Photos of cool aviation event at Gillespie Field!

Someone looks at a restored North American L-17 aircraft on display at Gillespie Field during a special Air Group One event.
Someone looks at a restored North American L-17 airplane on display at Gillespie Field during a special Air Group One event.

Yesterday I enjoyed a very cool event at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. Air Group One, the San Diego wing of the Commemorative Air Force, put on a unique Warbird Expo and Aviation & Military Memorabilia Swap Meet out on the airfield’s tarmac!

All sorts of restored World War II aircraft were on display, as well as jeeps, vintage automobiles and other unique vehicles–even old tractors! I noticed that a few of the historical airplanes belong to Air Group One; others are stationed at Gillespie Field or flew in for the occasion.

The swap meet portion of the event featured all sort of artwork and aviation collectibles. Occasionally a World War II airplane would take off, land or roar by. Visitors could purchase a short ride around Gillespie Field! While Air Group One often participates in airshows, I was told this was their first ever event of this type. Hopefully it becomes an annual tradition!

Read the photo captions to learn more!

Checking out a row of shiny restored aircraft from the World War II era.
Checking out a row of shiny restored aircraft from the World War II era.
People were riding vintage military planes that helped the Allies to win World War II.
People were riding vintage military planes that helped the Allies to win World War II.
A banner explains that Air Group One's restored SNJ-5 is available for warbird rides for those who love the sound and feel of vintage round engines.
A banner explains that Air Group One’s restored SNJ-5 is available for warbird rides for those who love the sound and feel of vintage round engines.
Someone leaves the cockpit of "Sassy" after a ride around "The Patch" of Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
Someone leaves the cockpit of “Sassy” after a ride “around the patch” at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
This golf cart was modified to look like a tiny jet airplane! It even has a tailhook!
This golf cart was modified to look like a tiny jet airplane! It even has a tailhook!
Guys hang out beside a 1943 Ford GPW that was assigned to Captain Victor Lucky Moen of the 13th AAF on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during World War II.
Guys hang out beside a 1943 Ford GPW that was assigned to Captain Victor “Lucky” Moen of the 13th AAF on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during World War II.
I was surprised to see several old farm tractors out on display among the airplanes!
I was surprised to see several old farm tractors out on display among the aircraft!
Several restored Beechcraft T-34 Mentor aircraft were out on the Gillespie Field tarmac. These planes served as versatile military trainers after World War II.
Several restored Beechcraft T-34 Mentor aircraft were out on the Gillespie Field tarmac. These planes served as versatile military trainers after World War II.
This super nice guy was a pilot for the United States Air Force. He now flies T-34 aircraft as a member of the March Field Aero Club in Riverside.
This super nice guy was a pilot for the United States Air Force. He now flies T-34 aircraft as a member of the March Field Aero Club in Riverside.
Visitors to Air Group One's first ever Warbird Expo and Militaria Swap Meet check out more vintage airplanes at Gillespie Field.
Visitors to Air Group One’s first ever Warbird Expo and Militaria Swap Meet check out more vintage airplanes at Gillespie Field.
This Stearman (Boeing) Model 75 biplane from the World War II era was painted to honor victims of 9/11.
This Stearman (Boeing) Model 75 biplane from the World War II era was painted to honor victims of 9/11.
Victims of the September 11 attacks are remembered on either side of the historical airplane.
Victims of the September 11 attacks are remembered on either side of the historical airplane.
American Airlines Flight 11 and Flight 77.
American Airlines Flight 11 and Flight 77.
United Airlines Flight 175 and Flight 93.
United Airlines Flight 175 and Flight 93.
This particular 1945 Stearman PT-17, an Army primary trainer, was the last airplane owned and flown by legendary actor Steve McQueen. The N number N-3188 was McQueen's reform school number!
This particular 1945 Stearman PT-17, an Army primary trainer, was the last airplane owned and flown by legendary actor Steve McQueen. The N number N-3188 was McQueen’s reform school number!
Looking into the rear cockpit of Steve McQueen's old Stearman PT-17.
Looking into the rear cockpit of Steve McQueen’s old Stearman PT-17.
I saw lots of cool artwork at the Expo.
I saw lots of cool artwork at the Expo.
All sorts of miscellaneous aviation antiques, gear and parts were for sale at some swap meet tables.
All sorts of miscellaneous aviation antiques, gear and parts were for sale at some swap meet tables.
Many books could be found, including one about the history of soaring in San Diego.
Many books could be found, including one about the history of soaring in San Diego.
Aviation souvenirs and stuff for sale at the swap meet included pins and patches.
Aviation souvenirs and collectibles for sale at the swap meet included pins and patches.
Lots of vintage cars were also on display. The San Diego Model A Club was well represented.
Lots of vintage cars were also on display. The San Diego Model A Club was well represented.
Other vehicles at the event included an old San Diego Police paddy wagon and a unique patrol car and taxi combo that discourages drinking and driving.
Other vehicles at the event included an old San Diego Police paddy wagon and an eye-catching San Diego Police Museum patrol car/taxi combo that discourages drinking and driving.
Keep 'em Flying.
Keep ’em Flying.
Checking out a Ryan STM-2 manufactured in San Diego in 1940. It now belongs to the Allen Airways Flying Museum at Gillespie Field.
Checking out a Ryan STM-2 manufactured in San Diego in 1940. It now belongs to the Allen Airways Flying Museum at Gillespie Field.

