OCBP Alumni Of The Week, Mark Warren, Right Place At The Right Time In OC

OCBP Alumni Of The Week, Mark Warren, Right Place At The Right Time In OC

(Editor’s Note: The following is a series on the men and women who have spent their summers protecting all those who came to Ocean City for fun and safe vacation.)

OCEAN CITY — Mark Warren was one of those guys who saw life as an adventure and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Like most Catonsville kids, he had spent some time in Ocean City. Unlike most though, he had a plan.

He was about to start his junior year at Mount Saint Joseph High School when he decided that he would try his hand at being on the beach patrol the next summer. He mailed in an application to the OCBP office in December and then hit the local YMCA pool to start swimming. By January of 1975, the postcard from Captain Bob Craig showed up at his house informing him that his tryout would be in April. “I was only 16 years old and surprised my parents that I passed,” he said.

Passing the beach patrol test was one thing, especially for a guy not even graduating from high school. Finding a place to stay was totally different. But as luck would have it, the captain had an open spot in his own house on St. Louis Avenue and offered it to Mark. “There were six of us that stayed with him. Three guards and three guys who worked at Frontier Town,” he recalled.

Over the next eight summers, Mark would guard the beaches downtown, take up surfing and live the life of summer adventure. He talked his younger brother Tim into moving down to the beach, along with a whole crew of friends who helped create one of the most legendary guard houses in beach patrol history, known as “the Swamp.” It was always the place to be after a long day of rescues.

Mark got better and more confident at his job every year and was made crew chief in 1979. His beach on 14th Street was known for the treacherous rip currents, but it was still always crowded. It was fortunate that he was there the morning of his most memorable pull.

“It was July 21 and I was coming back from lunch,” he recalled. “A huge rip opened south side of the 15th Street jetty and a family of over 12 people were immediately swept out to sea. Not one of them could swim. I blew three whistles and went in with Kevin Smith, Greg Callahan and the rest of the crew racing in the water behind me. I swam to the furthest one out in the rip. It was a man who was panicked, but afloat. I gave him the buoy, but he wouldn’t take it. I gave it to him again and he rejected it a second time. The third time I nearly had to hit him with it. Only at that point did he grab the buoy. Suddenly, two people he had been holding under to keep himself afloat popped up out of the water. This pair were also completely panicked and spitting up water. With all three in tow, we swam parallel to the beach to get out of the rip and then made our way in to shore. When we got into knee deep water, I physically had to push the first man’s feet down to the sand, so he would walk. Thank God for the good training of the OCBP that made the difference that day.”

All lives were saved that day. With Mark in the lead, his crew were in the right place at the right time. As Mark always impressed on his guards, “We don’t panic. We just go about the business of saving lives.”

Mark continued to impress his fellow guards and officers on the OCBP. After just one year as a crew chief, he was made a sergeant. Two summers later he was a lieutenant. It was a meteoric rise by any standard, and Mark could have stayed on and advanced even further if he wanted. But his sense of adventure had other plans.

During the off seasons, he and some of his “Swamp” friends had travelled west to California. It was clear that there were more adventures to be had on the Pacific coast, and Mark felt that this was the place for him. He still surfs a lot and makes his way back to Ocean City when the opportunity comes about, and he’s still living his life as an adventure.

Mark Warren now works in global investments and makes his home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. when he’s not surfing in Costa Rica.