Presidio Memories: 1960s through 1970s
Most vivid Memories: My first and most vivid impressions were of the fog rolling in like dry ice over the Marin headlands; I remember not being able to sleep for the first 3 or 4 nights because of the fog horns, and after that, not being able to sleep without them. I also recall a giant white peace symbol painted on the slope between the Waldo Tunnel and the Fort.
Humorous memories: The administration building for the missile battalion was next to the medical laboratory. There was a life-size mock up of a missile in front. At holiday time it was decorated with strings of Christmas lights. It was humorous in a Dr. Strangelove sort of way.
Other Memories: One night in January 1971 two tankers collided off the Golden Gate, releasing about 800,000 gallons of oil. I remember going up to the bluffs around Battery Yates to see the oil along the shoreline at the Fort and out towards Angel Island. Volunteers attempted to soak up oil that washed ashore at Rodeo Beach by laying down straw..The Fort Baker gymnasium was used as a bird cleaning station.
There was a retired first sergeant who worked at the medical lab in a civilian capacity. He lived in the barracks during the week and on weekends went up to his home at Lake Tahoe. He also tended the gardens between the Med. Lab buildings. They were really beautiful gardens - always something in bloom: roses, iris, nasturtiums, fuchsia, and geraniums. He liked to entertain us green recruits with fascinating stories of Army life in the 1930s, of being captured by the enemy during the Korean War, and of receiving a battlefield commission. He was an interesting character. He told us he was a descendant of Mungo Park, the Scottish explorer.
During my time at Fort Baker, I had a part-time job at a restaurant at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. The kitchen window looked out across the Bay towards Alcatraz. At night it was always pitch dark. Then one night, for the first time, I noticed a bright beacon light on the Island. The historic occupation of the Island by a group of Native Americans had ended and the Alcatraz lighthouse was back in operation!
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Writing and developing the communication portion for the COSMOS project under the Army chief of staff. Working as a bartender at the Letterman NCO Club. There where two NCO clubs on post, Letterman was the one to go to. On the week ends the doors where shut at ten PM. Myself, Trig, Leroy, Al were the main bartenders. Harold W. Smith was the master at arms. I was married at that time but separated from my wife. I had one son born at letterman. If you went to the Letterman NCO club at the time I was there you would have to know me. Sly Stone appeared at the club many times. I worked with Trig, Leroy, Al and Harold. We had a great time at Letterman. I am hoping to get in contact with Cassandra Smith. She posted a note on your web site. She was trying to get information on her father. After reading her request, I tried to E-mail her. The address is no longer valid. I hope that she comes back to the web page and reads this posting. I know her mother, Marcia Smith. If anyone else remembers me E-mail me. I also read Mabel Brodie's entry on the NPS web site. I tried to E-mail her but the address was also invalid. If the NPS has any contact information for Cassandra or Mabel, let me know.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: As a buck Sgt. 95c I was in charge of all prisoner shipments from stockade. Cpt. Jimmy L. Jones ran the stockade with a firm hand. I could not have asked for a better man to work for. We walked down Lombard and Van Ness every night just to see San Francisco at night.
Other Memories: In the summer we made the walk to Muir Beach every weekend, bathing suits optional. I always got a ride back with the hippie girls. On a boat cruise around Alcatraz one weekend afternoon was shot at by Indians. Boat right ahead of us had window broken with slingshot.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I was drafted by the US Army in 1972 during the Vietnam War. While stationed in Germany I informed my CO that I would re-up if I could get stationed anywhere in CA. I was sent to the Presidio of San Francisco. The post was breath taking. I was assigned to the DIO Office as the facility NCO at the Headquarter Company, US Army, Garrison. The duty was dress uniform 8-4 M-F weekends off. I facilitated a building, bedding, clothing, etc. for the Vietnam/American orphans sent to the United States so they would not be killed in Vietnam.
Humorous memories: I met my future wife at the Presidio of San Francisco. She made me an appointment with the post chaplain. Upon my arrival at the Presidio Post Chapel I was unaware that I would be counseled on marriage. We have now been happily married for thirty-three years. We returned to the Presidio in the 1980's to show our children were their parents first fell in love.
Other Memories: My enlisted quarters were within walking distance to Bakers Beach. I could look out my living room window and watch seals sun bathing on the rock formations in the San Francisco Bay. I recall parking my 1972 Dodge Charger near Crissy Field at the motor pool to pick up my official US Army vehicle. I held a part time job as a bartender at the Presidio Officers Club. We also had the good fortune to sail in the San Francisco Bay out of Sausalito, California.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I was a parachute rigger I worked almost under the Golden Gate Bridge. We would go to the airstrip and board a plane and jump out on the other side of the bay. I think the aircraft was a U6A Beaver, it would hold 3 jumpers. The riots I lived in downtown SF, watching fire trucks ride on the streets with machine guns mounted on top.
Humorous memories: I was so poor that I would ask for KP (kitchen patrol) just so that I could eat from the mess hall. I retired in 1985 as a 1st SGT. When my wife was about to have the baby and I was driving her to letterman general hospital and I hit allot of bumps in the road.
Other Memories: My daughter was born at Letterman General Hospital; she is now 41 years old.
Most vivid Presidio memories: On patrol, unit 1-2, we were called on an early Sunday morning to Baker Beach to assist San Francisco Fire Department in a rescue attempt of a little girl and her dad from drowning. We had no luck, as the undertow was just too bad. We almost lost a fireman that day as well.
Humorous memories: Catching two completely naked women in the backseat of a car and them telling me that one of them was teaching the other one how to drive, an automobile!
Other Memories: Spending time in Letterman General Hospital after knee surgery. I was on a floor (maybe 8?) that had a lot of amputees on it. They were all so upbeat about their situation. We played spades everyday in the solarium and a couple of the aids would smuggle wine to us. Boy could those guys fly around in their wheelchairs.
