12th Naval District Band

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I spent some of the happiest years of my life as a member of the 12th Naval District
Band on Treasure Island. The band room contained living quarters for the single band
members, two or three to a room unheard of for enlisted men during that era. We also
had a kitchen with food lockers and cold storage. The base commissary was right out our
back door. We were housed in one wing of the building- the Marines had the rest. They
were constantly trying to kick us out! Our wing had been the base clinic and infirmary at
one time so it was divided into individual rooms with a large rehearsal area and TV lounge
complete with pool tables.
I had a career of 27 years as a musician in the navy and at no time did I experience the
closeness and warmth like we had in that band. The band was excellent musically thanks
to our leader CWO Gerard Bowen. And then, there was the matter of the greatest city in
the world just across the bridge! I was blessed to be able to hear the greatest jazz
musicians in the history of the music at the Blackhawk and Jazz Workshop during those
years. North Beach was my university and church.
I will never forget the wonderful spiritual times we shared working together and
making beautiful music on the Magical Treasure Island. A treasure never to be forgotten.
The museum should be reopened with a special section for the Navy Band.


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