Presidio Memories: 1980s to the present
Submitted by James Jeffrey, April 6, 2005
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I was just so amazed that I got stationed there and got to enjoy the beauty and history of the place. I often pinched myself to make sure this was really happening to me!
Humorous memories: I remember the first time the fog rolled in and we heard the fog horns. We thought something was burning! One time while we were playing a softball game and the guy at bat hit a ball up into the fog and we had no idea where it was! Everyone just ducked!
Other Memories: Living and studying German at the old Uniform Health Services Hospital was unique. The building was our barracks, our school, our mess hall, our rec facility, mail room and more! We occupied 4 of the floors. Most interesting place I was ever stationed! Great place and great friends!
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I remember the beach at Baker Beach, the beautiful old Public Health Service Hospital that was converted to an annex of the Defense Language Institute, the fog rolling in and running across the Golden Gate to Marin turnaround once a week. What a view! from the bridge.
Humorous memories: I remember having to come down to the beach every weekend and collect up my inebriated soldiers and shepherd them back to the barracks before wake up time. A guy outside a local joint wearing a Fonzie leather jacket and a tutu and political message across the back of his jacket. Hand painted, hilarious. I miss the place, still.
Other Memories: I miss getting up and running in the morning, attending classes at the PHSH and feeling like what we were doing was important and this was the only place to do it. I still feel that way.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I remember my first 911 run at LAMC I was fresh out of AIT with a brand new EMT certification and no patient contacts under my belt. Well it was baptism by fire for sure as the Coast Guard called me with a bridge jumper off the Golden Gate! I remember feeling slightly nauseous from riding in the back of the ambulance as we drove over the bridge. There was a very pretty anesthesiologist riding with me who said, "What do I do, I've never been on a emergency run before", I didn't have the heart to tell her it was my first run as well. I just smiled and said "Don't worry, “I'll get you through it" The next thing I know we are back in the ER I'm doing CPR and the doctor is cracking the guy's chest open for a cardiac massage! From then on I was hooked, I ended up going to civilian Paramedic school during the day and working the ER/Ambulance at night.
Humorous memories: I remember when I got assigned to LAMC at the end of AIT in Ft Sam Houston. The Sgt. yelled at me "Private do you know the F&*#ing President?" I had no clue what the fuss was all about, until I got to the Presidio :)
Other Memories: Shooting my .357 Magnum at the post shooting range. The range master had to announce I would be shooting "high performance rounds" The officers that were shooting their little .22 pistols freaked out due to the noise of my pistol. I thought to myself, "I thought this was the Army!" They no longer let me shoot the .357 loads.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Coming into the Military Police station on my first night with my luggage and having Corporal Brown help me with them. Fresh out of basic and AIT I thought it was heaven having a NCO actually being nice and not chewing my butt off with a switch. And then the next morning when I woke up and saw where I was, so beautiful. The Fog horn took some getting used to, but being able to walk less than 10 blocks and being on the Golden Gate. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Humorous Memories: Having a slight car chase, about 2 blocks. A drunk took off from me. And little did he know he was heading almost right for the military police station. We had just come on duty and I think I was the first patrol out. Everyone else was still on station and as they say, headed him off at the pass, right in front of the officers club. It was a Friday night just a little before midnight and the club was busy. Well of course all the officers came out to see what was going on. The individual then sucker punched my partner who was explaining why he was pulled over, bad mistake. There were probably six or seven military police there and it became a dog pile really quick. In the scuffle the drunk had dress pants on, the kind with the hook and loop fastener. Well it was torn and after getting cuffed we started walking him to a squad car and his drawers dropped around his ankles. In front of all these officers and their wives, it was priceless.
Other Memories: The fog... I've never witnessed anything like it before nor after. I remember our emergency lights (Red and Blues) would go out about 6 feet and then just bounce back.
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: My memories were of fun times. Working at Crissy Field I had such an amazing view from my office on the 2nd Floor of Alcatraz. Going to lunch down at Ft Point, walking Crissy field. Having formations right across the street at the Main Post. On Ft Berry we had deer running through the front yard and down the street was a beach and had such fun times with the Coast Guard who lived down the road at the light house.
Other Memories: Memories when we had guard duty at the old ammo dump pretty much slept at the old post while standing watch when we were suppose to be awake and the MPs hanging out with us since they had nothing else better to do.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My son was born Feb 28, 1984 in the hospital, Letterman Army Medical Center. My husband was also active duty and normally traveled, but he was present for the birth. We lived across the Golden Gate Bridge. There is a tunnel that is one way. The light lasts six minutes then you get a turn. The wildlife there, so close to downtown San Francisco, is amazing.
