Friday, June 26, 2009

About Camp Crowder

Camp Crowder is located on the edge of the picturesque Ozark mountain region, five miles south of Neosho, a thriving community with a pre-war population of 5,000. Joplin is 25 miles to the north. It was named for General Enoch Herbert Crowder, a native Missourian, who authored the Selective Service Act of World War I.

Fort Crowder was built in 1941 as a training center for the U. S. Army Signal Corps and at its peak had nearly 47,000 troops stationed there. Camp Crowder was activated shortly after the beginning of WWII and served as the temporary home of thousands of male, female, white and black soldiers. The construction of Camp Crowder, one of the largest army installations in the Midwest, doubled the population of Neosho in a matter of weeks. Camp Crowder received most of the Army's signal recruits, each of whom spent three weeks learning the basics of soldiering: drill; equipment, clothing, and tent pitching; first aid; defense against chemical attack; articles of war; basic signal communication; interior guard duty; military discipline; and rifle marksmanship.

In July 1942, the Midwestern Signal Corps School opened its doors at Camp Crowder with a capacity of 6,000 students. The following month, the Signal Corps' first unit training center also opened there. The headquarters established in October 1942 to administer this group of schools was designated the Central Signal Corps Training Center. The 800th Signal Training Regiment was located at Camp Crowder in the 1940's. This unit provided technical training in radio operations, radio repair, high power station operation and maintenance. The camp, a U.S. Army Signal Corp Training Center, flooded the area with an average population of 40,000 uniformed men and women.

By 1943, the War Department had acquired a total of 42,786.41 acres of land that made up Camp Crowder. In order to establish this camp, major improvements had to be made in roads, utilities, railroad spurs, sewage system, and numerous buildings including barracks, mess halls and training facilities. It’s hard to imagine a post the size of Crowder. The Post Exchange had twenty-two branches, with three beauty parlors for WACs and female civilian employees. The post also had two cafeterias for civilian workers. Camp Crowder had its own post newspaper called the Camp Crowder Message with a circulation of 15,000. There were also four service clubs on post along with guest houses for soldier’s guests. Crowder had six movie theaters on post. There were sixteen chapels with a chaplain for each providing regular Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Christian Science services. Camp Crowder had its own large well-staffed hospital and in addition had 15 infirmaries throughout the camp and three dental clinics. There was a field house for athletic events and other activities that could seat 5,000 persons.

The 43rd Signal Construction Battalion (Colored) was activated at Camp Crowder, Missouri on 7 February 1944. Between December 1942 and May 1946, Missouri was home to more than 10,000 German and Italian prisoners of war who lived in 32 camps scattered throughout the state, including at Camp Crowder. The Blacks had WWI barracks, outside latrines and dilapidated facilities. Even the German POW's had nicer facilities than the Blacks.

Mort Walker used his experiences at Camp Crowder as the model for "Camp Swampy" in his comic strip "Beetle Bailey." The character “Rob Petrie” played by Dick Van Dyke was stationed at Camp Crowder, as was Van Dyke himself.

About Letter 79

Bill ships out by train to Camp Crowder, Missouri. He describes the Camp as "a really beautiful place....everything that Camp Abbot isn't. Bill dismisses the Signal Corps as "the biggest laugh in the army....real Boy Scouts." He says the camp includes about 50,000 people, including a large WAC detachment as well as many prisoners of war. As for the P.O.W's Bill says, "I saw some of 'them thar Nazi Supermen' today. Har! Har! Hawr!"

Letter 79- March 11, 1944

March 11, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dearest Mother and Dad,

I’ve been trying in vain for the last 3 days to telephone you to tell you I was on my way. I should have sent a telegram I know but it always seemed that I’d be able to get through at the next stop—Pocatello, Cheyenne, and Denver, and Kansas City; but it just never turned out right. Tomorrow is Sunday and I’ve got K.P. Nice start, huh? However, if I get half a chance I’ll call home. Really I’m trying hard but circumstances are working against me. I guess me and the Army way will just never get along.

Camp Crowder is really a beautiful place—big 2 story barracks, lawns, sidewalks. In other words Camp Crowder is everything that Camp Abbot isn’t. But! Camp Crowder is what is known by G.I.’s as chickens—t (crude, I know, but pointed). However, the climate is so mild and the camp so nice that no one really has a right to complain.

