Send in the Marines!

Today in History, May 4, 1946:

Call in the Marines! The Battle of Alcatraz. On May 2nd, three inmates on D Block of Alcatraz prison managed to overtake the block of cells. One of them managed to expand and crawl between bars leading to the catwalk above the cells and overpower the guard there. Soon they had imprisoned the guards in two cells and taken their weapons. Now they only needed to find the key to the “yard” and they could steal the island’s launch to escape. However by the time they found the key, they had tampered with the lock so much that a security feature kicked in and they were sealed inside. Over the next couple of days they fired on guards outside and on the guards they had imprisoned inside, killing 3 and injuring 14. The Warden called for help from Marines stationed at the nearby Treasure Island Naval Base, many of whom were fresh from fighting Japanese hidden in caves in the Pacific. The Marines assaulted D Block with machine gun fire, grenades and mortars. When the guards went to secure the building, they found the three ringleaders dead in a utility corridor to which they had retreated. Two more inmates would later be executed for their role in the attempted escape.


Today in History, March 21: 1963 – Alcatraz, the preeminent, harshest prison in the federal system, closes and the worst of the worst are transferred to other prisons in the system. Alcatraz was know for the impossibility of escape due to it’s placement on an island in San Francisco Bay. It had been a military outpost designed to protect shipping in the Bay before becoming a prison. Now it is a Historic site and tourism destination.