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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Padres military heroes honored at Petco Park.

Display inside Petco Park's Power Alley honors Manuel P. Hernandez of San Diego. Before the start of World War II he played for the Pacific Coast League Padres. He died in action fighting the Nazis in Germany.
Display inside Petco Park’s Power Alley remembers Manuel P. Hernandez of San Diego. Before the start of World War II he played for the Pacific Coast League Padres. He died in action fighting in Germany.

Exhibits that honor members of the Padres who served in the military can be found at Petco Park. Inside the Power Alley, near the large model of the USS Midway, photographs and words pay tribute to three wartime heroes in particular.

One display memorializes the only Padres player to die in combat, Manuel P. “Nay” Hernandez. Born in San Diego in 1919, he attended San Diego High School and played American Legion baseball with the San Diego Post 6 team. After becoming starting left fielder for the Pacific Coast League Padres, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944, joining the 376th Infantry Regiment, 94th Infantry Division. Less than a year later he was killed in action fighting the Nazis in Germany.

Another display honors two Padres baseball legends: Ted Williams and Jerry Coleman. Both were Marine aviators during the Korean War. Ted Williams, a San Diego native who played for the PCL Padres at Lane Field, became arguably the best hitter in the history of Major League Baseball. Jerry Coleman, after playing with distinction as a New York Yankee (1949 American League Rookie of the Year and 1950 World Series MVP), became a beloved broadcaster for the San Diego Padres.

Should you ever enjoy a game or special event at Petco Park, walk through the Power Alley section behind right field and linger for a moment near this important bit of Padres history.

Manuel P. "Nay" Hernandez was born in San Diego in 1919. He graduated from San Diego High School, played semi-pro baseball, and went on to start in left field for the PCL Padres. He is the only San Diego Padres player to be killed in combat.
Manuel P. “Nay” Hernandez was born in San Diego in 1919. He graduated from San Diego High School, played semi-pro baseball, and went on to start in left field for the PCL Padres. He is the only San Diego Padres player to be killed in combat.
A nearby wall in the Power Alley lists the many Major League Baseball Players Who Served Their Country.
A nearby wall in the Power Alley lists the many Major League Baseball Players Who Served Their Country.
Historical photographs in Petco Park honor The Pride of San Diego. Two legendary Padres players, Ted Williams and Jerry Coleman, are shown on the baseball diamond and serving as pilots during the Korean War.
Historical photographs in Petco Park honor The Pride of San Diego. Two legendary Padres, Ted Williams and Jerry Coleman, are shown on the baseball diamond and serving as pilots during the Korean War.
Captain Ted Williams, USMC, manning his Marine Corps F9F-2 Panther jet in Korea, circa 1953.
Captain Ted Williams, USMC, manning his Marine Corps F9F-2 Panther jet in Korea, circa 1953.
Captain Jerry Coleman, USMC, on the wing of his Marine Corps F-4U Corsair in Korea, circa 1952.
Captain Jerry Coleman, USMC, on the wing of his Marine Corps F-4U Corsair in Korea, circa 1952.

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!

Butterfly Project teaches students about Holocaust.

Naomi was born in Prague in 1932. She and her parents were sent by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt ghetto and forced to work. The family was then sent to Auschwitz and at age 12, Naomi was murdered.
Naomi was born in Prague in 1932. She and her parents were sent by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt ghetto and forced to work. The family was then sent to Auschwitz and at age 12, Naomi was murdered.

