Camp Mathews, the lost infantry school

By: John Gray

In the early 1960’s, I took Marine Corps Military Science while in high school in El Cajon, Ca. Our Instructor was Lt Col Stidhan. His duty station was at Camp Mathews. He taught armor recon. During Spring Break and Summer camp, our high school detachment would receive our down and dirty instruction there. When I joined the Corps in 1966, Camp Mathews was no longer there & we had our rifle range at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton. It’s a real small world, especially in our beloved Corps

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  • Cpl G. Suniga Plt280

    Love the stories and memories of that rifle range. I went through camp Mathews in 1963 plt 280. The morning before we too were told about eating light. Problem was there was never any light breakfast served. To all who posted comments, thank you for sharing your stories.

  • Jim Barber

    Like you, I quickly learned to get off base on weekends to avoid getting scooped up for brush fire fighting. Couldn’t afford any place to stay but had an old Mercury that wouldn’t pass base inspection to get a tag (nor could I afford the required insurance). Spent many a chili night in the backseat of that old Merc. The fire situation reminds me of our last week in ITR. We were supposed to get leave to go home and celebrate becoming Marines that weekend. However, there was a fire in the Cleveland National Forrest that borders Camp Pendleton. Our entire company was “volunteered” to join the civilian firefighters who had been fighting the fire for some time. They didn’t put us on the front line, we followed behind, mopping up the small fires that they hadn’t had time to put out. Somehow, the Corps forgot where they put us because we went 2 days without rations. The last night we just stood a fire watch in pairs to make sure nothing started up again and took turns sleeping. It was chilly out and we had no sleeping bags, Fortunately, we had our entrenching tools. We scooped up a shallow hole, body length, in the still hot earth and slept like babies in an electric blanket. The next morning we were gathered up and marched into a firefighters camp. Man, did those guys eat well!!! We had steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, etc., fresh juices of all kinds and no limit on amount or time. Hopefully someone got a major ass-chewing for failing to supply us when we were out there.

  • William Border: CPL (0311) 1/9 Vietnam 1965/66

    I was honored to be assigned to Plt#157 in 1964, I don’t remember what month we were at Camp Matthews. We were told we would be one of the last platoons to qualify there. We were not housed in the tents, they were being removed. I do remember we were told the morning we were marching up to Camp Matthews, at MCRD to eat a light breakfast because it was going to be hot and a tough hike. We got to the mess hall and what was on the steam tables? Hard boiled eggs, hard fried eggs (with a greenish tent), SOS, and Marine Corps hash. You know the hash that was hamburger with small cubes of potatoes and onions with about 2” of grease floating on top. There wasn’t anything light to eat that I could find, so I just chowed down, fortunately I didn’t get sick.

    Some mostly good memories.


    I joined the Corps in July 1964 and I too was a Camp Mathews Marine. Somethings are still to vivid to forget and to crazy to remember.
    After Two tours in Vietnam 1965-1966, 1968 I changed my MOS and was Retired in 1977.

    Semper Fi My Brothers.

  • Marshall DeYoung

    Had the privilege to qualify there in July 64 with Plt. 350.
    Unfortunately the tents were gone and we were put up in an old warehouse. Many memories of “little and big” agony and running up and down the hill behind that was behind that warehouse after chow. When we marched out the gate they closed and locked it we were told. Our DI’s wouldn’t lie would they ?🤣
    Semper Fi

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