Brad Causey
Brad Causey,
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The Freedom Letter
v1n6
Freedom and Coastal Defense
7/23/2001
Hope you have enjoyed the previous Southern California updates. Saturday was unique. In a previous mail I have mentioned our lovely hostess Nancy from the Callaway Vineyard and Winery in Temecula. She and her husband Gary drove up to see Don and I on Saturday morning, on their way to Dana Point for lunch. They recently purchased a Harley-Davidson Road King. Very nice bike. We sat around Don's family room and got to know each other better. Gary works for Southern Cal. Edison. (The local power company) Great guy. Nancy and he make a great couple. We had a wonderful time during their visit. Thanks for coming up guys!
After Gary and Nancy's visit, Don and I grabbed a quick lunch and drove over to San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles. Incredible views of the harbor and ocean. Just around the corner from the observation point is the Freedom Bell. The Bell was a gift from South Korea in 1976. Kind of looks like a huge egg. It is displayed in an authentic Pagoda. A wedding had just ended. The party was still milling around and taking pictures.
In order to get a better view of the ocean I wandered farther out on the hill away from the bell. On the side of the hill I saw what appeared to be an opening to an underground bunker. Naturally, I had to take a closer look. Am I glad I did! What I found turned out to be the most interesting surprise of the trip. It was of all things, a Bunker! Huge metal doors. Acres of concrete. Three different entrances. It was an underground complex as large as the hill itself. I wandered around the other side to find a restored WW2 era jeep. Beyond the jeep, another entrance, this one open. I peered inside of what obviously was no accident of nature. Large tunnel, going further underground. Without a light though, I was not predisposed to venture inside. After I went back outside, a man emerged from the open door. His name was Steve. Steve (a very nice guy) turns out to work for the City of LA parks department. He then solved the mystery for me. Turns out the entire hillside above the harbor was a coastal defense installation. What I had discovered was a closed 10,000 square foot underground facility built at the beginning of WW2 to protect LA from Japanese attack. Steve showed me the old positions of the 26" guns. Later the Nike missiles were stored here. The bunker I had found was unfortunately not available for public tours. But, I was in luck. Another even larger bunker was open for tours about a half mile up the hill. Steve invited us up to look, after his brief history lesson. The "Fort MacArthur Museum" is operated by the City of LA but naturally is underfunded. It is only open on weekends from noon to 5pm. You can go inside the old main bunker. They have lots of pictures and real newspapers from 1941-1945. Kind of like a bunch of stuff your grandfather may have collected and set up in the extra bedroom. Dimly lit, and not very organized. But extremely fascinating. You can wander through most of the old complex which has been closed and deactivated since the 60's. Offices, diesel generators, an old briefing room, the long tunnels for shell and missile storage. The big doors to the gun positions on either side. For anyone with an interest in military history, this place is a must see! They have a small gift shop, with used books and replica posters. I wish we had had the time to stay all day. If you are ever in San Pedro, this is one of the best kept secrets on the West Coast. Say hi to Steve, and make a contribution while you are there.
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