Humorous memories: The gentlemen officers of our department threw me an awkward baby shower, relying heavily on their wives for suggestions but steadfastly refusing to play typical baby shower games. The shower included alcohol (but not for me, of course).
Other Memories: After Jeremy was born, I wanted to place him in the child care provided on post. I felt it would be the safest environment for him since parents came and went during the day and there were several adults who worked there. My husband insisted on placing him with a private sitter. He turned out to be right. While we were there, Col. Acquino was accused and found guilty of removing, with the help of accomplices, children from the day care center and using them for "satanic" rituals that involved sexual abuse. It was a close call for our family.
Contributed by: Scott Siller
E-mail address: email@example.com
Age at the time: 19-23
Lived on the Presidio at: 1569 Pershing
Military: Spec., Letterman Army Medical Center
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The absolute beauty of the Presidio. Great views of the City, Golden Gate Bridge, Ocean... I was stationed at the Presidio when my daughter was born (University of San Francisco) January 1992. Driving across post from enlisted housing to LAMC.
Humorous memories: When my mom, and step dad came to visit me in 1991. They were from a small town in Wyoming. We walked down the hill from Pershing Blvd. to the beach (Baker Beach). The look on their faces when they saw naked people walking around was priceless!!
Other Memories: I think about all the guys and girls I worked with at the Hospital, and the Military Police SRT team. Sgt. Stone, MSG Keazer, Sgt. Whalon, Lt. Kuhn … and all the others whose names are currently slipping my mind.
Contributed by: Richard Westfield
E-mail address: e-mail us
Age at the time: 18
Military: SPC. Stationed at the Presidio for 4 years. Lived in the barracks.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Waking up everyday and seeing the most beautiful place in the free-world. I still think about the Presidio of S.F. everyday. I was young just out of high school, new to the Army. It was my first duty station. I absolutely loved it. I was in Sixth Army HQ, working for General Arter; then General Worner. I remember my co-workers Colonel O'Neal, SGM Vales, SSG Kathy Tolliver, SFC Chang, SFC Villanueva, SGT Tyrone Peason, SPC Roland Sharp, and SPC Bruce Simmons. I really miss those guys. The clubs we would go to, to pick-up chicks, The Palludium off Broadway and Kearney. The Bank Exchange, WE HAD FUN!
Humorous memories: I had a blue and grey low-rider truck and I thought that was the baddest truck in the world. Man, I was young. My mom visited with me for two weeks in 87 and 88. My little brother came on the first trip and we had a blast.
Other Memories: Seeing No Man's Land on Post at the theater. The filming of The Presidio, the 89 earthquake.
Contributed By: Reginald Brown
Email address: e-mail us
Age at the time: 24
Lived on the Presidio at: 812 B Quarry Road
Military: Military Policeman. All-Army & All-Armed Forces Basketball Player
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Meeting my wife and starting a family. The way the weather changed from one minute to the next. Met a lot of different people and had some of the best experiences in my life.
Humorous memories:My first night at the Presidio along with five other military policemen. When we arrived to check in at the MP barracks we were greeted and cheered! They had never won a base basketball game and they knew that things were about to change. They could not believe that I was 6 feet 7 inches tall and could play basketball.
Other Memories: Making the All Army Basketball Team, All Armed Forces Basketball Team and CISM Basketball Team for four straight years. The military police became the King of the Hill in basketball. We won four straight summer league championships and regular season championships. We were the talk of the base.
Contributed By: Hurshel Wells
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Age at the time: 19
Military: Army National Guard, SPC. Member of an Honor Guard for internment in the Cemetery
Other Memories: I was never stationed at the Presidio, but I have had the honor of being part of an Honor Guard that interned a Brigadier General at the Cemetery on post. After the service was over I just stood in awe at how peaceful and somber the post was and thought about how special it had to have been to the soldiers that were once stationed there. The Presidio will always hold a special place in my heart.