The Signal Corps is the biggest laugh in the army. The Engineers and Infantry here hold them in the most utter contempt. They are the real Boy Scouts of the Army. They complain to us if they take a five mile hike. They have an obstacle course that is a laugh. In fact, those guys have a lot of nerve even calling themselves soldiers and we let them know it. Sooner or later there’s going to be bloodshed. (they outnumber us about 50 to 1) but, even they realize that their training is a joke.

There are a number of Camp Abbot men here but only 8 of them I know. All in all I believe I’m going to like it here. Of course, anything looks good after Abbot. There are about 50,000 men here, a large Wac detachment as well as many Prisoners of War. Talking about the P.W’s I saw some of “them thar” Nazi “supermen” today for the first time. Har! Har! Har! Hawr! They must have swept the stables to get those birds.

We really had quite a time on board the train coming back here. We had Pullman’s, but R.R. service is so bad now that it’s a laugh. Once we couldn’t get on a train in spite of being under “traveling orders”—some stuff.

I’d sure like to see you again. Once in a while I get awfully blue. If at all possible send some pictures of yourselves.

Bestus Love, Bill

P.S Address may be revised but…
(new address here)

About Letter 78

In a desperate attempt to overcome his boredom Bill grows a beard. It is "bright red and extremely thick." He shaves it after 2 weeks. A "latrineogram" is going around that "we ship out on the 7th."

Letter 78- March 3, 1944

March 3, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Anudder day of K.P. has came and went and am I glad it’s over. I finally got the pictures I told you about and although I’m not in all of them I think you’ll enjoy seeing them. I think they show and tell you more about the “rugged” than all the letters I could write. The only thing they don’t show is the beard I tried to grow. It was bright red and extremely thick (huh!). After 2 weeks I couldn’t “shtood” it any longer and shaved.
I hope you’ll forgive me for not writing more but it’s very late and I’m awfully tired.

Best Love,

P.S. There’s a latrineogram going around that we ship out on the 7th. I hope so.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

About Letter 77

Bill is not faring well in the Casual Company. He laments the inactivity and lack of information about his future. He says, "Its the same old story. Keep 'em in the dark; don't be definite about anything; and if you don't know the score yourself, make it look like a military secret." He adds that, "In the Casual Co. right now there are over 1350 men and jobs for about 100. You can imagine how that works out."

Letter 77- March 2, 1944

March 2, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Here I sit like a bird in the wilderness waiting for something to happen. I’ve been on detail all this week now and it looks as if I may be on detail for the rest of my life the way things are going around here. One day I work in the supply room or spread sawdust around the boxing ring—the next I’m room orderly or K.P. It’s really the craps. There’s no work but it’s so boring that a fellow can’t help but be blue. All the rest of the men are leaving on their furloughs and the place is as lonely as a haunted house. The worst part of it is, however, the fact that we don’t know where in hell we stand. It’s the same old story. Keep ‘em in the dark; Don’t be definite about anything; and if you don’t know the score yourself, make it look like a military secret. Do you wonder why a guy gets so damned disgusted? They won’t give us a furlough but we’ll probably still be sitting around here a week or maybe a month after the furlough men get back. Right now I don’t know where, when, or if I’m going, but I know where some of these big shots here ought to go.

I’ve been going to the show just about every night this week—anything to keep my mind off this lousy deal we’re getting up here. Really that is just about the sum and substance of what I’ve done lately. One thing that’s been a godsend has been those language books. After I’ve spent an hour or so studying them I feel as if I’ve accomplished something—a feeling one rarely gets in the army. I don’t think anything is worse than to work 8 hours and then realize you haven’t done a single thing worthwhile.

In the Casual Co. right now there are over 1350 men and jobs for about 100. You can imagine how that works out.

Did you receive the money order?

I’m glad you liked the pictures. I’ve got some more coming but I don’t know if I’ll get them before I ship out. I’ve got another one I took of the platoon, but it’s so big I can’t find an envelope large enough to send it in.

That just about sums up the news from here. Revolting isn’t it?

Best Love, Bill

P. S. After reading this over I realize it sounds pretty pessimistic. Don’t take it too seriously. I’m just mad.

About Letter 76

Bill is now a member of the Casual Company. After one day he is "just about to go nuts with boredom." He caustically remarks, "they run us around like the devil for 17 weeks and then have us sit on our cans for I don't know how long. Bill tells his folks that "school is almost a certainty now."

Letter 76- February 29, 1944

February 29, 1944
9:45 A.M. Tues.
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’m now a member of the “Casual Co.” I still sleep in the same bunk in the same barracks but I’ve got a new Capt. and am on a different roster.

