Saturday, May 20, 2006

Machine Gun Nests Located Above the Golden Gate

Old trenches a reminder of hot breath of war at Golden Gate
Carl Nolte, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, May 19, 2006 now part of stylesheet -->

The Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, produced devastation in Hawaii -- and panic on the West Coast.
Anything seemed possible. The attack had come out of the Sunday morning sky without warning. What if Pearl Harbor was only the first target? What if the Japanese navy was off California ready to strike?

What if the Japanese battleships got past the big guns that were the key coastal defenses around San Francisco and the Golden Gate? What then?
The U.S. Army had an answer. On the night of Dec. 7, the Army assigned every available soldier at the Presidio of San Francisco to get to work digging slit trenches and field fortifications to stop a Japanese invasion.

Trenches were dug on the bluffs above the Golden Gate. Machine guns were sited to cover Baker Beach on the western edge of the city. If the Japanese came, we were ready.
Nearly 65 years went by, and the world changed. The Army is gone from the Golden Gate. The Presidio is part of a national park now. The other day, National Park Service crews clearing weeds and making surveys for a hiking trail above Baker Beach found some of the old wartime trenches and machine gun nests, still there, still ready for the invasion that never came.

The rangers were amazed. "It's hard to describe the experience,'' said Park Service historian Stephen Haller. "It's peeling back history.''
The Park Service doesn't want to reveal the exact location of these trenches until archaeologists can look at them and prepare them for public viewing. There are perhaps a dozen trenches, on the bluffs north of Baker Beach, behind "keep out'' signs.
The fear of those dark winter days in 1941 and 1942 seems nearly absurd now. The Japanese had no plans to invade and no fleet ready to mount an invasion -- a good thing, since the West Coast was defenseless. The Navy was out in the Pacific, and the Army was undermanned and unprepared. At one point in early 1942, Boy Scouts were sent to guard the Bay Bridge.

Retired ranger John Martini remembers taking an oral history from an old soldier named Dudley Riggs who had been stationed at the Presidio. "They gave me a World War I Army helmet, some ammunition dated 1920, a 1903 Springfield rifle and told me to shoot anyone coming up the hill,'' Riggs said.

On the afternoon of Dec. 7, the Army's Western Defense Command received a report of a Japanese fleet 30 miles off the Presidio. On Dec. 8, aircraft carriers were reported off the coast and a submarine off the Golden Gate, and at 6 o'clock that night, something suspicious was spotted on radar 100 miles west of San Francisco.
Sirens wailed, that eerie rising and falling sound that still signifies an air raid.
Cars and electric commuter trains were stopped on the Bay Bridge. Traffic stopped in the city, people piled out of buses and streetcars and took shelter. It was the war's first blackout on American soil, and it was a fiasco.

Many neon advertising signs stayed lit. Downtown San Francisco sparkled, one resident said, "like New Orleans at Mardi Gras time.'' The roadway lights and the rotating red beacon lights on the 4-year-old Golden Gate Bridge blazed away. The bridge, it was learned later, was defended by only three .30-caliber machine guns.

The next day, Lt. Gen. John de Witt, head of the Western Defense Command, came to City Hall to chew out the city fathers. He was in uniform, three silver stars glittering on each shoulder and blood in his eye. He was furious. He was convinced, he said, that Japanese bombers had flown over San Francisco -- and the city had not blacked out.

"No bombs fell, did they?'' Mayor Angelo Rossi asked gently.

De Witt told the newspapers it might have been better if the city had been bombed. "I never saw such apathy,'' he snapped. "It was criminal. ... It was shameful.''
There were no planes, but, according to Brian Chin's book "Artillery at the Golden Gate,'' there really were Japanese submarines off the coast.

They torpedoed a few ships off California and later shelled an oil refinery near Santa Barbara. On Dec. 17, Chin wrote, the submarine I-15 surfaced near the Farallon Islands. Its crew could see the glow of the city lights in the distance.

"If we weren't at war,'' said Capt. Hiroshi Imazato, "this would be an excellent chance to pass in through the Golden Gate and visit that famous city of San Francisco.''

