Marine Barracks at Key West

I pulled a 13 month tour of duty with the Marine Barracks at Key West 1974-75. Now I can’t find a single thing about it on Google. I don’t even know if it is still active (probably not) or if there are any old Jarheads I served with there on the internet or not.

We were responsible for the security of the entire Florida Keys, technically, although there was nothing worth worrying about north of the Boca Chica Naval Air Station (now NAS Key West). We had to practice defending the military bases and other things (such as the electronic monitoring stations), and also the local radio and television station in case terrorists or should try to seize either one for propaganda reasons. Back then we were armed with the M14 and of course the M1911A1 .45 ACP. We also had military 12 ga shotguns. We Marines were often sent out with the Coast Guard cutter. I believe its name was the Diligence. We manned the .30 and .50 machine guns when the cutter was expecting trouble, which we occasionally got from Cuban gunboats and drug runners.

Can you find out if there are any guys from the time I served there on the internet? I’ve tried USMC.mil and got nowhere fast. I’ve read on the internet that they shut down the naval station where the Barracks was located in 1974 (Truman Annex I think it was called) but that is NOT true, as I did not leave until late September of 1975 and they were still going strong then. Most of the duty we pulled was as gate guards for the various military annexes and as roving guards on the NAS and also at the ammo dump off the Trumbo annex. My elder daughter was born at the Naval hospital in Key West, by the way.

Any help would be appreciated. OBTW, at the Marine Corps Ball in 1974, the Assistant Commandant (General Earl E. Anderson) was our guest.

Don Herman
Corporal, USMC (at the time)

14 thoughts on “Marine Barracks at Key West”

  1. Don, the Truman Annex barracks have been renovated but the base is still there. I cannot say for sure that the Marine detachment is still there, but I’m sure you can imagine that the base, NAS Key West, has gone under my renovations itself. I was first there around 1995 (as an Aviation Ordnanceman) for an air-to-air training exercise and lived in Truman Annex (old barracks). I’m not sure if they were the same you stood in, but when I went back in 2008 for another air-to-air exercise, the barracks had changed significantly…look like hotel rooms now. I’m not sure if my input answers all your questions, but I hope it sheds some light into what the area may look like today. Hands down, Key West is the nicest place stateside that I have had the pleasure to train at. Tony Rodriguez GySgt / Retired

  2. Don, sounds like we were overseas at the same time. I was on Okinawa Aug 74 – Sep 75, 3rd FSR, Force Service Regiment, or as we called it Fumble Stumble Regroup. I do remember one Marine from H&S Bn sent to Key West. I do not remember his MOS. Sounds like it was good duty down there, better than Okinawa. Semper Fi Leathernecks and Devil Dogs.

  3. Was in High School when Cuban Crises blew up big time- lived in Miami Beach- and highway to Key west closed to regular traffic- except for people who lived in areas – including Key West- Went into Marines in 1963- in boot camp when PRESIDENT Kennedy shot- thought we were going to War- and have been to Key West since- KEY WEST still has charm and is a special place to visit – with its charm and magnetism – especially knowing we have so many military bases in that area protecting our Country from the evils of aggression. Now I am in New York City and during Fleet Week – saw a group of young Marines – all NCO and Staff NCO’s – they had hash marks and dress blues and some ribbons- and they looked sooo young- or is this OLD Salt a grumpy old Marine.

    1. Hi Don I served at the barracks from 1971 to 1972 then sent to Quantico VA. to finish my tour. The information that I have been able to find out is that the barracks had a fire some time in the mid 80’s and was never re-built then the base was sold off shortly after that. The Navel Annex on the west side of the island is now a Coast Guard station. Simper Fi Marine

  4. Hey Cpl. Herman, you’re right as rain about the Base being “on-duty” in 1975. I was serving with A co. 2nd Recon Bn. 2nd Mar.Div. out of Onslow Beach, Camp Lejeune, NC in 1975, and we did countless Helo cast and recovery training missions there. Practiced sneaking up on you guys (high security reconnaissance), gave us some realism in our training. On one such exercise, the Sgt. of the Guard while posting a shift change caught me and my team leader using chalk to graffiti our Recon logo on the side of a Huey. Yes, you were there and so were a shit pot full of other Marines, that web site you mentioned is full of crap (like all civilian run Military info web sites are). So my Marine Corps Brethren, stay true, don’t let anybody make you doubt yourself ! Semper Fi Brothers ! !

  5. I was stationed in Key West in 62-64 then went to Aviation School in Memphis (Millington). I was the Bugler plus gate guard at different posts. At the time, the Barracks were in Officer Country across from the Brig and swimming pool. Bought my first car while there (59 Chevy Bel Aire).

  6. Don, my father was wounded in early 44 and recovered at NHS Key West where he meet my mom who was a candy stripper and 4th generation “conch”. After recovering he was stationed there until his release in 47. I spent many a day running with the marines in the early morning hours. They would come out of the barracks gate and head for the beach along the Casa Marina hit the beach and then up Duval street waking up the drunks. I’m a 5th generation “conch” but the life of fishing and crabbing for a living wasn’t for me. I joined the corps in 65 and retired in 88. Been back a few times, the barracks and “Little White House” where doing well in 85. Haven’t been back since my dad past away since I was the black sheep of the family to my mothers folks because I didn’t stay in the fishing business after Nam.

  7. Any body serve Marine Detachment CINCLANTFLT Norfolk, Virginia 1964 1965? it was also SACLANT day on day of guard duty and honor guards. It took just about everybody not on guard duty to put flags up in morning ours and the Nato flags. Went to Vietnam Oct 1965 2/9 to Nov 1966 got out Dennis Becton Cpl USMC.

  8. I was in Key West with the Coast Guard from 1990 to 1993. There were no Marines there at the time, except for a few officers at JTF4, Sailors stood gate guard duty at the various annexes, NAS Key West did not fully survive the Clinton years. The actual airfield at Boca Chica was relegated to an auxiliary landing strip. Personnel were drastically cut. The only force left there in appreciable numbers is the Coast Guard.

  9. I go to Key West a few times a year as its a short drive from home. I have stayed at the guest lodge on Truman annex. I am a Marine as well, and I couldn’t find any information on marine detachments there. As of October 2008 Navy Shore Patrol does all the security there now, and there are no Marine security teams there at all. I will be heading there again in the beginning of March, I’ll look into it more then. Sorry wish I had better info for you. S/F!

  10. I was at the Key West Marine barracks from 58 to 62. Played football on a team made up of Marines, Navy and civilians. Stood guard Duty at the Truman annex when Pres. Kennedy met with Mr. Mac Millan from Britain shortly after his election. Had the priviage to shake his hand.

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