5.01 Transfer to Boston

They sent me to my main camp in Boston and promoted me to PFC. So I got at the Navy Yards and they made me an MP which was my downfall. ‘Cause I hated officers and I hated the spit and polish. I liked being out in the fields firing weapons.

5.02 Drinking Buddies:

I got sent to Boston and my first day up at Boston I’m at post, me and Corporal Lewis. From twelve at night til four in the morning. Around two thirty in the morning Sergeant Byrne comes in. He was out doin’ the town. He has a fifth of Scotch and there’s two inches or so in the bottom of the bottle. And he says, “We’ll hafta celebrate you comin’ here. Have a drink.” I says, “No sir. I can’t drink on post.” He said, “Well I can’t take this on post so we’re gonna hafta drink it.” I said, “I can’t drink it.”

“Have a drink!” And he’s from Ireland. He has the brogue, “Have a drink!” I said, “I can’t have a drink. I’m on duty sir.” “Have a drink! Here. Drink it!” He gives me the bottle. So I take I drink. Now I never drank Scotch my whole life. I hardly drank beer. He says, “Have some more!” So I take another drink. He takes another drink and says, “Here. We gotta finish this because I can’t take it on post and I’m not throwing it away!”

Lewis, the other guy with me, he went down to the other post. There’s a two man post at one and we were at two man post at two. He went down to talk to the guards before Byrne came in. So me and Byrne are talking and he keeps telling me, “Have another drink! Have another drink! Have another drink!” We finished the bottle and Byrne goes into post.

I am… My head’s starting to go weary. I go into take a drink and they only have warm water in there. They didn’t have cold water, only warm water so you could wash. So I kept drinking the warm water. Well, then my head started spinning and spinning. I threw up. I mean threw up, all over the walls, the floors, everything. I’m sitting on the floor and Lewis comes runnin’ up, “What’s goin’ on?” I says, “I’m not feeling good.”

The cars were backed up from our main gate, up the off ramp of the expressway, up to the top of the expressway. ‘Cause nobody was sending them in. Lewis started letting everyone go in. I was sick as a dog. Drunk as anything. So, that was good. Nothing become of that.

But then me and Sergeant Byrne become friends. He’d wanna go out all the time and drink Little Knicks, they were little bottles of Knickerbocker beer, and White Horse Scotch. He’d buy a bottle of White Horse Scotch and put it in his pocket. Then me and Byrne would go out drinking. I mean, I’d get drunk as a skunk all the time with him. I could never drink, I’ve never been a drinker.

5.03 Navy Prisoners:

We used to chase Navy prisoners which means we’d bring ‘em to the base and we’d have them clean the base up and we’d stand by them while they’re doing the work. Tell them what to do and all that stuff. I would treat them good. We had a couple guys they were mean to them, bloody mean, they used to pull the gun on them and all that stuff. I used to treat them pretty good. I’d take them in where it was cool and let them have a smoke. I got along good with them. That was one good thing on my behalf.

I was off duty one time and they were gonna take the prisoners back to the Fargo Building. They said, “Wanna take a ride to the Fargo Building.” I said, “Yeah, I’ll take a ride with ya.” I was in civilian clothes. They had one of those pickup trucks with a canopy over it. We had six prisoners in there. There was Sanders, he was the guard, and me. I wasn’t on duty. I was just goin’ for the ride.

We’re in a traffic jam up on the expressway in Charleston. One of the prisoners says, “Hey! Look at that secretary up there! Ain’t she beautiful?” Sanders turned to look up at the secretary, which there was none even there, and the prisoner jumps outta the truck. Starts running down the expressway. Sanders is there, I says, “Go ahead, I’ll watch.” I don’t have a gun or anything. Sanders goes chasing him and I tell the prisoners, “Anybody else wanna go? You’re welcome to go.”

These are guys that are in maybe for two weeks, all short timers. Sanders goes running and now I’m standing standing outside the watching the truck. Now traffic is moving. We’re stopped there. A cop comes running up. He says, “What’s goin’ on here?” I says, “Well, we had a prisoner escape and I’m watching the prisoners. The other guy went chasing him.” I hear, “Boom! Boom!” I hear shots going off. So I thought, “Holy crap.”

