Military Exhibits and Celebrations

With Oceanside’s close proximity to one of the largest military bases on the West Coast, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, our city has a unique connection to the United States Military as well as a profound respect for all that they do for the country. This connection brings about wonderful and diverse opportunities to both honor the military for everything they do, as well as recognize their sacrifices. This summer, the community is invited to experience these wonderful and powerful museum exhibits and military celebrations taking place across Oceanside and Camp Pendleton.

We are fortunate to have several quality museums each showcasing unique and diverse exhibits that emanate Oceanside’s persona. Of these, both the California Surf Museum and Oceanside Museum of Art are housing brand new exhibits that highlight distinct perspectives of military service-members and the different processes of healing they go through to overcome their physical and emotional wounds.

Both museums offer special admission pricing for military. The Oceanside Museum of Art general admission is free for active military, with ID, and their dependents.  The California Surf Museum general admission is $3 for military, both active duty and veterans. As part of their newest exhibit, the California Surf Museum has also partnered with the United States Department of Defense to present all Vietnam Veterans that visit the museum a special minted national service pin and certificate to honor those that served in the Vietnam War.

[vc_video link=””]

California Surf Museum 

China Beach: Surfing During the Vietnam War and the Healing Power of Wave-riding

The California Surf Museum is proud to present its newest feature exhibit, China Beach: Surfing During the Vietnam War and the Healing Power of Wave-riding.  The exhibit is centered around the little-known but fascinating story of service-members surfing off of the shores of Vietnam during the war and the healing powers surfing had on them during and after serving in combat. This unique portrayal is the product of two years worth of artifact and narrative collecting; featuring personal stories told from the point of view of the individual serviceman, accompanied by a set design that replicates photographs of the actual China Beach Surf Club portraying their surfing experiences as well as what it meant for them to surf in Vietnam. This exhibit has received coverage from numerous news agencies including KPBS and Coast News.

With special recognition, the California Surf Museum has also partnered with the United States Department of Defense to offer all Vietnam War veterans who visit the museum a special service pin and certificate honoring their service.

[vc_video link=”” el_width=”70″ align=”center”]

Oceanside Museum of Art

Healing Journeys: Veterans and Artists Unite

The Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA) was built on the belief that the power of art and the creative process that goes with it is an amazing tool that offers everyone, no matter who you are or what your background, an avenue towards discovering hope and finding healing. With that premise, OMA proudly presents Healing Journeys: Veterans & Artists Unite, a set of three concurrent exhibitions that uniquely explore the dynamic and fluid process of both physical and psychological healing for veterans, as well as the incredible journey these individuals take during the process. The three distinct exhibits that make up Healing Journey’s are Scarred for Life (May 27th- September 17th) by artist Ted Meyer, Meaning in Bronze (May 27th-October 8th) created in partnership with the Veterans Art Project, and A Time to Heal (July 29th- October 8th) by artist Trinh Mai.

Scarred for Life

Open through September 17th, Scarred for Life features the work of Ted Meyer, an artist that has been creating vivid and expressive depictions of  injured bodies and the resulting scars for over 16 years. These colorful artistic prints taken directly from the subject’s scarred skin are displayed side-by-side with a powerful portrait taken by Meyer and a personal written account from the individual. The Scarred for Life exhibit features countless such individuals with works that portray their unique and intriguing stories of pain, resilience, and ultimately healing.

[vc_video link=”” el_width=”70″ align=”center”]

Meaning in Bronze

In partnership with the Veterans Art Project (VetArt), OMA’s Meaning in Bronze exhibit will be open through October 8th featuring bronze castings of servicemen and women that portray their story through facial expressions immortalized in metal. In addition to the powerful bronze castings on display at the museum, this exhibit extends beyond the displays and includes a number of bronze casting workshops and demonstrations that will be held through September 30th. This opportunity is for veterans, active duty military, as well as their family members to participate in getting their likeness captured in such a unique and powerful way works to create an open environment for sharing and storytelling, as well as positive healing through the medium of art making.

[vc_video link=”” el_width=”70″ align=”center”]

A Time to Heal

The third installment to the series is A Time to Heala socially collaborative art project centered around opening a dialogue within the community that is focused on using art and the process of making art for healing. The exhibit is the result of a week-long workshop previously held at the Oceanside Museum of Art where artist Trinh Mai worked with Armed Forces veterans Rachel Davis, Michelle Vesely, John Wayne, and Christopher Weathers in order to create mixed media creations that use self-reflecting letters written by the participants based around their personal hardships and healing. After completion, photographer J. Grant Brittain took portraits of the veteran men and women and Trinh Mai finished the project by embedding the hand-crafted art into Brittain’s large-scale photographs creating the final pieces on display at the museum. This exhibit will be open from July 29th to October 8th.

