Never Volunteer!

I was stationed at MB, NWS, Concord CA from April 1966 until September 1967 assigned to the first guard platoon. Google Port Chicago Explosion for some background on the base. All we did was security,gates, tower, walking posts , and truck patrols. We also did escort duty back and forth to all the Navy bases in the Bay Area usually in pick ups or tractor trailers. At that time we were day on/day off weekend on/weekend off. We caught the demonstrators from UCAL Berkeley from time to time, but mostly we stood guard. One day on an off weekend we get a call from the captain that they need 4 Marines to go to Oklahoma City for something. Sounded different than standing post so 4 of us volunteered and went to the guard house in greens with our rifles. Once we hit the guard house we got a ride in a pick up truck and we thought we were off to get on a munitions train for a run to Oklahoma City, we had trains loading and unloading at Concord on a daily basis so that was why e expected a train run,anything is better than standing the same old posts everyday we left Concord and arrived a short time later at Mare Island Naval Shipyard where we thought we would get our train to Oklahoma City we drove around the base for awhile and pulled up next to a guided missile cruiser. When we saw the ship we realized that by now the Captain was really laughing at the trick he pulled on us! The ship was the Oklahoma City and there would be no train ride for us! We were then instructed to board the ship and met a GySgt from the Marine Detachment on the Oklahoma City. He then told us why we were here and what we were going to do next! We did at least get a good cup of coffee! We were then taken to the side of the ship and shown a barge (lighter) in the water (screw the nautical terminology for side). A Navy officer explained that each one of us was to stand on a corner of the barge as it was being towed from Mare Island to Concord Naval Weapons Station. Weapons from the cruiser had been offload and we going to be taken to Concord. The Oklahoma City had just returned from service off Vietnam. The weather gets a little chilly in the Bay Area especially if you’re traveling standing on a corner of a barge. The Navy officer agreed that we could be security from the deck of the tug, two on the deck by the stack and the other two could sit in the galley to stay warm.

Now it gets interesting, we are ready for a cruise in the strait of something from Mare Island to Concord, pretty straight forward and we expected to be the laughing stock of the Marine Barracks when we got back!

Sounds simple but now the real fun began! The skipper of this tug decided to run us up on a sand bar at a pretty good speed which resulted in an immediate stop, dead stop, deader than dead. My M-1 was against the stack and immediately went airborne, I could see the court martial in those very first seconds, but it just landed on the deck and we were all okay along with our rifles,The barge we were guarding did not stop with us and drifted a bit before slowing down and stopping. The Navy skipper huffed and puffed his tug but we could not get loose until the tide rose in a few hours. The 4 of us the took positions on the tug to prevent being boarded by pirates! Yes there were a lot of laughs when we finally arrived at or duty station!

A few weeks later the Captain gave us tickets to a Giant game Candlestick Park!

Can’t make this stuff up!

Semper Fi

Art Montegari
Ridgewood NJ
then Brooklyn,  NY

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

16 comments


  • Thomas Fahey L co. 3/2 83 to 87

    Outstanding! Semper Fi Sir!


  • bob lake

    I was stationed at NWS Yorktown Va at Special Weapons Annex Skiffs Creek.We pulled the same duty Gates ,walking posts ,motor patrols,barge details to NOB Norfolk ,blast area duty when the ammo trains arrived and,truck convoys .We actually had occasional train escot duty to NWS Bartesville Okc.When we off guard duty we trained like any other Marine .


  • Wayne Stafford

    I was in high school near there in 1966 and was riding my motorcycle along the fence when a Marine guard told me to move away. The Seal Beach Weapons Station was different. Kennie (His dad was XO) and I roamed all over that place. Real long story.


  • Dan Swan

    Mare Island brings back some memories. I believe it was in 1960 or 1961 that our platoon from Alameda NAS went to Mare Island to qualify. During that time a civilian guard killed his wife and her lover, which resulted in the base being locked down. Our platoon was ordered to sweep the island in search of the guard. I along with a private named Jessie James ( a Korean Vet with three rows of ribbons) and another young Marine whose name I don’t recall entered a large hanger type building. As soon as we entered the building a single shot rang out and within seconds blood poured down from a large air condition type duct. The guard was lying on top of the duct and committed suicide. If he had wanted he could have shot at least one or two of use as we walked in the building before we could have returned fire.


  • GYSGT. Danny Marso

    In 1963, we were fresh out of Parris Island,and transported up to NC to Camp Gieger for training at ITR.
    It was much better than PI, and everything was going smoothly. Then with about three weeks left, dozens
    Of us were stricken with some sort of pneumonia like illness, and transported to the Naval Hospital at Camp
    Lejune in cattle cars ,I was in the Cattle Car with a boatload of sick Marines with temperatures of about 103*
    When we arrived, they put us in a large ward, and told us the treatment would consist of bed rest and gallons of fruit juice. Didn’t sound too bad to a bunch of young Marines.About three weeks later they discharged us, and we started to worry about repeating training,the SNCO was pretty good, and said he would put us in companies that were as far as we were at when we left. Well, it was soon realized by the bunch of us that everything was EXACTLY the same ,the sea stories,war stories,and humor ,all repeated verbatim by the instructors. We came to the infamous machine gun course, and we knew what to expect, there were six of us
    “Veterans” the instructor started with a line about NEVER VOLUNTEER for anything,he said in our short time
    In the Corps we had learned that. Then as expected,he asked for a VOLUNTEER! Well all six of us were ready,and up our hands went !! The instructor picked me, and I knew I had made it. After he selected me, he said this Marine will be happy he volunteered for once,because he will be feeding the ammo to the Machine
    Gun instead of crawling through the course ! It felt so great to have pulled off a little victory over our beloved Corps , and I was happy as could be for the rest of the day. I didn’t volunteer for much for a few years,OOORAH !!


Leave a comment