Fourth Marines Band: "Last China Band"
 

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar China Bell Photos and Information

 

The China Bell


Marines of the 1st Marine Air 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 County, California.
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.


Master Sergeant Donald LeRoy Versaw, United States Marine Corps /
Retired, Author of "The Last China Band"

 
 
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