Friday, November 6, 2015

Dad's War Letters: Part Two of Nine

Ft. Benning, GeorgiaOfficer Candidate School - Part One
Fall 1943 – excerpts from several letters
Those who made it to graduation became commissioned officers.

I’ve talked to some ROTC boys from NY and other places who are in their 7th week here.  There are 56 left out of 250, and they have 10 weeks to go.  One nice custom they have developed of late is to pull out about ½ of the survivors on graduation day...  But I’m just going to work, and not worry, and if I get the boot anytime, what the heck.

I’m in!  Start tomorrow a.m...  This is going to be rough, and more than likely will lead to nothing.  For instance, the other day a boy back from overseas was booted for “inefficiency on the bayonet course.”  Incidentally, he had been cited in New Guinea for spearing 3 Japs in one M.G. nest.  So you see...   

Then they play tricks.  They inspect morning and afternoon.  If they can’t find anything wrong, they do something like unbuttoning a button on a shirt hanging next to the wall, or they cock your rifle on the rack...  Day before yesterday he pulled my bayonet out of the scabbard and inserted it wrong side to, but I caught it in time, so I didn’t get gigged.

Yesterday they took us out along a road, and dumped us out at intervals, in pairs.  We had to march through real thick swamps and jungles on a compass bearing and come out within 3 degrees of the destination.  Waddington and I went about 2½ miles without seeing a soul (except a coral snake, which we killed) and came out one degree to the right of perfect.

You’ve never seen such efficiency as they have here.  For example, in a demonstration on a machine gun section, the lecturer (outdoors in a grandstand) would say, “In case of air attack...” and just as he finished saying it, here would come 5 P-51’s at about 500 MPH over the hills.  It’s done by radio and perfectly timed.

I haven’t got a gig for 2 days...  Some of the fellows take it to heart, and I can see what it does to them.  For example, the last class here, a fellow got kicked out at the end of 12 wks. and came into the barracks and pulled out his bayonet and stabbed himself.  Luckily he missed his heart...  I’ll never take anything that seriously.

Man, am I getting so I sit up straight when I eat.  They watch us all the time, so I never bend my back.  Mom, you must not have used the proper training methods.

There were drills where they have expert shots representing enemy snipers.  It is quite a thrill to have a bullet smack into a tree 3 feet from your head when you expose yourself too much.  There is no danger, though, since they never have hit anyone yet.

I still don’t know about getting through.  Somebody has to, I guess, but what a bunch of big bruisers, all of them smart, and all born leaders, I have to compete with.  I myself thought they kicked out better men than me on the first board...  Just now had mail call.  Got your letter.  Don’t build the kids up on my getting a commission.  I’ll try like the dickens, though...  Sure glad to hear the crops are OK. After that late planting I was a little worried.  How are the steers and pigs.  I suppose the pigs aren’t so good if we had our usual luck with raising young ones.

To read all nine parts from the beginning:  Click here.

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