Today I discovered an inspired project that helps school students learn about the Holocaust, and how to fight injustice and bullying.

The Butterfly Project had a special event this afternoon at the San Diego History Center. By pure chance I saw a sign for the event as I walked through Balboa Park.

Inside the San Diego History Center, I watched as compassionate visitors painted ceramic butterflies–one for each child who perished in the Holocaust.

Then I heard presentations by two speakers who had family members endure the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. These powerful presentations, complete with photographs and touchable artifacts, are often made to students in school classrooms. The presentations encourage Hope, Optimism, Kindness, Dignity and the Power of One. I learned how there were amazing instances where the courage of one person against brutal Nazis saved many innocent lives in labor and concentration camps.

One person can speak out. One person can take risks for others. One positive person can change many lives.

That one positive person can be you. Please visit The Butterfly Project website.

According to their mission statement, The Butterfly Project is a call to action through the arts, using the lessons of the Holocaust to educate about the dangers of hatred and bigotry through the painting of ceramic butterflies, permanently displayed around the world to memorialize each of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

The Butterfly Project seeks to partner with anyone that has or wants to build a connection to history, honoring those who died in the Holocaust. They want to get their beautiful, symbolic butterflies into schools, museums and community centers. They want to be included in classrooms across the country as an important part of Holocaust and anti-bullying education.

Can you help? Click this link to learn how to get involved.

Will you be that one person who steps forward?

An event to raise awareness about The Butterfly Project was held at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
An event to raise awareness about The Butterfly Project was held at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
Ceramic butterflies are painted. Each one symbolizes a young person who died as a result of the Holocaust.
Ceramic butterflies are painted. Each one symbolizes a young person who died as a result of the Holocaust.
Some hands add color to the butterflies.
Some hands add color to the butterflies.
Bronislaw almost escaped the Nazis hidden in a suitcase, then in a backpack. Seven year-old Bronislaw was discovered and shot.
Bronislaw almost escaped the Nazis hidden in a suitcase, then in a backpack. Seven year-old Bronislaw was discovered and shot.
Holding up a labor camp uniform worn during the Holocaust. Presentations made to students bring terrible realities to light, and encourage positive action.
Holding up a labor camp uniform worn during the Holocaust. Presentations to students make the Holocaust real, and encourage positive, compassionate action.
One presentation shows the tragic journey of one man who was sent to multiple concentration camps. He ran into a forest during a forced death march and escaped.
One presentation shows the tragic journey of one man who was sent to multiple concentration camps. He ran into a forest during a forced death march and escaped.
The yellow badge that Nazis forced Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust.
The yellow badge that Nazis forced Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust.
Painted butterflies recall innocent lives lost. With hope, purpose and courage, we can fight inhumanity and teach kindness.
Painted butterflies recall innocent lives lost. With hope, purpose and courage, we can fight inhumanity and teach kindness.

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Navajo Code Talkers at Marine aviation museum.

Photo of Samuel Tsosie Sr., Navajo Code Talker during World War II.
Photo of Samuel Tsosie Sr., Navajo Code Talker during World War II.

A small but fascinating exhibit remembering the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II is currently on display at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego. The exhibition, titled CELEBRATING 75 YEARS – CODE TALKERS: THE NAVAJO WEAPON, contains photos, documents, uniforms and historical artifacts that describe how the Navajo language was used to develop a code for secret tactical communication in the Pacific, in places like Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The Navajo code, which was classified until 1968, is the only spoken military code that was never deciphered.

The exhibit explains:

Many scholars credit Philip Johnston with initiating the Code Talker idea. Johnston was a Caucasian who grew up in Leupp, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. He approached the Marine Corps in 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor and proposed using Native American Navajo language for combat communications.

His knowledge of the Navajo culture led him to bring four Navajo volunteers to Camp Elliott in San Diego, California (an area that is now part of MCAS-Miramar) for a demonstration. Impressed with successful and efficient English and Navajo translations, the Marine Corps began recruiting Navajos. The first group of twenty-nine recruits entered boot camp, took courses in military communication procedures and developed the code. Approximately 400 Navajo recruited by the Marines learned the code.

Working around the clock during the first two days of Iwo Jima, six Navajo Code Talkers sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. According to Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division Signal Officer, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima”.

