Military in San Diego, The (No Series)
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No city is as proud of its military heritage as San Diego, known as Navy Town, USA. Congress also has designated San Diego as the Birthplace of Naval Aviation. However, its community fabric reflects a more diverse and tightly woven relationship with our nations defense. Over the past century, the city has invented and then reinvented itself in response to shifting world affairs and national priorities. It began with a successful campaign to become a West Coast Navy base in the early 1900s. By the 1930s, military aircraft manufacturing drove economic development. After explosive growth in World War II, San Diego emerged as an established military metropolis. At the dawn of the Cold War, San Diego recast itself as a home for Cold War research and development and defense contractors. Today, San Diego is an internationally renowned defense science and technology development center, a city in which one in four jobs and fully 50 percent of regional domestic product are defense related. Like no other city in America, San Diego has grown from a remote military presidio outpost to become a preeminent Pacific powerhouse.
Diego. On July 21, 1914, the Navy bought the 75-acre site for its 200,000-watt communications system. The three 600-foot towers were commissioned in January 1917. The first message, tapped out in Morse Code on a silver key made by local jeweler Joseph Jessop, was received by Secretary of the Navy Daniels. The Chollas Heights Naval Radio Transmitting Facility became the most powerful transmitter in the world. (Library of Congress.) Opposite : In the two decades following World War I, San Diego
distance. Widening and deepening the bay was necessary for large Navy ships. 74 Navy Town: 1922–1939 The use of dirigibles by the Navy proved hazardous. On May 11, 1932, the USS Akron attempted to dock at Camp Kearny for refueling. On the fourth attempt, three members of the inexperienced ground crew were carried by mooring lines into the air. Within minutes, two fell to their deaths. The third, Bud Cowart, seen at right, held on for more than an hour before he was retrieved by the Akron’s
and tobacco as the local hospitals’ supplies dwindled. The dead were buried at the Army cemetery atop Point Loma. Today, a tall monument marks the site of their graves. 19 The Military in San Diego The federal government designated Point Loma as a military reservation in 1852. Construction of harbor-defense gun emplacements began in 1853 but was halted due to lack of funds. The soldiers were initially housed in this tent encampment on the bay side of the peninsula while awaiting the
city leaders intent on promoting prospective Navy stations, dry docks, and training areas. One of those leaders, William Kettner, later became the area’s congressman in 1912 and continued to press for an expanded and permanent Navy presence in San Diego. 31 The Military in San Diego The armored cruiser USS California was renamed the USS San Diego in 1914. It became the only major American warship lost in World War I, likely from a German mine or torpedo off the coast of New York. This was the
very appreciatively acknowledge our obligation to (the military) for contributing to the success of our fair and for the cordial co-operation which has always been given . . . by the men of the Army and Navy.” City voters approved several transfers of land to the Navy for the development of naval facilities, in one case by a 13,857-305 margin. 44 An Era of Opportunity: 1908–1916 Ellen Browning Scripps played a key role in forming what became the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and national