Most vivid Presidio memories: There are so many, the day the first POW arrived after being released, we stood looking out of the upper floor windows watching the guys return to the real world, and then taking care of them. I was a Corpsmen back then it didn’t matter if you where a man or women. Then there was operation baby lift seeing all those children it was overwhelming as a very young girl.
Humorous Memories: The day me and my best friend, convinced a new Captain Dr, that the tube system in the hospital that took lab request ETC: was ran by a little old man on the 11th floor of lettermen, and he believed us until someone told him different, we laughed for days over that.
Other Memories: I met and married my husband at there. We came to know each other at a bar outside the main gate called the Yacht Harbor. It was a place that looked like an after hours post bar, a fun place. I had no idea he was an officer until he asked me out for lunch and I told him to pick me up at LAMC. I was NCO of the outpatient dept I almost fainted when he showed up in uniform CW3 Dillingham who ran the rigger shed on the post. He had no idea I was active duty. It worked out and we married, and then retired married twenty seven years until his death in 1999. There are to many things I remember in my head to name and write them all. From my first view of the post all the parades, life in general there a whole different world. Part of me stayed there when I left for the last time in 1981. I wish some day to return and share this part of my past with my new husband.
Humorous Memories: My pals got a kick out of my Maine accent and the fact that I came from a small town.
Other Memories: I got married at The Presidio.
Your most vivid Presidio Memories: Being responsible for supervising the Casualty Notification Office during the Vietnam War. My next tour of duty was in Vietnam with the 1st Air Cav.
Humorous memories: Not many.
Other Memories: This was my first duty station after my wife and I were married. She passed away in 1997.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Standing in the cold fog shrouded air for morning formation, shivering cold, and hearing the fog horns on the bay. What was your connection with the Presidio: Assigned there prior to overseas deployment. The wonderful civilians that worked on the post at that time.
The first memory that comes to mind one afternoon on the far end of the parade field was a ball diamond and there was a fast pitch softball game in progress. Col Panke and I watched from the window for a while. He then suggested that we go over and watch from the bleachers. Well, by this time the game was close to the end and our team was behind. There were men on base and we were towards the end of the batting lineup. Col Ranke walks out to our manager and says could you use a pitch hitter and looks at me. So there I am in my dress uniform, necktie and everything. This pitcher was really fast and wanted to dust me off with the first two pitches. So the count is 2 and 0. When I was younger the coach would always say "just meet the ball" and that's what I did, over the left-center fence. What a thrill in front of the home team! And, yes, we won the game. I was the talk of the company for a long time.
Humorous Memories: I had a part-time job working at a gas station. The owner said I could use his facilities to do work on cars as long as “I didn't steal from him.” Well, here's where the story picks up. There was a guy named Rich who would hang around trying to make a buck. One day he pulls up with a trailer load of used tires. "Hey, Rich, what are you going to do with those tires?" Well, you have the equipment and skill to change tires and I'm going to bring in the business. "How's that, Rich?" He pulls out a sack of roofing nails and says get ready. He goes out of the exit after the toll gate for southbound and from the right-hand lane sprinkles the other two lanes with those nails. Well, I'm the first gas station they come to and boy does he flatten some tires, some cars with two or three. We sold all those used tires by closing time and I still laugh to myself thinking about that day, such a dirty trick.
Other Memories: Our helicopter pilots needed to get so many hours in each month to receive flight pay. Well, some weeks the Colonel would be out inspecting the NIKE batteries in the Bay Area, so one day this pilot comes in who I had come to know says, "Do you want to take a little trip? I know of this nudist camp not too far away." Well, I had never been in a small yellow helicopter before. "Well, here, put this orange jumpsuit on and you'll be good to go." Well, up, up, and away we go, what a thrill! Well, as luck would have it down south the fog was too thick to see much but we did get down close enough to chase the seals off the rocks. Coming back we did fly under the Golden Gate Bridge just for fun. If you ever get the chance to fly it's a lot of fun.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Lots of great memories, doing physical training over the Golden Gate Bridge, along Crissy Field, the great friends that I met there. Hearing the ocean at night outside my window.
Humorous memories: Playing hacky sack on the side of the rode, being pushed over bubble wrapped in my chair down in the bunker.
Other Memories: I will never forget all the great friends I met there, I wish I did not lose contact with so many of them, like Monica and Robin and so many others. Some of the best memories of my life are from the great Presidio.
Most Vivid Presidio Memories: The death of John f. Kennedy, the friends I had at the Presidio and the neighborhood bars outside the gate, the fun we had. The adventures of going place to place in the city of San Francisco’s nightlife, traveling across the Golden Gate Bridge four times a day while working at Fort Cronkhite. The fantastic food, drinks and scenery in San Francisco. I miss the many civilian friends I met during my pleasurable experiences.
Humorous Memories: The old bartenders and civilians I use to associate and party with, they were humorous and fun memories.
Other Memories: the beautiful scenery of the presidio itself and looking at Alcatraz island in the morning when getting up for our daily duties, so much more.
Most vivid Presidio Memories:The beauty of the post and the feeling of history.
Humorous Memories: Helping sneak pizza in to patients who were back from Vietnam and restricted from leaving Lettermen General Hospital.
Other Memories: While I was a patient at Lettermen General Hospital I remember the great staff at the hospital and the friends I made.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I was stationed in 1966 as Survivor Assistance Officer. My assignment was very difficult. One reason the assignment was difficult is the fact that I had just been married before being assigned to the Presidio. My wife and I loved the area and our memories are very strong considering I was transferred to Vietnam with the 1st Calvary the next year.My wife passed away in 1997, so there is no one left to share these memories with.
Humorous Memories:We lived across the street from the zoo, on our first night we didn’t know about the zoo or its location. We woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of hundreds of wild animals, the Monkeys and Elephants were the loudest.
