World War II marker dedication is Nov. 11 at Roberts Point Park
Port Aransas will remember part of its World War II history on Veterans' Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, when a marker commemorating the coast artillery on Mustang Island is dedicated.
The ceremony is set for 11 a.m. at the end of Roberts Point Park, next to the Patsy Jones Amphitheater.
Coastal artillery came to Port Aransas after a German submarine,
called a "U-boat," was sighted off the coast here on Jan. 28, 1942, said Port Aransan John Guthrie Ford, who is marker chairman for the Nueces County Historical Society. Ford researched the history of the local coast artillery battery and was instrumental in getting the marker approved by the Texas Historical Commission, though he credits John Thompson with getting him interested in the matter.
"The sighting galvanized the Army," Ford said. "Within 12 hours, they had moved a field artillery battery to Port Aransas as a stopgap."
However, Ford pointed out, the field artillery battery consisted of 105-millimeter howitzers, not the type of cannon designed to do battle with ships. The howitzers were intended for battlefield use.
"It took nearly five months to install actual coastal artillery," Ford said. That consisted of two 155-millimeter cannons, designed for naval battles.
"The thing we were defending was Harbor Island and the oil facility there," Ford pointed out.
The batteries were finally withdrawn and the emplacement closed by the Army in July 1944, Ford said.
Coastal artillery batteries were atop a sand dune that is now across Cotter Avenue from The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute.
Ford said the marker was approved for Roberts Point Park instead of at the actual location because of the difficulty of reaching the site and because the new marker will go with an existing marker that talks about defense of Mustang Island during the Civil War. The new marker will be about the same distance to the right of the amphitheater as the existing marker is to the left, Ford said.
Ford said despite devoting about a year to research on the Port Aransas artillery emplacement, he was unable to come up with any photos of the actual weapons used here.
"If anybody knows of any photos or any other information about the batteries, I'd appreciate it if they could get in touch with the South Jetty," Ford said. The newspaper will relay the information to Ford.