Posted by: notsofancynancy | May 31, 2012

World War II, chapter 14, Camp Rucker

World War II

Camp Rucker, Alabama

Chapter 14

May 1943 letter

In the last chapter we find my father in intense, or at least what he thinks is intense training and learning about Chemical Warfare in Camp Rucker, Alabama. It seems they are really trying to get all of these men ready to fight in the upcoming war. Dad has gone through marksmanship training and also machine gun training. I wonder if they are still trying to make him shoot right-handed. He mentioned it early on in the letters but has not mentioned it again. Dad’s discharge papers tell me that he got a medal for Rifle Sharpshooter in October 1942 (click here to learn more)and would go on to get his Carbine Sharpshooter(click here to learn more) in March 1944.

From Dad’s Discharge Papers

7 May 1943 he writes,

It is about time I found time to write you. Haven’t much time now. It’s about 6:40 and we have class at 7:00. I have been one of the busiest boys you have ever seen. The last 4 days. Today won’t be bad though. Chemical Warfare school was rough. I came in third in the class but it took some work. You can blame Colonel Cobb about not hearing from me. I never studied so hard in my life. 8 hours a day classes and I never got to bed before 12 at night and I wasn’t running around. We have a truck and ordnance Inspection the 12th and Personal ins.(inspection) On the 23. They cancelled furloughs for 15 days so I guess it will be a good one. It will be by 7th Corps and that means rooouuuggghhh [sic] so it will be busy for a while yet.

The Chemical Warfare classes sound like they took most of the day. So they are not doing much other than learning about this nasty way of fighting. It does not seem that they would have much time for anything else. You can tell he is in a hurry as the letter has been hastily written. I do not like that fact that my dad might need this training in the near future.

9 May 1943

I saw “My Friend Flicker” [sic] tonight it was good. Wasn’t there some good scenery in it. Boy we went up to go about 1:15 minutes ahead of time and there was a line ahead of us about a block and a half long. God I hate to waite. [sic] Nothing has happened here I filled an application for a specialist school yesterday and I guess only 2 from the Company goes so I probably won’t have a chance. Anyway it was a good idea. Go to college. Wouldn’t that be nice.

(Read about “My Friend Flicker” here.)

I wonder how different our lives would have been had they let him into that school? I mean I don’t believe he went as he comes out of the Army driving a truck, same as he is doing at this time.

16 May he angrily writes,

Just to show you what kind of an a-hole we have for a captain we have last week we passed three inspections and one drivers test. We were second in the division on the drivers test with an average of 97 and in the inspections we rates as excellent by our own I.G. (Inspector General) and by the I. G. of the second army we were rated one of the best QM he had ever inspected. The other one we passed satisfactory. Oh yes we had an ordnance (inspection) by the 7th corps and they said we were some of the cleanest rifles they had ever seen. Then the Capt. Have guts enough to call a non-com meeting and really chew us about 20 minutes worth. And say it wasn’t us but by the grace of God and Good luck we passed it. He was the only one who did anything to aid the cause.  So we have about all quit. He gets all the credit let him have the work too. Waite[sic] until next week until we get a chance to talk to the I.G.(inspector General) The closer the 23rd gets the harder they drive us. Believe me by next Saturday we will be going night and day. Last week I was on duty 5 nights and that wasn’t anything.  The 23rd starts our 7th Comp. Inspection and we have to be good. At least they say so. If I were as sure about some of the officers passing as the E.M (Enlisted men) I wouldn’t worry.

He sure is mad. I can understand it when he feels like he has been so cheated. Plus he has all this training in Chemical Warfare to learn. It seems as though he does not have time for anything more than what the Army is asking of him. The uncertainty of things to come and the training they are putting him through starts to show in the following letters. It is evident in the hurried script of his handwriting, but he still finds time to write almost every day.

