Remembering Joe

A smiling man in a maroon shirt
Joe Janesic

The Open Bunker on Saturday, February 26th will be in honor of Joe.

Inside the bunker, we will be setting up a memorial for Joe, with words expressing how his legacy touches thousands of visitors each year, photos, and flameless tea candles.

Volunteers and staff members who would like to share memories of Joe in person will be able to gather at the bluffs at 9:30am. Anyone not able to join us at 9:30am will still be able to come in at any time during the Open Bunker day and see the memorial inside we are setting up. 

Due to COVID protocols we are still following in the park, the event is meant to be small and intimate, but all in honor of Joe’s legacy here at Cabrillo National Monument. 

By VIP Karen Scanlon

Joe Janesic was a giant in the field of military history, an expert only because he put the required time into researching his subjects and interviewing veterans and other related people. He wanted to get it right for history’s sake. Perhaps he will be best known for his generous sharing of knowledge and unparalleled collection of photos.  

Death comes unexpectedly, and losing Joe at age 53 of natural causes in January is a great loss to his family, friends, and the history communities he served.  

According to Tim Jordan, “Joe was involved with the Coast Artillery Study Group that raised the funds to bring Fort MacArthur in Los Angeles back to life. The old fort was running away, they were making Hollywood movies there, but little else. Joe was the fire behind restoration of some of those old buildings.”  

Tim notes that Joe’s career was in computer graphics, but was a full-time volunteer at Fort MacArthur, gathering documents and blueprints of forts across the country, to the Gulf of Mexico and into Panama. He lived in Long Beach.  

The contributions of Joe’s to the Coast Artillery operations on the Point Loma peninsula are immense. Today, of course, Cabrillo National Monument is the keeper of some of this area. A serious documentation of Coast Artillery and Army history of Fort Rosecrans was begun in 2001 by Tim Jordan, Dan Sutton, Steve Baffa, and others. “It wasn’t until some of us talked about restoring the bunker in 2011, that Joe got more involved at CNM,” Tim says. Then Superintendent, Tom Workman, supported the project. “Naturally some of us would sometimes disagree with a detail, but Joe would always admit if he was wrong.”  

Joe was a stickler for correctness. His knowledge of World War II equipment and phones for these bunkers was necessary, especially in the uniforms worn by Living History volunteers once the bunker was opened to the public.  

One of our most memorable and wonderful experiences at Cabrillo was Fort Rosecrans Goes to War staged on Pearl Harbor weekend. Our historians worked with Joe and Fort McArthur Superintendent Steve Nelson on bringing down the massive searchlight and some vintage military vehicles.  

These were spectacular presentations of World War II recognition that took place at CNM from 2011 through 2015. So brilliant was the searchlight (anchored in the parking circle and pointed toward the hill of the lighthouse), its some 800 million candlepower dressed our lighthouse in what appeared to be ice crystals. It was beautiful!  

Military tents, soldiers in uniform standing watch on the cliffs, and a medical facility set up were evidence of the devotion built into these occasions. On Sunday afternoon, a scheduled World War II aircraft flew over the Point, at which time a soldier handcranked the oppressive siren. Its sound was distressing, and we imagined what war did to the human psyche. Joe was ever a contributor to the accuracy of these events.  

As a writer and historian, I personally relied on Joe lots of times to confirm a detail, date, or offer a photo of my subject. He was my friend. I’m crushed that he is gone, and what he has left to us is his declaration to be correct in our writing and an affection of our military subjects. Here’s a kiss, Joe, as if gone off to war. 

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