Other Memories:I attended almost 100 funerals; due to my position in the military and the fact that I knew I was on my way to Vietnam myself. Another memory is going to Sausalito for the first time and having dinner at Scomas and Ondines.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Waking up and seeing the Golden Bridge from my barrack's window. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and patrol the missile silos at Fort Cronkhite and Fort Barry. Crossing the Bay Bridge and patrol the Oakland Army Terminal. Dating a pretty nurse stationed at Letterman Hospital. Never saw her again after I crossed the pond to Nam in 1969. Have always wondered what happened to her.
Humorous memories: A buddy coming in one night drunk and trying to find his bunk buck naked. This guy was wasted. Got his orders to Nam that morning. He survived VN. Walking back to the main post along Lombard one night after watching a movie with my nurse girlfriend, having her tell me she wanted a doughnut and coffee and no dough in my pocket. She forgave me and kindly picked up the tab for both of us. I did pay for the movies.
Other Memories: Having breakfast at the exchange cafeteria along the bay by Letterman Hospital. What a view! Watching the hippies in Haight/Ashbury. Quite a trip. Hanging out with a buddy named DiAugustino. Don't remember his first name though. One of a few enlisted who had a car on post. Too many others to write here. Hope to hear from any others who may remember me. One more thing. I've never seen a more beautiful post that this one.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The Presidio was a beautiful place. When I worked the day shift in the pharmacy I looked forward to the drive in from Marin County. As soon as I exited the last tunnel I would have an excellent view of the city unless it was shrouded by fog with the tops of the bridge supports being all that could be seen. My wife and I often went up Mount Tamalpias to watch the sun set in the Pacific Ocean and on one occasion played in the snow. My oldest son was born at LAMC and the nurses, though always efficient and friendly, paid special attention to my wife and son, treating them as family. One memory in particular was an early drive into the Presidio and I observed a large vessel approaching the bridge so I drove down to Crissy Field and there, through a fine mist and lifting fog, I watched the Enterprise come into the bay under the Golden Gate Bridge. I still remember that sight with a sense of awe. I could have been posted to any number of Army medical facilities but I believe none finer than LAMC.
Humorous memories: I was a candidate for soldier of the month and I believe I would have won had I known the answer to the question - "How many trucks are there on post?". I was a little dense and did not know that meant flag poles.
Other Memories: The Presidio was my only permanent duty station while on active duty. I lived off post with my wife in an apartment in San Rafael for 6 months and then I was able to get a two bedroom house at the old Hamilton Air Force base in Novato for the remainder of my posting. I was a 91Q, Pharmacy Technician, stationed at LGH (Letterman General Hospital) and was there when the name changed to LAMC (Letterman Army Medical Center).
Most vivid Presidio Memories:The friends that I made. The misty, drizzly day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The hospital and the Presidio were all very quiet and sad. It was as though no one wanted to say or do anything and maybe we would find out that it was all a dream.
Humorous memories: I was in a club in Fremont with some friends and someone in the club started a fight. All of a sudden one of the participants in the fight flew across our table and broke my glasses. Needless to say, my next day at work was full of jokes.
Other Memories: The beautiful Presidio. There was and is no place like it.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: This was my first time away from home on my own. After a month there dating for the first time in my life, I soon met my husband to be, which I was not looking for. He informed me that in a month he was going to ask me to marry him, that he WAS going to marry me. I thought, yea right, I wasn't looking to be married. But he did and I accepted. We will be married 37yrs this July, 2008. Happily too I might add and 2 sons grown married and 1 granddaughter adopted and beautiful. I was meant to be there to meet MY HUSBAND. Presidio was a Beautiful Military base, would love to see it again and see what changes have been made since closing as a Mil base.
Humorous memories: My Husband to be, doing Doughnuts in his 1971 Light blue & white Dodge Super Bee just inside the Gates on a wet road with a fellow barracks mate of mine and scaring her to death when she was encouraging him all the time...and never rode with us again...
Other Memories: There are many, Good and even bad. Bad being the worst you could imagine involving a birth of a child...
Most vivid Presidio Memories: the awesome fog storms that would roll in & out the time spent with buddies to whom I am trying to connect with.
Other Memories: my son was born there
Most vivid Presidio Memories: All the weekly parades, working MP duty and other special details. Going to Camp Roberts for TDY duty and training. Working armed forces Police at San Francisco airport and downtown San Francisco
Humorous memories: PT in the fog
Other Memories: Going across Golden Gate Bridge to Fort Baker
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I was lucky enough to be assigned to PSF to complete my AIT 91C clinical specialist school. I was also the last of the Women’s Army Corps members, our corps was retired in 1975 and we became one Army. It was the tail end of Vietnam and we saw a lot of returning casualties, it was not a good time for an active duty soldier in SF. However I have never felt more proud and committed to my cause as I was then. Not bad for Latina from the Mission, who graduated from Poly and attended San Francisco State. HOOAH!
Humorous memories: Watching my fellow soldiers faces as Lettermen rocked on rollers during a strong wind or an earthquake.
Other Memories: After Lettermen closed I walked in, took the elevator to the 10th floor, walked to the Solarium and cried; the end of an era.
Contributed by: Michael J. Hanlon
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My memories as a child are somewhat bleak. I remember my younger brother Patrick passing away. On the brighter side, I remember great days in the playground.
Humorous memories: As an 97B I had an alternative AGO card that showed by as a Department of the Army civilian. I went TDY from Ft. Lewis to the Presidio for the NCO Academy. I was able to sneak into the Officer's club. I had a great time until my CO (who was visiting the 115th MI Headquarters) spotted me. I ended up having to explain my failure to use sound military intelligence tactics for successful infiltration AND I had to buy a couple of O-6's drinks.
Posted: February 2008
Most vivid Presidio memories: My most vivid memory of Presidio is the view of the fog covering the water with the tips of the Golden Gate shinning in the morning sun. And as the day progressed the damp, cold chill gave way to a warmer day with the fog lifting to the majestic views of the bridge and the hills of Marin County. Coming from a small town in Texas and doing basic training at Ft. Polk, La., Presidio wasn’t like any Army post that I had ever seen.
