Friday, January 9, 2009

Letter 2-October 15, 1943 (Camp Abbot)

October 15, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mother and Dad,

Please excuse me for not writing sooner. I really couldn’t help it though because for the last two days I’ve been in the hospital. Don’t worry though, it’s nothing serious-just a bellyache. Already I feel swell but I think that I’m going to have a hard time getting out. This is because I’m such a good floor mopper, sweeper, etc.

You must have been pretty surprised when you received my telegram saying that I was in the engineers-so was I when I heard the news. It seems that I did best in my mechanical aptitude test and so it was the engineers for me. So far I’ve been unable to find anybody who knows whether I’m still in the A.S.T.P. or not-I might be in the engineer end of the program-I hope.

The engineers-Phyyyttt (the bird)-The Army Medical Corps-Phyyyttt. This is the way I feel at the present time, but you’re the only ones that I’m letting know it. There’s an awful lot of 1st. class gripers around here-as well as goldbricks- and they aren’t very popular.

You probably want to hear my whole story, so here is or are, rather, the gruesome details.

When I got up Monday morning and they read the shipping list, I was on it as was the rest of my gang (with the exception of Alarcon-the fellow we took home-and Clark-the fellow from Van Nuys.) I wanted to call you up but they don’t tell you where you’re going until you leave. We got our gear together and by means of truck and P.E. we arrived at the Union Station downtown. From there I could have called you up, and you could have come down and seen me off, but I was afraid that I couldn’t take another goodbye and that’s the truth. One fellow’s mother came down to see him and it only made both of them feel worse.

We left the station about 8:00 (0r should I say 20:00) and started North. We slept double in lower berths and nobody got any sleep all night long-It took us 8 hours to go between L.A. and Bakersfield. The goddam Pullman was not ventilated so we had all the windows open when we went through that long tunnel up along the Ridge Route. Needless to say, I damn near choked to death. After a boring day of riding and eating 15c Southern Pacific Railroad meals which happen to cost the Army $1.00 apiece, we arrived in Klamath Falls, Ore. At 12:00 P.M. We spent the rest of the night on the floor of the station (pleasant huh?)
The next morning we got a pretty good breakfast at a nearby café (which reminds me-some people sure treat you lousily just because you’re a soldier. It reminds me of that poem by Kipling-“Tommy"-remember? They seem to think that just because you wear a uniform, you’re a bum. Well, after breakfast we got on a bus and rode 145 miles to Camp Abbot. The camp is east of the part of Oregon that we know-just at the edge of a desert. The altitude is about 4, ooo ft. ; it’s too damn cold; and it’s about the dustiest place in the world. A lot of small pine trees grow here but the soil is so light that they blow over before they get very big, and as a result, the ground is littered with myriads of rotten trees. What a hole!

About an hour after I arrived at the camp, I got sick and had to ride in an ambulance because it was too far to walk to the joint. So far I’ve been living the life of Reilly here-except that I’ve got to work pretty hard. Nearly everybody here in my ward had “G. I. stomach”-ulcers to civilians and they’re a pretty sorry sight.

I sure miss you and everything else at home, but they keep me busy enough that it doesn’t get too bad. I’ll have to close here because I can see some work coming.

Because I was in camp so short a time before I got sick I’m not sure what company or battalion I’m in, but I think that if you send mail to the address on the envelope it will get to me. My next letter will have the right address on it for sure.

All the Love in the World,



  1. Camp Abbott is now the site of the Sun River Resort along the Deschutes River just south of Bend, Oregon. The log officers club still stands and is called The Great Hall.

  2. I visited Camp Abbot last summer and took many pictures of the surrounding area and the Great Hall. My father wrote 70 letters from Camp Abbot and drew several detailed maps of the Camp. The best I can say based on his maps and diagrams is that his barracks were about where the fairway for Hole 12 now exists! If you follow this blog you will be an expert on Camp Abott and the Army Corp of Engineers training by the time you are done

  3. My son, Richard (Dick) B. Griffing served at a military base in Medford, Oregon during WWII. He was in the Navy Medical Corps and treated Vets for "clap" and other typical complaints. Is that anywhere near Camp Abbot?

  4. Camp Abbot was about 100 miles NE of Medford, Oregon. It is now the site of the Sun River Resort near Bend as David pointed out. When I visited there last July the "Great Hall" which was the Officer's club was the only remnant left of the once thriving camp. While inquiring at the local Sun River real estate office, the manager told me that in 12 years at that office I was only the third person to inquire about Camp Abbot.


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