Photos inside a World War II bunker on Point Loma.

Visitors to Cabrillo National Monument enter the restored Base End Station and Battery Commander's bunker north of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Battery Ashburn can be seen in the distance.
Visitors to Cabrillo National Monument enter the restored Base End Station and Battery Commander’s bunker, north of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Battery Ashburn can be seen in the distance.

The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 caused many to fear that the Imperial Japanese Navy might attack the mainland United States.

Coastal defenses were rapidly built up at strategic points along the West Coast, including Point Loma, the peninsula that overlooks the narrow entrance to San Diego Bay. Many of the United States Navy’s remaining ships were homeported in San Diego and had to be protected at all costs.

During World War II, Point Loma’s Fort Rosecrans was the home of the U. S. Army 19th Coast Artillery Regiment. Soldiers manned steel-reinforced concrete bunkers containing Base End Stations, and scanned the horizon for enemy vessels. Should the enemy be sighted, they relayed their information to a Battery Commander, who precisely calculated the enemy’s position, then issued orders to various gun batteries that guarded the approach to San Diego.

Today, almost a century later, the general public can enter one of those old bunkers overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

During my recent Saturday visit to Cabrillo National Monument, I was excited to see that the park’s restored bunker, designated Battery E Control Station, was open. I descended the steep steps into a small underground world, and experienced what life was like for those who stood watch over the wide ocean day and night during the war.

I then checked out a small museum near the bunker to learn a little more about San Diego’s coastal defenses during World War II.

Here are photographs that I took. Read the captions for more fascinating information. Click the signs and they will enlarge.

The Battery E Control Station can be entered on many weekend days. Tours are provided by volunteer docents who are members of the San Diego Military History Association.
The Battery E Control Station can be entered on many weekend days. Tours are provided by volunteer docents who are members of the San Diego Military History Association.
Walking down steps into the two-level, steel-reinforced concrete bunker is like stepping back in time. The 19th Coast Artillery Regiment manned multiple Point Loma bunkers during World War II.
Walking down steps into the two-level, steel-reinforced concrete bunker is like stepping back in time. The 19th Coast Artillery Regiment manned multiple Point Loma bunkers during World War II.
A docent in a World War II era uniform demonstrates the use of an azimuth scope, used to scan the ocean for enemy vessels during the war. These spotting scopes gave accurate readings of target positions.
A docent in a World War II era uniform demonstrates the use of an azimuth scope. These spotting scopes gave accurate readings of target positions.
A photograph inside the top level of the bunker, which served as the Battery Commander Station for nearby Battery Ashburn.
A photograph inside the top level of the bunker, which served as the Battery Commander Station for nearby Battery Ashburn.
Objects displayed include a map, helmet, canteen and pin-up girl on the wall. A WWII veteran who served at Fort Rosecrans helped to make the bunker's interior appear historically accurate.
Objects displayed include a map, helmet, canteen and pin-up girl on the wall. A WWII veteran who served at Fort Rosecrans helped to make the bunker’s interior appear historically accurate.
Diagram on wall identified the silhouettes of Japanese Naval Vessels during World War II.
Diagram on a wall identified Japanese Naval Vessels during World War II.
Marks show the direction and distance to South and North Coronado Islands, which lie in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico.
Marks show the direction and distance to South and North Coronado Islands, which lie in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico.
Phones on the wall beside a small Duty Roster chalkboard. The Battery Commander would communicate information to nearby Battery Ashburn.
Phones on the wall beside a small Duty Roster chalkboard. The Battery Commander would calculate and communicate accurate information to nearby Battery Ashburn.
Metal rungs descend into the lower level of the bunker, where visitors can see the small bunkroom and a typical Base End Station.
Metal rungs descend into the lower level of the bunker, where visitors can see the small bunkroom and a typical Base End Station.
A friendly docent shows me the bunkroom, where those who manned the bunker took turns sleeping.
A friendly docent shows me the bunkroom, where those who manned the bunker took turns sleeping.
Objects in the bunkroom include toiletries, U. S. Army rations, cigarettes, magazines and pin-ups on the wall.
Objects in the bunkroom include toiletries, U. S. Army rations, cigarettes, magazines and pin-ups on the wall.
Next to the bunkroom is a Base End Station, where soldiers continuously scanned the ocean horizon. It is one of five Base End Stations that were assigned to the Battery Commander Station directly above.
Next to the bunkroom is a Base End Station, where soldiers continuously scanned the ocean horizon. It is one of five Base End Stations that were assigned to the Battery Commander Station directly above.
Old photos above two phones show the operation of azimuth scopes in a Base End Station.
Old photos above two phones show the operation of azimuth scopes in a Base End Station.
A pair of Base End Stations would track an enemy ship's position, course and speed. Distance to an enemy vessel was determined through triangulation.
A sign describes Fire Control Rooms. A pair of Base End Stations would track an enemy ship’s position, course and speed. Distance to an enemy vessel was determined through triangulation.
Sign shows the different battery positions on Point Loma during World War II. Battery Ashburn's two 16 inch naval guns had a range of 26 miles.
Sign shows the different battery positions on Point Loma during World War II. Battery Ashburn’s two 16 inch naval guns had a range of 26 miles.
Old photos include Battery Ashburn in 1943 and Battery Point Loma in 1941.
Old photos include Battery Ashburn in 1943 and Battery Point Loma in 1941.
A sign in the nearby museum shows the ranges of Point Loma's many defensive gun batteries.
A sign in the nearby museum shows the ranges of Point Loma’s many defensive gun batteries.
During World War II, Fort Rosecrans on Point Loma was garrisoned by the 19th Coast Artillery Regiment. Troops assigned to Fort Rosecrans in San Diego thought it a good duty station, with pleasant weather.
During World War II, Fort Rosecrans on Point Loma was garrisoned by the 19th Coast Artillery Regiment. Troops assigned to Fort Rosecrans in San Diego thought it a good duty station, with pleasant weather.
Binoculars at the ready. Enter a coastal defense bunker at Cabrillo National Monument to experience a bit of what it was like during World War II in San Diego.
Binoculars at the ready. Enter a coastal defense bunker at Cabrillo National Monument to experience a bit of what it was like during World War II in San Diego.

