Camp Pendleton Base Brig

This is the third part of a continuing series.
October, 1989
The military chasers had not only handcuffed me but also had the cuffs looped through a leather waistbelt they had put on me so my hands were immobilized in front of me. At the Capital City Airport they checked in with the airline that they were military and were strapped and they put a jacket over my restraints instructing me not to jingle the cuffs as it would draw attention. Hey, I hadn’t even thought of that. As we boarded the flight I purposely jingled the cuffs to try to get the other passengers’ attention. “Stop making that noise!” the chaser hissed.

We flew into Chicago’s O’hare airport where they rented a car and drove us to the Chicago Naval Station. I don’t remember what the delay was (it may have been traffic) but we arrived late and I was booked into the Naval Brig just around lights out. Since I was in civvies and they didn’t have any Marine uniforms I was given a Navy getup to wear so here I was, a recently arrested AWOL Marine with a full head of hair wearing the Navy Dungarees. Fucking bellbottoms. I looked around for Tito or Jermaine but since I was the only one there I gave up on the idea of a Jackson 5 routine and hit the rack.

The next morning the chasers picked me back up and this time they handcuffed me to a freshly headshaven white guy who was about my height and was in civilian clothes as I was (the Navy had only lent me their stuff and thank God they wanted their costume back on my departure.)

I didn’t know it at the time (we were instructed not to speak to each other) but this guy’s story was very similar to my own and we would become good friends in the brig. He was a Jewish dude named Thomas Heyward. He was from Pontiac, Michigan and he had been AWOL for some time as I had. He was arrested on Friday the 13th as I was. We were both drunk at the time of our arrests. He had a girlfriend named Kim. My wife’s name was Kim. His Kim was a cashier at Meijers. My Kim was a cashier at Meijers. If he would have shot at me from a theater I would have fired back from a book despository building. But all I knew at the time is that I was handcuffed to his dude I wasn’t allowed to talk to. I still owe him $5 he lent me for haircut money. And since he’s Jewish let’s see, $5 at compound interest from November 1989. . . works out to about $17 billion today. Anyway there was another guy being transported with us too but my memory of him is hazy. He sort of disappears from the story like Richie’s older brother Chuck on the first season of Happy Days.

We are flown to San Diego and are transported to Camp Pendleton where we are sent to the brig. I am given some USMC gear and a high and tight haircut and am processed into the facility. I am soon assigned to target repairing detail which is a huge pain in the ass. Somehow I am later moved to the mess hall squadbay which is much better because in mess duty we always eat first (and a lot) and Heyward is in the same squadbay. I don’t end up hanging with him though. I end up hanging with the brothas and I am schooled in the fine art of playing spades. When I first arrive I haven’t even heard of the game. By the time I leave I am a seasoned player.

The brothas are pictured as follows: Upper left, Robert Harris from Oakland California. He’s the one who taught me to play aggressively and count the cards. He had a tatoo with the name Marcie on his shoulder. When I asked him about it he said they were broken up. What a n00b!

Upper right: Ronnie Collins. He was an identical twin from Georgia. His brother Lonnie wanted to join the Corps as well but he couldn’t because he was convicted of stealing a car. It was a crime he didn’t commit. The real culprit was the guy in this picture. Squealing is frowned upon in the hood so Lonnie never ratted his brother out and did the jail time instead because he was keeping it real.

Lower left was this dude they called Kiwi. He had big lips. He also did a week in the hole for getting in a fighting stance against another inmate. I think he was just frontin’ but they MPs knocked him down and took him away anyway.

Then there was me. I wasn’t really a brotha but the other guys told me I could be an honorary one when some Mexican dude named Ensciso informed me that the other Mexicans had excommunicated me from the Mexican race for hanging out with the black dudes. Yay. I still couldn’t dunk but at least I was down with a clique. I even was one of the first to jump up when there was almost a riot between the blacks and the whites. In retrospect it’s a good thing nothing jumped off because I could have gotten off one punch but there was nowhere to run to.

Between eating as much as we wanted, playing spades tournaments, and staying up at night to watch Yo MTV Raps I was having the time of my life. My favorite memory was the day that Collins begged a Burger King double cheeseburger off of one of the guards (who would have been seriously reprimanded if he had been caught giving us contraband) and the rest of us chased him around the squadbay until he relented and tore the burger into for pieces to share with the rest of us. The brig was actually quite ok for a short stretch of time. In all my days there numbered 56.

The day came I was told I was leaving and my homie Harris didn’t believe me. My impending court martial was canceled and my request for a discharge was being granted. The whole reason I had gone AWOL in the first place (my wife was exhibiting suicidal behavior like a nut and I was denied emergency leave) was deemed worthy and the fact that I was denied leave was a potential embarassment to the Corps. By then everything was screwed up and I just wanted a discharge. The Marine Corps was willing to give it to me so we hammered out a deal where I was given a discharge that was not dishonorable. It was deemed that my wife’s medical condition was such that I would have to spend so much time on leave as to be problematic so I was given a GOS (Good of the Service) discharge.

