Georgia – Officer Candidate
School - Part Two
Fall 1943 – excerpts from several letters
Those who made it to graduation became commissioned officers.
We were firing machine guns on the range today when they gave “cease firing” -- “unload” -- “clear guns” -- “atten-shun” -- “about face” and then they read us about Italy’s surrender. It drew a good hand. Most of the fellows here are married or engaged and don’t want to go across. (Not that I don’t want the war to be over, but I want in it.)
I’m still here and everything’s under control for the time being. They kicked out 55 more men today, so our ranks were thinned a little... Now when I get kicked out I’ll at least know some darn good men went before I did... They tell us they’d rather kick out 5 good men than let one through that wasn’t a perfect combat officer.
I’ve gotten 2 letters from [my sister] Helen. I think she writes because she’s a little homesick and wants letters. Be sure to write her even if you have to neglect me to do so, as she’s young and a girl, and has absolutely no acquaintances there... I sent her ten bucks. I told her it was her own, and to do as she pleased with what I sent her, so if you can afford it, just pretend I’m not sending her any, and then what little I send will be extra.
Boy, am I ever a hot anti-tank gunner. I made expert on the range. 165 out of 200... If they would pass us on grades in tests and scores with weapons, I’d be a general. But those little intangible things that I can’t do anything about will knock me out. Age, for one thing, and size. (Note: On his army ID card he was 5’7½” tall and 147 pounds.) If I don’t make it, I’ll be the best non-com in the army...
Nobody in our class has been hurt to speak of. I got stabbed a little (don’t get excited) the other night. A messenger and came down a path where I was fusing some mortar shells, and his bayonet caught the side of my helmet and glanced off and cut a little gash... I bandaged it with a piece of tape and it’s all healed up now.
The dangerous part of this course is about over. We didn’t have a single accident on the mortars. They had been having quite a run of bad luck, but guess we broke their jinx. Everything that happens here doesn’t make the papers.
Only 4½ weeks to go until I know one way or another about this deal. Commission or no commission, they’ve made a man of me down here.
2½ weeks to go. The strain is terrific. We have started having boards at every odd hour of the day... The 2nd one, when I walked in alone to meet one Col., three Lt. Cols., a Captain, and a 1st Lt., don’t think I wasn’t feeling like Daniel in the Lion’s Den... I reported and they put me at ease, and told me to sit down. The
asked me a
few routine yes or no questions, and suddenly said: “I’ll give you one minute to prepare a
5-minute talk on night fighting.” I
looked down for a couple of seconds and asked if I could start. Yes, he said, so I put over a good
talk... He said, “I’d say that was right
good.” Then he said, “Do you think you
could lead a night raid?” I said, “Yes sir.”
He said, “What makes you think you could?”
Me: “Because I know my stuff, sir.” Colonel: “Could you instruct men?” Me: “Yes, sir.” Colonel: “Could you lead a platoon in combat?” Me: “Yes, sir!” Colonel: “That’ll be all for today.” Col.
1½ weeks to go, and I’m still here... 18 men out of 50-some left in my platoon. I think I may make it... If I graduate, I will be the proudest boy on earth.
(Note: He did graduate from Officer Candidate School, and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant.)