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Historical reenactment on Veterans Day in Balboa Park.

The Historical Unit of Southern California held an event on Veterans Day near the Balboa Park Carousel.
The Historical Unit of Southern California held an event on Veterans Day near the Balboa Park Carousel.

On Sunday the Historical Unit of Southern California provided a reenactment of two World Wars near the Balboa Park Carousel. Their fascinating Veterans Day event coincided with the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of the World War One.

Smiling members of the group, wearing historical military uniforms, explained exhibits on the grass that primarily concerned World War I.

In addition to equipment used by soldiers on the battlefield, displays included photographs and objects pertaining to the Red Cross and Salvation Army, organizations that worked to provide care and comfort for those who fought.

Members of the reenactment group displayed artifacts from past wars, and wore military uniforms.
Members of the reenactment group displayed artifacts from past wars, and wore historical military uniforms.
Member of the American Red Cross Club of Southern California, a World War Two reenactment group founded in 2018.
Member of the American Red Cross Club of Southern California, a World War Two reenactment group founded in 2018. This was their first public event.
Medical items used by the American Red Cross, who aided suffering soldiers during wars of the 20th century.
Medical items used by the American Red Cross, who aided suffering soldiers during the wars of the 20th century.
Ephemera on display include old issues of The Red Cross Magazine.
Interesting objects on display include old issues of The Red Cross Magazine.
A timeline depicts the history of the American Red Cross through World War Two. The organization was established in 1881 by Clara Barton.
A timeline depicts the history of the American Red Cross through World War Two. The organization was established in 1881 by Clara Barton. (Click photo to enlarge it.)
Guys dressed as soldiers hang out on the grass by the Balboa Park Carousel, which itself is over a hundred years old.
Guys dressed as soldiers hang out on the grass by the Balboa Park Carousel, which itself is over a hundred years old.
A rifle, canteen, helmet, and other equipment from the battlefield displayed on a blanket.
A rifle, canteen, helmet, and other equipment from the battlefield displayed on a blanket.
This friendly lady's display concerned the Salvation Army. A sign shows some basic facts about World War I.
This friendly lady’s display concerned the Salvation Army. A sign shows some basic facts about World War I.
In 1917, Helen Purviance, an ensign in the Salvation Army, was in France with the American First Division. Soldiers asked: Can't you make a doughnut with a hole in it? The rest is history.
In 1917, Helen Purviance, an ensign in the Salvation Army, was in France with the American First Division. Soldiers asked: Can’t you make a doughnut with a hole in it? The rest is history.
These photos and artifacts are from World War I.
I believe these photos and artifacts are from World War I.
A doughnut with a convenient hole is enjoyed in the park a hundred years later!
A doughnut with a convenient hole is enjoyed in the park a hundred years later!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Bells of Peace ring on a special Veterans Day!

The historic California Tower rises into the blue sky above San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park.
The historic California Tower rises into the blue sky above San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park.

This morning, at 11:00 am, the carillon bells of Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower chimed twenty-one times. These symbolic Bells of Peace marked the centennial of Armistice Day.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, exactly one hundred years ago, World War I finally came to an end.

In the United States, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday that honors American veterans who’ve served their country in war and in peace. So this morning, when the clock struck eleven, on what might be called the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day, a special ceremony accompanied the ringing Bells of Peace. Flags were presented and voices lifted in front of the Museum of Man.

These photographs relive that ceremony…

Bells of Peace rang out for the 100th Anniversary of Veterans Day! A special ceremony was held in front of the Museum of Man.
Bells of Peace rang out for the 100th Anniversary of Veterans Day! A special ceremony was held in front of the San Diego Museum of Man.
People gather for a symbolic, emotionally powerful event.
People gather for a symbolic, emotionally powerful event.
Gina Seashore, who plays the carillon inside the California Tower, addresses those who have gathered for the Veterans Day ceremony.
Gina Seashore, who plays the carillon inside the California Tower, addresses those who have gathered for the Veterans Day ceremony.
The patriotic Color Guard, from Ramona High School's NJROTC, moves forward as the ceremony begins.
The patriotic Color Guard, from Ramona High School’s NJROTC, moves forward as the short ceremony begins.
Flags advance to the front of the Museum of Man.
Flags advance to the front of the Museum of Man.

