By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Army troops in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego were on heightened alert, afraid the Japanese would strike again. The military carved into the hillside as part of a defense system in case of another attack.
The hillside trenches and tunnels were designed by Robert Rose, an enlistee who volunteered for service during World War II when the war broke out, according to a Fort MacArthur Museum newsletter published in 2000.
Steve Nelson, the executive director of the museum, knew the military had secrets—he just didn’t know where to dig them up. This past May, amid work to make the Gaffey Street Pool compliant with the American Disabilities Act, the trench was discovered. Nelson says the discovery is bittersweet, considering there is no way to preserve the findings and also renovate the pool.
“We knew we were going to discover stuff,” Nelson said. “We didn’t know we were going to discover this. This is a victory and tragedy all combined into one.”
Originally from Syracuse, Ind., Rose’s pre-Army experience included work at a lumber mill. When the Army learned of his time there, they assigned him to work on an underground bomb shelter, known today as the earthen tunnel system through the upper reservation system.
Rose cut wood pilings for use as supports in the tunnel system. He also helped install the supports at its Paseo del Mar entrance.
Nelson is saving much of the wood piles with the hope of someday creating a replica of the trenches.