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Captain Eugene F. Gaebler

Chief of US Military Ports, San Francisco

Gaebler was a WWI veteran, serving in the 318th engineers during the war and working on the reconstruction of France afterward. When he returned home he stayed active in the Corps of Engineers in the 385th before becoming an off-duty reservist in 1922, acting in a limited capacity before being recalled in the second war. Between the wars, Gaebler became an engineer with The Pacific Fruit Express, a joint railroad owned by the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, and Western Pacific railways. He operated and maintained refrigerator cars from California to Oregon.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Gaebler, now 50, was recalled in April and reported to command at the Presidio. In August of 1942, he received an appointment as head Utility officer of Camp Pinedale in California. He became the head engineer on the project to build Hammer Field, now Fresno Municipal Airport, designing new runways which could sustain the rather heavy impact of bomber landings. He was very close to a lot of the head engineers out in California as he had served with many in the first war and in the reserves afterward. His relationship with Colonel Bruce, head of the engineers in San Francisco, got him a posting as a head engineer in charge of the military and civilian ports of San Francisco. Based out of Fort Mason, Gaebler’s job was to oversee the day to day operations of the port, maintain the dock facilities around the bay, as well as upkeep the infrastructure of the piers, and all logistical material involved in getting troops and supplies on board the ships to be sent to the Pacific. Here, his sphere of influence included places such as Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, Fort Baker, and the boats which would take soldiers and workers down the bay to transport ships at Fort Mason.

After the war came to an end Gaebler stayed in the service to see the gradual disestablishment of the vast military infrastructure that had been put in place. By May of 1946, he was discharged and continued his life as a reservist, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and a civilian contract engineer designing bridges and transportation infrastructure projects across the west.

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