View Full Version : The art of El Toro

11-11-06, 11:51 PM
Saturday, November 11, 2006
The art of El Toro
Iwo Jima on glass among salvageable materials found at old base.
The Orange County Register

In coming weeks, crews will labor to extract a delicate piece of artwork from an unlikely location – the old El Toro airbase.

On a 3-foot window inside the old aircraft maintenance office complex is a depiction in gold and black of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, symbolizing the capture of the Japanese-held island in World War II. It is perhaps the most famed image of the war and the subject of the movie "Flags of our Fathers" in theaters now.

Crews from the charity Habitat for Humanity discovered the painting while checking through the hundreds of old buildings on the base for salvageable materials. Habitat is under contract with Lennar Corp., which owns much of the old base and will build houses, schools and shops adjacent to the planned mix of athletic fields, wilderness areas and other public space.

Although not generally famed for their artistic abilities, Marines at El Toro painted scores of murals, squadron mascots and other art inside and outside buildings. Most was left behind when the Marines vacated the premises in 1999.

Other odd sundries left behind also are turning up as Habitat inspects the buildings. In the same building as the Iwo Jima art, for example, is a pool table with hardwood inlays around the top. As with most of the other old buildings on base, few people have set foot inside in the past seven years.

Extracting the Iwo Jima artwork will be a fairly delicate operation because the window frame appears to be nailed to the wall studs. Assuming the painting can be removed without cracking the glass, it will be stored at Lennar's headquarters on base until a final exposition place can be found.