A trio sings the National Anthem.
A trio sings the National Anthem.

After the carillon bells ring twenty-one times, Taps is played.
After the carillon bells ring twenty-one times, Taps is played.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Faces tell stories at Veterans Day parade.

A big parade for Veterans Day this morning in San Diego.

Many different faces, young and old, moving forward together down Harbor Drive. Each face telling a story.

The story of a life filled with pride, courage, honor, sacrifice and friendship.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

100th Anniversary of Armistice Day in Balboa Park.

Marines march west down El Prado toward the California Tower during the 2015 Garden Party of the Century in Balboa Park.
Marines march west down El Prado toward the California Tower during the 2015 Garden Party of the Century in Balboa Park.

This Sunday will be the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day.

Armistice Day marks the end of World War One. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 the horrifying “war to end all wars” finally ended. (In 1954, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in the United States.)

On Sunday in Balboa Park something special will take place to honor the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day.

The carillon inside the California Tower will chime at 11:00 am not the usual 11 times, but 21 times. After it chimes 21 times, Taps will be played. An hour later, at noon, the carillon bells will play a medley of WWI songs.

A variety of events in Balboa Park are also planned for Veterans Day weekend.

Several I’ve noted are:

Friday, beginning at 5 pm, at the San Diego Museum of Art. Free admission to the museum, where visitors can see the fantastic Artists at War: American Posters of World War I exhibition. Enjoy artwork and presentations by local veterans groups, the Air and Space Museum, a performance by Westwind Brass, and a screening of the 1938 classic The Dawn Patrol.

Saturday, 3 pm – 4 pm, at the Veterans Museum. A free preview by the San Diego Opera of their upcoming production of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, which concerns a brief, miraculous “unofficial armistice” that occurred in the trenches during World War One.

Sunday, 11 am – 5:30 pm, at the Balboa Park Carousel. A free ride will be provided to all veterans, active military and their families, courtesy of the Friends of Balboa Park. In addition, the Historical Unit of Southern California will have a special WWI commemoration at eleven o’clock.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Remembering, helping Veterans this weekend.

Sunday is Veterans Day.

At events around San Diego County, ordinary citizens will honor heroes who’ve served our country. Flags will wave, bands will march, memories will be shared. Handshakes will transmit gratitude.

Over the years I’ve attended a variety of events that celebrate veterans. I’ve also learned of several ways to provide veterans with a little assistance.

Here are links to past blog posts that might interest you…

Photos of the San Diego Veterans Day Parade!

Veteran’s Day celebrated in Balboa Park.

World War II vets honored on USS Midway.

World War II vets honored at Spirit of ’45 event.

American heroes honored at Veterans Museum.

Students interview veterans for USS Midway exhibit.

Heroes of Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.

Check the following links for opportunities to make a donation or help in some other way…

Helping veterans heal through creative art.

How to get support from fellow Veterans in San Diego.

Two ways to thank those who served and sacrificed.

Horse therapy helps veterans recover from trauma.

Spreckels Organ raises funds for Operation Rebound.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot brass plaque at City Hall.

A large plaque presented by Marine Corps Recruit Depot to the City of San Diego commemorates the 200th Anniversary of the United States Marines.
A large plaque presented by the Marine Corps Recruit Depot to the City of San Diego commemorates the 200th Anniversary of the United States Marines.

A couple mornings ago, when I visited the San Diego City Administration Building’s lobby, I noticed a large brass plaque in a glass display case against the east wall. The shining badge-like plaque is several feet in length.

Upon closer inspection, I read the words:

Marine Corps Recruit Depot
San Diego, California
Department of the Navy
United States Marine Corps
Presented to City of San Diego
by the
Officers and Enlisted Personnel
Marine Corps Recruit Depot
on 10 November 1975
The 200th Anniversary of the Corps

A smaller descriptive plaque on top of the display case reads: “This plaque is made from brass shell cases of ammunition fired by Marines in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.”

I’ve searched the internet for information regarding this fantastic Marine Corps Recruit Depot plaque, but have found nothing.

Does anyone know its history?

Where was it made? Was it presented to the City of San Diego back in 1975 during a special ceremony? Has it always been on display inside City Hall?

Please leave a comment if you have any additional information!

A closer photo of the shining brass plaque, which is on display inside the lobby of the San Diego City Administration Building.
A closer photo of the shining brass plaque, which is on display inside the lobby of the San Diego City Administration Building.

(Another amazing Bicentennial Plaque–one presented to San Diego by the United States Navy–can be seen on the Embarcadero near the USS Midway Museum. To read a fascinating article about the origin of that historic bronze plaque, and see photos of its forging, click here!)