A second place to call home

LADERA RANCH – Following in the footsteps of some south Orange County cities, Ladera Ranch announced it has adopted a Marine battalion based out of Camp Pendleton, a relationship that started Jan. 25, officials said.

Joining several cities that have adopted Marines, including Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita and Dana Point, the unincorporated community has adopted the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, known as the Highlanders.

The battalion has about 950 Marines, of which some 125 are deployed at a time. The battalion falls under the command of the 1st Marine Division and the I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Jay Rogers, president of the Ladera Ranch Community Services board of directors and a Marine Corps veteran, said showing support for service men and women and providing opportunities for the Marines to adapt back to city life was part of the driving force behind starting the relationship.

“It’s a challenge with all kids out of high school who go to command service,” Rogers said. “They go from life and death and then, in their early 20s, they come back to try and start a family.

“In the military, it’s very cut and dry, and it can be a challenge to adjust back to a normal lifestyle,” he added. “We want to embrace those coming off duty.”

With a Marine memorial at the Town Green in Ladera Ranch and the annual Toys for Troops drive during the holiday season, Ladera Ranch’s adopting a Marine battalion felt like the natural next step to show the community’s support for the military, LARCS officials said.

LARCS Community Director George Blair said there will be a feeling-out process in which the two sides will get to know each other, but initially the Marines’ needs seem to be a good fit with the smaller Ladera Ranch community.

“They were one of the battalions that did not have an adopted community,” Blair said. “They were looking for mutual support.”

Lt. Col. Mike Nakonieczny, commanding…

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