Army Life – Moving Up The Ladder – June, 1942

APG - Letter from Aberdeen, Moving up the ladder, June 21, 1942 - pg. 1

APG - Lad's Letter from Aberdeen - Moving up the ladder - June, 21, 1942 - pg. 2

APG - Army Life - Letter from Aberdeen - Moving up the ladder - June 21, 1942 - pg. 3

June 21st, 1942

Dear Dad –

Please note change of address above. I have succeeded in the first step up the ladder, but it also has its drawbacks. I cannot leave here for at least five weeks. And then, between then and the termination of my second period of training, I might be able to get home once. At most twice. This second period covers eight weeks from today.

I am now located in the Cadre School, where I will receive the training for a non-com and instructorship. If I go through with flying colors, I have a chance at Officers Training. Our Co. Commander gave us a little talk yesterday afternoon and apparently we will have little time for anything but study. Therefore, please don’t feel slighted if you don’t hear much from me in the next two months. I’ll do the best I can, but study is going to come first. Our days starts at 7:15 AM and ends at 8:30 PM. Between 6:00 and 7:15 AM we clean house and shave and eat breakfast.

I got out of the hospital yesterday morning at 8:30 and upon my arrival at Barracks 2-Bn. 1, I was told that I had to be ready to move to Co. D at 9:00. I really had to rush to make it, but I did. I helped put up tents, we live in 12’ x 12’ tents, and heard a lecture given by our C.O. Other than that, we did very little except to arrange our own stuff and clean up around our tent. Six men live in each tent, and since there is no electricity, we can’t do much after 9:00.

Today, being Sunday, we haven’t had to do very much, but it has been far more than had we still been in Bn. 1. Our Co. is made up of 4 platoons, and I’m in the second. Each day one of the four is assigned to guard duty about the area, and today is plat. 2. Then Guion being right up near the top of the list, since 2nd plat. is made up of men in G,H,I,J,K & L, I am on guard at present, on relief # 3. I have just finished the first guard, 4:00 is 6:00 P.M. I go on again at 10:00 till 12:00 and once more at 4:00 to 6:00 A.M. More on Co. D of the 8th when I get a chance.

I’m sorry I never mentioned having received the hangers, but I did (7) and I would like some more if you can find any (6). The stronger the better, and only all-steel. And there are a few other things I would like. In repairing my razor, Schick did not do such a good job and I’d like to send it back again, and therefore, send me one from home to use temporarily, Fine, if not, just say so. The Army supplied me with a safety razor which I’m using just now. Also, since we have no electricity, I would like to have you send me one of those 110 V. Batteries. The only ones I have seen so far have been made by Rem. Rand Shaver Div. Maybe you can’t get one of those either, but I’d like to have you try. I intended to go into Baltimore or Philadelphia and get one, but I can’t get out of here at all. Another thing is my watch. I left it upstairs in the attic, on the little table by the N. E.  window near a book called “Semper Fidelis”. My Elgin came in this book (or box as it actually is) and you can use it for the watch. In turn I will send back my Elgin for cleaning and general checking I don’t like to ask you to do all of these things, but I was really planning to be home either this  weekend or next weekend, and now I can’t make it for quite some time, and it all has to be done. However, don’t put yourself out, as there really isn’t any terrific rush. I think that is all, at present. Oh!! No –2 things more. I took with me to Camp Devens, Dick’s Gladstone bag. Did you or he ever get it back with clothes of mine in it? And also, I would like three or four rather sturdy, but small, boxes, like candy boxes (1 lb.) or the like and not too shallow. A couple of inches deep, 4” to 6” x 4” to 8”. They will be used put loose things of like materials (shoe shining equip., etc.) in my duffel bag. We do not have footlockers here.

You asked me what “Addere Flamman” means. Literally, I don’t know, but I suppose it means “Flaming Bomb”, which is the Ordnance Dep’t. Insignia.

Well, I seem to have run out of thoughts, Dad, so I guess I’ll have to call it quits. Remember me to all and sundry, and good health and luck.

Lad

This weekend, and every weekend following, I’ll begin at the beginning. Many of you were not following my Blog over three years ago when I began publishing the Guion Family Saga, or as I call it, A Slice of Life. My grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion, wrote his Reminiscences while traveling “around the world” on a freighter. He had quite a bit of time to remember bits and pieces of his life and decided to write them down for posterity, and his grandchildren. After he is married and starts a family, I will include the childhood memories of his children, which I recorded.