Hands on Workshops & Experiences

In addition to simply visiting these special exhibits, there are several opportunities to dive deeper, interact with the exhibit curators, and even be a part of the exhibits themselves. For a full list of events being held in and around Oceanside be sure to check out the event calendar.

Scarred for Life

  • Friday, August 11th from 6pm – 9pm you can be a part of the exhibit by joining the Scarred for Life Workshop with Ted Meyer at the Oceanside Museum of Art. Those with large textured scars and a story are invited to come and be a part of the art. There is limited availability so register soon by visiting the Oceanside Museum of Art Calendar and selecting the workshop under August 11th.

Meaning in Bronze

  • In conjunction with this exhibit, there will be weekly workshops offered through September that offer participants a chance to create a positive wax reproduction of themselves that will be cast into bronze. VetArt is seeking active duty, veterans, or military family members to participate in the bronze casting workshops. To check availability and register visit VetArt Bronze Casting Workshops.

Lecture From The Veterans Art Project

  • Wednesday, September 13th from 11:30am-12:30pm OMA will be hosting a lecture in connection with Meaning in Bronze from the Director of the Veterans Art Project, Steve Dilley, on the art of bronze casting and how the art-making process can be a useful tool for healing.

A Time to Heal

  • Thursday, August 31st, from 6-7:30pm there will be a film screening and discussion with artist Trinh Mai. After screening a short film from The Artist Odyssey, filmmaker Chris Fessenden will discuss the group’s mission to document artists’ stories, and artist Trinh Mai will reflect on the inspirations and challenges involved with A Time to Heal.

Healing Journeys Celebration with the Artists

  • Friday, August 4th from 6-7:30pm OMA will be hosting a celebration of the opening of A Time to Heal. Visitors will get the chance to see the exhibit for free with artists Trinh Mai, Ted Meyer, and the other artist participants, as well as enjoy a cash bar.

The Inside Story With Artist Ted Meyer And So Say We All

  • Thursday, September 14th from 6-7:30pm veterans from Ted Meyer’s exhibition Scarred For Life will join with story tellers from So Say We All to share on their time and experiences in the armed forces.

Camp Pendleton 75th Anniversary

September 25, 2017 marks the 75th Anniversary of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the largest West Coast expeditionary training facility in the United States. Neighbor to Oceanside, Camp Pendleton has been in operation since 1942 originally serving as the location for amphibious force training for World War II. After five months of construction the West Coast’s largest military camp was founded and President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the base on September 25, 1942 in honor of General Joseph H. Pendleton who had advocated for the establishment of a West Coast training base.

Camp Pendleton’s 75 Year Legacy

Camp Pendleton’s Early History


Community Events

To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base has a series of exhibits showcasing the world’s largest collection of Marine Corps vehicles and artillery from different eras of Marine training and deployment at Camp Pendleton. Vintage Marine Equipment and artifacts from the Pacific Theater time period are currently on display through September 30th. In addition Camp Pendleton will be offering 75th Anniversary tours of the Santa Margarita Ranch House National Historic Site on September 25th-27th at both 12pm and 2pm. In order to visit either the 75th Marine Corps Mechanized Museum Exhibit or tour the Ranch House call (760) 725-5785 or email your request to

Hard Corps Race Series  

Semper Tri & Devil Dog Duathlon & 7K Run

As an extension of Camp Pendleton’s 75th anniversary, the Hard Corps Race Series continues with the Semper Tri & Devil Dog Duathlon & 7K Run on September 23rd. This race is open to the public for ages 9 and up, free to spectate, and features options to please any endurance athlete looking for a unique experience in the San Diego County area.

Additional Events & Resources

Military Reunions

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton’s 75th Anniversary Magazine

Veterans Memorial Garden


MCAS MiraMar Air Show

USS Midway Aircraft Carrier

Published: July 20, 2017

Share this Article

Get Our Latest Blogs in Your Inbox

Get Our Latest Blogs in Your Inbox

Related Articles​

Can't Miss Events Happening in June
Can't Miss Events Happening in June
Stay up to date with June events happening in Oceanside hosted by your favorite local businesses! 
Mother’s Day in Oceanside!
Mother’s Day in Oceanside!
Wow your mom this Mother's Day by planning the perfect day in Oceanside to celebrate all that she does!
Visitor Guide 2024 with shadow

What's New in O'side? Check out Our 2024 Visitor Guide To find out.

Oceanside Visitors Guide 2023

Sharing some O'side love with our Visitor guide.

Follow us on Social Media

Use the hashtag #VisitOceanside

Get Inside O'side