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“It’s a Rifle, Not a Gun!” April 14, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness.
32 comments

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.

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Dad survived 8 weeks of basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama during the hottest part of the summer, arriving on July 11th and leaving two months later:

“Arrived here early this morning to start basic training in the infantry. It is really going to be hot here this summer.  We started drill today. They have issued us gas masks, packs, battle helmets, etc.  I think we get rifles tomorrow.  On the way down here, we went to Cincinnati, Ohio; then came south.  I have been in 13 states since I enlisted.  We had troop sleepers so the trip wasn’t bad except that it got awful dirty. So did I.”

When writing Aunt Pete and Uncle Webb on July 21st, 10 days after arrival:

“The food on the train was rather poor or the helpings were small.  I don’t suppose they could do much better though as long as the train traveled day and night.  Anyway one rather amusing incident occurred.  The train stopped at a small station.  (We weren’t allowed to leave the train).  A lone man was standing on the platform with his arms loaded with groceries.  It was in Kentucky I think.  One of the fellows asked if he had any cigarettes.  He tossed a pack into the car. When they tried to pay him, he threw in a package of doughnuts and said keep your money.  “I was in the army for four years and I know that they are starving you on the troop train.”  Enough for now.

P.S. They really didn’t starve us.  We just could have eaten more.”

On July 16, he wrote his dad:

“Basic training officially started yesterday.  We have had classes in personal hygiene, diseases, sanitation, the M1 Rifle, map reading, the general orders, etc.  We have done quite a lot of drilling and they have had us out on the obstacle course some.  My watch lasted exactly one day of this training before the crystal came out.  One fellow dropped his rifle today and has to carry it with him all the time for one week. One of the sgts. didn’t like to have me call the rifle a gun.  At least I didn’t get extra detail.  It really isn’t bad here except that they keep us busy all day with very little time off.  Everybody’s shoulders are sore from carrying the rifles.”

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Lights out!

Aah . . . that’s better! 

Continued tomorrow . . . Dry Fire in the Pouring Rain