Contributed By: Don Rumney
Email address: email@example.com
Age at the time: 24
Military: USAF, LT. Just a bunch of Air Force pilots from Castle AFB who took advantage of the cheap officers quarters, O Club, and Golf every weekend we could.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Three buddies driving from our base in Merced CA (95 degrees) in a convertible Mustang, crossing into the Bay Area and having to pull over to put on jeans and a sweatshirt, 35 degree temp drop! After pre-evening drinks at the club before a night on the town, we walked out of the entrance, stopped dead in our tracks to admire the spectacular view as the fog rolled in, then all together we looked at each and said WOW! We never could figure how the army ended up with (and closed) such a nice post, should have been an air force base.
Humorous memories: Coming back to our rooms at the Visiting Officer Quarters after a very late evening out on one of the greatest towns, I was smart enough to hang a "Do not disturb" sign on my door. I was woken (0700) by a knock on my door from a nice cleaning lady, with limited English, who was simply confirming that I, "no want to be disturb?" The humor came later from my buddies across and down the hall who could hear me try and explain, in a hung-over state to someone who understood very little English, that the reason for the sign was that I did not want to be bothered. The entire time I was talking she was attempting to push pass me and clean. Great times.
Other Memories: The best golf course as far as scenery goes on any military post, and I've played many. Fog coming in on the fairways so thick you could hardly see the greens, coupled with the sound of the creaking trees as the wind blew. Wonderful memories.
Contributed By: Robert Cosper
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Age at the time: 22
Lived on the Presidio at: Ft. Point access to GGB
Military: E-4 (Acting Sgt), Assigned to the 170th MP Co.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The beauty and serenity of being able to work and play in such a wonderful location. It was my favorite duty assignment.
Humorous memories: We would go to Candlestick Park for Giants games. In those days the team wasn't that good, so you could pay for a GA ticket($2.00) and sit in the box seats behind the dugouts.
Contributed By: Svend D. Sheppard III
Email address: email@example.com
Age at the time: 19-23
Lived on the Presidio at: Bldg 1205.
Military: E-1 to E-5. Military Police.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Being selected as Soldier of the quarter a few times. Running Radar and processing some of my first DUI's. The SF Clubs and the friends I made.
Other Memories: Getting married to a LTC's daughter at the church above the post club and having the reception at the "O" club. Did I mention it only lasted a year or so...lol. My friends who I have today and the best four years of my life.
Contributed By: Lori Hancock (McEnearney)
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Age at the time: 18-19
Lived on the Presidio at: Defense Language Institute Building 1801 (Former Public Health Service Hospital)
Military: E-3. I was learning German at the Defense Language Institute
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Every Wednesday we were allowed to wear civilian clothes for PT. We ran down the Presidio over the Golden Gate Bridge and then back up to Bldg 1801. It was a long run but I always enjoyed seeing the bridge and looking out at Alcatraz while I ran.
Humorous memories: While I was stationed there, the movie Presidio was being filmed. Our Platoon Sgt loved to aggravate the director by having us run by in formation singing cadence while they were trying to film. We could hear them yelling, "Cut!!! Quiet on the set!" We laughed and laughed. Many of us ended up being extras in the opening scene of the movie.
Other Memories: The Presidio was the most beautiful base I have ever seen. I recently returned to SF on vacation and visited the Presidio. I was impressed at how well most of the buildings have been maintained although building 1801, where I lived, is abandoned and covered in graffiti. I understand the Presidio Trust has plans to restore it.
Contributed By: W.T. Purnell, Jr
Email address: email@example.com
Age at the time: 29
Military: SSG,902ND MI Group Fort Scott.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I enjoyed being a part of the Army Military Team at Fort Scott. We had fun jogging on the Beach at lunch times and playing basketball, workouts at the Post Gym, where we would enjoy conversation and jokes from time to time. The trips across the bridge to Oakland Army Base made it more fun to be at the Presidio. One of my most enjoyable assignments in the 20 years I served, in the military aside from Berlin, Germany was the three years at the Presidio. The early stages of my children lives were at Presidio.
Humorous memories: My first weekend at the Presidio was in 1985. I was assigned at Fort Scott, with the 902ND MI. I lived at Bakers Beach and at the time it was just me and my son, my wife had not arrived. I took my son who was only 4 years old for a walk at Bakers Beach. I had no idea as to what Bakers Beach was when we went walking in that location. My son walked off and he saw a woman and man with no clothes on. He starts taking his T-Shirt off and at the same time he was removing his T-Shirt. I noticed that he had already removed his shorts. He looked up at me and said. “Dad you have to take of your clothes see that man and woman have on no clothes.”
