A WWII paratrooper and his 2019 Normandy jump.

Tom Rice smiles after a brief speech at the 2019 Spirit of '45 Celebration at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.
Tom Rice smiles after a brief speech at the 2019 Spirit of ’45 Celebration at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.

Today I listened to a few words that were spoken by Tom Rice, a 97-year-old member of the Greatest Generation. He spoke during the annual Spirit of ’45 Celebration at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park. He came up to the podium and told the audience about his experiences.

In the dark, very early morning of D-Day, 75 years ago, Tom parachuted behind Nazi lines with other brave soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, to pave the way for the invasion and liberation of Europe. In 2019 he parachuted into Normandy again, to honor other World War II veterans, many of whom are no longer with us.

He remembered his deeds with humility.

I learned that a film will soon be released that features Tom Rice’s anniversary jump. Libertas, which is the title of the Normandy Jump 2019 documentary, will be pre-screened on August 17 & 18, 2019, at the Vintage Village Theatre in Coronado, California. After the screening there will be a panel discussion with the film director, producer, and Tom.

Money raised through ticket sales will be used by Honor Flight for their Fall 2019 Tour of Honor, which will send World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C. so they can see their memorials. There are over 100 San Diego veterans on the waiting list.

Should you pre-order the DVD, use the code “Honor Flight” at check-out and $5 will go to help make the Tour of Honor possible.

To learn how you can buy a ticket for the special pre-screening of Libertas, or if you’d like to order the DVD, please visit this website.

I know some of this blog’s followers are in the local military community. Spread the word!

If you’d like to donate to Honor Flight San Diego, click here!

A look inside the Portuguese Historical Center.

Anyone interested in the rich history of the Portuguese community in San Diego should visit the Portuguese Historical Center in Point Loma. It’s located at 2831 Avenida de Portugal, in a neighborhood that was home to many immigrant fishermen who came from the Azores, Madeira, and the mainland of Portugal, back in the days when tuna fishing was a major industry in our city.

I took a look inside the center yesterday during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

Every corner of the small museum is jam-packed with history. Shelves are brimming with Portuguese cultural artifacts, and there are photos of notable people, places and events. I saw many references to Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer who discovered San Diego Bay in 1542 on behalf of Spain.

A recently opened exhibit in the Portuguese Historical Center remembers those in the local Portuguese community who have served their country. During World War II, San Diego’s many Tuna Clippers were converted into patrol and supply boats that served the United States military throughout the Pacific Ocean theater. You can learn much more about that fascinating aspect of San Diego history here.

When I visited yesterday, the centerpiece of the museum was a stunning dress worn by the 2018 Festa Queen. The traditional Festa do Espírito Santo is celebrated each year by the community at the nearby U.P.S.E.S. Chapel and community hall. Festa is a Catholic celebration of Pentecost Sunday. During the colorful event a religious procession makes its way several blocks up Avenida de Portugal to St. Agnes Catholic Church.

In front of the Portuguese Historical Center, a shining Tuna Fishing Industry Monument is inscribed with the names of loved ones who’ve become a part of local history. Members of the Portuguese Historical Center also maintain the Tunaman’s Memorial on Shelter Island. You can see photos of that iconic memorial here.

Please enjoy this quick look . . .

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Beaumont’s naval Art of the Sea in San Diego.

Planes Roar Into Action from the U.S. Aircraft Carriers Wasp and Enterprise, watercolor, 1941. The Irvine Museum Collection.
Planes Roar Into Action from the U.S. Aircraft Carriers Wasp and Enterprise, watercolor, 1941. The Irvine Museum Collection.

An extraordinary exhibition of work by one of America’s greatest artists is now on display at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Art of the Sea collects many iconic works by Arthur Beaumont (1890-1978), renowned for his wartime commissions for National Geographic Magazine, and for being named by the U.S. Navy the Artist Laureate of the Fleet in 1958.

Arthur Beaumont’s dramatic paintings not only depict massive warships in action at sea, but ships of every type in locations around the world, and diverse landscapes painted from his travels and rich personal experience.

As a young man Beaumont worked on a ranch in Canada, where he developed his love for sketching and painting. He moved to California and became a ranch hand in the San Joaquin Valley; he then later lived in Los Angeles, working as an artist. His fine portraits were noticed by the U.S. Navy, for whom he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He eventually became America’s foremost military artist. His dramatic paintings record important aspects our nation’s history through many decades.