I was to be cut loose immediately and now my only dilemma was whether or not to steal a Camp Pendleton Base Brig camoflauge winter jacket on my way out. I thought to stow it in my seabag and it would make for a hilarious story but on the off chance that my bag would be searched I decided against it. I now wish I had taken it because they didn’t search me. That is my only regret from that era. I don’t regret going AWOL because if I hadn’t my oldest son wouldn’t be here (he was conceived when I was on the loose). In fact as I released from the brig I was already aware my first child was on the way just as I was getting out of the corps. Life was sometimes difficult, often complicated, but in the end life was good. And that is the story of my life in the brig.

22 Responses to “Camp Pendleton Base Brig”

  1. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    Did you ever drop your soap in the shower?

  2. Mexigogue says:

    Ah, your favorite subject rears its ugly head again. Alas no. In fact I was in and out of the shower so quickly I’m not sure I even got wet. There was one guy in the brig, though, who was there because he had been caught appearing in a gay porn tape. This is not a joke, the name of the tape was called “Raw Recruit”. They fucked with that guy to no end! There was another guy who told us he was there for tearing that warning label off his mattress that says “do not remove under penalty of federal law.” turns out he was there for sodomy as well.

  3. Citizen Quasar says:

    I hate to complain again as it interrupts the flow of things but, I don’t see the pic at the Angelfire link. I guess that’s OK as this is a good story in and of itself.

    I will say that I am glad that you did not become a Rump Ranger, honorary or otherwise.

  4. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    Rule #1 Stay away from crazy suicidal women…..

  5. Mexigogue says:

    Hey I was watching a movie yesterday, Totall Recall, and I had never seen it before. It had Swarzeneggar in it and as an added bonus A MIDGET GOT SHOT IN IT!! GOD THAT WAS GREAT!!!

  6. Linny says:

    beats my “got arrested for public nudity” charge…

    my only question is…

    Richie Cunningham had an older brother? how did I miss that???

  7. Mexigogue says:

    Chuck only appeared in a couple of episodes in the first season. He didn’t talk much he would just bounce a basketball.

    Oh and I just changed that link for the picture. You guys tell me if it works now!

  8. Mexigogue says:

    Wait PUBLIC NUDITY?????

  9. Peggy says:

    You tell a great story. I checked twice this morning before you posted the ending because I was curious about what happened to you when the Marines got you back.

  10. Mexigogue says:

    That’s great but I can’t really take the credit, that story practically tells itself. And to think I left out the part about the prisoner who took all the tobacco out of his cigarette and filled it with broken off kitchen match heads and then he put a little tobacco on the end to make it look like a regular cigarette. I asked him why and he said it was for the next motherfucker who asked to bum a cigarette.

  11. R says:

    They should make a movie about your life, dude. Have fuckin’ Francis Coppola direct that shit.

  12. Mexigogue says:

    If I ever mess around and do anything famously earthshattering the basis for my life’s story will already reside on this blog!!!!! The only thing I’m scared of is that I’ll lose out on my audition to play myself and the part of me will end up getting played by Screech from Saved by the Bell.

  13. Cosmic Siren says:

    What happened to Kim while you were in Camp Pendleton? Did she freak or was she stable by then?

  14. Mexigogue says:

    She was just fine. After six months of me being AWOL in Lansing she was probably due for a break from me anyway. I reckon I have to tell the conclusion (my return) tomorrow.

  15. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    I was hoping she would have killed herself..

  16. Phelps says:

    Hey! You guys were in that movie Heartbreak Ridge! Your line was “no habla.” That was hillarious! After Clint Eastwood broke your boombox, you were all like, “RAH, GUNNY!!!” And then you went AWOL in the movie too, and Clint Eastwood gave you a bunch of money showing how he really was a caring guy, and you got wounded in Grenada! That was great!

    So tell us about Grenada and Clint Eastwood.

  17. Mexigogue says:

    Grenada was great. Clint Eastwood. . I had to kick his ass a couple times because he got outta hand just cuz I kept calling him “clit”. But other than that all all around great guy.

    Dammit, now I gotta go watch that movie.

  18. Citizen Quasar says:

    I remember when I got out of the military.

    I was in the Texas National Guard at California Crossing in Dallas, Texas. I was in Commo, HHC, 3BDE. That company SUCKED! It was just a bunch of fat old men on profile with just a couple of years left before they drew their pensions and that was where the Army stashed them all.

    You can Google search that unit and may not find it because they folded the flags an shut it down.

    I quit showing up for about 6 months. Then I got a call saying that if I did not show up that “the constable” would come and get me.

    I showed up in skivies with my uniform and duffle bag in the trunk of my car. I went to see the captian (the CO). This man wanted to make me his jeep driver because he liked a straight talker. However, I had had enough.

    I said that I wanted out and laid two letters that I had written on his desk. One was addresed to Austin and the other was addressed to the Pentagon.

    He said that I might get a dishonorable discharge and I said that the operative word was “discharge.”

    They gave me an HONORABLE DISCHARGE.

    Wow! That made honorable discharge number three!

  19. Cosmic Siren says:

    How was her medical/mental state proven to the court martial board?

  20. Linny says:

    public = in the out of doors
    nudity = the absence of clothing

    I would have thought you would have known all about that kinda stuff… geeze… 🙂

  21. Phelps says:

    CQ, if you had gotten a DD, and someone called you on it, you could just say, “Hey, I’m 2 and 1, sumbitch!”

    The best I’ve been able to come up with is a pathogenic pussy discharge.

  22. Phelps says:

    Uh, I just realized that you should know I meant “having the qualities of pus” but the other way is funny too.