Humorous memories: There were several of what I consider humorous events and perhaps that was just my attitude but one in particular centered on a robbery at the post theatre. The dispatcher was a little confused and sent all units to cover the major gates of the open post. Our unit was working near Storey Ave. so he sent us to Marina Gate, the unit covering main post was sent to 15th gate and one covering near Presidio Gate was sent to 101 exit to the Golden Gate. Lights and sirens passing each other like the Keystone Cops. It was amazing and never did catch ‘em. Another interesting event centered on Peterson and Kelley stopping a vehicle on Mason St. near the airfield. This was a good straight a way and the vehicle was stopped for speeding. The driver said he was a guard at San Quentin and wouldn’t be given a ticket so he immediately tore it up and threw it on the ground. Well, he was immediately given a citation for littering which he disposed of again. The judge sentenced him to police call one Saturday morning all along Baker Beach accompanied by Kelley and Peterson.
Other memories: Other memories include guarding the general’s quarters, patrolling Ft. Baker and Ft. Cronkite, the tunnel, prisoner escorts for work detail at the commissary, sitting all night with prisoners at Letterman, guard duty at the bunkers above Ft. Cronkite, guard duty at the motor pool (it was damp, cold and listening to the fog horns), KP duty, directing traffic on Lincoln Blvd, main post and saluting so many generals, bird colonels were a dime a dozen at 6th Army, writing parking tickets on my scooter, a member of honor guards at parades, the funeral that we did at a small town near Reno, the training month, the MP duty month and the detail month, the caravan to Travis AFB to help the AP’s control a riot, riot control training, taking a group of prisoners from the stockade to Ft. Lewis, WA., playing the slots at the airport with the Chaplain behind you giving a blessing, and aircraft carriers going under the Golden Gate. This was such a special time in my life. Married just 4 months, 22 years old and stationed at this post, was a honeymoon, an adventure, a vacation with more to do and see and we took every advantage of it. We made life long friends and some friends that we’ve lost track of through the years. But what a blessing for us and yet again we saw some leave for Vietnam during this time and never knew if they returned. So as the song goes, “I left my heart in .... Presidio”.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Walking through the gates in my uniform, and my peers protesting outside ... an odd feeling; opposite spectrums.
Humorous memories: Before inspection, we would throw empty coke bottles into the palm trees outside of our barracks. When it would storm, they would come tumbling down.
We went to the officer's club one night; the theme was Hawaiian-based; Tiki, etc. One of my friends (drunk) lifted a big shield off the wall and walked out with it.
Another girlfriend was drinking (seemed like that was happening a lot!) was standing on the 2nd floor of the barracks. She leaned over and threw up on her sergeant!.
Other Memories: I was in Letterman Hospital with mononucleosis.
Johnny Mathis' brother took the toll on the Golden Gate Bridge, and people paid the toll for the person behind them ... I had never seen a person of another race before.
It was quite culture shock....coming from a little town in Maine to San Francisco, at the height of the Vietnam War, hippies, peace, love, drugs, etc.
I was not at the Presidio for the post closing. I felt/feel terrible that it did close, and become UN-military.
(Formerly Sergeant Borgen)
Most vivid Presidio Memories: When we rotated from line duty into a month of stockade duty. That was very eye-opening, dramatic, and gave a real perspective on life.
Humorous memories: When the "Old Man" would shout out those commands in formation, and the fog was so thick, he couldn't see us even if we scratched our noses or whatever.
Other Memories: Broke my back in a freak accident, and spent weeks in Letterman General gettin' the BEST care anywhere! Made lots of friends there too. Introduced my nurse, Lt Connie Garcia to my CO Cpt George Allport, and they later married!
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I had returned to CONUS from a three year tour of duty in FRG. I only had a few months left until discharge and was posted to the Presidio, which was, I was told, the #1 choice of assignment in the Army. I loved my time there.
Humorous memories: My friend SP/5 Bill ("Wild-Bill) G. riding in from Marin over the GGB on his motorcycle having his service hat blow off and making a u-turn on the bridge to retrieve it. The following day he did it again, setting a record for u-turns on the GGB that stands to this day. Finding out that we were on a world-wide military alert due to the Yom Kipper War by watching the evening news, not via military channels.
Other Memories:I "owed" Uncle Sam 6 months after I returned from a three-year tour of duty in FRG. At first I didn't want to go to San Francisco because of the potential earthquake situation, and the City's reputation for weirdness.It took me two weeks to fall in love with the place.I would go back today if I could.
I loved having breakfast in the PX snack bar with the entire Golden Gate Bridge in view through the windows.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Enjoying my job with the MP battalion. The lovely place to live and work all of SF.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: It was one of the most beautiful Army bases anywhere! Like a country club with its lush forest and green grass.
Humorous memories: Shortly after arriving on base, I ventured off-post and wandered into a "gay" bar without knowing it. In uniform, I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb. Didn't stay long and never returned. (HA!)
Other Memories: It was great duty being assigned to the MI Group there. Great bunch of guys to work with. I also played on the post softball team--made lots of friends, but, unfortunately have lost touch with most of them. I want to return to the Presidio soon to see the changes over the past 30+ years.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The sun rising in the morning and the reflection in the East Bay. At night the East Bay looked like a giant birthday cake.
Other Memories: The guys that were stationed there with me. We had such good times. I hope they are all doing well.
I enjoyed going into San Francisco and riding the cable cars, going to Candlestick Park for Giants games and Kezar Stadium for 49ers games.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My last duty was with the Military Intelligence group and my office window faced the GGB. That view pangs at my heart … it was a spectacular and memorable place to work and live.
Humorous memories: Living in the barracks as a barracks sgt. - the ridiculous attempts to get 50 women to listen to what you had to say!