1940 Era Gas Mask

(Courtesy of http://www.history.army.mil/photos/WWII/Preps/WW2-Prep.htm)

(Click here to learn more about the 1940’s troops preparing for war)

20 May

I have been in school again. And about all we had we the same thing we learned before. Anyway we put in 8 hours and have 8 more tomorrow. Then we have a four hour test. The test consists of decontaminating 96.67% pure mustard gas. If we get burned and have to go to the hospital we flunk the test. Doesn’t that sound good. Any way I hope it [sic] good. I think I told you I had some poison oak. Well I have one hand. I am going to the Medics with it in the morning. I can hardly close it and have some good size blisters between my fingers. It is about to drive me nuts. Are they ever excited about the inspection next week. Boy we are getting everything ready. I hope we don’t even get to first base. But damnit when we all get in a mood like that we run into lady luck again and pass it. That is the way it goes. I guess I won’t make that specialist school. You have to have at least one year in college and I haven’t.   So I guess I’ll just have to wait until something else comes along. Oh well the army is the Army whenever you find it.

What does that mean! How does one decontaminate mustard gas? Does one not need to be in contact with said gasses to decontaminate them?

21 May

I have been on the range running targets. Boy what a time. We have 60 men who have to qualify and maybe we will get through this day firing and rifle marksmanship. So all the Non-Coms in the pits have made up our minds to give them enough points to pass the. In two cases this afternoon I know of a couple of scores that couldn’t have been over 6 and we gave them 20-22 to get through with the affair. They can’t shoot so something has to be done. No Bob didn’t get married but I guess she is coming down and they are then.

That does not sound like good odds. It just brings more questions than it does answers.

25 May

Two fellows took a jeep and went to town the other nite [sic]. They got caught and were both busted and grounded. Man was that bad and one was in my squad and also a good driver. He might be able to drive later I hope.

It kind of reminds me of a day in the past in a little town in Arkansas where Dad drove his buddies somewhere other than the picnic he was suppose to be headed to. He ended up running into the front of the convoy. But they did not get in trouble. It seems that the Army is keeping a tighter rein on the soldiers.

27 May

We just had a blackout. Gosh what an experience. We had to move out in the dark and all and all that. About 2 minutes after the whistle started we couldn’t see anything. Less than four we were moved out. How is that for efficiency. Of course it was just part of the inspection. I don’t know how much area it covered. It lasted about 20 minutes of course I didn’t time it. The inspections have been going damn good. At least I think so. In the last two days I have skipped five classes on of them were at night. And one inspection. So I haven’t done so bad. You see a certain portion of the Platoon is called at a time to be inspected Well my squad was inspected on Field Sanitation and today we had 30 minutes to pitch pup tents display full field equipment and strike tents. We did it in 25. Beat the old Recon troop by 8 minutes and got another excellent for the Company. The rest I have skipped. I would have missed that too but they caught up with me. To tell you the truth I don’t give a damn anymore and I am acting the same way. So as I have said before don’t be surprised if you have to start writing a private.  The last rumor I hear today is that we are moving to Ft. Ord. But then I know we have 26 weeks more of Combat training and them we have maneuvers. By that time I will be in a padded cell so I won’t have to worry. Bob says hello.

I can still feel the desperation in his words. In Chapter 11 we hear about my Grandpop going through a “blackout” in Pasadena. (Click Here to read it)  Here is a glimpse into what the soldiers went through when they were on “blackout.”

Viola in 1942

There are 10 letters in June 1943 on 1 May he writes,

Another day another dollar, Still nothing done to help win the war. I’m sure in the dumps. Boy what will the kids think of an old man who couldn’t even get across in three years. I am almost in the mood to take a bust and joining the Rangers. We can now. But only Pvt. And Pfc’s can though. It sure wouldn’t take much coaxing. I sure hope you had a good time at the beach. I know you did so take care of the sunburns and all the insect bites. If you find any smears on here it is sweat. Man is it hot. And I want to go to a dance after a while. I’ll bet that is a hot place. There are over 400 WAAC’s in Camp. Maybe they will come up and we will have enough women. I hope. I just found out something for sure. Today was Bob’s birthday. I knew it was soon but not exactly when. I am in a heating[sic] up mood I have another letter after I finish this and then carry on so take it easy.

