Maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the World War II West Coast Memorial is located at the intersection of Lincoln and Harrison Boulevards in the Presidio of San Francisco. The site overlooks the area just west of the Pacific Ocean entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge, set above a quiet and winding road that hugs the coast. The memorial can be accessed by car, bicycle, or walking. Several parking places are hidden above the actual memorial.
The curved granite wall lists the names of 412 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and coast guardsman who met their deaths in the Pacific coastal waters of the United States, and whose remains were never recovered or identified. The inscriptions include the name, rank, service branch and State of each of these missing Americans.
Designed by Jean de Marco, the memorial won the 1965 Henry Hering award. Despite the award, it is not one of my favorite memorial designs. It seems to lack a feel for the dangers faced by those serving at sea – there isn’t any sense of drama within the design. I suspect the best time to visit might be on a stormy winter’s day, when the wind and rain and cold would give one a sense of foreboding while gazing at the Pacific. That would be an appropriate time to contemplate the 412 names engraved in gray granite, forever facing the sea where they died.