I believe this will give you a chance to get to know the man I called “Grandpa” and the author of many of the letters you have been reading. I hope you enjoy the beginning of the Guion Family Saga.

Next week I’ll be posting letters written in 1945. All the boys are serving Uncle Sam at this point. Both Lad and Dan are in France, Ced is in Alaska working at the same airbase, which has been taken over by the military, Dick is in Brazil and Dave is awaiting his ships departure for the Pacific. Grandpa will give us any news he can but letters can be sporadic when in the Army. On Friday, we’ll have a letter from Lad.

Judy Guion

Lad’s Army Life – Aberdeen Proving Ground – 1942

I am so excited !!! I came across this post from GreatestGeneration on Tumblr and they have allowed me to re-post these pictures for your enjoyment. These women are test firing weapons at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in 1942.
My father, Alfred ( Lad) Peabody Guion was at the Ordnance Training Center, Aberdeen Proving Grounds from June, 1942 until December, 1942. Look in the background of these pictures and see what he saw !
Judy Guion

demons:

Workers at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland testing machine guns, 20mm aircraft caynon, sighting on a Bofors AA gun, and a prototype carbine, 1942

Source: demons #Aberd

A great BIG THANK YOU to Mustang Koji (http://p47koji.wordpress.com) for the following information:

If you don’t have an external reference, Judy, the weapons are (by photo):
Photo 1: air-cooled Browning .30 caliber machine gun
Photo 2: 20mm Anti Aircraft gun (likely manned by Mr. Johnson of my blog)
Photo 3: (Top to bottom) water-cooled .30 cal Browning machine gun, a .50 caliber Browning machine gun (“Ma Deuce”) and an air-cooled Browning.30 caliber machine gun
Photo 4: 20mm anti aircraft gun
Photo 5: (L to R) Browning .50 caliber machine gun, water-cooled .30 cal Browning machine gun
Photo 6: 40mm Bofors Anti Aircraft gun
Photo 7: (L to R) air-cooled Browning .30 caliber machine gun, .50 caliber Browning machine gun, water-cooled .30 caliber Browning machine gun
Photo 8: US Army issue water-cooled .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun
Photo 9: M1 carbine (not the Garand)

Guest Post – gpcox – Technical and Ground Force Coordination

I’m pleased to present this Guest Post from gpcox addressing how the Technical and Ground Forces all worked together to create success in their endeavors, which ultimately won the war. Without cooperation between all seven departments, nothing could have been accomplished.

As readers of my blog, pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com are aware, my father, Everett “Smitty” Smith was a sharpshooter trained as a paratrooper and gliderman with the 11th Airborne Division in WWII, this put him in the Ground Force.  But, neither he nor the rest of the soldiers would have gotten very far without the Technical services as each department of the Army worked to support the other.  Should one fail in the chain, a devastating domino effect might hinder or stop the rest.

The Technical Services of the Army Service Force during WWII was comprised of seven departments: The Corps of Engineers, The Signal Corps, Ordnance Dept., Quartermaster Corps, Chemical Corps, Medical Corps and as of 1942 the Transportation Corps.  These operated either behind the scenes or in unison with the 91 divisions of Ground Forces that were designated as: infantry, armored mountain, cavalry and airborne.  In this article I hope to explain how the Guion brothers you have come to know on this site aided soldiers like my father.

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

Alfred (Lad) Guion was a sergeant, Chief of Section, with the Ordnance Department.  He was an instructor in California and Texas and then on assignment in France.  The technicians, both automotive mechanics and small arms experts worked diligently to solve the problems which had not been foreseen in Aberdeen or Flora.  Equipment was fiercely battered and the need for repairs was imperative; supply problems alone kept these men busy.  Ernie Pyle once wrote, “This is not a war of ammunition, tanks, guns and trucks alone.  It is a war of replenishing spare parts to keep them in combat…”  The smallest nut or bolt missing could keep a G.I. from accomplishing his task.  In the Third Army alone, maintenance crews put back into action more guns and vehicles than were lost by four entire armies in one month.  According to Lt. Gen. Levin Campbell, Jr., “Collectively they [Ordnance Crews] turned out a mechanical and technical superiority for American troops which no other Army in the history of the world has ever equaled.”  Therefore, as you can see, I have not exaggerated my praise of their contributions.

