Commando Catalina

Whereas much of Europe is littered with historic World War II sites, America has almost none.  This is, of
course, due to the fact that Pearl Harbor was the only true battle site on American soil.  But, the war effort
didn’t end there. 

As Cecilia Rasmussen reports in
the LA Times, pretty little Santa Catalina Island, just 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, was the site of another
major World War II effort; protecting the California Coast. 

Known primarily today as a quick getaway from the big city, Catalina has always offered a wonderful, quiet respite
for yachtsmen and day trippers.  But in World War II, its harbors served as a base for the Merchant Marine and its
deep valleys and secluded landscape proved ample training grounds for commandos preparing for the European
theater.  The military also loaded the island with antiaircraft batteries and observation towers while gigantic
blimps plied the island’s airspace, protecting the important shipping lanes into Long Beach Harbor. 

Today, the island is as quaint and beautiful as ever; simply nothing remains of the leisurely playground’s
dark sabbatical into war.