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum is free and open to the public at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The museum grounds contains over two dozen aircraft used during the proud history of Marine Corps aviation. It has the world’s largest and most complete collection of vintage aircraft flown by United States Marine pilots.

The museum is looking to expand and I’m told they would really appreciate your help. For more info, click here.

Celebrating 75 Years - Code Talkers: The Navajo Weapon. The Marine Corps deployed the Code Talkers to the Pacific, where the code proved effective and indecipherable.
Celebrating 75 Years – Code Talkers: The Navajo Weapon. The Marine Corps deployed the Code Talkers to the Pacific, where the code proved effective and indecipherable. (Click photo to expand for easy reading.)
The first 29 Code Talkers enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, 1942.
The first 29 Code Talkers enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, 1942.
First 29 Code Talkers of 382nd Platoon, 1942.
First 29 Code Talkers of 382nd Platoon, 1942.
Navajo Code Talkers Henry Bahe and George Kirk working their radio in the jungles of Bougainville.
Navajo Code Talkers Henry Bahe and George Kirk working their radio in the jungles of Bougainville.
Eight Navajo Code Talkers on Bougainville. Most hold an M1 Garand used in combat.
Eight Navajo Code Talkers on Bougainville. Most hold an M1 Garand used in combat.
Display case in the special Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum exhibit includes military field equipment used by the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II.
Display case in this special Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum exhibit includes military field equipment used by the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II.
The EE-8 Field Telephone/Radio was used by the Signal Corps from before World War II through the Vietnam War.
The EE-8 Field Telephone/Radio was used by the Signal Corps from before World War II through the Vietnam War.
Navajo Code Talkers share their culture at Camp Elliott, 1943.
Navajo Code Talkers share their culture at Camp Elliott, 1943.
One of four creators of the code, Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez.
One of four creators of the code, Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez.
Navajo Code Talker PFC Carl Gorman mans his observation post overlooking Garapan Saipan, 1944.
Navajo Code Talker PFC Carl Gorman mans his observation post overlooking Garapan Saipan, 1944.
This enlisted man's uniform jacket, shirt and tie belonged to Samuel Tsosie Sr. The Guadalcanal patch was worn on discharge uniforms by all Navajo Code Talkers.
This enlisted man’s uniform jacket, shirt and tie belonged to Samuel Tsosie Sr. The Guadalcanal patch was worn on discharge uniforms by all Navajo Code Talkers.
Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tsosie Sr., pictured with Alfred M. Gray Jr. during an award assembly in 2009. Gray served as the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1987-1991.
Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tsosie Sr., pictured with Alfred M. Gray Jr. during an award assembly in 2009. Gray served as the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1987-1991.
Official uniform of the Navajo Code Talkers includes a red cap, Navajo jewelry, gold shirt, patch on upper arm, light-colored trousers and abalone-colored shoes.
Official uniform of the Navajo Code Talkers includes a red cap, Navajo jewelry, gold shirt, patch on upper arm, light-colored trousers and abalone-colored shoes.

The museum exhibit explains the significance of various items worn by the Navajo Code Talkers.

The red cap indicates the United States Marine Corps. The jewelry represents the Navajo or Diné, which translates “Children of God” or “The People”. The gold shirt represents corn pollen. The light-colored trousers represent Mother Earth. The abalone-colored shoes represents the sacred mountains.

Replica of Congressional Silver Medal represents the medal received by Samuel Tsosie Sr. for his service during World War II. 300 Navajo received the Silver medal.
Replica of Congressional Silver Medal represents the medal received by Samuel Tsosie Sr. for his service during World War II. 300 Navajo received the Silver medal.
Shoulder patch of U.S. Marine Corps--WWII Navajo Code Talkers Association.
Shoulder patch of U.S. Marine Corps–WWII Navajo Code Talkers Association.

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! You’ll find many interesting historical photographs!

Sculpted faces of Greatest Generation at night.

A crew member of U.S.S. San Diego, representing all United States sailors who served their country during World War II.
Sculpted face of a crew member of the U.S.S. San Diego, representing all United States sailors who served their country during World War II.

Yesterday evening, after dark, I walked along the Embarcadero. When I arrived at the Greatest Generation Walk, I paused to gaze at the various illuminated memorials and monuments. I was struck at how light reflected from the bronze figures of military heroes, highlighting their expressive faces.

