Basic Training in Florida and Beyond

Photo of buddy at Miami Beach

"While I was in Basic Training in St. Petersburg, Florida, I was in the Signal Corp. I had about finished when they moved us all to Miami Beach, and stayed in former hotels. They were harder on us there, and would keep you busy all the time. We would have to exercise, running up and down the hotel stairs from the eighth floor where we stayed. Have to run up stairs, clean up, then back down to go swimming. Then, right after, had us get out, to change again. A seargant got on to me for having a five o'clock shadow one day on the beach at roll call, so I started shaving twice a day, when I served on KP duty. I then would get up early at 5 a.m. every morning, and learned to shave in the dark. You couldn't burn lights at night, we were afraid of German submarines."

"If you didn't pass inspection or something, you would have to march on a close order drill for an hour or so, called the goon squad. It was when someone did wrong, the whole squad would have to run on the beach for drills at full tilt. I was glad to get shipped out the next day, just missed getting on the goon squad."

"They needed some in the Air Corp, so they gave us a written test. I was sent to Lowery Field, in Denver, Colorado, aboard a coal burner train. It took three days, and coal would get in your hair and stink. On the way, one guy got sick, and had to be dropped off on the way at a hospital because he was so weak. When we got to Denver, I was there for about a month, and was put in a school to learn all about machine guns that are used on planes. I had to go to the medics, and was asked if I had ever been air sick...I told him I got close enough to touch a plane once. He said I was about to find out, for that school was the first step to gunner school!

"That's when I told the instructor I was a welder. He told the Captain what I said, and he gave me a test, and then told me to go back to the barracks and wait for my orders to come through."

"In the barracks, I became friends with an Oklahoma guy, and helped him keep the furnaces fired with coal. I buddied up with him. He kept me off of work details. They would come around waking everybody up with work details and K.P. He would tell them, "Don't wake him, he's my helper, don't bother him." In Denver, I bowled for the first time, and the Oklahoma guy showed me how to keep score. There was a dance once a week in town, and we would rarely get a pass to go. Would be college women there. I pretended to learn to dance a little, they had a pretty good band."

"After about three weeks, I was sent to an Air Base in Nebraska. I walked into the office to see the Duty Seargant to give him my papers, and he said "What the heck you doing here? We don't need no welders here!" This was in the bomber squadron group company. I was then sent to an Overseas Replacement Camp in Kearns, Utah. I was then sent to Virginia in December 1943."