Army Map Service

Army Map Service

Daniel Beck Guion (Dan)

Daniel Beck Guion (Dan)

Daniel Guion was a Field Surveyor and as such would be required to record field data, prepare sketches, determine angles for targets and/or develop accurate maps.  Without these men, the soldiers would be unable to acquaint themselves with the terrain the enemy was in and ammunition would be wasted while attempting to target enemy fortifications.  Engineers used the surveyor’s knowledge to construct roads and airfields.  Although photogrammetry was being used for aerial maps, accuracy still required points on the ground and creating grids.

Richard (Dick) Peabody Guion

Richard (Dick) Peabody Guion

Richard (Dick) Guion was a linguist and acted as a liaison with Brazil.  Many are unaware of that country’s involvement, but Dick’s fluency in Portuguese and Spanish was very useful tp the U.S. government.  Brazil originally dealt with both the Axis and Allied powers, but declared war against the Axis on 22 August 1942.  The United States built air bases to support aerial runs over North Africa as well as the China-Burma-India Theater.  The Brazilians also sent 25,000 men to fight fascism under the command of the Fifth Army and their air force flew American P-47 Thunderbolts.  One of the main reasons that Brazil entered the war was the diplomatic actions of the American liaisons.  The country was an important strategic point for the Allies and was considered “The Springboard for Victory” for the fighting troops in North Africa.  This was one more service working behind the scenes and whose efforts saved countless lives.

Dave Guion was in the Signal Corps and very adept in Morse Code, radar and trained as a radioman.  His primary mission would be to

Radioman - WWII

Radioman – WWII

provide communication for the scattered elements of an operation and headquarters.  To keep everyone coordinated as to the on-going events as they unfolded.  There would be equipment with a command company, field operations and headquarters.  Whether it was a stationary complex or mobile radio, each unit found contact essential.  The maintenance of this equipment was their responsibility.  When you read in my blog of smoke and wig-wag signals, it was these men indicating the proper target for a jump or bomb; whatever was needed.  By 1942, signal communications had expanded into large networks of telephone, teletype, radio and messenger services that produced results 24/7 wherever the battles raged or lines formed.  They dug holes, laid wire, planted poles and repaired damaged areas of wire.  It would not have fared well for the fighting units to be without these men.

Airplane Mechanic - WWII

Airplane Mechanic – WWII

Cedric (Ced) Duryee Guion

Cedric (Ced) Duryee Guion

Cedric Guion was an airplane mechanic in Alaska.  As a bush pilot, he was capable of locating downed planes and bringing them in for repairs.  As of 22 May 1942, Intelligence knew Japan was about to attack Midway and the Aleutian Islands.  Within ten days, Kiska and Attu were occupied by the enemy.  Ced’s position was crucial.  The air war increasingly grew well into 1943.  After consistent air and naval bombardment, the U.S. and Canadian troops finally found the Aleutians deserted by Japan.  Although he remained a civilian employee, he operated on a military airfield.  His technical expertise kept the American pilots in the air which was their essential mission.

There was also the Medical Corps, the 221st operated with the 11th Airborne Division and other positions of the technical branch, but perhaps we will discussed them at a future date.  For right now, I sincerely hope you enjoy both this blog  and mine.  Thank you for taking the time to read.

References and photos:

U.S. Army, “The Pacific War” by John Davison, National WWII Museum, HyperWar Federal Records, fold3.com and numerous Technical Service Associations

I am continually surprised by the detail and research that gpcox does before posting on pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com and guest posting on my blog. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think of this post and previous posts by gpcox.

Judy Guion

Lad – Army Life – Camp Santa Anita, Spring, 1943

This letter gives you a pretty clear picture of Lad’s life right now. He’s out socializing, probably with my Mom, and teaching during the day.

Camp Santa Anita

April 28, 1943

Dear Dad –

Again, weeks have passed. I just have too good a time to sit down and spend some of it writing, and I really should. However, you can rest assured that if anything of importance happens, you shall know of it. No news will be good. I have definitely decided to keep the car, but not as you suggested.

Tonight I’m again on company duty, but instead of C.Q., I’m Corporal of the Guard. The few times I’ve been on company duty are so infrequent that I really have nothing to complain about. For instance, tonight is the first night I have stayed in camp since I got here January 9, with the exception of that first night, due to quarantine.

It seems that the course in Diesel Engine Principles has finally gotten through to the right authorities by fair or foul means, and pressure has been applied to the effect that the course is to have its first sanctioned appearance on May 3, if it can be put into workable shape by then. Art Lind and I have been working on it and it looks possible. We are hoping.