I took many photos of those faces. I kept my flash off. Some of the faces were insufficiently lit for my camera, but the photographs you see here, of mostly ordinary people courageously serving our country–primarily in World War II–came out quite well. I sharpened the images a bit, but that’s all.

The first photo was taken at the U.S.S. San Diego (CL-53) Memorial, created by artists Eugene Daub and Louis Quaintance.

The next seven photographs were taken at the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military, created by artists Eugene Daub and Steven Whyte.

The next three photographs were taken at the Homecoming sculpture, created by artist Stanley Bleifeld.

The final two photographs were taken at the Aircraft Carrier Memorial, which was created by artists T.J. Dixon and James Nelson.

Bob Hope as he appeared in the 1940s, entertaining the troops on a USO tour.
Bob Hope as he appeared in the 1940s, entertaining the troops on a USO tour.
A World War II Marine Corps Sergeant depicted as a patient from the 44th Field Hospital.
A World War II Marine Corps Sergeant depicted as a patient from the 44th Field Hospital.
A World War II naval aviator.
A World War II naval aviator.
A Korean War sailor.
A Korean War sailor.
World War II Navy Machinist Mate John Ibe, who survived the loss of the USS St. Lo during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
World War II Navy Machinist Mate John Ibe, who survived the loss of the USS St. Lo during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Korean War Private from the 45th Infantry Division.
Korean War Private from the 45th Infantry Division.
A World War II fighter pilot. One of the Tuskegee Airmen.
A World War II fighter pilot. One of the Tuskegee Airmen.
A sailor embraces his wife upon his return from a deployment far from home.
A sailor embraces his wife upon his return from a deployment far from home.
A supportive wife hugs her sailor husband.
A supportive wife hugs her sailor husband.
Love endures.
Love endures.
A sailor who serves aboard an aircraft carrier.
A sailor who serves aboard an aircraft carrier.
A naval aviator who flies from an aircraft carrier.
A naval aviator who flies from an aircraft carrier.

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 share and enjoy!

San Diego Air and Space Museum’s PT-22 hits the road!

A shiny PT-22 military trainer aircraft from the World War II era is about to be towed from the San Diego Air and Space Museum to their annex at Gillespie Field.
A shiny PT-22 military trainer aircraft from the World War II era is about to be towed from the San Diego Air and Space Museum to their annex at Gillespie Field!

Another unexpected cool sight! I was walking around the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park this morning when I spied a mysterious airplane wing being carried into the rear of the museum’s historic Ford Building! What was it?

I spoke to a nice guy overseeing the movement of two museum aircraft and found out!

The museum’s Boeing P-26 “Peashooter” had just returned from a year-long stint in Seattle, where it was featured in the Boeing Centennial. And to make room, a vintage PT-22 military trainer was being sent to Gillespie Field. The San Diego Air and Space Museum has an annex at Gillespie Field, which I suppose I’ll have to visit someday. (Yes, it was a PT-22 that Harrison Ford was flying when he crashed a couple years ago at a golf course!)

As I walked through Balboa Park, I spied a wing vanishing into the San Diego Air and Space Museum. It belongs to a Boeing P-26 Peashooter, which was on loan for a year in Seattle for the Boeing Centennial.
As I walked through Balboa Park, I spied a wing vanishing into the San Diego Air and Space Museum. It belongs to a Boeing P-26 “Peashooter”, which was on loan for a year in Seattle for the Boeing Centennial.
These yellow wings in the San Diego Air and Space Museum truck are heading to Gillespie Field in East County. They are part of a PT-22 airplane.
These yellow wings in the San Diego Air and Space Museum truck are heading to Gillespie Field in East County. In preparation for land transport, they have been detached from a PT-22 airplane.
The PT-22 was gleaming in the sunlight and I had to take a closer look.
The PT-22 is almost ready to be towed.  The plane was gleaming in the sunlight and I had to take a closer look.
Photo of the cockpit of the Air and Space Museum's PT-22.
Photo of the cockpit of the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s PT-22.
A cool, unexpected sight in the parking lot behind the San Diego Air and Space Museum!
A cool, unexpected sight in the parking lot behind the San Diego Air and Space Museum!

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

San Diego history: World War II and the Tuna Fleet.

Information sign beside Tuna Harbor, in downtown San Diego, describes how local tuna boats were utilized in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.
Information sign beside Tuna Harbor, in downtown San Diego, describes how local tuna boats were utilized in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.