I go running down the street looking for Sanders. This is mean, this is downtown Boston. There’s a vacant lot and an empty trailer truck. The prisoner is in there and Sanders is in there. He has the gun to the prisoner’s head. I’m thinking, “Back off Sanders. Back off.” I told Sanders to back off. We marched the prisoner back to the truck and took him to the Fargo Building.

We got called in on that and Sanders got held for firing a gun in downtown. He said, “I was firing it in the air telling him to stop!” They said, “Don’t you know the buildings are high and you got people hanging out the windows? They’re looking out. You coulda killed somebody. You don’t fire a weapon when you’re chasing prisoners.” After all that they told me I was gonna get court marshalled.

5.04 Campbell:

It’s hard to believe what happened in such a short period. I’m thinkin’ in my brain, “This is ridiculous.” I was on post with Campbell and Sanders. Sanders was on duty and Campbell came to relieve him so he could go to the bathroom. They exchanged guns. When you exchange guns you take the magazine, the clip, ya put the clip down. Ya open it up and look to make sure there’s nothing in there. Sanders did that and he went to the bathroom. Campbell took the gun.

Now Campbell was seventeen years old too. His grandmother had him transferred to Boston so he could be close to her ‘cause she was dying. Me and Campbell's on duty. Campbell put the magazine in the gun and put it in his holster. Me and Campbell are watching a sailor and his girlfriend in a car there. It’s all steamed up. Ya could see them going down, both of ‘em are gone, then they’d come up and then they’d go down and back up… We were getting a kick outta that.

Here come’s Sanders back. When he was comin’ back Campbell pulled the hammer back and snapped the trigger. Click click. Click click. Click click. Nothing’s there because the rounds are in the magazine not in the chamber. Campbell steps outta of the shack and Sanders grabs the gun and says, “Quit pointing that f’ing thing at me!” He grabs the gun and pushes the slide back thinking Campbell still has the magazine out. When he did Sanders pulls the trigger and the gun fires.

I thought Sanders shot my ear off because the gun went, “Whoom!” and fire came out. I grabbed my ears and turned around and looked. Campbell was standing there with his hands on his chest. I said, “Yeah, right.” and Campbell falls down. I knelt down and pulled his hands away and there was a hole right in his chest. I thought, “Oh my god. You shot ‘em.” We called the ambulance but he was dead. We got him to the hospital they said he was dead before he hit the ground. The shot cut his aorta off the top of the heart.

Here ya got a seventeen year old kid, his gramma begged him to come to Boston because she was dying. I was a pallbearer at the funeral. That was one of the saddest funerals. We were all dressed in dress blues. It was sad. The grandmother was crying. Everybody was crying. That was a sad situation.

So Sanders, the story gets complicated, killed him. Now they’re accusing him of manslaughter. Which it was. It wasn’t his fault. It was Campbell that started pulling the trigger and Sanders thought the gun was empty. The sailor with his girlfriend said I was across the street. When the shot went off I come running towards the shack. That’s a lie because I was standing right next to Campbell.

What happened when the shot rang out I ran out into the street holding my ears. I thought I was shot. They probably come up from underground where they were layin’ or whatever and looked over the windshield and saw me coming this way. At the court martial they said I was out on the other side of the road. I insisted I was standing right next to Campbell when he was shot.

I don’t know what ever happened to Sanders. I never heard the end of that.

5.05 Corporal Chismar:

Then I become Corporal. I was promoted to Corporal in seventeen months. In them days that was a big feat. We were in formation to go swimming and they call me in. They says, “Private Chismar. We got word here you got promoted to Corporal Chismar.” I says, “What?” They says, “You are now Corporal Chismar. Your first call of duty is to march the guys to the YMCA.”