The Japanese officers all laughed.

It was no laughing matter to the soldiers assigned to dig trenches and stand guard on the cliffs from the Point Reyes peninsula to the San Mateo County coast. A "constant vigil'' was kept, said the Coast Artillery Journal, an Army newspaper.

"It is the firm determination of every man in these defenses, regardless of personal sacrifice, to allow NO ENEMY SHIPS TO PASS THROUGH THE GOLDEN GATE,'' the paper said.

It was cold and wet in winter, cold and damp in the summer fog, and pitch dark at night. No lights could be shown. "It was windy, cold and desolate,'' Chin wrote.
"I can just see these guys, griping and bitching,'' Haller said, "but glad they are not at Corregidor." The fall of that island fortress in Manila Bay was the low point of the war. The men watching the coast must have felt useless, left behind.

The tide of the war turned after the battle of Midway in June 1942, and it became obvious the Japanese no longer had the offensive capacity to threaten California.
The defenses at the Presidio gradually were drawn down. The soldiers were issued the more modern "steel pot'' helmets and Garand M-1 rifles to replace the old Springfields. The troops were redeployed to the Pacific.

These days, on a late morning in spring, it is hard to believe that there were ever weapons on these Presidio bluffs. Standing there, one can see the Marin Headlands and the blue ocean, look down on people fishing and lying in the sun on Baker Beach.

When the wind is right, the sound of bells from the churches on Geary Boulevard drifts over the houses on Sea Cliff.
The other morning, two ships headed into the Golden Gate. One was carrying new cars from Japan.

Haller stands next to a steel machine-gun mount in an old, half-caved-in trench. The trench is about 5 feet deep, facing the beach at an angle. Each gun had a crew of four, one of whom watched the sky at all times, a whistle around his neck.

A few weeks after the gun emplacements were dug, the Army lined them with concrete. Now there are weeds all around along with just-cut brush and some poison oak. The cliff drops steeply away. It is like standing on the edge of the world.

This is where they mounted the .30-caliber machine gun, the first line of defense against an invasion. "This was to shoot along Baker Beach,'' Haller said. "See those people over there? You could have shot them all."

The Park Service wants its archaeologists to sweep the area, looking for whatever might be left -- shell casings, uniform buttons, the prewar metal boxes that Lucky Strike cigarettes came in -- even, maybe, old love letters. Then rangers plan to put up signs explaining why the field fortifications were there and why the soldiers were guarding the beach.

As the memory of World War II fades, the need for an explanation grows, park archaeologist Leo Barker said.

"The Park Service's job is to preserve the best of the country's heritage for future generations,'' Haller said. "We want to show here how close the war came to these shores.''

Friday, May 12, 2006

Now Scoop Jackson slimed by activists

...including his own son. I can relate.

Here's another example of how the ethnic activists find power in victimization.

At least Jackson's memorial didn't get hijacked like the former mayor of Gresham. It just got misplaced for 21 years.

And to think we once had such greats as Jackson and Magnuson representing us in Washington DC. Now we have Murry and Cantwell and Jackson's son working for Gregoire? And we have ethnic activists re-writing history? The Uof W has to have their permission to put up a bust of Scoop Jackson because Jackson supported the evacuation? What a joke! It's obvious Jackson knew more then about security threats than his offspring knows today!

Talk about a downhill slide....

Speaking of downhill slides, here's the article from another once great Seattle icon.

"Scoop" out of the shadows
By Nick Perry

Seattle Times staff reporter

A bust of U.S. Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson is now outside the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. It languished in an out-of-the-way spot for decades, partly due to controversy over Jackson's World War II support of Japanese-American internment.

For two decades, Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson has remained frozen at the center of a political debate, his striped tie neatly knotted, his eyes gazing intently into the distance, his mouth slightly open, as if he's about to weigh in with his thoughts.

More precisely, it's an oversize bronze bust of the late U.S. senator from Washington, who died in 1983. The bust was supposed to greet University of Washington students entering a school named in Jackson's honor. Instead, it has languished for 21 years in a fourth-floor alcove, the victim of campus politics.

