In 1956, I was assigned as a prison guard/chaser at the infamous Middle Camp Fuji Brig. It was a no sitting,
no talking, red line brig.
This brig was so tough the maximum confinement was 30 days. Marines standing before a summary court
martial, who had the possibility of being sentenced to two weeks, would ask/beg for a sentence in excess of
thirty days in the hope that they would be sent to the Army, Hardy Barracks stockade, AKA, rest home.Within the Butler Building brig was a cage that contained about 16 double bunks. There were two cells for
solitary confinement outside the cage, along one bulkhead. These two cells had gold footprints painted on the
deck. Any prisoners sentenced to these cells were required to stand on two gold painted footprints. There
were no lights in the cells. The deck near those two cells was carpeted so that a prisoner was unable to hear a
guard approach. There was a rectangular cut about six inches by three inches at eyeball height in the cell
door. If a prisoner was found to be off the golden footprints, he was brought before his commander for
additional punishment. Usually restricted rations for three days. This consisted of a small box of rice cereal
without sugar, served three times a day with all the water one could drink.
All meals were consumed in the mess hall while standing at parade rest. Everything served had to be eaten
with the exception of bones and paper products. After the morning meal, prisoners broke rocks with
sledgehammers until the noon meal. Following lunch, they were back out to the rock pile until the evening
meal. During inclement weather, the prisoners performed lock step, close order drill in the wire enclosure
outside the brig.
After showers, all prisoners stood at parade rest in front of their bunks, reading the Guide Book For Marines
until lights out at 2100 hours.
On Sundays, the prisoners had the opportunity to attend chapel. Not surprisingly, 100% did.
When a prisoner finished his sentence, we never saw him again. There was no recidivism in the Middle Camp
Fuji Brig. Every released prisoner was practically Squad Leader material. They found discipline, physical
fitness, and knew the Guide Book for Marines from cover to cover.
The above was a far cry from the “Correctional Institutes” later adopted where prisoners were able to take
out their frustrations by throwing feces and urine at prison guards.
One of the former prisoners wrote a Broadway play called, ‘The Brig”. The Los Angeles Times reviewed the
play. Part of what they had to say was, “The Brig is a modern inferno. The men who enter it abandon all
hope of mercy, striving only to find within themselves the strength to preserve their sanity against what seem
Here, hell is a Marine Corps prison… etc” A little overstated, but the fact remains that the entire Regiment
never had more than a dozen or so prisoners at any one time; far less than any other infantry regiment of the
times. The Vietnamese have a good term, “Binh nang, thuoc mang.” Big illness, strong medicine.