My poor yellowish photographs in the softly lit Gould Eddy Gallery hardly do justice to the dynamic, brilliantly colorful paintings you’ll experience in this world-class exhibition. Over the years, the Maritime Museum of San Diego has featured some very important artwork, including a breathtaking collection of works by James E. Buttersworth, but this might be my favorite so far!

If you love fine art, or military history, or the sweep of American and world history in general, you must not miss Art of the Sea. After you check out these amazing paintings, stretch your legs and enjoy the many historic ships of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, rated one of the very best maritime museums in the world!

Extraordinary paintings by famed artist Arthur Beaumont fill the Gould Eddy Gallery in the Steam Ferry Berkeley, at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
Dozens of extraordinary paintings by famed artist Arthur Beaumont fill the Gould Eddy Gallery in the Steam Ferry Berkeley, at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
Sign describes the life and work of Arthur E. Beaumont, named by the Navy the Artist Laureate of the U.S. Fleet in 1958. He is also known for his wartime commissions for National Geographic Magazine.
Sign describes the life and work of Arthur E. Beaumont, named by the Navy the Artist Laureate of the U.S. Fleet in 1958. He is also known for his wartime commissions for National Geographic Magazine.
A painting of a California Mission, watercolor on paper, 1949. The Irvine Museum Collection.
A painting of a California Mission, watercolor on paper, 1949. The Irvine Museum Collection.
Cowboy at the Corral Lassoing a Steer, oil, 1929. The Bowers Museum.
Cowboy at the Corral Lassoing a Steer, oil, 1929. The Bowers Museum.
John Paul Jones on the USS Ranger, July 4, 1777, pen and ink, 1934. The Stuart Bourdon Collection.
John Paul Jones on the USS Ranger, July 4, 1777, pen and ink, 1934. The Stuart Bourdon Collection.
Portrait of Admiral William D. Leahy, oil on canvas, 1936. U.S. Naval Academy Museum.
Portrait of Admiral William D. Leahy, oil on canvas, 1936. U.S. Naval Academy Museum.
Heavy and Light Cruisers Range Far to Scout or Fight; USS Astoria and USS Phoenix, watercolor on board, 1941. The Irvine Museum Collection.
Heavy and Light Cruisers Range Far to Scout or Fight; USS Astoria and USS Phoenix, watercolor on board, 1941. The Irvine Museum Collection.
Navy Sea Planes, watercolor, 1941. The N. Arthur Astor Family Trust.
Navy Sea Planes, watercolor, 1941. The N. Arthur Astor Family Trust.
War Weary USS San Diego Returns to Home Port, watercolor, 1967. The Hilbert Museum.
War Weary USS San Diego Returns to Home Port, watercolor, 1967. The Hilbert Museum.
Snow Field Training, watercolor, 1942. Catherine Campbell Beaumont Collection.
Snow Field Training, watercolor, 1942. Catherine Campbell Beaumont Collection.
Fog Horn, watercolor, ca. 1950. The Hilbert Collection.
Fog Horn, watercolor, ca. 1950. The Hilbert Collection.
Chinese Junk Boat, watercolor, 1963. Robert Dreibelbis Collection.
Chinese Junk Boat, watercolor, 1963. Robert Dreibelbis Collection.
Stella Polaris, Howard Hughes' yacht, watercolor, 1935. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum.
Stella Polaris, Howard Hughes’ yacht, watercolor, 1935. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum.
Relief of McMurdo, watercolor, 1959. The Irvine Museum Collection.
Relief of McMurdo, watercolor, 1959. The Irvine Museum Collection.
The Last Voyage of the Queen Mary, in the company of the USS Long Beach, watercolor, 1972. Catherine Campbell Beaumont Collection.
The Last Voyage of the Queen Mary, in the company of the USS Long Beach, watercolor, 1972. Catherine Campbell Beaumont Collection.

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!

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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.

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!

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!

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.

Inspirational photos of Memorial Day.

I had all sorts of plans for this Memorial Day weekend. But I’ve decided to rest and write. Three uninterrupted days of writing. In a quiet place.

I’ve blogged about local Memorial Day events in past years. If you’d like to see many inspirational photographs, click the following links:

Photos of Memorial Day at Mount Hope Cemetery–remembering those who perished in the Civil War.

Memorial Day at The Veterans Museum in Balboa Park–remembering those who died in the Vietnam War.

Photos of Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans–sloping fields of flags and roses.

World War II vets honored on USS Midway–remembering the Greatest Generation.