Our new showers have been opened in the camp with plenty of hot water. There are 197 of them, so we no longer have to the go to the Y in Pasadena to get a hot shower, and speaking of cleaning up – my razor finally begin to show signs of excessive wear, so I turned it in for a new Schick Colonel – eight dollars. The new one operates very nicely. If you remember, you sent me a clipping concerning the need for men with the knowledge of other languages? I had taken you on it, but nothing as yet has been heard from it.

Don’t worry about my operator’s license. I have already written to Hartford asking them to send them to me, but if they come to Trumbull, please forward them. As regards grandmother you, I believe, did the right thing. Personally, I certainly would never have even hesitated, as you probably know. My love to all, and to all a good night –

Laddie

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Trumbull, Conn.

May 2, 1943

Dear young uns,

You are in an airplane. You are on a mission and your course has been set. The country below slides by. It is interesting and you study it, for part of that landscape may fit into another assignment one day. But you keep on your course. You are on a mission!

In the busy round of duties the Army has set as your daily routine, don’t become so absorbed in the present that you neglect once in a while to get off by yourself and try to fit this into the larger scheme of things that will constitute your regular living after this war interlude is over. You too, have a mission – – to enlarge your knowledge and experience and make it serve as a “landscape”, because someday it may be a useful postwar brick in your life work structure. The simile is a bit mixed but I assume you have intelligence enough to get the thought I am trying to get over.

This afternoon a telegram came from Jean, as follows: “Have changed plans (She expected to be home tomorrow). Decided to stay. Letter to follow explaining. Please call my mother( I did and she said she was glad Jean was having such a nice vacation). Please forward any allotment check (Sorry, Jean, but none has arrived). We are both fine. Love. Jean”

Lad has written and the big news in his letter, at least so far as I am concerned, is that he is now a Sergeant. How de do, Sarge. Congratulations from your old man. He is been given the same type of job he had in Aberdeen, Chief of Section, which calls for a staff rating. He therefore expects in two or three months he will have an opportunity to take the staff exam. And the rest of you will have to watch your reputation as bowlers, as he now bowls 180 and expects to top 200.

Barbara was just in and has about decided to apply for a job open to her doing drafting work for the Signal Corps, involving a six-month training course on the N. J. coast. I learned that George Laufer is now at Fort Bragg, N. C.

Grandma wants me to write you all that she is SO happy to be here. Aunt Betty wants me to thank Lad for his lovely letter to her, and I, well I’m just glad I have such a bunch of nice boys. If I were “that way” I might even be a little bit proud.

Ced, I’m having trouble getting your Buick parts shipped. Both the post office and express company refused to send it. I am taking the matter up with Washington. Did you get the package of books?

DAD

It seems that now that the hustle and bustle of Dick and Jean’s wedding on Valentine’s Day, Dick going into that Army, Jean following him and grandma arriving, things are finally starting to settle down a little at the old homestead. I wonder what comes next, don’t you?

For FREE copies of New Inceptions Magazine, an e-nagazine, with several articles and stories from my family, you can click the following links.

Issue 1   Click Here

Issue 2   Click Here

Issue 3   Click Here

Judy Guion

Lad’s Army Life – More From Aberdeen

It’s 1942 and Lad is taking his Basic Training at The Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. He hasn’t been there very long and still has questions about the plans the Army has for him. In typical military fashion, they aren’t telling him very much and plans change on a moments notice.

The Ordnance Training Center

Aberdeen Proving Ground

Maryland

May 31, 1942

Dear Dad –

Although it was hotter by 10 or 15 degrees in Venezuela, I don’t think that I was ever more uncomfortable due to high humidity. Regardless of how little energy I use, even just using my brain, I perspire. It really is HOT.

Yesterday, according to custom, we all here in Aberdeen had a review. We went out on the parade grounds in our best uniforms, cartridge belts and rifles at 11:30 and were there until a few minutes after 1:00.. It was hot out there, and quite a number of the fellows passed out under the strain of standing at attention. However, I was not affected in the least.

As luck would have it our quarantine was called off early, and half of our company was allowed to leave camp. I was one of those given a pass but I had a detail, night, at that, good old K.P. and could not use it. The next time passes are issued I’ll have a preference because I turned mine over to one of the other fellows. But it will not be this coming week since company B is apparently going on guard duty, and there will be NO passes issued. The weekend of the 14th, if we do not go out on bivouac, I’ll have a chance to come home, and will arrive in Bridgeport at the same time Dan did, since it will be the same train he took, I think, somewhere in the neighborhood of 10:30 PM. However, I cannot know definitely until 4:30 in the afternoon of the day I come home, so I cannot give you any further definite information. If I call you at Trumbull, you will know I made it. If I don’t, you can be sure I didn’t make the pass. That’s rather a cruel way of putting it, but it’s the best I can do.

