Aerial view of MCAS El Toro. Photo credit: Photographer's Mate Second Class Bruce Trombecky/US Navy
Aerial view of MCAS El Toro. Photo credit: Photographer’s Mate Second Class Bruce Trombecky/US Navy
Aerial view of MCAS El Toro. Photo credit: Photographer’s Mate Second Class Bruce Trombecky/US Navy

Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the worst air disaster in Orange County, and this weekend a memorial to the victims will be dedicated at the Orange County Great Park.

A jet taking off from El Toro Marine Corps base, now home to the Great Park, crashed into Loma Ridge minutes after takeoff, killing all 84 servicemen aboard who were headed for Okinawa on their way to Vietnam in 1965.

The names of the servicemen were not placed on the Vietnam Memorial because they died in the U.S. and had not received their official orders, according to organizers of Saturday’s event. So Jordan Fourcher, for his Eagle Scout project, has created a “Memorial Kiosk” at the Aviation and heritage Museum at the Great Park.

“I am honored to have been able to do an Eagle Scout project, which means so much to so many people,” Fourcher said.

Fourcher is a member of boy Scout Troop 90 in Newport Beach.

“I was married to Cpl. Paul Thomas Chapin at the time and our son was three months old,”Sharon Randall said. “For me, this has become another part of the healing that I didn’t even know I needed. I am coming (to the dedication) from Oklahoma and my son is coming from Texas with his three children.”

Chapin’s brother, Joe, also is grateful.

“There are simply no words to express my gratitude to you,” Joe Chapin said.

Irvine Mayor Steven Choi and Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Mimi Walters are expected to speak at Saturday’s dedication.

The event will also feature a U.S. Marine Corps color Guard and a Missing Man Flyover with World War II-era aircraft.

About 40 family members of the servicemen killed in the crash are coming from around the country to be on hand for the event, organizers say.

City News Service

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