Other Memories: I bought my first car while on Presidio (an Arrow!). The dances, the walks, how fortunate I was.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: As a medical student I was on a military scholarship, and did two rotations at Letterman Army Center - pediatrics and physical medicine. At the very beginning of my military medical career, I was very disappointed when LAMC was picked for closure and I was never able to serve a tour there. I ended up at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Colorado, and that hospital was closed also in 1995.
Humorous memories: As a medical student, I was working late one night and "rounded up" by a LTC who was GEN Omar Bradley's aide-de-camp. GEN Bradley was a patient at Letterman and apparently wanted to play cards. (It was about 1 AM in the morning.) As a West Point graduate myself, I was really excited about the opportunity to interact with GEN Bradley. When I arrived at his room, he had fallen asleep and I was not able to greet GEN Bradley nor play cards. What a story that would have been.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The MP Battalion stayed very busy in those days: Funeral details (20 or so a week), Riot Control training, Retirement parades, prisoner escorts, color guard details, motor stables, inspections, range firing. There were only 5 lieutenants in the battalion instead of 12, so we were kept very busy. Lieutenants pulled lots of all night extra duties such as Provost Marshal Duty Officer, Battalion Duty Officer, Stockade Duty Officer.
Humorous memories: We put the entire battalion on alert for an expected anti-war protest at the main gate. It turned out to be a few old ladies who wanted to present a cake to the 6th Army Commander.
Other Memories: I returned to PSF in 1986, assigned to Post Headquarters as a major. The MP battalion had recently left, and the post seemed almost empty with so few troops assigned compared to 1970. One of the memorable experiences was assisting the production of the Sean Connery movie, "The Presidio." I was stunned when PSF was ordered closed by the first BRAC Commission in 1988. I still visit occasionally to remember it all the way it was. Presidio was the best post the Army ever had.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I remember the 4th of July there the Base was packed with around 80,000 people.
Humorous memories: I worked animal control and I got a skunk trapped in the net trying to relocate it. I got sprayed and stunk up the whole barracks. I went into the Military police station and the mild-mannered Desk Sergeant North asked me rather impolitely to get out. I can laugh now about I, but at the time the all-leather police gear had to be turned-in to be destroyed because I could not get the smell out of it.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The fog coming across the Golden Gate, watching storms come in from the ocean. Listening to the fog horn and the waves breaking at night. The brightly colored sails of boats racing in the bay.
Other Memories: The street performers at the Cannery and Pier 39.Walking down to Baker Beach from our quarters with my wife and sons. Watching them play "keep-away" with the waves.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: What a beautiful post. This post changed my life forever. I married my beautiful wife who was also stationed at the Presidio. She was Army, too. We have now been married 45 years; three wonderful sons, and five grandchildren.
Humorous memories: I was often assigned to bus all the military kids off the post to school, or take a load of WACs down to Chinatown for a parade. The most fun was we ate in the same mess hall, must have been the food, two of my buddies did the same, married WACs and are still together.
Other Memories: I made soldier of the month and was a pretty good trooper.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The Presidio being such a beautiful place ... almost a "wilderness" surrounded by city. The view of the Golden Gate from the barracks past Crissy field. I also cherish the memories of working in the little theater on post. I worked in three of four shows and really enjoyed it. Even won a trophy in the All Army Dramatic Reading competition for second place.
Humorous memories: The barracks were at the east end of Crissy field and the helicopters made an approach from the east, to land, making such a vibration you had to grab your shaving equipment or it would vibrate into the sink or onto the floor.
Other Memories: I remember very few people that I worked with. I remember a lot of faces but the names are lost to history.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My duty hours at the Presidio were spent in the Courier Transfer Station where we received top secret material from South Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines, held it temporarily in our vault and then redistributed it up and down the West Coast and to Washington, D.C.
Humorous memories: I remember flying out of Crissy Field in a helicopter piloted by a Vietnam vet. We first flew under the Golden Gate Bridge to Mt. Tam. Then we flew down the coast, so low that fishermen on the beach were hitting the deck. On our way back up the Peninsula, we flew inland over swimming pools where the pilot knew where to find the nude sunbathers.
Other Memories: I met my wife at Letterman where she worked in the Civil Service. We were married in the Presidio’s Catholic Church on 9/9/66 and had our reception in the Officers' Club next door.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I think the most vivid memory I have is having the free time to explore The City and areas in and around the Presidio. I was in the military during the Vietnam war and was fortunate to be stationed here during this conflict.
Humorous memories: Short sheeting the reservists that would come in the summer for 2 rough weeks of training at the Presidio. Yeah, right!
Other Memories: The friendships I made with the others stationed here.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The splendor of the Presidio, the location, the city and the feeling of being so lucky to be assigned to that location. These were pre-Vietnam times, pre-Hippie times of innocence. There are many lingering memories. Finding that I was bored to death giving psychiatric tests. Being selected by Letterman doctors to become the Respiratory Tech when a vacancy occurred. Working in the X-ray lab filing film when it was announced President Kennedy had been shot. Being a member of the Letterman Hospital golf team traveling the West Coast representing the Presidio and Letterman General Hospital. Never getting to finish a practice round on the Presidio Golf Course because the fog came in before we would finish. The NCO club on the beach just steps from our barracks. (we thought it was just for us). Standing outside of the barracks looking under the fog at the sunny weather on the Marin/Oakland side of the bay. Playing football on the Marina Green in sight of the Palace of Fine Arts. And seeing that magnificent bridge every day when I got up and looked out of the window! I guess the most vivid memory is coming under the Golden Gate Bridge on a troop ship passing by our former barracks, seeing the Palace of Fine Arts and the seeing City from the water on my return from 16 months in Korea. That was special!
Humorous memories: Climbing over the wall after curfew, jumping into the total black of night and breaking my foot. Going to The Pierce Street Annex bar early on the weekends for free hot dogs, staying until evening watching football. Leaving when they started to stamp peoples hands so we could get back in at night, without having an ID. Driving from San Francisco to LA in the fog on the coastal highway so we might get home for Christmas because SF had been fogged in for 4 days, it worked too. We actually made it and got home for the holidays. Getting the Hospital Pharmacist to get us 151-proof alcohol in 4-oz prescription bottles with cough syrup labels on them. Carrying our pass with us 24 hours a day seemed very special, having been in other military bases. Wearing civvies except at work and never having inspections or KP duty.