Some fascinating historical information can be found on San Diego’s Embarcadero, right next to Tuna Harbor where many commercial fishing boats dock downtown. The sign, erected by the San Diego Port Commission in 2008, is titled Tuna Fleet Service World War II (1941-1945). It provides a glimpse of how dozens of San Diego-based Tuna Clippers joined the American war effort during the Second World War.

Here is the text on the sign:

During World War II, 600 fishing vessels were taken by the Navy, Army, and Coast Guard, including 52 “Tuna Clippers”.

On Pearl Harbor Day, the U.S. canned tuna industry was located almost exclusively in Southern California, and canners received most of their tunas from “baitboats”. Fishermen on these boats chum live bait (sardines, anchovies) to attract the tunas into a feeding frenzy and then use rigged bamboo poles to pull the hooked tunas aboard. Dating from 1924, a fleet of large “baitboats” was developed and became know as “Tuna Clippers”. These large ships, equipped with powerful diesel engines and newly developed brine refrigeration, fished for tunas found migrating thousands of miles from San Diego on trips of 90 days or more. During the 1930s, this San Diego high seas fleet was studies by the U.S. Navy, resulting in wartime plans that included the conversion of Tuna Clippers to minesweepers.

At the time Pearl Harbor was attacked, there were 90 vessels in the California baitboat fleet, including 76 Tuna Clippers plus 3 under construction. The 49 Tuna Clippers taken by the Navy and 3 by the Army represented about 55% of the fish carrying capacity of the entire baitboat fleet.

After war was declared, the Government ordered the Tuna Fleet to make port in California or Panama. Ten of the Tuna Clippers entering the Canal Zone in December 1941, were immediately taken for temporary patrol duty. The U.S. Army took three Clippers for use in the Panama Sea region, the SHASTA and CAPE HORN as tugs and the INVADER as a supply ship.

On February 16, 1942, tuna fishermen attended a meeting conducted by Commander W. J. Morcott, USN (Ret.) at the Naval Reserve Armory. 600 tuna fishermen signed up, with Skippers and Engineers receiving warrant ratings, and others given petty officer ratings according to age and experience. Within 10 days, a fleet of 16 Tuna Clippers, painted gray and marked with YP number designations as Yard Patrol vessels, left San Diego harbor on February 25, 1942. Their destination was the “Panama Sea Frontier” for picket duty to protect the Canal.

In May 1942, a convoy of six YP Clippers left San Diego for the “Hawaiian Sea Frontier”. These YPs transported supplies to French Frigate Shoals, the islands of Midway, Johnston, Fanning, Christmas, Palmyra, and Canton. In June 1942, seven YP Clippers left San Diego, for service at Efate Island or Samoa, or Auckland, New Zealand. In November 1942, another group of five headed for the U.S. Naval base at Tutuilla, Samoa. As the conflict moved towards Japan, YP Tuna Clippers were sent on missions to other Islands and Atolls of the Western Pacific.

The Navy discovered that “Yippies” were able to transport troops, gasoline, ammunition, and refrigerated cargoes and capable of navigation within shallow atolls and over minefields, of towing damaged warships, and rescuing downed pilots. This is why “Yippies” were also called the “Pork Chop Express” or “Errand Boys of the Pacific” or the “Solomon Island Ferry”. During the Solomon Island Campaign in 1942, the PARAMOUNT (YP 289) and the PICOROTO (YP 290) delivered frozen turkeys and all the fixings for a traditional holiday feast at Guadalcanal Island. In 1943, frozen turkeys were also delivered to the Marines fighting on Bougainville in time for Thanksgiving by the AMERICAN BEAUTY (YP-514).

“Yippies” were equipped with CW radios, fathometers, Navy radar and Navy sonar. Armament included machineguns, and other gun gear to fire Depth charges. The YP crew of tuna fishermen and regular Navy ran from 4 to 20 men.

Two YPs were destroyed in the Solomon Islands campaign by enemy surface ships: On 9 September 1942, off Tulagi Island, the PROSPECT (YP-346), and on 25 October 1942, off Guadalcanal Island, the ENDEAVOR (YP-284). The number of casualties sustained is unknown.