We go out and the Sergeant says, “Platoon. I want you to meet your new Corporal, Corporal Chismar.” “Yay!” Everybody’s, “Yay!” “He’s gonna march you up to the YMCA.” So I says, “Ten-hut!” They all line up and snap to attention. I say, “Right face!” They turn right. “Forward march!” We go down marching through the street, down around the barracks.

After leaving the base we went on the main street and there was a restaurant and a bar.  A guy runs in the bar and gets a six pack of beer and he’s passing it out. The guys are drinking while we’re marching. I’m laughing. I’m getting a kick outta this. In the meantime, they’re yellin’, they’re wavin’ to cars and they’re givin’ the finger to cars as they’re driving to the base. They’re doin’ pretty much everything.

We get to the YMCA and there’s a guy standing on the steps sayin’, “Is Corporal Chismar here?” I say, “Yeah, this is Corporal Chismar.” “You’re wanted on the phone.”  I go in and pick up the phone. “What the heck did you guys do? The officer’s here. The general. They’re screaming! You march back now!” We marched back to the base and we hadda stand at attention until suppertime.

Many of the people driving cars were Navy wives. I guess they were telling their husbands about the things they saw. That was my first experience as a Corporal, which didn’t go too good. 

5.06 Byrned Again

A couple days later Sergeant Byrne says, “Let’s go out drinking.” So we went out drinking. We got in at four thirty in the morning and I was supposed to be on post at six. I barely got to bed, got up, got down on post and me and Lewis was on post again. The same post, number two. I start feeling bad, I was still half drunk. I didn’t get no sleep.

This Navy Corpsman comes over and I says, “Could you get me some pills? I’m not feelin’ good.” He says, “Alright. I’ll see what I can do.” I told Lewis, “I’m goin’ in with the Security Police.” They’re in the same building, there’s just a door between us and them. “If anybody comes just give me a hollar.” I used to do that all the time because it was so close. I’d go in and talk to the cops a while.

The thing of it is I sat down and I put my head back and I had my eyes closed. I don’t know if I was sleeping or not. A guy kicks me and he says, “Are you on duty?” I says, “What’s it to ya?” And he says, “What’s it to me? I’m Major So-and-so!” I said, “Well Sir. I’m on duty.” He said, “Whaddaya doin’ here?” I says, “I’m not feelin’ good.” So he calls up the Corporal of the Guard tells him he has a guy on duty that’s sleeping. He sent somebody down. “I want him taken off the post.”

They come down, take me off the post. We go down and they says, “You’re gonna have office hours.” So I had office hours. You go in front of the Colonel and another guy. They said, “What happened?” I said, “I was on post and I wasn’t feelin’ good. I asked the Corpsman for some pills and he was supposed to drop them off but I couldn’t wait. I was weak. So I went and sat down in the other room.” They said, “You cannot leave your post without telling the Corporal of the Guard first. We’re gonna restrict you to the base for thirty days.” I said, “That’s fine. That’s no problem.”

5.07 The Last Straw

So that went on and I was back to regular duty. My buddy had a girlfriend and she had a sister I used to date once in awhile, your mother and I was broke up at the time. She called up and said she wanted to go to the movies. I said, “I can’t leave the base but if ya come down to the base we can go to the movie on the base.” She says, “Alright.” I says, “I get off duty at two o’clock.” So she said she’d be there at two.

At five till two she comes down. I said, “Just wait til two o’clock.” She was outside the gate. Two o’clock comes and no relief. I told her, “Stand inside the shack. I’ll call the Corporal of the Guard.” The Corporal of the Guard says, “The guys are late. They’re on their way down. They’re right around the corner. They’ll be there in two minutes.” I says, “Alright.” I hang up the phone and standin’ behind me, the Major. The one that caught me off the post the other time.

“What’s goin’ on?” I says, “I’m callin’ the Corporal of the Guard because I’m supposed to be relieved at two and they’re not here.” He says, “What’s she doin’ here?” “I told her to come and and wait till I’m off duty.” He says, “You’re restricted. There’s not supposed to be anybody on the post with you. Give me your gun.” He takes me off duty again. I said, “I’m gonna be relieved anyway.” When the relief arrived they told them to march me back to the barracks.

