Commandant of the Marine Corps authorized the reassignment of ninety acres of land aboard the base to the Navy for the purpose of providing a site for the construction of a new, modern, eight-story Naval Hospital. On May 13, 1971, ground was broken at the new hospital site, and in December 1974, the hospital had its first occupants.
On March 19, 2009, construction of a new Navy hospital for Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton was approved in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The replacement of the Camp Pendleton hospital was the largest ARRA project in the Department of the Navy. The ground breaking for the 500,000-square-foot, four story building was Dec. 2, 2010, with construction being completed Oct. 17, 2013. The command transitioned to the new facility over a two week period from Dec. 2-15, 2013. A Dedication/Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held Jan. 31, 2014, to officially open the facility.