Other Memories: My daughter was attending day care at the Presidio. I would have to pick her up because her mother worked in Oakland. One day I was working late at the office and had forgotten to pick her up. I got a call from her mother that I was late and needed to get over to the Day Center to pick up Kate. She being only 2 years old would stand at the window and await my arrival. On this day she was not at the window and that just made me feel so bad, because I was excited to see my little girl standing at that window and knowing that Dad was always on time. I was never again late picking up my daughter. Presidio was the best assignment for me and my family.
Contributed By: David Clanton
Email address: PatriotismRules@yahoo.com
Age at the time: 20
Lived on the Presidio at: Tourist
Military: Army Specialist/E4.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My first visit to the Presidio was in 1986. I was transferring from Ft Bragg, NC to Korea and I stopped in San Francisco for 1-week leave. My cousin was with the Presidio’s Army band. I stayed in the billeting guest house at a ridiculously low rate for a beautiful 2-room suite with a truly breathtaking million dollar view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the room.
Humorous memories: Just a wonderful visit to San Francisco that spiked my interest in California. I subsequently spent most of the past 20 years in Monterey but I go back up to SF and Presidio as often as I can.
Contributed By: Richard Westfield
Email address: e-mail us
Age at the time: 18
Lived on the Presidio at: Barracks
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The gym, the cruising Broadway, hitting on ladies, drinking old English 40-oz. Life was fun; I miss us so much; these memories our ours.
Contributed by: Louie Tonry
E-mail address: LouieTonry@hotmail.com
Age at the time: 27
Lived on the Presidio at: Fort Baker.
Military or civilian status: 2d Lieutenant as Radiation Safety Officer.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The memories of my time in San Francisco are too numerous to list. Fireworks on the 4th, the Blue Angles fly by, the great ships, and the Golden Gate bridge walk were incredible.
Humorous memories: I helped separate the seeded runners from the rest of the pack during the bay-to-breakers run.
Other Memories: Living at Ft. Baker was incredible. I could see the bridge out my front picture window. Often the fog would roll down the hills and obscure the bridge from view. Deer and fox used to feed in and around my quarters. It was a wonderful time.
Contributed by: Patricia Singleton
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Age at the time: 18 yrs
Lived on the Presidio at: Bravo Company, Letterman Army Medical Center
Military: Specialist E-4 as ENT/Audiology Technician for 3 1/2 years.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: When I first arrived at the Presidio, it was during the night as we were driving through the forested part on Arguello. I could not see anything! However, when sunrise came I made my way toward Fort Point by the old Quarter Master. When I looked out beyond the clouds, I beheld the beauty and splendor of the Golden Gate Bridge and the blue water of the bay! I have so many incredible memories of my time at the Presidio. The 1980's were surely its most glorious and elegant years. The grounds were pristine and well manicured. The horse stables still operated. The morning call with the firing of the cannon and then reveille in the evening. The Navy's Blue Angels performed a spectacular feat by flying underneath the Golden Gate Bridge all the while colored sails of boats and a naval ship stood watch in the S.F. bay. Those years saw Letterman Army Medical Center as the premier training hospital for military and civilian doctors. Letterman Institute of research was also there, as were the Sixth Army and the acclaimed Sixth Army Band (Herb Albert's Alma Mater). The annual Volks March also led through the Presidio. In 1984, The Presidio was host to the Olympic Torch as it made its way into the city through the main gate of the Post. There were so many incredible memories, so many beautiful vistas, and so many special people.
Humorous memories: Letterman was known as "Payton Place", it makes "Grey's Anatomy" pale in comparison. We treated patients, we held parties, we laughed and we cried. Good Humor was often had especially during Mass casualty exercises. We laughed at our outlandish renditions of injured casualties. But when it was time to perform, we always did so honorably!
Other Memories: My favorite memory was when I played the role of an injured casualty during a Mass Casualty exercise between the Army, Navy, and Air Force. I was placed on a "litter" and loaded onto the stanchions of a Chinook helicopter and then we were flown from the Helipad at Letterman to Treasure Island Naval Base across the San Francisco Bay! Wow, what a view!
Most vivid Presidio Memories: All the views and history surrounding the Presidio. Working as a food inspector in the old commissary that once was a stable. Hard to get people to believe that one!! The many good friends made and special holiday meals my wife & I had for those with no special place to go.
Other Memories: Living in Fort Baker and the spectacular views of the city, especially at night. The mudslide that caused the closure of the Golden Gate Bridge and not being able to get to work.
