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Dry Fire in the Pouring Rain April 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Humor.
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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.

At first, mile-long hikes alternated walking and running.  With improved stamina, the recruits ran with guns and packs on their backs.  Officers kept the company company:

“Lieutenant Knoll and the other officers run with us every day.  That is one thing about the infantry, the officers ask the men to do nothing that they won’t do themselves.”

Everyone in the barracks rose early.  When asked about his schedule, he shared the following:

“We have to get up at 5:30, wash, make our beds, and fall out at 6:00 for reveille.  We police up the company and have breakfast at 6:30.  7:30-8:30 First Aid class.  8:30-9:30 Military Courtesy.  9:30 – 11:30 Rifle mechanism and cleaning.  12:00 Dinner.  12:45 Fall in.  1:00-2:30 2 shots and 1 vaccination.  Also examination of eyes and teeth.  Mine were OK.  3:00-4:00 Physical Training (slap boxing and mile run ~ they still let us walk and run alternately).  4:00-5:00 Drill.  5:30 Supper.  6:30-7:00 Rifle inspection by platoon sgt.  7:00-9:00 “G.I. Party” (remove all beds and equipment from barracks to mop and clean it).   9:00 Lights out.  Perhaps this will give you a little idea of our schedule.”

Some days were better than others.  In a letter to Margaret, his step-mother, he wrote:

“Monday it rained hard here.  We were out on the range having what they call dry fire (without live ammunition).  It seemed [other than] dry to me.  The showers here are regular cloudbursts.  We were all soaked to the skin.  We had to walk back to the barracks about 1 1/2 miles through 3 inches of mud.  While on the firing range, we had to lie down in it.  We were really a mess.  They let us change our clothes.”

“A lot of the fellows have been sick here on account of the heat, etc.  A few have had pneumonia.  Some of the others were taken to the hospital after having their shots.  So far I have felt perfectly O.K.  I don’t expect to be sick much while I am in the army either.  That is one thing that I am very lucky in.  I have only been sick once in the last five years and that was chicken pox.”

Dad teased his younger sister Marjorie for taking advantage of his absence:

“Do I have any clothes left and is my radio still working?  I haven’t heard from you much so you must be spending half your evenings at Marshal’s and the other half taking things from my room, namely clothes.”

“The fellows drink a lot of coke here.  We sweat so much that we are thirsty all of the time except at night when it cools off.  It cools off enough at night so that we can sleep comfortably with one army blanket over us and one under.  They don’t issue sheets here.  We have pillow cases though.”

“I suppose that you are rich now that you are working.  If I were you I would try to save all I could.  You will never be sorry.  The money that I saved got me started in college.  Without it, I probably wouldn’t have started.  Now that I am started I can see my way clear to finish as long as the government is going to pay part, or should I say all except for clothing perhaps.”

“This letter is too long for me to write.  I might collapse from shock so I will stop.  Daddy mentioned in his letter that you were going to write so I had better hear from you or else.”

“P.S. Tell Daddy that in an emergency, I could get a furlough if the local Red Cross notified the Red Cross here at the Fort.  I think a doctor has to say that you are needed at home.  I don’t want you to think that I am trying to get home because if I did I would have to take basic training over again from the start.  One fellow got a furlough already because he broke both his wrists the first day on the obstacle course.  Enough said.”

_0001d

Aah . . . that’s better!

Continued tomorrow . . . Can’t Stand the Heat?  Get IN the Kitchen!

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Comments»

1. Pix Under the Oaks - April 15, 2014

They sure spent some time on those rifles. Love your Dad telling his young sis to save all the money she could. Good for him! Dads!!!!

nrhatch - April 15, 2014

In many of his letters to her, he encouraged her to save money and get as much education as she could. Pretty much the same advice he gave to the four of us. He valued thrift and learning.

Pix Under the Oaks - April 15, 2014

My Dad had the same thoughts. I played a little too much in college.. 🙂

nrhatch - April 15, 2014

I played in college too ~ they weren’t always sure they were getting a good return on the investment.

2. Food,Photography & France - April 15, 2014

What a great illustration.

nrhatch - April 15, 2014

The postcards? Or the snapshot of life during basic training?

Either way, imagine breaking both wrists on the obstacle course the first day. OUCH!

3. Grannymar - April 15, 2014

I bet that was tough going at times. No sheets? I would hate that, I hate the idea of scratchy blankets.

nrhatch - April 15, 2014

I agree. Especially when it’s hot and humid, like in Alabama in the summer, a sheet would seem far friendlier than a blanket. Still, better than being in a foxhole on the front lines with no bed.

Grannymar - April 15, 2014

Very true. I think I am too soft and accustomed to my comfort.

nrhatch - April 15, 2014

Same here, GM. Being in the military would not be a good fit for me ~ and not due just to the lack of sheets. I hate being told what to do and when to do it.

4. jannatwrites - April 15, 2014

Great advice on the saving money… I hope she listened 🙂 Got a little chuckle from the ending regarding the furlough.

nrhatch - April 16, 2014

She may have listened with half an ear ~ she did go to college for a few years before getting married and raising a family.

At first, I thought he was telling her, “get me out of here!” Then I realized that he was just reassuring himself and then that he could leave IF an emergency required it.

5. kateshrewsday - April 16, 2014

Wonderful to hear those exuberant letters, Nancy. I love the relationship between your father and his sister.

nrhatch - April 16, 2014

They had a good relationship throughout life ~ Marjorie’s my only aunt since mom was an only child. We had her here for a visit a few weeks ago with Uncle Leon and Bob, one of my 3 cousins.

6. colonialist - April 16, 2014

The sort of life one needs a great sense of humour to get through!
He drew vivid pictures of it.

nrhatch - April 16, 2014

In all the letters I read, dad didn’t complain much about the conditions. But he did pepper his letters with the occasional wry observation.

Life is easier with our sense of humor intact.

7. Three Well Beings - April 16, 2014

He has such a practical and committed outlook, that served him well when he returned home, I would think. I like the way he stayed concerned about his family at home, but still kept his eye on what he had to finish!

nrhatch - April 16, 2014

Once dad chose the direction of focus, he kept putting one foot in front of the other. I think he knew intuitively that complaining is a waste of energy that could be put to better use.

8. ericjbaker - April 16, 2014

My mile-long hikes alternate between walking and standing still.

nrhatch - April 16, 2014

I could say much the same . . . even without 50 pounds of gear on my back.


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