Until this week, that is. The bust was moved Tuesday from the alcove to a pedestal outside the Jackson School of International Studies and now stands prominently along one of the busiest thoroughfares on campus. Scoop is finally getting his moment in the sun.

"In terms of movement it's just a tiny step, but symbolically it's much bigger," said Anand Yang, the school's director.

Jackson's legacy includes a record of conservation, civil rights and helping Jewish people escape persecution in Eastern Europe through emigration to the U.S.
The debate at the UW over his bust began with concerns in the mid-1980s over his hawkish position on the Cold War and nuclear arms. Later came questions over the diversity of campus monuments and Jackson's support, as a congressman, of interning Japanese Americans during World War II.

Arguably Washington's most famous senator, the Democrat was known for his hawkish attitude on international affairs and for his environmental legacy at home.

It's the kind of debate the senator, a UW alum himself, might have relished.

The story begins in 1983. Jackson, a Democrat and 31-year veteran of the Senate, had a strong interest in China, the Middle East and what was then the Soviet Union. He was a big supporter of the UW's international-studies program, giving guest lectures and helping raise money. Sometimes he would show up in professors' offices just to talk and debate. But soon after returning from a trip to China, the senator died unexpectedly.

The UW's international-studies director at the time, Ken Pyle — who'd also been on the China trip — and the UW Board of Regents quickly decided to rename the school in Jackson's honor and commissioned a bust from Washington, D.C.-based artist Wendy Ross.

The artist was a natural choice. When she was a student, Ross had a strong interest in politics and served an internship with the senator.

"He was very approachable and talkative, very interested in making sure you understood things," Ross recalled. "Physically, he had very Norwegian features and a very broad forehead ... it wasn't a stern face, but gentle. He had a kind of gleam in his eye, and his expression was upbeat."

Ross worked for more than a year on the bust. She regularly wrote to Jackson's widow, Helen, and twice had her come to the studio so Ross could gain insight into the late senator's personality. Ross said she decided to show Jackson as if he was about to speak, to depict action in a man who was constantly on the move.

At least two large casts of Ross' model were taken. One cast was displayed in the Senate buildings in Washington, D.C.

But the bust sent to the UW was tucked away at one end of a floor that has no classrooms — just some faculty and staff offices.

"We kept it inside because the Cold War was on," Pyle recalled. "Given the campus politics at the time, we didn't want the fraternity boys to come out one night and paint it red."

Ross said UW officials never told her the real reasons for the placement: "They spared me, I guess. Or kept me in the dark."

The statue gathered dust until nearly two years ago. That's when Pyle's wife, Anne, and Scoop Jackson's daughter, Anna Marie Laurence, began lobbying Yang for a more public showing. Yang liked the idea, but campus politics again delayed any action.

Not long before, a group of UW students had pledged not to add more outdoor statues honoring white men until the UW's diversity was better memorialized. That hurdle was cleared when a diversity sculpture was erected last year.

Yang held meetings with Asian-American leaders, who had other concerns.

"You have to understand we still have a lot of individuals living who recall rather vividly the senator's active support of the internment of Japanese Americans," said Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, who attended one meeting. "It's still a raw and sensitive hot-button issue."

Santos said some members of the community vehemently opposed placing the statue outside. Others thought it would make a "teachable moment" about a dark time in American history. In the end, she said, it appeared UW officials had already made the decision to move the statue.

Yang said he's planning to host an open classroom discussion in the fall that will cover Jackson's internment stance. He hopes that discussion, along with the statue's more prominent placement, will raise awareness of the senator and his legacy.

"They may know Michael Jackson but not Senator Henry Jackson, at least the young ones," Yang said.

Scoop Jackson's son Peter, who is Gov. Christine Gregoire's speechwriter, said his father's support of internment was an inexcusable mistake, but that Scoop should also be remembered as a champion of civil rights and education, and as a liberal internationalist.

"When people look at that statue, I hope they see the consummate American who achieved great things by working hard and believing in democracy," Peter Jackson said. "For your average UW freshman, he should serve as an example of what anyone can do with a good education."