Rota’s peace sign seen from space on Google Earth
Stars and Stripes March 20, 2006
It’s a tale of war and peace, but Leo Tolstoy has nothing to do with this one.
Users of the computer program Google Earth who look at the satellite image of U.S. Naval Station Rota, Spain, can’t miss the few large C-5 Galaxy aircraft sitting at the base.
Nor, does it seem, can they miss the even larger 240-foot diameter peace symbol carved in a field between the runway and five baseball/softball fields.
The peace symbol, said base spokeswoman Lt. Allie Freeman, was created at least four years ago. But the only trace of it now is in the Google image.
“By looking at the lay of the land and dating construction around the base, it seems that the symbol was imprinted pre-fall 2002,” she said. “Fleet Hospital Eight, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, was constructed in the vicinity during the fall of 2002 and the symbol was not visible subsequent to that set-up.
“So, we can conclude that the symbol was only viewable for a short period of time,” she said. “The site is now an air operations supply area.”
Three people have put what are called “placemarks” on the Google Earth image, which mark what they consider important or unique, with some noting the irony of a peace symbol imprinted on the U.S. and Spanish military base.
Clicking on the Google Earth placemark allows users to access Google Earth Community Web pages, where a handful of people have commented on the sign.
“Makes one wonder if the base commander ever looked out the window when flying in to the base? And if ‘heads rolled?’” wrote one user named Dave Mac from Florida.
“The peace sign disappeared long before the current commanding officer took command of … Rota, so he did not have the opportunity to see it in person,” Freeman said.
Nor, she said, did anyone’s “head roll.”
“The ‘artist’ did not identify himself to anyone at the … command level, and in speaking with folks around the base, no one is aware of its authorship,” she said.
While on the surface, a peace symbol on a military base may seem ironic, Freeman said Rota has seen its share of humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.
In 2003, a few dozen Rota-based U.S. Marines deployed to Liberia for peacekeeping operations, and the base hosted ships returning from the operation. And last year, base personnel provided assistance in transporting helicopters to Pakistan for earthquake relief efforts.
View the Rota peace sign
Click on image below to enlarge: