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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chapter 2. Bill's War: Down to Serious Business

After the usual business of signing up and the Army deciding where he was to go Bill went for artillery training at Camp Roberts. The exact same location that I went to 2 years later.

Shown here is the platoon he trained with at Roberts. Training with ancient equipment from WW1 or older. With the army expanding as fast as possible there were more than enough shortages to go around. At the end of training the army broke up the platoon and assigned the members to various army units where they were needed. His friend Bennie Benson went to Alaska and Bill didn't see him until after the war. Surviving boot camp Bill was sent to the 39th FA Battalion where he spent the war and made lifelong friends. While here at Ft. Lewis the family and girl friend Virginia came up from Oregon to visit. In those days there was no I5. Just US 99 with lots of twists and turns. A real drive. Later Virginia visited him but he had KP. Wouldn't you know it.

From the record instead of the European Theater of Operations (ETO) he came "this close" to spending the war in the Pacific jungles. Assisting the Marines no less. It was thought they might need some help. Things were all in a flux and daily events could cause plans to change. The Division had been sent to Ft. Ord the jumping off place for the Pacific.

Fortunately plans did change and the 3rd Infantry was sent to Camp Pickett VA for deployment to the North Africa invasion Operation Torch. Prior to this he did some amphibious training which amounted to jumping into small boats placed in the sand the jumping out the other side and running like it was on the beach. Who said war is all serious. Later though at Pickett they actually did some amphibious training.

One thing you couldn't accuse Bill of was lack of common sense. Some time during an early career they do some recruiting for other branches, like gliders, paratroopers, special forces and so on. If you look at film of gliders in WW2 you can tell Bill is no dummy. He turned the gliders down.

The 39th FA Battalion spent the war shooting 105 howitzers supporting the 3rd Infantry. For a time early in the war they were issued 37 MM anti-tank guns and was an anti-tank battalion. It was here at Pickett that Bill went to radio school to be a radio operator.

Next chapter Picket and the invasion of North Africa

More war experiences of mine here