Backyard War Games – This backyard game takes place in a residential suburban neighborhood in Northern California – in Contra Costa County, over the hill from Oakland and Berkeley – close to the upscale bedroom communities of Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, and Lafayette. Specifically, this is the city of Concord (the largest city in Contra Costa Co.), close to parks, several rapid transit stations, shopping centers, schools, employment and various housing developments.
There is no victory here – We are going to look at two of these residential developments: Quinault Village with 200 plus family homes and Victory Village of 85 plus, multiple family units, duplexes and 2-story four bedroom mixed use dwellings, all now vacant.
Victory Village to the right, and the map below, Quinault Village (green arrow) lower right, note Mt. Hood Circle – that is Victory Village. Except for these two developments, other housing is not included in this reclamation, some close by and built as recently as 1999.
And sure enough, as you follow Olivera Rd. (like right out of an old movie), again you see Mt. Hood Circle – and the Victory Village units. This old photo, seems more personal with this housing tract. See how it looms out into the upper runway of the now-defunct Concord airfield, actually built on the airstrip property. Olivera Rd. on the left (not visible), but intersects with Willow Pass Rd. at the bottom. How much is vacant land now.
Together, these two housing developments, represent hundreds of potential homes available right now. Considering the many cities across America that are experiencing a housing crisis – the growing hoards of homeless, and low-income families who can’t afford the rising costs. It is unfortunate, these homes cannot be rented out or sold to prospective buyers. These homes were constructed in the 1960s, up to 1985 originally as military housing for US Coast Guard and Naval personnel, and they represent a substantial potential for additions to federal government coffers. There are, “Approximately 58 acres of United States Coast Guard-owned property along Olivera Road, known as Quinault Village and Victory Village.”
Instead of using the buildings for family housing, it has been decided that these neighborhoods will be used for wargames practice – “law enforcement” in training, guys in black, running door to door, in and out of windows, in pretend battles, until these homes with backyards and patios – but without the typical California barbecues, dogs, cats and kids – will be destroyed, so our peace officers can practice fighting door to door. Isn’t Fort Hood, TX big enough to accommodate this kind of practice.
Below, note – at the entrance to this 1980s housing tract, homes that still have many good years left in them, there is a chain link fence and a guarded gate.
Quinault Village – A large sign declares Police Training, Do Not Enter. Another sign states that this is the property of the United States Government, but taking photographs of these signs is not allowed. Surveillance cameras are placed everywhere. Neighbors in the Olivera Rd. area speak of Abrams Tanks rumbling through the gates in the middle of the night. On the other side of Olivera Rd. are older Vietnam-era housing units, still in use by Naval personnel. Have we stepped into another country, another planet.
This is a reclamation of a disaster – These housing developments were named after a naval disaster, not from a famous battle as one might expect, but for a disaster occurring on July 17, 1944. It involved the loss of both the S S Quinault Victory (on her maiden voyage) and the S S E. A.Bryan, to include townspeople from nearby Port Chicago, and the pier and rail yard. The two concurrent explosions at 10:18 at night were felt as far as southern Nevada, and showed up as blinding white light and a mushroom cloud – 3.4 on the Richter scale at UC Berkeley. The 1,200 foot long wooden pier, the 12 ton diesel locomotive and 16 boxcars, both ships and 320 people (202 black enlisted men) on the pier were gone, killed, nothing left, beyond particulates, vaporized . The men had been loading ammunition onto the ships (soon to depart for the war in the Pacific). All 67 crew and 30 Armed Guards on the two ships also died instantly. Of the 390 military and civilians injured – which included men in the barracks and townspeople – 233 were African America enlisted men – only black men were hired for this job. To recap, 320 dead, (202 were Black), 390 injured (233 Black). In reporting this to you, media is instructed to mention, “American Merchant Marine at War,” www.usmm.org (required attribution when quoting facts of the disaster). http://www.usmm.org/portchicago.html
Immediately after the disaster, survivors who were enlisted men were ordered to clean up the grisly destruction remains – a foot in a shoe, a hand in a glove but no body, and continue to load more ammunition. Many of the men refused those orders because they did not believe it was safe, as loading procedures had not changed. Fifty of the men were charged and convicted of mutiny.
Much ill will was generated by this incident. The story spread; African Americans knew they had not been treated as equal citizens. The Civil War was supposed to put an end to the search for equality but it did not. At least the Port Chicago brought up the issues and forged it’s place in the Civil Rights Movement.
As a relatively resent reminder of the Port Chicago disaster, July 17, 2014 would have marked the 70th anniversary of the explosion. The National Park Service has a memorial site but it was closed because the Army was loading live ammunition during the summer. Again.
There are those who still believe that the Port Chicago was a practice run of a ground level detonation nuclear explosion (before Hiroshima). … More than two years before the United States entered World War II, Albert Einstein sent a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, informing him that a nuclear bomb was possible.
That letter was written on August 2, 1939. “A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory,” Einstein wrote. “However, such bombs might very well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air.”
Discrepancies and questions arise – if the explosions had been nuclear, where was the fallout, and the radiation casualties. What about nuclear fire.
Land is valuable – maybe buildings are not. After damage by “law enforcement” training, will Concord want only the land. Will Concord buy only government land, so they can start from scratch. Some of the hype: “The city is interested in acquiring the property, in part, because it is contiguous with the Navy base, which the city wants to redevelop into a thriving community with housing, parks, retail and office space. Concord has asked the Coast Guard to enter into negotiations, according to Michael Wright, chairman of the Local Reuse Authority.”
by Charlotte Wilson, World View Opinion … email@example.com …. 2015
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