8 June

Gosh Darling I sure feel good tonight for some reason or other. Maybe it’s because I got cussed out twice today. Gosh I am reforming. Bob and I have just been discussing again. Maybe I am wrong about Madeline not liking me. But I’ll take my hunch until proven not guilty. We had a bitching session about recreation today. The Special Service Officer is going to try to arrange a dance in Enterprise and invite the WAAC’s. I guess we go into the fields for a week starting around the 14. Boy will that help pass some time until I get out. I wrote home for my money yesterday. I am getting all in the mood. By the way darling what kind of chewing gum do you like best. We can buy it here two packs at a time and I sure have been stocking up. So name your favorite kind. Gosh Darling I still don’t know about getting married. I sure hate to put it off and I hate to get married and not have you with me. Lets waite [sic] and talk it over between Mom, Pop, you, and I. How about that? Maybe they wouldn’t like the idea anyway? After I read your letter I would have gotten married right then and not even thought about the things we should. I damn near cried. Baby, ain’t [sic] I. By now though I have only read it about a dozen times through. See Darling I do love you and like your letters very much. Bye Darling, Love always, Lefty.

Lefty and Vi, in Kansas Dad’s first leave

It seems like Dad has gotten some kind of encouragement from Mom. I think it is sweet that Dad wants her Mom and Dad a part of the planning process. I wonder if he ever gets the chance to sit down with Pop and Grandma. I wonder if it is true or just the dream of his to be married before he sees action. It seems like he has been teasing Mom about getting married since about 1938 and here in 1943, five years later he is still waiting in the wings to sweep her off her feet. Will she let him?

© Copyright  notsofancynancy 2012

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Responses

  1. Yep, there is always someone in the Army waiting to tear you down. It builds character I am told.

    • Well if nothing else Dad did have a lot of character! Thank for stopping by!

  2. It is good to hear that your mother is devoted to him now! I hated to hear him talk about her being with other men! lol Everybody loves a good love story! ❤
    It is sad that we had chemical warfare too. Such a disgusting "trick" that doesn't belong in humanity. Its like spiking someones drink with poison behind their back and not giving them a fighting chance to live.

    • He was 17 when they met and she 13. He literally had to wait for her to grow up it seems.

      Agreed about the chemical warfare, and especially the mustard gas. I want my dad to get out of the army now! But sadly I know there is still a war to go through.

      As always thanks for your support, it is priceless!

  3. Although our dads never served together, (at this time my father I believe was at Fort Bragg NC) – but it gives me a glimpse into what life might have been for him during that time in the Army and the long hours of training.
    How difficult it must have been for them being so far away from home.
    ~Patty

    • I hope that by sharing Dad’s letters others will be able to relate to what their fathers went through. Three years of training now and they still have not sent him overseas. It seems like they will all be really smart when they get there!

  4. The letters do shed light on what young men – no matter what military – possibly went through during this time. By mid-1943, the tide was changing although casualties were mounting. Of course, this is all in hindsight. Remember, all they had was the radio and newspapers (which had at least a three day delay). Regardless if your dad was still in training for these years, it also does show how much might the US really had.

    • Agreed! It is a fine look into what a young soldier went through. It is still quite a few months until he actually is sent overseas. It seems like the US wants to do this right. Thanks for reading my fathers stories and I love your insight on it.

  5. BTW, in seeing how close he was to Nebraska and Kansas, I wonder if he was at North Platte Canteen… http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=07DGeLvDw8I

    • I really loved the video. Dad was in the National Guard in 1940 and when he was mustered into the army 23 December 1941 he was immediately shipped to Camp Robinson, Arkansas. He did go home on leave in 1941 home to Nebraska but he never mentioned the Canteen in North Platt. Since my mom was in California I would have to think he did not go back to Nebraska. Although I believe they did get married in the mid west. We will see. Thanks for sharing the video.

  6. Wow! I’m glad I found your blog, can’t wait to read more. You’re lucky to have so much info on your Dad’s service!

    • Thank for joining me. I feel as though if I tell the story and just one person reads it I have done my job.

      God bless and thank for reading! I am really glad you found me too!

  7. Reblogged this on po11ycheck.

  8. My husband went through much of what your dad did. I’m liking reading this so much!

    • Thank you so much! I am enjoying learning about it from Dad’s letters.

