Nov. 19, 1942
Well, it's 6:30 P.M. and I am now at the library of the U.S.O. in Middletown. Tomorrow morning, I will leave to go to another camp. I won't know where until I arrive there. I will let you know as soon as possible. The last group which left last week went to Michigan. There is a "roomer" going around that we may go to Wright Field in Ohio state somewhere. The whole time that I was up here in Pennsylvania, I did not receive any "shots" (inoculations). Some of the boys got two or three.
I liked it much better here than at Camp Meade. We had an hour and one-half for each of our three meals, while at Meade we had only 20 minutes. We had about 2 to 4½ hours of drill each day here. The "chow" (eats) was much better too. When I was on kitchen police duty last Sunday, I ate all day long. Between my regular meals I found time to eat an orange, an apple, several bunches of grapes, a half a punkin pie, two ice cream sandwiches, raw carrots, and just as soon as the hot beef came out of the oven, we all of course sampled it. Incidentally, I didn't do anything wrong, it just happened to be my turn to do K.P. duty. The whole end of my barrack was all chosen; and out of this group, six of us had planned to come home to Baltimore Sunday. We were all kinds of disgusted for a while as we received the order at the last minute, Saturday afternoon in fact. I worked from 4:30 A.M. until 6:30 P.M. that Sunday. In the morning, I cracked open a crate and one half of eggs (about 35 dozen). They were fried "sunny side up" in pairs, not by me, however, as the cook took care of this. It was only my job to keep him supplied with the eggs. From breakfast to lunch time (which begins at 11:00 A.M. and lasts until 12:30 noon, making lunch last 1½ hours), I peeled potatoes. This was an easy job. All I had to do was to feed the potato peeling machine and operate it. An abrasive wheel wears the skins off in about 1½ minutes, about two buckets full at one time. The other guys picked the "eyes" out then. From lunchtime to supper (at 4:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M.), I sliced bacon on the slicing machine. After each meal, we again set the tables - after first washing them off. As I said before, I got off of "K.P. duty" at 6:30 P.M., and this was early, for not many of the boys stay around camp on a Sunday, and this of course made the K.P. duty much easier as there was not as many men to feed as usual. During regular weekdays, the boys on K.P. don't get off until about 8:30 P.M.
Each person before he leaves Olmsted Field, has to have K.P. duty at least once. So, you see, getting K.P. on Sunday was not entirely unlucky, it being easier than usual, as explained above.
Would you believe it, I have gone out every night except the first while at Olmsted Air Depot. I have gone roller skating at two different rinks while here. One was called Paradise and I believe the other was called Rainbow Rink. The later was near some town called Hokestown (I believe that's the way you spell it). [He probably means Hogestown. - Ed.] It took us (I went with another boy from Pennsylvania who knew the way) an hour and one half to get there, and we made good time at that. On the other nights, I either went to the movies at Harrisburg, which is 9 miles away, or went to this U.S.O. in Middletown where I am now writing this letter. Up here, there are no movies on Sunday. The nearest ice skating rink is at Hershey, and that is too far away. There was, on several occasions, a skim of ice on the water nearby - in the morning, however. Naturally, this was no good for ice skating, unless you had swimming in mind.
Up here in the library I just finished reading a Martin Star. [This was a magazine that his former civilian employer, the Glenn L. Martin Company, published monthly, 16-24 pages an issue, beginning in February 1942. Original copies can be found for sale online. Also, Wartime Press has most issues for sale as PDF downloads. - Ed.] I see where they exceeded their quota for the "Community Fund" drive. Your newspaper clipping which you sent me already told me that. One of the boys over which I was boss down at Martin's is up here too. He now plays in the band. That fellow [John] Hutchins is up here too. [See photo below. - Ed.] He also will leave tomorrow. Last Wednesday morning, we (about 50 of us) were driven in a large truck into some woods near a factory, now obsolete. It was built in 1918 so said the sergeant. For two hours, we chopped down trees and cleared away brush and weeds. We threw three mice in the nearby river. One rabbit got away. Today, they took us through the aircraft factory on the airport. I saw a smashed-up Curtiss P-40 (pursuit airplane). There are also a few Flying Fortresses around too. Have not seen any Martin planes yet. There are about 5 boys up here that I know who worked at Martin's at one time or another.
They have up here in a field what they call a "commando training" drill. This is what it consists of:
(1) Crawling under a 10-foot ladder lengthwise which is supported about 2 feet off of the ground.
