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Pacific Beach man crafts tribute to the fallen in the sand

Posted at 6:05 PM, May 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-29 21:07:13-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — If you walk along the Pacific Beach boardwalk, you might see a touching tribute in the sand.

Robert Shea spent his Memorial Day working to honor those who have served — through his art.

“It makes me happy to make people happy,” said Shea.

Shea crafted a ship out of sand with sails made from palm fronds. And set between flowers and seashells, onlookers can read the names of those who have fought for freedom in wars far away.

John Shipman, a long-time resident, just happened to be walking by.

“I asked him if he’d honor my brother by putting his name on the wall and so he did graciously,” said Shipman.

Shipman shared that his brother James died fighting in Vietnam when he was just 18.

“He was full of life and adventure. He was just a curious kid,” he said.

It’s stories like this that Robert says he hopes people pause to think about.

“He had a brother that died in 1969 and that one really touches me in the heart. As I’m writing the letters of his name…I’m really thinking of his little brother and I’m getting choked up about it. Because these people made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Shea.

On Monday, dozens stopped by the tribute.

“I can’t describe the feeling that people will be passing through here and witness his name,” said Shipman. “I carry on his name. I’m proud of him.”

If you would like to visit the sand tribute you can find it just south of the Crystal Pier.