The USS 'Frisco' Memorial at Land's End

After WWII, veteran crew members of many vessels formed associations that were restricted to officers and crew only.

The original idea was that these associations would last only as long as the crew members lived and then disappear into history. However, many of us who are the sons and daughters and grandchildren of those who served do not want the men and ships to be forgotten, and with the advent of affordable, sophisticated web technology, it is now possible to create a living “virtual” web memorial that will not only keep the memory of these ships and crew alive, but will actually continue to grow as new information from cruise books, estates and attics continues to come to light.

Some of the original CA-38 crew members who are still hale and hearty formed the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation in 2005 for the purpose of maintaining the physical memorial at Lands End in San Francisco and a perpetual living memorial on the web. Membership in the Foundation is open to any crew member, family member or friend, with a modest annual donation to keep the Foundation viable. Members gain access to a members-only newsletter, downloadable research materials, contact information for other members, discounts on product purchases in the ship’s store, and – perhaps most importantly – the ability to add information to the Foundation database about a particular crew member or event in the ship’s history through a specified member of the Foundation. Generation after generation will be able to visit this site and read about their ancestors who served aboard, and perhaps even hear and view their stories in their own words.

The Physical Memorial at Lands End, San Francisco, CA

The first group of photos was taken during November 2001. The memorial is made from the bridge wings of the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco. The damaged areas were removed in late 1942/early 1943 while repairing battle damage received during combat around Guadalcanal in November 1942. It is amazing to see these pieces of the ship standing on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. USS San Francisco was decommissioned in 1947 and scrapped in 1959.

A Unique World War II Memorial

In 1942, the cruiser USS San Francisco attacked a vastly superior Japanese force off the coast of Guadalcanal. It is known as the most brutal close-quarters naval engagement of WWII. USS San Francisco took some 45 direct hits and sustained heavy damage while sinking one Japanese ship and seriously damaging two others (including a battleship). One hundred sailors, including Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan and 7 Marines were killed and 131 more wounded. Despite it all, USS San Francisco safely made it back to port. This savage battle is commemorated by an unusual memorial in Lands End in San Francisco, just west of the Golden Gate Bridge, under which USS San Francisco and many other ships sailed toward or returned from war. The USS San Francisco memorial is oriented toward Guadalcanal, and it eschews the usual symbolic folderol in favor of something far more visceral: a shell pocked section of USS San Francisco‘s bridge wings. The site of heavy gauge steel perforated like paper captures the fury and horror of that night better than any sculpture ever could.

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