Lad has arrived at the Ordnance Training Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. In my last post of Lad’s Army life, he told us the details of his trip by train from Connecticut and his first few days at Aberdeen.This is the rest of his first letter.
Wednesday – Due to the issue of rifles last night, I did not have time to complete this letter. And it looks as though I may not have time to finish it tonight. We are to have a lecture at 8 PM and that is only a short time away. If anyone tells you that we are busy, just let it pass as an understatement. Boy, from 5:45 AM until 9 PM, with the exception of about 30 min. at noon and an hour and a half in the evening, we do not have time to even think for ourselves. To say nothing of heeding “mother nature”
May 23 – I was right. I could not finish it, and then since there was to be an inspection today, we spent all free time yesterday thoroughly cleaning the barracks, outside and in. Then today, for a change of diet, we drilled all morning, had an inspection or review early in the afternoon, a rigid inspection later in the barracks, and then about 40 of us were marched a couple of miles to the infirmary, given two injections, and marched back again. Right now my right arm is so stiff that I have to use only my fingers and wrist to write. And incidentally, I don’t feel too hot. Oh! Yes. – Yesterday we were given our first rifle practice on an indoor range. I didn’t do too bad, but nowhere nearly as well as Dan.
One thing that has been said at various places and by various people who should know: Ordnance work and the Ordnance Department of the US Army rates second to none. Not even the Engineering Corps. Apparently eight men out of 1000 get far enough to make the necessary qualifications for this department, and then, to make things even better, of those picked men, two out of 1000 get a chance to qualify for instructors rating and the Officers Training Course. I am among the latter few, and that really makes me feel good. I hope that I can live up to the honor when my chance comes. I believe that if things go for me as they have been planned at present, I will be stationed here at Aberdeen Proving Grounds for six months or even for the duration. In any case, Ordnance men are not trained to fight except as a means of self-protection, and the main idea, roughly, is to supply the men on the lines with ammunition and equipment for fighting. We are the men behind the men on the front. Apparently, I have been picked to assist as an instructor in automotive repair and maintenance. Well, so much for Army life here. I received your letter okay, but I’m afraid that it will not be as easy as you seem to think for me to write regularly for a few weeks anyway. I am busier than the proverbial bee. Timeout.
Sunday – those injections plus a cold got to me. I quit writing, planning to take a short rest, but the first thing I knew it was just 9 PM and the corporal was saying 1 min. before lights out, so I didn’t have time to write more.
Breakfast on Sundays is at 7 AM and then I spent the rest of the morning washing clothes and cleaning my equipment in general. Then, immediately after lunch we fell out with rifles and had an inspection of arms. Then, following this, we went on a hike of about five or six miles, with cartridge belt, first aid kit and leggings. We returned in time for supper and then – here I am.
Quarantine will be up one week from tomorrow night. Then if I am lucky I will be able to get a pass for the weekend.
However, in the meantime, I would appreciate very much if you would send me 10 clothes hangers, two of them steel. It is impossible to get hangers here.
Remember me to everyone and my love to Aunt Betty,
So much for Lad’s first ten days in the Army. He seems to have accepted the situation with little complaint, but that is so typical of Lad. He didn’t get flustered or upset about anything. He was very relaxed and deliberate in all that he did. Uncle Dave told me this story about my father when I was recording his childhood memories. “One more thought when Al, your Dad, had a gas station in Trumbull. I don’t have witnesses but I think Ced told the story. Somebody came in one day, knowing what a great diagnostician your father was, and said “You hear it? Something is wrong with my car. Can you hear that noise?” Your father, without saying a word, turned around and walked away. “Well, what is this? Here I ask a question, and the guy ignores me and just walks away.” He was about ready to leave when your father came back in and said “I think the problem is….”, but he never bothered to tell the guy he was going off to think about what the problem might be.”
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