Best of 2000: Best Place To Relive The Life Of A World War II G.I.

    Camp Talega
    on Camp Pendleton
    (760) 725-5569

    Clint Eastwood recognized it: the feel of the Lost Legion about this place. That's why he shot Heartbreak Ridge here. Camp Talega, hidden in the northwest hills of Camp Pendleton. Essentially unchanged since they whipped it together in 1942, post­Pearl Harbor. The rows of half-cylindrical Quonset huts haven't been replaced. Even the one with its bell-tower and cross -- the old chapel -- is still there. Today, only five Marines live in-camp, preparing equipment for thousands of training groups that visit Pendleton every year. But during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm, troops spent their last nights on home ground here, hearts pounding, staring at the curved corrugated ceiling, wondering if they'd ever come back. At dusk, when a Marine starts lowering the flag and the color sergeant sounds his trumpet, a chorus of coyote howls -- aa-ooooooooo! -- breaks out in the surrounding hills. Guided tours can be arranged by calling (760) 725-5569.

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