  9. These letters are timeless and yet reflect a different time and syntax. Like opening a time capsule and realizing that the current generation isn’t alone in trials and tribulations. The only difference is how we used to be able to more concisely express ourselves. Now everything has been adulterated with contractions and single letters representing whole words. No wonder we can’t communicate with one another.

    Love the insight and thanks for the visits to my world.

    Bob

    • Well said Bob and thanks for the return visit. I am glad you enjoyed Dad’s letters. I hope you will stop by again!

  10. Excellent!! You do a great job.

    • Thank you so much! I cannot tell you how much it means to hear it. It is so important to tell Dad’s story so that it is interesting! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  11. Wow, what memories you have. People do not realize what our families in the military go through. Thanks for sharing…your letters are keep sakes!!

    • I feel blessed. I think a lot of what happened with my dad is it was not talked about. I had no idea what he went through and we are not even to where he goes overseas. He will go soon.

  12. I got a kick out of My Friend Flicka………..what a neat old movie! He sure was busy all the time. My dad used to say that the old saying in the army, hurry up and wait was so true…………rush to get something done and get somewhere and then wait………..

    • Yea dad seems to be doing a lot of the hurry up and wait!

  13. this was fascinating! thank you so much for stopping by my blog and liking my post about my great uncle bud who died that fateful summer in france, 1944. aren’t these old letters and what they don’t say great? i wish i had that last letter my grandmother received in that stack from August 8, 1944… i wonder where it is. -molly

    • Thanks for the return visit! I have found my father’s letters fascinating. I have learned a lot about him and my mother from his letters. I feel blessed.

  14. Movember Wine Raffle

  15. I’m really enjoying your posts.
    it’s a different viewpoint than I get from my letters and the picture is gaining clarity. Isn’t it fun to read them and think of what they mean, figuratively, mentally and emotionally?

    • Thank you so much, it really means a lot for you to be enjoying them. Yes, it is very interesting to see this side of my parents, a side I did not see growing up.

  16. Hello Nancy, thanks for liking my A&A post today. You’re doing a great job with your letters! As you can tell I stopped doing mine after…. one? Went back to get the rest of the letters from Dad and he’d thrown them all away! Tons of them. I was not too pleased! He said he “didn’t think they were important”, which I promptly corrected him on. No way I could have retrieved them, lost in the trash as his assisted living residence many days before. I have enough to put something decent together though and it’s a project for the future. 🙂

    • These were lost in an attic until my daughter told me about them. The pictures were lost in a basement in New Jersey. Things came together when I visited NJ last year and found the photos. When I realized the letters and the pictures corresponded with each other I felt blessed. I never knew I would be here 42 weeks into transposing the letters.

      I can’t wait until to read your project!

  17. Tough times made tough people. I really admire those folks from that generation. As we travel, so far, we often find ourselves in the midst of historical references to various wartime periods. Something special about the WWll era. for sure.
    Very interesting.

    • It was certainly a different but special time. I am lucky I was given a chance to do this project and preserve my father’s time. I have always loved history but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have something so precious to preserve.

  18. Nothing captures history and everyday life like original letters. Thanks for sharing and thanks for visiting my blog.

  19. How different things were then! Thank you for writing, very interesting to read!

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

  20. Camp Rucker! My elementary school principal, William Craft, was stationed there probably around the same time. I was stationed at Fort Rucker from 1995-1997 and again from 2001-2004.

    • First and foremost thank you for your service.

      I wonder how much it has changed since my Dad was there? I believe the one thing that has not changed is the hurry up and wait part of things! lol

  21. You have been gone for a while. Good to have your posts back. So glad you liked “What Makes An Artist? – Revised” on Paper, Mud and Me. Till next time – Aloha – pjs.

  22. Wow – lots of comments. I read this, and your about pg. (I didn’t click any links) Was reminded of a posting I made -Re yoo hoo- http://partneringwitheagles.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/world-war-ii-chapter-6-the-yoo-hoo-incident/
    Good window into our servicemen’s experiences. Sad though.

    • My father’s story has come a long way since the Yoo Hoo incident and once again thank you for reposting it.


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