San Francisco’s French Connection and the Artist down at Pier 45

December saw a historic micro-moment down at Pier 45 in Fisherman’s Wharf when for the first time someone from outside the U.S. received the highest honor for his volunteer service on board the historic SS Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship.  I documented Emmanuel (Manu) Alteirac’s three month journey from the time he arrived here from Brittany, France on October 7th.  This is a beautiful example of the cultural connections between two communities more than 5,000 miles apart. Brittany is 282 miles from Paris — one of San Francisco’s sister cities.

The French Artist (and official crew member) known for being one of two modelers who made the fantastic D-Day diorama that was transported from France to the O’Brien in 2006, returned to do restoration work on the ship and to apply digital technology to historic etchings of the WWII “Miss Jerry” pinup artwork  — literally re-creating the drawings on the forward gun tubs to return both images back to their 1944 glory.  There’s both a Polynesian Miss Jerry and an American Miss Jerry.   Similar to aviation nose art (on WWII planes), the designs on board this historic Liberty Ship signify increasing morale during difficult times.

The O’Brien carried personnel and supplies to the Normandy beaches in support of the D-Day invasion and made eleven crossings of the English Channel.  Pending raising enough funds, officials with the SS Jeremiah O’Brien plan to return the ship to Normandy, France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019 (the O’Brien also returned for the 50th anniversary documented in this book).  When she sets sail for Europe in four years, Emmanuel Alteirac will be among the crew members on board.

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