Memories from the 1940s through the 1950s

Posted: 05-Jun-08
Contributed by: Dan A. Liddle
E-mail address:
Year(s): 10/20/1946 to 1/19/1948
Age at the time: 19 to 20
Lived on the post: barracks at north-end of Crissy field
Military: Army Medical Corps, T/5, tech corporal, 9956-TSU-SGO, Letterman General Hospital.

Most vivid Presidio Memories: partying and having fun in the Marina District outside the base. We were like a family of brothers working ward S-1(psychiatric ward) and all staying at same barracks.

Humorous memories: Taking care of our Spanish-American buddy "poncho", he was a load of fun and very helpful.

Other Memories: The lot of pretty nurses we work with on base and in ward S-1.

Date Submitted: 02-Dec-07

Your Name: Al Jensen (James Albert)
E-mail address:
Year(s): 1954-1955

Age at the time: 21

Lived on the Presidio: In the barracks west of the parade field.

Military: Specialist 3rd, U.S. Army. I was a clerk in the Post Headquarters commander's office.

Most vivid Presidio Memories: The weekly Parades on Friday with the 6th Army band playing. For a while there was also the 6th Army bagpipe band.

Waking in the morning and seeing some beautiful sunrises over San Francisco, with memories of clear days, foggy days, incredible beauty.

The view of the bay from my office in the Post Headquarters building. I could see both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate and the ships, both military and civilian passing through the Golden Gate and the views of Angel Island and Alcatraz.

Humorous memories: Our barracks had a roof outside the second floor windows which covered the large porches on these 19th Century buildings. On one occasion a buddy who’d had too much to drink was passed out on his bunk and he was lifted in the bunk out onto the roof in the rain. It took him a long time to wake up even though he was being rained on.

Other Memories: Living the life of Riley with 3 squares a day and about $140 a month to spend in S.F. and a permanent off post pass. We worked a 40 hour week, Monday through Friday (with duty rarely on Saturdays) and had a lot of time to party. Pirro's Pizzaria on Lombard Street was a famous hang-out. Sun bathing with buddies on the Marina Green on weekends with lots of local girls and guys and beer and hot dogs. The New Rainbow Lounge on Union Street where a great jazz pianist and singer named Inez Jones was there every weekend. Getting to know her and her musician husband and having her play "my song" every time I came in. "Big Fat Butterfly" a jazz version of the song "Poor Butterfly."

Other memories include my buddies Richard (Dick) Hooven of Philadelphia , Arthur G. Mason (Chicago) and Lee Dluginski of Hempstead, Long Island. Buddy Darrel Brown an alumnus of Reed College, Oregon, and Darryl Enright of So. Cal.

The parade honoring General Dean on his retirement. He had been a prisoner of war in Korea for most of the conflict. Many many more. I'd be glad to hear from anyone who remembers this era at the Presidio or any of the people mentioned in this memoir.

Posted: 17-Feb-07

Contributed By: Henry Hank Vasques

Email address:
Year(s): 1957-1959

Age at the time: 24

Lived on the Presidio at: Wooden barracks east end of Crissy Field

Military: Military, SP-4, Letterman Army Hospital

Most vivid Presidio Memories: The morning fog under the Golden Gate Bridge and the wonderful people I worked with.

Humorous memories: I wrote a book titled JUST HANK. It's about humorous escapades and life-changing events which occurred while I was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco.

Posted: 19-Jan-05
Contributed by: John Allyn Jimerson
E-mail address:
Year(s): 1942-1943
Age at the time: 19/20
Lived on the post in the Crissy Field Area
Was in the military with a rank of Cpl. assigned to Quartermaster Unit 3383rd Truck Co

Most vivid Presidio Memories: Waking up each morning and seeing Alcatraz as my first sight thru the window

Humorous memories: Fellows staying out all night and trying to make it in before reveille, and seeing them run down the hill for the barracks.

Other Memories: Walking up the hill from Crissy Field area to what was considered the main gate to catch a trolley for downtown San Francisco.