This morning the fellows who are going on furlough went through their deprossessing. The rest of us who are going to school got the morning off so I am writing. You’ll be glad to know that school is almost a certainty now. The fellows who are going on furlough are really getting schneidered. Even the birds who went A.W.O.L during the course are getting furloughs and that means only one thing—that those guys are already slated for the banana boats.

Yesterday I went on my first day of detail. Wot an experience! They run us around like the devil for 17 weeks and then have us sit on our cans for I don’t know how long. When you’re not used to it you just about go nuts with boredom. I guess I shouldn’t complain though. It sure is disgusting though. They have ten or twelve civilians working down in the maintenance shop and foundry where I was detailed, and they’re not doing a goddamn thing except sit on their fannies—all for over $200 a month. It’s not their fault though. The foundryman took me into the jernt and showed me what was holding them up. They had an army version of a blast furnace which, of course, wouldn’t work. They spend millions around here on nothing and then ask the soldiers to buy more bonds. Phooey!

Best Love,

P.S. I hope the weather’s a little nicer down in L.A.

P.P.S. My mail still goes to C-54

Letter 75- February 28, 1944

Feb. 28, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Well, I finally got this off even if it is $10.00 short. I have the ten, but with all the moving around that seems in store, I think I’d better keep it. The first month a fellow is in a camp he may not get paid so I am keeping $26.00.

I hope everyone is well and that the weather’s cleared up.

Bestus Love,

Saturday, June 20, 2009

About Letter 74

Yesterday was graduation and today is the last official day of training. Bill is in a feisty mood. He sarcastically calls the Commanding Colonel "the old fossil". He writes a letter of thanks to Bishop Gooden which he calls "a veritable masterpiece of linguistic manipulation." Bill laments not knowing what the army plans to do with him exclaiming, "Oh well, SNAFU."

Letter 74- February 27, 1944

February 27, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

This is “posiloutely” our last official day in training. Yesterday we graduated and this morning we turned in our equipment. Ever since we’ve been sitting on our tails in the barracks taking it easy—quite a novelty around here. Well, it’s sure swell to be all through. I’m no longer a trainee but a full fledged Combat Engineer soldier. HORSE---!

Yesterday we went out and paraded around like a lot of damn fools in a snowstorm for about 2 hours and 45 minutes and then the Colonel, the old fossil, got up and made the following speech. ‘Trainees! I (ha! Ha!) have made you strong, sturdy, healthy, robust, and tough! You are now ready to go into combat. I (great emphasis) have made you the best Engineers in the world. May God speed you in your future battles.” It’s a wonder God got any mention at all.

I wrote a letter to Bishop Gooden and another to Ann and Reiney last night, so I am caught up at least a little bit on my letter writing. The note to the “Bish” is a veritable masterpiece of linguistic manipulation. I used just enough four bit words to make it good. You probably already read the note I sent to Ann and Reiney.

I sure wish they’d come out and tell me exactly what they’re going to do with me. Oh well, SNAFU. I wish I had something interesting to tell you but I ain’t so---------

Bestus Love,
∫—(dropping spirits)

Letter 73- February 20, 1944

February 20, 1944 (Later)
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,
God, am I dumb!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

About Letter 72

Bill gloats that "C" Company was able to exact revenge on some Captains and Majors who were "captured" during bivouac battle simulations. "We treated those officers as if they were real Nazis." He goes on a surprise detail and says "sometimes I feel like telling someone off but my better judgement prevents me from doing so."

Letter 72- February 20, 1944

February 20, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Here it is Sunday again and I’m as sore as hell. After going through another week of “apcra” out in the bloomin’ tullies they got us up this morning and took us out on detail. Some of the guys were able to slip out the back door of the barracks, but most of us were hooked. As a result I’ll have a hard time getting my telephone call through this afternoon. Sometimes I feel like telling someone off but my better judgment prevents me from doing so. There’s a lot of fellows here, however, who haven’t got better judgment and so I at least get the pleasure of hearing someone else doing a little blowing off.

