Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Presidential Visits to the Los Angeles Harbor area

The following is part of an article I wrote that was published in the More San Pedro edition of the Daily Breeze on 2/2/08:

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan was no stranger to San Pedro and the harbor area. He visited frequently decades before he was elected Governor of California in 1966, and as the 40th President of the United States in 1980.

Reagan first came to the area when he traveled to Catalina Island in the mid-1930s as a radio sports announcer to familiarize himself with the Chicago Cubs while they held spring training there. On November 13, 1941, just a few weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor, he underwent a physical examination at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro. This exam stated that Reagan was “permanently incapacitated for Active Duty due to compound myopic astigmatism -- bilateral, severe – distant vision 6/200 both eyes without glasses.” He was seen during this period at the base and also with his first wife Jane Wyman at the base.

Reagan (who in 1937 was appointed a second lieutenant in the Officers’ Reserve Corps of the Calvary) went on active duty in 1942 after he passed another exam, although he was classified as limited service only. Reagan soon transferred from the Calvary to the Army Air Force (AAF). Among other assignments, he served one tour of duty as liaison officer at the Los Angeles Port of Embarkation in Wilmington, and was also the adjutant with the 18th AAF Base Unit at Culver City. On September 8, 1945, Captain Reagan was ordered to Fort MacArthur again, this time for separation, which was effective December 9, 1945. Reagan and his second wife Nancy reportedly visited the former stately Matson passenger/cargo marine terminal at Berths 195-198 in Wilmington (dedicated in 1953) during its heyday. In October 1966, while campaigning for Governor, Ronald Reagan attended San Pedro’s Fishermen’s Fiesta and made brief remarks during the festivities.