Other Memories: Muir woods made a lasting impression on me as did Lombard St and the cable cars. We would go downtown, on our way back to the barracks we would not get on at the turnaround. We would get on a couple of blocks up when the car was full, hang off the front and never acknowledge the conductor asking for money. Ride for free in the height of the Holiday season. Easter on Fisherman’s Wharf eating prawns and Dungeness crab was always a treat. Working in the Psych Ward, participating as a technician in Psychiatric Electrical Shock Treatments for mentally disturbed patients was almost as hard on me as it was for them. Going to the Monterey Peninsula on a Saturday in Feb. to the beach and Sunday going to Yosemite to see the snow before heading out to Korea. My last fling. We only made it to Chinaman’s Camp as we had no snow chains.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: 05:30 Formations and hearing the fog horns from the bay while the fog drifted across the grounds, and feeling the extreme damp chill in the air.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The overall peace and quite, smells of the trees and the view of the greater bay, the City and Golden Gate.
Humorous memories: The night when a friend fell out of the second story window when drunk and was never injured.
Other Memories: I was assigned to the same barracks which my father was assigned in 1939. When he visited me and showed him where my bunk was he said that he slept in the same area also that the only changes made to the building was tiles on the floors and stalls in the latrine.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The fog and hearing of the ships out at sea, and having barracks that overlooked the golden gate bridge.
Humorous memories: The transition of being in a strict military environment on base and off base being downtown San Francisco the hippy capital of the world.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: We were in charge of the missiles that lined the coast of California. Our barracks were like fancy dorm rooms. We played softball, flag football and baseball. Ken Bly and I coached the Babe Ruth team.
Humorous memories: Getting caught in the rip tides on Baker Beach. It just about got us. Also, getting fried on a hazy day, no sun but big sunburn.
Other Memories: Presidio duty was the best in the Army, bar none. We went to work at 7:30 and got off at 4:30. The barracks was small, a couple of floors with 4 bays. 16 to a bay, we were like family. I still see a couple of guys from the unit.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Pulling Duty Officer in brigade headquarters at Fort Scott on foggy nights and hearing the ship horns as they approached the Golden Gate.
Humorous memories: I bought a motorcycle and occasionally rode it work in uniform. The only helmet I could afford was a used one that had flowers and the peace symbol painted on it. The first time my commander saw me drive up, he suggested I get another helmet.
Other Memories: The Presidio was arguably the prettiest post in the Army, and has a long and rich history. I consider myself very fortunate to have served there. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: We were an aviation company, about thirty people total including officers, E.M. and Wacs. Our assignment was Crissy Field. The WACs were in the control tower and I was the ranking E.M. in flight operations. Most of the officers were pilots returning from overseas who were getting out soon also. My boss was a West Point captain who got out about a month before me. I saved a lot of money in 'Nam so I had a new Corvair convertable to drive around San Francisco. Traffic wasn't bad then. The entire northern California coast was a great place to tour. To be honest, we didn't have a lot to do so we got a lot of time off. We would trade duty with each other and get four or five days off in a row to go camping at Yosemite or up to the Russian River. It was a great place to be stationed and all the "short timers" considered it a thank you from the Army. We had a picture of the Golden Gate with footage markings on the upright supports. As the fog moved in we could tell how low it was by looking at the bridge and comparing it to our "picture chart". If I could have remained at the Presidio I would have reenlisted but I knew I'd wind up back in Vietnam. I knew people don't think anything was going on over there at that time, but I have some buddies on the wall...it just didn't make the news then.
Humorous memories: Some of the short-time pilots used to fly L-19's under the bridge. Sometimes we'd get a call from some officer saying "tell that hotdog if he does it again he'll be arrested" but I don't think anything was ever done to anyone. They were mostly guys from other locations returning to their home base. It would have been a pain in the butt to track them down. Our C.O. and X.O. would fly up to Washington State and bring back bushels of apples sometimes...but I'm sure they were also conducting Army business.
Other Memories: Broadway was clean and safe in 1964, a real tourist area. To make extra money I tended bar at Mike's Pool Hall, we only had beer and wine so it wasn't too hard. This was the area of coffee houses, bars and clubs like the Purple Onion and Big Al's where the dance the "swim" came from. There was also a place named the Red Balloon that had a slide from the sidewalk down to the basement where there was an indoor amusement park that served drinks. A national beer company did a TV commercial there. I've been told it's not the place to go today.
On Sunday afternoons we'd go to Fisherman's Wharf and drink dark beer and join the sing- alongs in the German bar. Fresh shrimp from a vendor on the sidewalk. I took my kids back there in 1982 and found a McDonalds next door, I almost threw-up.
Our unit was also in charge of a 50 foot boat docked in Sausalito. The story was it was originally a Coast Guard boat, but I have no idea how it was obtained. A PFC in our unit was licensed and in charge of it, and it was used to take doctors from Letterman and V.I.P.'s on fishing trips or just sightseeing. I worked as mate a few times. It was a great way to see the area. Alcatraz was not open to the public then and on one trip around it a voice came over a loud speaker and said "you're too close, leave the area immediately", we did.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I was in charge of a detail which opened and secured all of the old battery casemates and bunkers. I still shouldn't probably tell what all we found in there...
Humorous memories: Hitchhiking to Sausalito to the turtle races at Zacks and all the other neat bars there. Also walking down Lombard to the Swiss Village where I worked a little part time.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Coming out of the commissary and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge.
Other Memories: Children playing in Golden Gate Park and on the shore. Traveling to Oakland; San Rafael; and Travis AFB.
Contributed by: James A. Swansen
E-mail address: email@example.com
Age at the time: 23
Did not live on the post.
