Saturday, February 21, 2009

Letter 21- November 7, 1943

November 7, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Wot a life! Wot a life! Today is Sunday –the day when the Army rests supposedly. Well, we got up at 5:15 this morning and went out on the range. When we go there it was still so dark that we couldn’t fire. Soooooo -, we had to wait 45 minutes for the sun to come up. Of course, that 45 minutes could have just as well been spent in bed, but the Army wouldn’t take that into consideration. After we started firing it got so cold that nobody could shoot worth a damn. Whenever I wasn’t coaching or firing I stood almost on top of a big fire and drunk gallons of soup. The soup was at least some consulation (sp). After we finally got back from that we got the rest of the day off, but hell!

Yesterday was really a beautiful day though. It was so cold that in spite of the bright sun the frost didn’t melt until about 2:00 in the afternoon. All the trees around here looked as if they had been sprayed with white paint. Otherwise and anyway to hell with the jernt.

I promised in my last letter last night I’d answer your latest letters so here it is.

In your letter of Nov. 1, Mother, you asked what I was going to do if asked about a transfer. Well, I really don’t know yet. I’ve got a couple of interviews coming up yet and I’ll find out a lot more then.

As far as A.S.T.P is concerned I’m sort of behind the 8 ball. All the A.S.T.P. here is Engineering and as far as that’s concerned I’m pretty limited. However, I’m going to tell what I’ve taken in school, my grades, etc. and maybe I’ll get a chance at some special branch. There are a number of things like photography (camouflage?) and others I haven’t found out about yet.

I haven’t received any package yet, but if any buzzard tries to swipe it he’s going to meet a sudden and violent end.

In answer to your letter, Dad-I think that our C.O. is a descendant of Paul Revere. I think his main purpose in life is breaking down morale. Most of us can take it, but there’s one bird in the barracks that doesn’t do anything but lie in bed and blubber. Nevertheless we sure do a lot of talking about home here.

I’ve only one thing about Bob Chilcott in the Engineer A.S.T.P. Either it’s a hell of a lot easyier(sp) than they let on here, or

About the camouflage (I don’t know how it’s spelled) branch of engineers I know very little, but I know that we get quite a bit of it in basic.

One thing I’ve got to say about the Engineers is that it’s a snappy outfit and we know it. There’s a lot of dirty work in it but that little “Golden Outhouse” on my lapel means quite a bit in the Army. These are the words to our Engineers song.

We’re the fighting Engineers,
the fighting Engineers.
We do all the dirty work,
the doughboy gets the cheers.
We keep the outfit moving,
we cover up the rear.
We’re the God damned heroes,
the fighting Engineers-hey!

Keep sending the news; it’s the only way I ever hear it.




  1. It sounds like Bill is getting an inkling that the Army will go back on the A.S.T.P. promises made to him.

    Bill's description of frost on the trees brings to mind the promotion of Sun River and Mount Bachelor as a ski destination. Did he ever see the resort complex that rose on the site of Camp Abbott?

    If the instructors were on the ball they would have had the men shoot in the dark and the low light and in the cold so that they could have that experience. It's one thing to shoot in daylight and quite another when all you can see is muzzle flash.

  2. To my knowledge dad never returned to the Camp Abbot/Sunriver site. As I stated in my introduction, my father didn't discuss his war experiences. This isn't to imply that he was a distant or uncommunicative father. He wasn't. When I read his letters as a boy I did it secretly. Although I am sharing his letters with the world through this blog I'm certain that he would approve of it. He would tell me he is proud of me and then he would proceed to correct all the errors I have made with my intrepretations, spelling, grammar, etc.


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