She hadda leave and I went back to the barracks. Then they says, “Your gonna be court martialed. That’s two offenses in four days.” I said, “Well I wouldn’t have had the second offense if I didn’t get screwed on the first offense.”

5.08 Trial:

They gave me a defense council. I explained the story to him. Two days before the trail, they took my defense council, put him on the trail board and gave me a different defense council. The defense council asks me, “What are you gonna plead?” I said, “Guilty.” I was guilty, “I did what they said I did. So I guess I’m guilty.” He says, “Good. Good. That’ll make it easy.” which didn’t give me much faith.

In the meantime, one of the guys on the board tells me they’re gonna hang me because “You’re the twenty ninth guy this year caught breaking regulations. We’re tired of it. We’re gonna make an example outta you.” I says, “Can’t you wait till the thirtieth?” “Don’t get smart!” I says, “Do what you gotta do.”

The next day we hadda go qualify on our rifles. So I went to the qualifying range and who was there, all the guards from Portsmouth prison. So I tell them, “I’m gonna be seeing you guys in a couple weeks.” They says, “What’s going on?” And I says, “Ah, I got stuck. They’re trying to screw me. I’m probably goin’ to jail.” They said, “Alright. Don’t worry about it. We’ll take good care of ya.” I says, “Alright. Thanks.”

So we have the trial. Now I’m supposed to get what they call, I think, a preparatory challenge. If I don’t like the looks of a guy I could say I don’t want him on the board. That’s one challenge. Then I could get a second challenge if I had a reason. Which I coulda had a reason because he was my defense council. I didn’t get that either.

They wanted me to bring the girl in. I said, “I’m not bringing her in.” They said she has to be a witness to what happened. I says, “I’m not bringing her in. She had nothin’ to do with it. She came down to go to a movie and I’m not telling ya who she is and I’m not bringing her in as a witness.” They said, “Why not?” Ya see, they had girls that used to hang around the post, after the guys, all prostitutes. I says, “She’s not that kinda girl. She’s a good girl and I don’t want her dragged into this.” They says, “We have no reason to shorten your sentence. You’re getting six months and a bus[?] from corporal to private.” I said, “That’s fine.”

The trial starts and they go through the charges. They says, “Do you have anything you can say that would make your sentence lighter?” And I says, “I’ll let my lawyer talk for me.” He gets up and says, “No sir.” and sits down. I said, “Well I coulda said that.” It was a farce. I didn’t care. They go out, they come in, “You’ve been found guilty.”

That night they were gonna take me down to the Fargo Building until they can take me up to the prison in New Hampshire. I get ready. I’m in the car with the guy and he says, “You’re in trouble Jack.” I says, “Why?” He says, “They’re gonna put you in a cell with twelve other sailors and the sailors hate the Marines because the Marines treat them like crap on the base.” I says, “What’s gonna be is gonna be.”

They put me in a holding cell. There’s twelve sailors in there and me. I thought, “Well, I’m not gonna get no sleep tonight.” They didn’t bother me. I said, I treated them good and half of them recognized me. “You’re a good guy. Don’t worry. You’re okay.” I lucked out there.

5.09 Prisoner Transport

Now they’re taking me to Portsmouth. My buddies are taking me up, they asked, “Do we hafta put the cuffs on ya?” I says, “No. You don’t hafta put no cuffs on me.” I just sat and we talked in the car on the way up. We stopped for dinner and they says, “Can we trust ya?” I said, “Put the cuffs on me. That’ll make it exciting. I’ll look nifty walking into a restaurant with handcuffs on.” They put the cuffs on.

I went to the men’s room by myself. I was gonna climb out the men’s room window, and go around front and wave outside. They were in a table by the window. I thinking, “Should I do it?” I didn’t know how gooda friends they were. They coulda got me for jailbreak. I figured I better not push my luck. Boy I was tempted to climb out that window. I thought that out and thought I better not.

...Portsmouth Prison stories coming soon!

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