Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Camp Vista
The Army acquired the facility through unknown means during the Summer of 1942. The property was used by the Civilian Conservation Corps camp from 1935 until 1941. The Army used Camp Vista as a battalion base camp until the beginning of 1944. It was used as a base for patrols between Rancho Santa Fe and San Clemente. Some structures were present when the Army moved into the camp. Also, the Army constructed additional structures, presumably barracks. In addition to barracks, the camp included a Bachelor Officers Quarters, administration building, mess hall, and motor cool. The capacity of the camp is recorded as being about 800 soldiers. It appears that the main tenant of this post were rotating battalions of 140th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Infantry Division.
During this time the Army conducted various kinds of small unit infantry training, maneuvering and weapons use. Ranges were established for .30 caliber rifle and .45 caliber pistol
practice. By 1944, the Army was leasing the property from the Vista irrigation District, although the exact starting and ending dates of the lease are unknown. The Navy is known to have used the property for an unknown length of time 1945. By 1948, the property had been disposed by the U.S. Government.
Source: Los Angeles District, Corps of Engineers
The history of Camp Vista began with the CCC as a Soil Conservation Camp. In June of 1935 the camp was being established, and the camp was occupied for the first time on 15 November 1935. A historical photograph dated 2 June 1936 displays the layout of Camp Vista as a CCC camp. These would have been the same facilities and structures that the Army would have used during their occupation of the site.

Camp Vista was the headquarters location for the 3rd Battalion of the 140th Infantry Regiment. The battalion had two of its companies stationed at other sites, Rancho Santa Fe and San Clemente. The Regiment’s primary mission was to patrol the Southern California coastline and defend against attack by land, sea, or air.

Exactly when the Army took over the CCC camp is unknown, although it probably occurred between December of 1941 and April of 1942. A local newspaper article from December of 1941 mentions hundreds of troops arriving in Vista, but doesn't state what unit they were from or exactly where they were staying. A regimental history document states that the 140th was assigned to Southern California Sector, Western Defense Command on 18 April 1942. Another military document covering the history of the Southern California Sector, Western Defense Command records the 140th Infantry Regiment as being assigned to San Diego from January 1943 until February 1944.

The size of the former camp is unknown but is believed to have been around 80 acres. No real estate documents were located to ascertain the exact acreage of the site or its original boundaries. All indications are that it was located inside the boundaries of what is now known as Green Oaks Ranch, which comprises 142 acres. Because of lack of known site boundaries for Camp Vista, all the maps used for viewing the former site area uses the boundaries of the Green Oaks Ranch .

A good summarized description of the 140th Infantry Regiment is found in a magazine article which was written based on interviews with soldiers who were assigned to that unit This is the only written document that specifically mentions a rifle range being established and used on Camp Vista. However, it doesn't specify when the range was established, closed, its size, target distance, or the exact type of weapons fired there. Based on weapons assigned to the various companies, this range was most likely only used for M-1 rifles, M-1 carbines and M1911A1 .45 caliber pistols. The information about the Camp Vista rifle range was provided by former LTC Dave Morgan, who passed away several years ago. Since this article addressed numerous other locations where the 140th was assigned, it is possible LTC Morgan provided inaccurate information about which sites had rifle ranges.


Summary of Interview with the Late LTC David Morgan, USA (Ret)

 Mr. Morgan served in the 140th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 35th Division during WWII. There were three battalion camps for the regiment: Irvine Park, Camp Vista, and Camp La Mesa. Camp Vista was the base camp used for patrolling the area between Rancho Santa Fe and San Clemente where numerous observations posts were located. Camp Vista was a former CCC camp. Mr. Morgan has not returned to Camp Vista and is unable to locate it relative to current day landmarks. He recalls it was located south of Vista and west of Highway 395. The Camp consisted of about 20 barracks (each holding 30 to 40 troops). The Camp capacity was about 800. There was also a BOQ, administration building for battalion headquarters, and a mess hall. He recalls a motor pool and suspects there may have been a UST for gasoline but is not sure. The motor pool would have serviced jeeps and 2-1/2 ton trucks. He could not recall the level of maintenance that would have taken place at the motor pool. He does not recall practices like dumping oil or fuel on the ground. There was a rifle range at the camp for practice shooting of M! rifles and 45 caliber pistols. There was a mortar company assigned to each battalion but Mr. Morgan does not recall much about their activities, especially, where they may have practiced. He does not believe that mortars and grenade practice took place at the camp. The types of activities taking place at the camp included small unit training and maneuvering. The three battalions of the 140th regiment rotated through each of the camps on a periodic basis. Mr. Morgan believes there is a monument marking the location of the Camp somewhere in the Vista area but does know the specific location. He is not aware of any other men still alive who were stationed at Camp Vista during World War II. He has no knowledge of what happened to the facility once the army vacated.

Two local newspaper articles discuss a dance being held in Vista for the soldiers stationed there. These are the only articles which specifically mention the unit assigned to Camp Vista, the 3rd Battalion of the 140th Infantry Regiment
A local newspaper article dated 18 October 1945 mentions that the camp near Vista was temporarily used by the Navy but is soon to be abandoned. It doesn't specify how many or what type of Navy personnel are using the facility or for what purpose they were there.

A 1943 San Diego County map, produced by the Automobile Club of Southern California, depicts the location of Camp Vista.
Source: Rock Island District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Army Units Assigned to Camp Vista

 Data Source


 Army of the United States Station List 1 June 1943
140th Infantry Regiment (WDC)
1st Battalion
AAF - Army Air Forces units AGF - Army Ground Forces ASF - Army Service Forces units WDC - Western Defense Command
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