Well, “C” Co. made quite a record out on the bivouac. We had 100% security for the entire 2 weeks tactical period. That is, no one ever was able to get through our outguard into camp. This is an enviable record, but it was made at a “hellova” cost as far as the men are concerned. Last week I had 6 hours guard duty every night except Wednesday. That night I was on duty 10 hours and slept 2. You can imagine how tired a body gets with an average sleep of 4 hours out of 24. Anyhoo they didn’t get in and when they were captured—O; it shouldn’t happen to a dog. We treated those officers as if they were real Nazis. It’s a wonder some of our Lieutenants weren’t busted for the way they treated some Capt’s and Majors. Our mess sarge remarked, “You guys don’t give a damn fur nottin’, do you?” Well, they said they wanted us to be tough. They’ve got no squawk coming now.

How do you like the snapshots? The one taken out on bivouac, I think is pretty good. Whenever a fellow has his picture taken around here there must be as many fellows in it as possible in order to conserve film. In that picture, however, I believe I got the best deal.

I received your letters out in camp (it’s a swell time to tell you, I know). I think that those letters of recommendation are very fine and that they may be very useful if I get to go to school. Do you think I should write a letter of thanks to the Bishop and Mr. Hamilton?

Very tactfully you’ve made no mention of the fact that I’ve made almost no statement about my finances lately. Welllll--, things are not too bad but nor is everything too good. During the last two months I’ve collected from the gov’t. $68.72 of which at present I have left $57.39. That’s not bad but I had to sign the payroll out in the woods last week and my hands were so stiff with the cold that I wrote below the line. That’s bad. I may get “red-lined” this month.

I’m going to try and call you up now.

Best love, Bill

Monday, June 15, 2009

About Letter 71

Bill finally goes on the long anticipated bivouac. The men roll out at 5:00 am. and march double-quick 5 miles to a frozen swamp where they dig in and set up camp. The river is frozen solid and they must break holes in the ice to put supports down into the water for a foot bridge. While doing this Bill and 3 other men fall through the ice and get a frigid soaking. It snows most of the time. The bedrolls are soaked. So it goes for the duration of the bivouac. Not surprisingly Bill catches a “hellova cold.” Bill interviews for transfer to the signal corps. He is selected as “one of 5 for an entire battalion who is given a chance for radio operator.”

Letter 71- February 13, 1944

February 13, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I just got back from calling you about an hour ago. It was certainly wonderful to hear your voices even if I couldn’t tell what you were saying about ¾ or the time. I don’t know why I can’t tell what you’re saying, or hear rather. Part of it is the noise outside of the booth, I know; but even so you sound faint and indistinct. I asked the operator about it but she said that if you could hear me all right I should be able to hear you. I don’t know but it is too bad.

Well, I guess you’d like to hear about the bivouac. Wot a life that’s been. I’d give almost anything if it were all over. In the first place, they rolled us out about 5:00 last Monday morning, gave us a hurry up meal in our mess-kits and then marched us at double quick time about 5 miles out to a frozen swamp where we were supposed to dig in and set up our camp. As soon as that was done we rushed over to the river and started to construct some foot bridges. The river was frozen over so we had to break holes in the ice in order to put our bents and supports down into the water. Well, you can guess the rest. Four of us were carrying a heavy bent across the ice when a big hunk broke loose and “kerplop!?” in we go. The big hearted bird in charge then told us to go over by the dinky little fire and get dried out. The temperature that day was about 15°. When we finally did get to the area and got dry clothes on we were pretty miserable. To top it off that night it snowed and all the bedrolls got soak(ed) and wet. I was ready to call the whole thing off. The next day we had to tear down a bridge. This was a heavy wood bridge of about 15 tons capacity. It was still snowing and we were still pretty badly off. However, the bird that let us freeze out fell in the river himself under suspicious circumstances which made us all feel a little better.

That night it stopped snowing but I stayed up until 12:30 A.M. drying my bedroll. Then they made us all get up (at 12:30 mind you) and march 14 miles through a foot of snow in the God damned S.O.B dark. I fell down so often I felt like a tenpin. Of course, we were the leading company and as usual we marched at the “C” co. running pace. It wasn’t so tough on us but the other companies who don’t generally go that had a hell of a time. They were passing out all over the road. The meat wagon was packed and they filled up a couple more trucks. I don’t care but I don’t think they should beat men that way. I don’t have any trouble on marches but I know how it feels to be half dead when I’ve come off the obstacle course. We got to the new bivouac about 6 o’clock in the morning and camp was set up by noon. Then I caught up on my sleep. I slept all afternoon and all night. The next day we broke camp and moved 7 miles more. That night I had 4 hours guard duty; the next day we did mine laying all day; and that night I was on road block guard duty all night. God! what a grind! By the time we came in the next morning I was so damned tired.

