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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

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