We have been asked to write home frequently by the !st Corps Area, but then they put so many restrictions on what we can say about interesting things that I have very little I could write about.

As long as information is only general it is okay to mention it. For example – I can’t tell you that Camp Rodman here is rather a nice place and is nicely situated as far as terrain is concerned, but I cannot give any definite information like the number of men here or the size of the camp or how many rounds of ammunition we use for rifle practice or the number of rounds we carry on guard duty – etc.

But anyhow, I’ll answer, to the best of my ability, any questions you care to ask.

Well, Dad, if luck holds out, I may see you on the second weekend in June. If not, then “quien sabe”.

Lad

June 8, 1942

Dear Dad:

Since we went on guard duty rather suddenly Sunday at noon and did not get off until 6 AM this morning, I did not get a chance to write yesterday and if I can stay awake long enough tonight I’ll finish this letter.

During the week I learned that sometime this week, probably Thursday, I will have to go out on bivouac so I won’t be able to get home this weekend. And again, the weekend of the 21st is unsettled. More information on that when I know.

I was a member of Relief # 1 so my guard duties began at noon yesterday and I walked from then until 2 PM in the broiling sun and my feet and muscles were really tired.

Aberdeen letter when Lad is really tired

Aberdeen letter when Lad is really tired

Then, due to the fact that my back was not accustomed to carrying a rifle and a gas mask, my shoulders and back were really aching. The four hours I had off were not enough to overcome the effects. Then two more hours – 6 to 8 PM and another all too short four hour sleep. Then finally, again, from 12 midnight until 2 in the morning. By this time I was pretty well worn out. I got back into bed and had just gotten to sleep when we had a call to arms and the simulation of actual war conditions. Therefore I am pretty tired now, not having had much sleep and in a short time I have to fall out for retreat formation. By the time that I finish that and have had supper, I really don’t know if I will be able to finish this letter. In fact, I just fell asleep and that accounts for the crossed out words. I think that I had better stop now. Remember me to all please.

Love,

Laddie

Aberdeen letter with Lad's normal script

Aberdeen letter with Lad’s normal script

June 13, 1942

Dear Dad:

Excuse me for not writing sooner, but I have been trying to find out something definite as to my status with the US Army. It looks as though I am to stay here for some time yet, and I can have a car here later, but it all depends on what the bank says as to whether I will sell it or not. In case I have to sell it, I’d accept $700 or even $675 in cash. I’ll let you decide that issue. If this new bill goes through concerning the raise in pay for soldiers, I could probably pay $25 per month, but not much more.

Today we finish our basic training and tomorrow at 4 AM we get up in preparation for departure at 5:15 on our bivouac. At the termination of that, our basic training will be over. Then there will be eight weeks more of technical training which will terminate my training and I will be able to bring down a car. But what comes afterward, I have not been able to determine. Possibly when we return next Thursday or Friday and I’m transferred to another company for additional training I may be able to get a slant on the future. If I’m not transferred next weekend, I’ll have a chance to come home, and in connection with this event, do you suppose you could send me five dollars? This bivouac sort of took enough cash for cigarettes, shaving equipment, etc. to bring my nine dollar pay down to is sum too low to buy a round trip ticket. Boy, we all certainly put out plenty for seven cents an hour. We make, at present, $.70 per day, which is really quite small when all items necessary during the first couple of months are purchased, mainly on the dribble plan, a little now and a little then.

You have my permission to open any mail addressed to me, and do as you see fit. I think your judgment is reasonable.

This paper is printed by the Adams Paper Company of Holyoke, Massachusetts, and I was wondering if the Mr. Adams I met a couple of times in your office was connected with that company. It seems to me that he also came from Massachusetts?

Well Dad, it is getting close to 7 PM and since we have to get up so doggone early tomorrow, I think that I’d better retire. So until the next letter, adios.

My love to all – –

Lad

During Company B’s Guard Duty, Lad is pushed to the limit, but he prevails in getting his weekly letter written to his father back home in Trumbull, CT. I think the two samples of his writing tell the story all too clearly.

If you gaining an appreciation for what our military personnel go through, please share these letters with others who might enjoy them also.

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Judy Guion