MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
One small building houses hundreds on a weekly basis, providing motivation, inspiration and direction to young and aspiring Marines.
However, the more than 50 year-old School of Infantry West chapel on Camp Pendleton has been in dire need of a little renovation.
“The chapel itself has been an icon for [the School of Infantry],” said Lt. Greg Trujillo, a reserve chaplain for SOI-West. “It is used often for the rigorous schedules we have for services and different meetings, so it really needed some sprucing up.”
More than 60 volunteers from the Church of Latter Day Saints came to the Caruso Memorial Chapel to assist in the restoration of the iconic landmark, April 28.
“These kinds of projects really help the Marines integrate with the community,” said Lt. Cmndr. Joseph Dufour, senior chaplain for SOI-West. “It’s amazing how so many volunteers come out to help [renovate] a church they don’t even use. It’s just incredible.”
The church really needed a face lift, Dufour said, so LDS provided finished carpenters and skilled craftsmen in addition to the volunteers to make sure the landscaping, woodworking, windows and interior were properly installed.
“These kind of projects really show the close association our church has with the base,” said John Wichmann, assistant director for LDS. “A lot of our members are Marines or they were in the past, so it really helps to show how much we appreciate everything they do for our country.”
The Caruso Memorial Chapel was named in honor of Sgt. Matthew Caruso, who was killed in action in the Korean War from diving in front of a bullet to save the chaplain. Wichmann said he hopes to one day see the church re-dedicated in his honor to show the importance of the sacrifice he made.
“Marines are good under any circumstance and they’re not ones to complain,” said Trujillo, “but I know when they see this they’re going to really appreciate all the hard work that went into this project. They’re going to be very excited.”