Contributed by: Patrick Shea
E-mail address: e-mail us
Age at the time: 20-21
Lived off the post and was in the military with a rank of E-4 in Co A and B, LAMC
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My son was born at Letterman...
Contributed by: Glenn Pennington
E-mail address: email@example.com
Age at the time: 19
Lived on the post at the Defense Language Institute (Next to the Presidio Golf Course)
Military: E2, trained at DLI-FLC
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The beautiful views of the bay, the Pacific & the city. Walking through the woods from our building (a former hospital building converted to a school/barracks) to Baker Beach, just south of the Golden Gate Bridge. Explored the old artillery batteries nested in the hills south of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Humorous memories: Lots of funny memories, mostly related to the many "quirky" personalities of fellow soldiers from around the country.
Other Memories: Running in formation through the Presidio. On one occasion, our formation even went off-post during PT. (I think our Platoon Sgt. took some heat for that.)
Contributed by: Benjamin Irizarry
Age at the time: 22
Lived on the post at 1586 Stilwell Avenue
Military: Spc/4 assigned as a Medic at Letterman Army Medical Center
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The Earthquake of 1989. I was amazed at how well all the structures withstood the violent trembling for those 15 seconds. Afterwards, I put on my uniform and went to the medical center. I was one of maybe a dozen EMT's assigned to the hospital and was sure my assistance would be needed. Luckily, the casualties were not as severe as we feared. For the most part, we stood in the parking lot facing the Marina and watched the fires rage.
Humorous memories: The first time my wife was awakened by the cannon at 5:00 AM reveille. We had just arrived at the base and were staying at Stilwell Hall which was next to the Officers Club. She thought we were being attacked!
Most vivid Presidio Memories: So many, we lived so close to the Golden Gate Bridge that we had to run across every morning for Fatboy PT. Waking-up and walking to the porch to see Alcatraz downhill in the Bay. I didn't have a car so I had to walk every where, but it was an incredible place. Got to know every inch of it.
Humorous memories: During the earthquake, about 60 of us were on a detail at Candlestick Park for the start of that World Series game. Each man was to hold a flag of one of each state for the national anthem, when a plane taking off from SFO soared overhead, but when the plane was out of view the noise remained, then the ground started to shake, the guy behind me was from New York, looking down, then at me he said, "I didn't know San Fran had subways." At that moment someone yelled earthquake! And this high school band next to us ran so fast their instruments (in a cartoon like fashion) were hanging in mid-air.
Other memories: The earthquake, it changed the city, and the Presidio. Everyone banding together and the part the soldiers at the Presidio played in it was unforgettable.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Playing the 1812 overture at Crissy Field every 4th of July.
Humorous memories: Watching them cook the frozen food from the commissary on charcoal fires after the earthquake
Other Memories: The nice people in northern California I met. Also the nice folks in Klamath Falls, Oregon, who had us up there every year.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My wedding reception at the POC on May 29, 1993.
Other Memories: Hiking and golfing on the post. Watching the Blue Angles from Crissy Field during their Fleet Week Air Shows. Friday Happy Hours at the POC.
Contributed by: Deborah Dickson
Age at the time: 28
Lived on the post: Compton RD right across from Rob Hill
Military: CPT with ROTC Nurse Recruiter Office
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Leaving the Presidio for my next duty station, this was the day of the ceremony when the Army officially turned the Presidio over to the NPS. Watching the guidon being passed and thinking of all the future service members who will never have the opportunity to experience the Presidio.
Humorous memories: Not knowing that Baker Beach was a nude beach and becoming quite stunned during my first stroll on the beach.
Other Memories: Very sad as the last Army Officer to live and leave Funston Ave. in July 1995.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Fog rolling down the hill, walking down Lombard to eat at Mel's Diner, hearing the sounds of the bridge traffic (and loud speaker voices at night - discouraging jumpers?) behind our house.
Humorous memories: Guests taking a LONG time in our bathroom because of the view from the toilet of the Bay. Trees crashing over without warning (not too funny, but we held our breath every time it stormed), and the "visitors" who decided to camp on our front lawn during Earth Day - thinking the post had already become a National Park.
Other Memories: Participation in the Presidio's closing ceremonies (ceremony closing the gates on Lombard), the Japanese tea garden in San Francisco Park, Baker Beach, and the waves splashing up over the rocks beneath the bridge.
Did You Know?
The modern-day Officers' Club was part of the original Spanish Presidio. In the front section of the building, excavations have uncovered adobe walls dating from the 1790's.