About 2:00 Sat. afternoon they called out about 40 of the men in the co. for Specialist Training Interview. They called off our names and then put us in groups. One group was under consideration for Ordinance school. The second group was for Engineering school, and the 3rd. group (my bunch) was for signal school. Then they called 3 names of my group for radio repair, 5 for radio operators including me and the rest for electrical school. I was one of 5 for an entire battalion who is being given a chance for radio operator. That would give me 17 more weeks more schooling and probably (sketch of tech sergeant’s stripes here). Well, here’s hoping—I hope, I hope, I hope. (sketch of 4 leaf clover and horseshoe here) I’m going to go after it tooth and nail. It sure beats this God damned pick and shovel work we’ve been doing around here. If I never see another pick, shovel, saw, and so forth again, it’ll be too damn soon.

I’ve got a “hellova” cold now and it’s settled in my jaw. I couldn’t even close my mouth all day. I’m getting awful hungry. It’s getting better tonight but this morning they thought I had the mumps. Heaven forbid!!

I’ll call you again next weekend if they don’t confine us to company area like they did last Sunday.

Best Love

Friday, June 12, 2009

About Letter 70

The bivouac starts at 5:00 sharp tomorrow morning. The men are looking forward to exacting revenge on some of the officers during bivouac, having been told that officers were fair game if "captured" when playing the role of the enemy during simulated night raids.

Letter 70- February 6, 1944

February 6, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Oi! Vot a day! Vot a week! My head’s spinning and my fanny’s dragging. It’s Sunday night and we’re all in a dither about the bivouac which starts at 5:00 tomorrow morning. They’ve had us on the run for the last 3 days so much that we haven’t had time to do nuttin’.

You should see me in my outfit. I look like sumpin’ out of the Klondike.

Everything’s been bivouac, bivouac, bivouac this week. I really don’t have anything much else to write about.

It’s going to be pretty rugged because the weather is getting warm and there’s mud and water everywhere, but then it’ll be fun because it’s pretty close to the real thing, and what’s better we’ve got a chance to get even with some officers from whom we’ve had to take a lot of crap in the past. Here’s the deal. Every night groups of officers from the camp form raiding parties, try to slip through our outguards, and raise hell inside our area. But! If we catch them—heh, heh. Other battalions have caught officers and made them strip out there in the cold. They caught the gas officer out there without his gas mask so they marched him right through his own gas. They told us that the more brass they carry the more we should rough them up. Boy will that be fun.

Since the last line the Lieutenant came in and told us what we’d do the first couple days. Ah—open time—it sounds more like a picnic that maneuvers.

Running short on time.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

About Letter 69

Bill is issued equipment for the upcoming bivouac-over $400 worth. He applies for a furlough with no sign that it will go through.

Letter 69- February 2, 1944

February 2, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Wot a week this has been! Whew! I might as well begin at the beginning and maybe you’ll see why? On Monday we were issued out bivouac equipment—over $400.00 worth of equipment. I got special heavy all wool kneelength stockings (each pair is as heavy as my civilian oxfords) special boots with 3/8 inch felt insoles, waterproof pants, wrist length heavy field jacket, heavy sweater, a 50% angora wool ¼ inch thick muffler that must be worth about $10.00, a fur coat (squirrel or rabbit or sumpin’), a heavy reversible parka with hood, wool lined hunting type hat, 2 pair of wool mittens which go inside a pair of leather mitts, a special pack and a sleeping bag. Wooie.

Tonight I signed up for a furlough. That’s no sign I’m going to get one but it’s a step in the right direction.

I received your packages. The cake was delicious and the socks will be plenty handy. Thanks a lot.

I’m awfully tired now. I know this isn’t much of a letter but it’s the best I can do tonight. I’ll try and write again tomorrow.

Best Love,

About Letter 68

The men build a Bailey Bridge. Bill says it is "our toughest yet". His required training is now over and Bill confidently exclaims, "if I were to go to the hospital tomorrow for 2 weeks they couldn't set me back."

Letter 68- January 30, 1944

January 30, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Well, here it is Sunday night and I’ve nothing to look foreword to except another week of slavery. I haven’t gotten any mail from you for several days so I can’t exactly answer any questions or anything. No, I shouldn’t say that. I did receive all that reading material which I’m eating up with great gusto. I also received a box of cookies from Grandma and Jessie as well as a letter from Horton Grant. So you can see I have been getting mail.