Two YPs were lost in the Midway region: On 23 May 1942, the TRIUNFO (YP 277) was destroyed by fire and explosions enroute to French Frigate Shoals (North of Hawaii), and then scuttled to avoid enemy capture. Only two crewmembers survived. During October 1942, the YANKEE (YP-345), with 17 crewmembers, on a voyage from Pearl Harbor to Midway Island via French Frigate Shoals, was “lost without a trace from causes unknown”.

Four YPs were lost at sea: CALIFORNIA (YP-235) on 1 April 1943, after fire and beaching in the Gulf of Mexico from an explosion of undetermined origin; NAVIGATOR (YP-279), 5 September 1943, foundered in heavy weather enroute to Townsville, Australia; CAPE SAN VINCENT (YP-280), on 24 April 1946, sank near Saipan Island; SAN SALVADOR (YP-281) on 9 January 1944, was destroyed after the foundering in Force 9 storm, with crew of 19 and one dog rescued, near Wallis Island, South Pacific. After transfer to the U.S. Army in July, 1943 the SEA TERN (ex YP-269) was lost at sea off Baja California.

Three YPs were destroyed during October 1945, because of a typhoon off Okinawa: PARAMOUNT (YP-289); CONTE GRANDE (YP-520) and CHALLENGER (YP-239).

The Navy destroyed 7 YPs after the War during 1946 and 1947: AMERICAN VOYAGER (YP-287), CIPANGO (YP-504), EUROPA (YP-236), FALCOM (YP-515), QUEEN AMELIA (YP-516), QUEEN ELIZABETH (YP-519), and YVONNE LOUISE (YP-282).

The successful wartime experience of the “Yippies” caused the Navy to build 30 wood-hull vessels patterned on the Tuna Clipper design. Each of 30 newly constructed wood hull Navy YPs was of 128 in length, of 14 feet draft, and powered with a 500 H.P. diesel main engine. They were built during 1945, two each by 15 different shipyards located in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Commencing in 1947, 24 of these YPs were added to the U.S. Tuna Fleet.

After the war, the Navy and Army transferred 33 surviving former Tuna Clippers to the War Shipping Administration (WSA) for buy-back by the previous owners. Three of these surviving vessels never returned to the U.S. tuna fishery: CABRILLO, FISHERMAN II, AND THEODORE FOSS.

Additional information on the sign:

Tuna clippers joined the navy too and were painted a dull slate grey, while the stalwart Portuguese descendants learned to fire the guns that were mounted upon the deck. Equipped with the finest refrigeration systems, these trim craft became “errand boys” of the Pacific, delivering food and fuel to the fronts. One day these tunaboats will be convoying a fleet of small ships to Panama. Next month, perhaps, they’ll be off to Midway Island with gasoline for navy PBYs. Two months later, they’ll be down in the Solomons running the “milk route” between Guadalcanal and Tulagi with supplies – part of the saga of men and boats.

excerpt from San Diego Union
July 23, 1943

Scores of converted tuna clippers slipped out of San Diego bay on their way to do valiant work in Pacific battle areas. First boats sailed from here Feb. 25, 1942. These small, sturdy diesel-powered boats are ideal for convoying and patrolling as well as for transporting needed war supplies to defeat the Japanese.

excerpt from San Diego Union
July 23, 1943

Today's commercial fishing fleet in San Diego includes picturesque boats that provide fresh seafood for restaurants and a Saturday dockside market.
Today’s commercial fishing fleet in San Diego includes picturesque boats that provide fresh seafood for restaurants and a Saturday dockside market. (The USS Midway aircraft carrier, now a popular museum) is visible in the background of this photograph.)
Someone walking down the Embarcadero near Tuna Harbor pauses to read a bit of fascinating information concerning the Second World War.
Someone walking down the Embarcadero near Tuna Harbor pauses to read a bit of fascinating information concerning the Second World War.
Left part of the sign depicts map of the Pacific theater of World War II in relation to San Diego. Pictured are some vessels that participated.
Left part of the sign depicts map of the Pacific theater of World War II in relation to San Diego. Pictured are some vessels that participated.
A detailed description of how the local Tuna Fleet served valiantly during World War II.
A detailed description of how the local Tuna Fleet served in various capacities during World War II.
California Tuna Clippers: Military Service World War II. (Click the image to enlarge.)
California Tuna Clippers: Military Service World War II. (Click the image to enlarge.)
Commercial fishing vessel Dalena in San Diego's present-day Tuna Harbor.
Commercial fishing vessel Dalena in San Diego’s present-day Tuna Harbor.

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