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“We’re In The Army Now” April 13, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in People.
25 comments

Dad ~ Top Right

Dad enlisted in the Army and reported for duty on June 27, 1946, at age 18.

His enlistment, at the end of his first year at Northeastern University, coincided with the end of World War II, just before the Korean War.

Earlier that spring, he received a draft notice, had a physical, and then the draft ended.  After considering his options, he enlisted anyway:

* He valued higher education but had limited financial resources.  He hoped to subsidize the expense of obtaining an electrical engineering degree with the benefits offered under the G.I. Bill.

* After spending 17 years in rural Vermont and one year in Boston, he wanted to see the world beyond the relative confines of New England.

At the recruiting office in Rutland, he passed the mental screening test with a score of 49 out of 50 ~ “to pass you need to get 15.”   From Rutland, he headed to Fort Ethan Allen, passed his physical, and was sworn into the army on June 29th.  Next stop:  Fort Banks in Boston.

A few days later, he caught the troop train to Fort Dix, NJ ~ “they have got between two and three hundred of us now.”

On the 4th of the July, at Fort Dix, his number came up on the processing roster and he received his uniform, dog tags, etc.  He bought stationary at the PX that afternoon and caught up with some letter writing:

“Before we finish processing, we will get 6 tests, some movies, several shots, and some other stuff besides.  Anytime after that I might ship out. The sooner the better.  After we finish processing we are likely to draw K.P. and other details.  When on K.P. you work for 16 hours straight.  The food is a lot better here then at Fort Banks.  If the food that I get the rest of the time in the army is as good as it is here, I won’t kick a bit.”

A few days later, he wrote his sister, Marjorie, also from Fort Dix:

“I am quite a ways from home now ~ it would take 12 hours to come home, but I will probably be a lot farther away in a couple of days. They say this fort is only 30 miles from Philadelphia.  None of us can get a pass to get out of here though.  The shots I had yesterday made my arm pretty lame, but it feels better today. I am enclosing some papers for Daddy to keep.  They are to show him that he is the beneficiary of the life insurance that I took out.  I didn’t take the $10,000 policy as the war is no longer on.  I decided that $5,000 would be plenty.”

The next day, July 8th, he wrote his dad:

“Just a line tonight to let you know that I ship out tomorrow.  Tonight I do not know where I am going; they will tell us in the morning.  (I suspect they have put me in the infantry and will send me to Fort McClellan, Alabama.) I will not send this letter tonight and will leave space to write in my destination tomorrow morning.  Enough for now. I have some friends to say good-by to.

P.S.  I was right.  I am going to Alabama.”

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Continued tomorrow . . . “It’s a Rifle, Not a Gun!”