MILITARY: Captain, company Commander of Company C.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: From my office I viewed the San Francisco Bay Bridge on a daily basis. I enjoyed being a Company Commander at Company C for the duration of my tour at Presidio.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I was stationed at Letterman after completing the Clinical Specialist Course. The old hospital was still in use, the upper and lower wards accessed by long indoor ramps. We were either huffing and puffing when we pushed gurneys up those ramps, or fighting to prevent runaway carts on the downslope. The new hospital opened about a year after I arrived, and I was one of the luckiest of all - assigned to 10 West, the top floor, with a solarium that faced the sunset over the water. What a beautiful assignment! The Presidio was like a perfectly manicured park, and the new hospital was such a contrast to the old! Everything clean, new, and functional! I'd always thought Letterman and the Presidio would 'always be there', and was shocked to read that the Presidio is now a National Park!
Humorous memories: I remember a few of us girls borrowed the bicycles the WAC detachment had available for our use and we rode down to Fort Mason, finding out only as we started down the hill that none of the bikes had brakes!
Other Memories: The war protestors were active when I was there, often congregating outside the gates. I remember seeing the hippies downtown and in Golden Gate Park and stopping to listen to the street musicians. I also remember the mournful sounds of the foghorns.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I arrived at the Presidio in October 1968 after a thirteen-month tour with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. In Korea I was a medic with 2/72 Armor. At the Presidio I was assigned to Letterman General Hospital as a ward corpsman full-time and my collateral duty was as a flight medic one week a month. My most vivid memory is flying into and out of Crissy Field in a CH 34 helicopter. The chopper had big pontoons attached to the wheels so we could fly over water. We would fly mostly to Travis Air Force Base to pick up the wounded who had been evacuated from Vietnam via Japan, Hawaii, etc. We would fly them back to Crissy Field and transport them to the hospital in a Crackerbox ambulance. The view flying over the Golden Gate Bridge was awesome. Occasionally we would fly over "occupied" Alcatraz when the Native American activists took control of the island.
Humorous memories: I was discharged from active duty in February 1970. Several of us were getting out on the same day and decided to party the night before. During our party we decided to symbolically dump our uniforms in a dipsy dumster. The next day when we reported to the Oakland Army Depot to process out, we were told we had to turn in all our uniforms. We begged the E-7 in charge to give us a break and he finally relented...almost. We had to go back to San Francisco and get our field jackets and turn them in before they would discharge us from active duty. I think we broke the world's record for the trip between Oakland to S.F. and back.
Other Memories: My best memory though was the day I met my future wife. I was the assistant ward master on 9-west in the new hospital. She was a brand new 2LT nurse. I had to orient her to the ward. It was love at first sight (for me anyway). We finally got together and then had to keep from getting caught (fraternization). She ended up getting orders to Vietnam. We got back together after her tour in Nam and we've been together ever since. We were married in the Presidio Chapel. We celebrate our 34th this May.
I often remember the NCO club that was on the bay. It was right on the beach very near the Medical Company barracks. You could sit in the club and look out at the Golden Gate Bridge. I guess now that's all gone and part of the National Seashore.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Having been born in California and having spent most of my life in Wisconsin, assignment to the Presidio was like being home. I fell in love with San Francisco; a love that lasts to this day. Unfortunately, rather than return to Vietnam for another tour as a courier I reluctantly left the Army, but the smell of the Bay and the ambiance of the officers club will forever live in my memory.
Humorous memories: Waking Lt. General Stanley R. Larsen at 2 a.m. with a message and having him ask me "Lieutenant, do you ever expect a promotion to Captain? Waking me in the middle of the night is not the way to do it." He was, of course, joking. He was a gracious, warm, and extremely attentive man who I deeply respect.
Other Memories: Crissy Field and the twin-engine Beechcraft we had assigned for our use and the Major (who shall remain unnamed) who let me fly the thing without a license!
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The dental work that the army interns did on me. I would have rather gone back to the war!
Humorous memories: Cruising Turk and Eddy Streets in San Francisco and having my car broken into every night. I had to take the coil wire out to keep it from being stolen. But they managed to steal it anyway.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: 1. Standing for reveille each morning and seeing the top of the Golden Gate Bridge - often shrouded in fog. 2. Policing the area after reveille. 3. While marching in a parade through San Francisco we were exhibiting our fancy twirling of M-14 rifles. While returning my rifle to a parade rest it slipped out of my hand. The civilian crowd, not particularly appreciative of the military at that time, really enjoyed my accident.
Humorous memories: While on patrol after midnight my partner and I were sent to 6th Army headquarters to investigate a break-in. We found a passed-out drunk street person. We got him off the floor and semi-conscious. While patting him down I thought I'd found a weapon in his pocket but pulled out a giant dill pickle.
Other Memories: Walking through San Francisco on a sunny day. Visiting Ghiradelli Square and watching the people play bocci ball. Helping to turn the streetcar around.
Contributed by: Dennis Sherer
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lived off the post
Was in the military with a rank of SP5. Was connected to the Presidio by the 91C school.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: When I arrived in S.F. Nov 1969, the only place I could afford as a SP4 was in Haight Ashbury district. What an experience that was! I later moved on the base after the birth of my third child. I was only twenty years olds with three kids.
Humorous memories: The whole cultural experience of the hippie movement. Yes, I am sorry to say I did get stoned. I usually answer that question, "Did you ever get stoned?" with "Yes once...from 1969 to 1973."
Other Memories: I worked on the Orthopedic ward where most of the GIs came back from Vietnam. NOT a nice image in my memory.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: First assignment after basic, I left Fort Lewis, Washington, on a Friday after two months of rain. Walked into the Presidio on a Saturday morning and I thought I was in a dream...turns out I was right. The Presidio was a dream duty, the post, the area, the off-duty options. Spent many hours walking all over the S.F area, Fishermen's Wharf, Cable Cars, Cannery, Palace Of Fine Arts, walking across the Golden Gate to Sausalito...walked everywhere I could. Took lots of pictures too, spent some time in the photo lab in the old stables. Home was L.A. so could go home on weekends and holidays.
