Man's unique backyard memorial honors Pearl Harbor survivors

Terry Ulmer builds replica of part of WWII ship

ALPINE, Calif. - An East County man has come up with a unique way to honor those who have served in the military, especially survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Terry Ulmer never served in the U.S. Navy, but he can be described as being obsessed with all things Navy. During a 37-year career at the now defunct Long Beach Naval Shipyard, Ulmer collected what no one else wanted.

"They would throw all away and I would actually rescue it from the Dumpsters with the thought I'd give it a good home one day," he said.

That day has arrived.

In February, Ulmer and some longtime friends and former Navy service members started building a replica of a wheelhouse and mast of a World War II destroyer.

"When he told me about the idea and that he was going to do it, I couldn't believe it, but the next thing I knew I was over here helping him," said friend Tom Zelesky.

The idea came from an association with the San Diego Chapter of Pearl Harbor Survivors with whom Ulmer got to know.

"I wanted to do this as a tribute to them, and their service," he said.

When complete, the wheelhouse will look and feel just like a WW II warship and everything in it -- including lights, instruments and communications gear -- will work.

"It's all the stuff I've been collecting and now I can put it into my backyard destroyer," Ulmer said.

The payoff will come next week when survivors will be the guests of honor when the memorial and tribute is finished.

Print this article Back to Top