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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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January 27, 2012     The Catalina Islander
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January 27, 2012
 

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Mystery From page 1 Pacific, and mindful of Catalina's strategic value to the war effort, Philip Wrigley approached the varied branches of the U.S. mili- tary and offered them a place to set up operations. First came the United States Coast- Guard. which turned the Isthmus into a training station boasting more than 150 perma- nent officers, instrtictors and support personnel. Collectively, they men- tored up to 90 recruits at a time in the laws of the sea and the weapons of war. It was the first mili- tary installation on Cata- lina Island since the Civil War. Out in the hills, it was the U.S. Army Signal Corps that put to- gether a series of gun emplace- ments, bunkers and a tiny village of barracks, mess halls and latrines known as Camp Cactus. much of which survives to this day, albeit in an advanced stage of decay. Their job was to act as point men for the entire West Coast of the United States to (hopefully) detect the approach of enemy Jim Watson Columnist ships and submarines. Many were the lonely soldiers who passed the long, magical night beneath the Ben Weston stars or amid a chorus of crickets on the windswept head- lands of China Point. Vigilantly, these silent sentries peered out to sea in search of any flash of light or any 3 a.m. glimpse of the conning tower of an enemy submarine. But these- Coastal guardians didn't have to rely solely on their eyes to spot the enemy. They were aided in their efforts by that most "se- cret and revolutionary technology known as RADAR. Used to great advantage by Britain's Royal Air Force dur- ing the Battle of Britain, RADAR technology was being put to good use in America as well and it is be- lieved that Catalina Island was one of the first locations where it was used by U.S. forces. The most prominent and visible Rotary From page 8 ships, and has supported projects at the Catalina Island Museum. the Avalon Schools, the Avalon Veteri- nary Clinic and the Catalina Island Medical Center." In addition, Avalon Rotary orga- nizes and fundraises for the popu- lar USC Trojan Marching Band's participation in Avalon's Fourth of July parade. Avalon Rotary is just one of over 32,000 Rotary Clubs around the world in over 200 countries. All are dedicated to the creed of "ser- vice above self." Rotary Interna- tional was founded in 1905 as both a business networking and commu- nity service organization. Avalon Rotary offers its mem- bership a chance to network with local business leaders as well as offer community service oppor- tunities for our Island, as well as projects such as feeding the hungry or contributing to international ef- forts to eradicate polio. Avalon Ro- tary meets weekly on Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m. at the Mi Casita. For membership information, please contact Rose Ellen Gardner. file your fictitious business name statements here We do the work for you. Filing & Publishing for SdB6 Publishing only $45 $7 per name extra Catalina Islander 510.0500 -c lassifi eds@localnew spapers.org branch of the military on the Island duFing the war was the United States Maritime Service, that branch of the government charged with running the nation's merchant fleet. Colloqui- ally known as "Merchant Marines" the officers and crew that propelled these ships around the world were in short supply in the opening salvos of the war. In October of 1942 the Maritime Service opened the Avalon Training School, effectively taking over the entire town of Avalon for its purposes. Hotels, including the luxurious St. Catherine Hotel at Descanso Beach, were the primary living quarters for these tralnees and var- ious locations around town were converted to training facilities. Part of the training "fun" for these cadets included learning how to swim through burning gas- oline--a show they put on in the waters of Descanso Bay. Dick Kellogg was one of those trainees and remembers well his turn at learning this skill. "You might think offhand that you could never do such "a thing" said Dick. "They taught you to push the oil or the gasoline away from you. To this day I can still taste the gaso- line in my mouth and all over my face and in myeyes" Maneuvers were conducted up at the golf course, Stewards De- partment trainees learned their maritime culinary techniques in the kitchen at the St. Catherine and Engine Department trainees practiced on a fully-operational re- ciprocating steam engine located in Descanso Canyon. Although U.S. Navy crews known as the Navy Armed Guard actually operated the guns aboard our merchant ships during the War. it was incumbent upon the semi- civilian Merchant Marines to also learn how to defend those ships should the Armed Guard be inca- pacitated in battle. To achieve these ends, Casino Point bristledwith a battery of 20mm anti-aircraft guns and non- firing 3-inch and 5-inch artillery put there for training purposes. Those awkward-looking cement pads that one still sees around the seawall at the Casino are the rem- nants of those gun emplacements and occasionally a SCUBA diver will still come up with a spent shell or two. While most Islanders were quite aware of the presence on the Island of the Coast Guard, the Arfiay Signal Corps and. of course, the Merchant Marines, it wasn't until after the war was over that they learned of a fourth group with whom they had unwit- tingly shared their island home. By its very nature, this par- ticular organization had kept its presence completely secret from everyone, save those who had a "need to know". NEXT WEEK: THE MYSTERIOUS O.S.S. Got a weird story about Catalina? Send it to us at manager@cinews, us or mail it to Mysterious Island, c/o Catalina Islander,. PO Box 428, Avalon, CA 90704. We've partnered with HealthStream, a national organization with an excellent reputation for collecting information about patient experiences. They may be contacting you via telephone about your experience at Catalina Island Medical Center. Thesurvey will take about 10 minutes. Your answers are confidential. The survey can be conducted in English or Spanish. Your privacy will be completely respected. The person who calls is not a medical professional and caller ID will identify the call as Healthstream Research. If you have any questions about the survey, please call (310) 510-0700. Catalina-00=."00--00 IslandMcdical Center (31o) 51o-o7oo 10o Falls Canyon Road PO Box 1563, Avalon 90704 www.CIMedicalCenter.org Nos hemos asociado con HealthStream, una organizaci6n nacional con una excelente reputaci6n para la recopilaci6n de informaci6n sobre las experiencias de los pacientes. Es posible que ellos se pongan en contacto con usted por telfono para preguntarle acerca de su experiencia en el Centro de Salud de la Isla de Catalina. La Encuesta se Ilevar unos diez minutos. Sus respuestas son confidenciales La encuesta podria Ilevarse a cabo en Ingles o Espafiol. Su privacidad ser completamente respetada. La persona que llama no es un profesional de la salud y el identiflcador de Ilamadas los identificaran como HealthStream Research Si tiene cualquier pregunta sobre la encuesta, por favor Ilame al (310) 510-0700. Catalina. - Island Medical Center (31o) 51o-o7oo lOO Falls Canyon Road PO Box 1563, Avalon 90704 www.CI M edicalCenter.org THE CATALINA ISLANDER Friday, January 27, 20121 g