Humorous memories: On our morning break our group of five or six would go to the snack bar next to the D.P. building. As we were coming back we would see some of the Lieutenants from our building coming our way and we would space ourselves out so as we passed them we would salute and they would have to salute each one of us individually, one after the other. They hated it but rules are rules. We thought it was pretty funny, but then we were pretty young. Some of us used to join in the marches in the city; we were not very political but thought it was a good way to meet girls. An order came down from the post commander that any Army personnel that took part in demonstrations would be punished but we did it anyway. One time, we were marching and saw several of the officers from our unit--we were worried that they would report us but then we realized that they were not supposed to be there either! They were probably more afraid than we were.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Hanging out with fellow soldiers in San Francisco.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The beauty of the base was quite unexpected. When I arrived I stayed in the Barracks until I was assigned to the Q-700, a converted 75-foot coast guard cutter. Most of my weekends were spent aboard the boat cruising San Francisco Bay with dignitaries from around the world. My sleeping quarters were in the old harbor mine storage area built into the side of the hill by the bridge. I have some very fond memories of the fog rolling in over the bridge and having one of the most gorgeous views of San Francisco. It was the best assignment I ever had.
Other Memories: The post snack bar was located right next to post headquarters. In the morning before the sunrise you could sit in there, drink a cup of coffee, and watch the traffic coming from the opposite side of the bay across the Golden Gate Bridge - it looked like a lava flow and was beautiful in its own right. I also liked seeing Alcatraz out in the bay and marveling at its history. I am still trying to find a way to go back and work there. Wonderful place and great people - many who inspired me to a life of service to the Army.
Contributed by: Frank Knoll
E-mail address: email@example.com
Age at the time: 20
Lived on the post in military police barracks.
Was in the military with a rank of pfc.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The fog in the evening, renting bikes and riding across the Golden Gate to Zacks Place Bar, Going for walks on the beach and the friendly people I met their.
Humorous memories: Too many to mention, hope to make it back some day!
Humorous memories: Walking in Chinatown at 3 a.m. with a class mate (also female) who just had this urge to go walking that night. I couldn't let her go by her self, so I went too. What where we thinking? Chinatown is DARK at 3...and deserted! We were walking, not saying a word. I was scared to death. And then we heard footsteps! We looked across the street and saw this man by himself just walking, but staying across from us. He stayed with us all the way to Market and then to Van Ness where we got on the bus to go back to Presidio. I watched him turn around and head back down Market when we where on the bus. I like to think he was watching out for us. We needed all the watching over we could get! To be that young and stupid again!
Other Memories: We went to the Presidio last time we went to San Francisco. We took our three kids to see where mom spent a year. I was so upset seeing LAMC with grass growing on top of it. We drove around a little bit, me telling them where things used to be. I couldn't wait to leave. It was like seeing ghosts. Just creepy. I think a big mistake was made in closing the Presidio. I was something special.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: As an army lieutenant I attended the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey 1974-1975 for Greek language training and ultimate assignment to our nuclear custodial artillery group in Greece. I met my future wife (she was one of my Greek instructors) and after I got promoted to Captain and graduated from language school we got married at the Greek Orthodox church in San Francisco (all in the same week!)and had our wedding reception at the Presidio Officers' Club. The lady who ran the club's catering did a magnificent job for us - everything ran like clockwork at the reception. That was no mean feat given that she had to deal with a Greek orchestra and my wife's Greek relatives!
Contributed by: Robert M. Juilfs
E-mail address: MPLonestar@aol.com
Age at the time: 24
Lived on the post in barracks
Was in the military (MPI) with a rank of SP/4.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Best duty station I ever had in the Army. Was my second choice at reenlistment, Schofield Barracks in Hawaii my first, didn't get that but I fared much better at Presidio.
Humorous memories: Too many to list, but my saddest was when after I'd left, I heard the Army had departed and the entire post was given up to the Park Service.
Other Memories: Dated more Army women there than anywhere else, the location on both sides of the bridge offered romantic settings seen nowhere else.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: When President Ford and Jimmy Carter had their debate at the Palace of Fine Arts.
Other Memories: Some of my other memories are being assigned to 9 east at Letterman which was the oncology/neurology ward. Taking care of those that were really suffering physically and watching those that you cared for get well.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The friends I had in the 402nd. We were wild. Chuck, Mackfeson, Huker, JJ, Tony, Sprat. My crew.
Humorous memories: The nights that we all would hang out at the NCO club. Sometimes we would date the same women and draw numbers to see who would get to go home with her. One night we were at a club (dance your ass off) and we saw this lovely group of ladies. There were four of us and three of them. I had to go to the bathroom and when I got back, they were all dancing with the women. This went on all night. Then this guy asked me: did I know that the three “women” were really men? I said “no way.” When they came off the dance floor I told my friends what the guy had said, and they said that I was just mad that they beat me to them. As the night went on, one of my friends called me over and said to the ladies “MY FRIEND THINKS THAT YOU LOVELY LADIES ARE MEN, WOULD YOU LET HIM KNOW WHAT YOU ARE?” They looked at him and told him that they are transsexuals but ladies all the same. I fell out. That was (a story) that can be used for years to come.
Other Memories: Helping with the suicides that jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge. That is something that I have yet to forget.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Working straight 48-hour weekend shifts in the radiology department at LAMC with my buddy Tony - we played a million games of dice baseball. Taking morning portables in ICU/CCU on the 6th floor. No money to do much else.
Humorous memories: Hanging out with friends in a dump apartment on Jones Street then going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Other Memories: Getting a front row seat to see The Tubes at the Palace of Fine Arts and shaking hands with Fee Waybill.
Did You Know?
Enlisted men in the Buffalo Soldier regiments were paid thirteen dollars a month plus room, board, and uniform. The enlistment period was five years.