Well, (I’m getting so I can’t say anything without starting off with “well”) all my required training is over. If I were to go to the hospital tomorrow for 2 weeks they couldn’t set me back. Mind you, I’m not contemplating it.

Yesterday we had our toughest bridge, the Bailley (Bailey)) bridge. It’s an English type and very good. The only trouble is that it weighs over 36 tons. Panels weigh 600 lbs., transoms weigh 400 and so on. As a result today I’m paralyzed from the hips up. That makes me completely paralyzed, doesn’t it. My brain was paralyzed when I turned down the Air Corps and my legs were paralyzed by that 25 miles hike.

You’re probably wondering where in hell the money order I was supposed to send home is. It’s still in the company safe—at least $35.00 of it is. I figger that since tomorrow is payday I might as well wait and send the whole business at once. I’ll be able to make up for the extra money I spent this month because with the bivouac and all I won’t be able to spend much money next month.

Best Love,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

About Letter 67

The training is intense. The men complete the "Blitz Course" and the 23 mile hike. Bill describes the Blitz Course as "our forth and worst live ammunition run." After completing these training assignments Bill says, "I thought I was getting tough but that changed my mind...I'm not a superman yet."

Letter 67- January 28, 1944

January 28, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mother & Dad,
Well this is the letter I promised last night, but here I am late again. I told you I had something interesting to tell you. It’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for the last 13 weeks but haven’t because I knew it would worry you unnecessarily. Yesterday I went under machine gun fire for the fourth time since I’ve been in Camp Abbot. Yesterday it was the Blitz Course, our worst and last live ammunition run. We had to crawl about 75 yards across snow and ice and under barbed wire with .30 cal. machine gun bullets humming overhead and land mines blowing up all around us—very distracting. I wasn’t afraid going through the course but we were all pretty pensive while waiting to start. It teaches one a “hellova” lot even when the military end of it is not considered. The other courses were not as bad since the fire was about 8 feet above the ground. However, the explosive charges were so big at times that they’d damn near knock one down. But it’s all over now, thank God.

Today we went on our 23 mile hike, Oh groan!!—four miles per hour (Engineer cadence-the Infantry marches from 2 ½ to 3 m.p.h.) I thought I was getting tough but that changed my mind. I guess I’m still just a human being after all—not a superman yet. I feel paralyzed from the hips down. All we had to eat was “C” rations—cold of course. A “C” ration is a corny version of a “K” ration (Phooey on ‘em both).
I don’t want to close so abruptly but the fellow below me is pretty sick from the hike and is asking for me to turn out the light. No interesting news anyway.

Best Love,

P.S. Have put in for bivouac clothing and equipment.

Monday, June 1, 2009

About Letter 66

Bill is "down in the dumps" as he girds for the 23 mile hike on Friday. Training is rapidly coming to a close and he is hoping for a furlough. As for Camp Abbot he emphatically states, "If I ever get out of this camp no one will ever be able to get me back here, not even at the point of a gun."

Letter 66- January 26, 1944

January 26, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mother and Dad,

This is a “hellova” time to start a letter, but I thought I’d better get at it before you massacre me. Yesterday we went on a 12 mile reconnaissance (I wish you would spell that for, Dad) march. Of course, we ran all the way and I was so tired that when I had finished dinner I went right to bed, and that’s all I remember until 6:00 this morning. It makes me mad since we only go at such a terrible speed so that the lieutenant can get home early, and he doesn’t have to lug a rifle and pack.

This is our big training week. I should say it’s our last training week. Next week is mainly review and getting ready for the bivouac. This Friday we get our 23 mile hike. If it’s as icy along the road as it was yesterday I’ll never make it. With that one weak ankle of mine I just have a devil of a time walking on the ice and snow.

I’m sure hoping for furlough when I finish my training, but if I get sent to a specialist school I won’t get one. Otherwise I get one automatically. I should get 7 days at home and possibly 10. I hope so. We sign up for furloughs at the end of next week.

If I get out of this camp no one will ever be able to get me back here not even at the point of a gun. The way I hate this place is phenomenal. If someone told me I could come home I’d not even take the time to pack my things. I think the only good word in army language is demobilization. Oh well, maybe I’m just down in the dumps today. The only trouble with that philosophy is that I always feel this way.

Well, I have something interesting to tell you, but I’ll let it wait until tomorrow when I can tell you the whole story.

Bestus Love,