Marines of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing acquired this ancient Taoist
ceremonial bell In 1945 while serving in Tien Sin, China. The bell was
brought to the United States in 1949 and placed In front of the Base
Headquarters Building at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Orange
The bell was manufactured during the year 1628 In the village of Ho
Chein, China which means, ‘between the rivers’, In the province of
Hopei. It was cast from 4200 lbs of bronze with virgin silver added for
tonal clarity. Centuries of ringing the bell by swinging a suspended
wooden beam against the bell’s base have left portions of the lower rim
permanently scarred; all but obliterating some of the inscriptions on
the bell. The bell is ornamented with Taoist mystic verses which praise
the craftsmanship and community effort responsible for its production.
Four round holes were cut into the bell’s crown to prevent cracks
caused by its own sound waves.
The bell’s housing structure was designed by Brigadier General H. W.
Hise, Commanding General, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, June 1969 -
November 1971, and was dedicated at El Toro on 14 October 1971. The
bell remained at El Toro until 1999, when Marine Corps Air Station El
Toro was officially closed and all units relocated to Marine Corps Air
Station Miramar, San Diego, California. In April 2000, the bell was
erected at Its current location outside the 4th Marines Musicians
Memorial Band Hall, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Although the
China Bell Is actually part of the Flying Leatherneck Museum, the
Marines of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band have adopted the bell
and are proud to display this relic that once sounded a religious
message and serves as a link to the grandeur of an ancient dynasty.