Well, that is the so-called commando drill. All men over 45 were not allowed to try it. Men over 32 did not have to unless they really wanted to. Our group to start with at the beginning of drill consisted of 150 men. The lieutenant told us that after we went thru this complete circuit once to immediately go thru again. Only about half of us went through this second time. After this the lieutenant asked who would volunteer to go through even a third time. Well, I and nine others were all that stepped up. So, again we travelled over this course. My time was 4½ minutes which was, of course, not as good as the first time - nor as good as the second, naturally. We were all given a 10-minute rest. After this commando drilling, we were divided into teams of about 10 men each and then ran a relay race. I believe we came in second or third.
(2) Running across a horizontal beam lengthwise.
(3) Next, over another larger log which is over a sand trap.
(4) Climbing over a high board fence. It must be about 8-foot high because when I jump, I can only grasp the top of the fence or wall with my fingertips. This fence is perfectly smooth. Feet don't help much in this climbing.
(5) Logs are buried in an upright position with the ends projecting about 2 feet above ground. The logs or posts are in two staggered rows. Over the tops of these, we have to run, treading on the top of each post.
(6) Next we jump across a 3½ foot sand trap.
(7) Then we jump up and grab a rung of a ladder and then go hand over hand from one rung to the next. There are two ladders placed end to end and these are not exactly supported horizontally above the ground, the first ladder being inclined upward and the second runs downhill. We go from one to the other without touching the ground with our feet.
(8) After this we run over and climb a 15-foot fence. This is easy, as it has boards on which to tread on when climbing. We jump off of the top of this fence into a sand pile on the other side.
(9) From this we stagger over and crawl thru a wooden tube which is just a little larger than your body. It isn't even large enough to crawl thru in a kneeling position. This is one time when the Army actually does "march on its stomach." This wooden tube is about 12 feet long.
(10) After this, we climb a two-story wooden framework, walk across the top to the other side, again climb down to what would be the first floor, and from here we jump to the ground.
(11) Then we run about 20 feet and jump 2¾ foot board fence. We are not allowed to use our hands on this jump. One fellow did not jump high enough and hit his toes on the top of the fence. He looked just like a jockey falling off of a horse when he nosedived head first into the ground. He didn't get hurt, but he said that the sand didn't taste very good.
(12) The run is completed by crawling through two cement sewer pipes. The cement as you know on these pipes is kind of rough. The first time, I caught my rear pants pocket on the top inside edge of this pipe. After I had gone through, I found a piece of cement in this rear pocket about the size of a golf ball. I first noticed it when I tried to sit down.
Tell Kitty and Yvonne that I received their cards - thanks. Noticed Yvonne's picture glued on her card. Tell Phus that I would like very much to have that book which she mentioned in her letter.
I wonder how Bud Yates likes the Coast Guard. Tell Daddy that I haven't tasted any of this Pennsylvania beer yet. I don't guess that I will get a chance now. If the tires on his jeep get bad, he can use mine.
Every morning at 6:00 A.M. we have to march out and form ranks in front of our respective barracks. This morning a couple of lieutenants pulled off a surprise inspection of the barracks while we were in line and the bugle blowing Reveille. Guess what they found? Well, they found two sergeants still in bed. In another barrack they found 5 fellows in the toilet. These 5 boys will get K.P. duty for one whole week.
I guess after I get where I am being sent, I will get my training in aircraft work. As you probably know this Olmstead Air Depot is hardly anything more than a "reception center" similar to Camp Meade. But on a much smaller scale, it's housing members of the Army Air Corps only. We still haven't received buttons [brass insignia - Ed.] for the lapels of our jackets.
I received a letter from Fred Roussey. [See photo below. - Ed.] He is now on first shift and still has to wait until the first of the year before the Army will take him. He claims that Irvington is practically a ghost town at night.
Before we leave tomorrow, I have to take another minor physical exam.
I mentioned before that I was running low on cash. Well, at the moment I have 93 cents remaining. I did not do any gambling, and in fact I don't know any in our bunch who does. You won't find those kinds in the Air Corps because all Air Corps men are enlisted men, and of course have to possess certain mental requirements besides the necessary physical standards. This eliminates all of the "draft scum." After I again get situated, you can send me some of my money, letter writing supplies, and that sewing kit Kitty gave me. Maybe my roller or possibly my ice skates too.
Well, in closing I will say this: I would have written more and oftener, except that I had no writing equipment. Then, too, I expected to get home before I left Pennsylvania. I just discovered that this U.S.O. supplies the writing "stuff." So, as you can see, I am taking advantage of it.
Well, I hope you can translate the above, I never did like to use a straight pen, a borrowed one at that.
Oh, yes! You all want to know how I like the "Army of the United States." Well, if I think after the war is over (and won) as I do now, I will probably re-enlist at once. I won't always be a buck private, you know. My pay will accordingly increase. Then, too, the Army is a steady job. Do you agree? Or don't you?