Loma Linda University Medical Center
Type of Activity
Announcement to build new Hospital
Loma Linda Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA
Date of Activity
20 Aug 1971
20 August 1971 to Loma Linda with President Nixon
The San Clemente CCT made many side trips while President Nixon was vacationing at the Western White House in San Clemente. These side trips were usually in and out visits that only required one central location to be installed and turned up. We would set up the radio site, Switchboard, Comm. Center, and start preparing the speech site at the Loma Linda University Medical Center! The Presidents itinerary was to arrive on Marine One, spend about two hours on the Ground and then return to San Clemente. B/C/S FM Base stations were installed at the medical center to support the USSS and White House Staff.
President Richard Nixon visited Loma Linda University, August 20, 1971 and announced the construction of a $28.9 million dollar Veterans Administration hospital in the Loma Linda area. The new Veterans Administration hospital will replace the 521- bed hospital in San Fernando, California in which 48 patients and employees died in the earth quake of February 9 1979. Shortly after the announcement was made, four southern California geologists criticized the selection of the Loma Linda site. They all felt that this area had a higher earthquake potential than most of southern California since two of the biggest earthquake faults ran within several miles of Loma Linda. They said that since 1918 there have been six quakes in the area that have been over six points on the Richter scale.
|Marine One arrives at Loma Linda Medical Center|
Speaking before 10,000 Loma Linda residents, President Nixon said that the 630-bed hospital "will be closely affiliated with the School of Medicine, an affiliation which holds great promise for future improvements in medical care for veterans. “The medical school is noted for the high quality of its medical training, for its strong support of overseas medical missions, and for its deep dedication to community service." In commending Loma Linda University, President Nixon said that "I can think of nothing that does more to make friends for America abroad than that kind of selfless service by people like those from Loma Linda.
|President Nixon announces the construction of a new VA hospital in Loma Linda Ca|
However, President Nixon said the decision to replace the hospital grew out of a "careful review which has been conducted by the administrator of veteran’s affairs and other government officials." "What this action demonstrates, in my judgment, is that we can foster social progress -with all the building and modernization that implies and at the same time enhance environmental quality.
Coming with Mr. Nixon from the Western White House was California Governor Ronald Reagan. President Nixon and Governor Reagan were flown to Loma Linda University in "Marine One," the official Presidential 'helicopter. The Presidential helicopter, flown by Lieutenant Colonel Richard A. Kuci, commanding officer of Marine Helicopter Squadron One located at Quantico, Virginia, was accompanied by two marine helicopters carrying the White House Press Corps and two similar helicopters carrying Mr. Nixon's staff. The only incidents to mar the otherwise spectacular visit were the arrest of fourteen anti-war demonstrators and the treatment of 20 visitors that were overcome with the heat.
|President Nixon remarks|
Seems like a lot of work for two hours but as soon as the President was at the point of no return from San Clemente, we started to disconnect and pack up all of our equipment for the return trip to our shop at El Toro!
August 20, 1971: President Richard Nixon came to Loma Linda with his personal announcement that the hospital would be built. This announcement came six months after an earthquake leveled VA’s San Fernando hospital killing 44 patients and staff.
June 16, 1974: Groundbreaking for the facility took place celebrating an investment of $70 million for the land and buildings.
February 14, 1975: Congressman Jerry L. Pettis died at the age of 58 in a plane crash. The Medical Center would become a memorial for the Congressman and was named the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center.
September 25, 1977: Over 5,000 people attended the Dedication Ceremonies. At the time of dedication over 200 employees were on duty with the expectation of a total of 1,515 staff and a yearly budget of $32,610,200, once the facility was fully operational. It would take 15 months to activated the Medical Center
December 27, 1977: The first patient was admitted to the facility.
|Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center Loma Linda Ca|