Posted: 28-Feb-05
Contributed by: Dusty Rhodes
E-mail address:
Year(s): 1950
Was in the U.S. Navy with a rank of LCDR MSC

Most vivid Presidio Memories: I sought medical personnel, military police and others present at Letterman the night of Friday, August 25, 1950 when U.S. Navy hospital ship Benevolence was rammed in the Golden Gate by S.S. Mary Luckenbach. In the confusion following, many boatloads of U.S. Navy nurses and enlisted men plus 230 MSTS civil service employees aboard were examined at Letterman, transported by ambulance from Fort Mason piers. I am compiling a manuscript to publish the first book documenting that tragedy in which 23 persons died when that ship foundered off Seal Rocks below Sutro Heights.

Posted: 20-Jul-05
Contributed by: Donald R Erck
E-mail address:
Age at the time: 22
Was in the Army with a rank of Corporal at Letterman General Hospital.

Most vivid Presidio Memories: My son was born at Letterman General Hospital.

Posted: 18-Mar-05
Contributed by: Robert R. Liguori
E-mail address:
Year(s): Feb - Aug 1954
Age at the time: 22
Was a patient at Letterman Army Hospital while in the Army with a rank of 2nd Lt.

Most vivid Presidio Memories: The Presidio was the most scenic and beautiful army base I'd ever been to. The distinctive scent of the Eucalypts trees hung in the humid air and blended with the cool fresh ocean breezes. The fog crept in at night and lingered until late morning. Sandberg's poem "Fog" seemed as though he wrote it for San Francisco and The Presidio.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

I fell asleep at night listening to the foghorns on the bay tooting their random melody. When I returned to San Francisco years later, my biggest disappointment was that radar had replaced the horns.

I'm an old man now, but burned in my memory are the faces of my fellow officers and nurses on Ward D2 in Letterman Army Hospital. Letterman was a happy place in 1954, even though some of my comrades had lost their limbs in Korea. None complained. I wish that I could see them all again. On Friday evenings everyone - nurses, patients and doctors made it to the Letterman Officers' Club for happy hour. Those who could not walk were pushed in wheelchairs. Some were even wheeled on gurneys and had their drinks lying at the bar.

On the main post, the Presidio Officers' Club was up to the best clubs in San Francisco. The wall behind the bar was enclosed in glass and housed exotic fish and plants. The food and service rivaled the famous San Francisco restaurants. The hills of the Presidio provided unparalleled scenic views of the city and the bay.

I met my wife, a registered nurse visiting Letterman from another city hospital, and it was love at first sight. I wrote on the back of my army business card: "I have a date with Bob on Sunday 5 Jun54 at 6:30 PM. Letterman Army Hospital, Ward D2," and handed it to her. The rest, as they say, is history. I was discharged from the army when I was released from Letterman, and we were married in 1955. We are still together. She saved that card.

Posted: 10/31/04
Year(s): 1959-60
Age at the time: 24
Live on the post in enlisted barracks
Was in the 6th US Army AGC with a rank of SP/4
Connection with the Presidio: Personnel Acct. Spec.

Most vivid Presidio Memories:
Living with the Band members directly next to the cannon used each morning and evening. Enjoying such a perfect and historic military environment. The views from the library. My office next to Crissy Field with the Golden Gate outside my window. It is bittersweet to think that the Presidio that predates the USA is now gone.

Humorous memories:
Saluting the commissioned female officers at Letterman with a bright and cheerful, "Good Morning -- SIR!" (before there being something like "PC")

Other Memories:
With a lot of free time and little money, my buddies and I got to see San Francisco - by foot! All of these memories will remain with me always. Along with the memory of Marguirite Simpson, a DAC who became a close and dear friend until her passing. The Presidio will never be gone for me.

Posted: 01-Jan-05
Contributed by: Donald Denny
E-mail address:
Year(s): Aug 59-MAR 61
Age at the time: 23-24
Lived on the post at Headquarters Co.
Was in the Army with a rank of Sp-4 in Special Services

Most vivid Presidio Memories: Playing Baseball and basketball on the post teams. I played basketball under a great coach, Hal Fischer and with many great people, including Bill Neider, the 1960 Olympic shot putt champion.

Other Memories: The beauty of the Presidio and San Francisco.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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