104th Division vet relates different experiences years ago
That was a good article on movie stars in WWII. You can add Lew Ayres, a great actor who was a conscientious objector. He served honorably as a combat medic.
I joined the 99th Infantry Division Association through my friend, Elliott Wager. My career path in WWII was similar to many in the 99th — infantry basic at Camp Hood TX, ASTP for six months at NYU, and then to the 104th Infantry Division at Camp Carson CO. I was a rifleman, then moved to a BAR. Before leaving for the POE to Europe, I got transferred out to an engineer unit and ended up in the South Pacific. The reason was my feet got so bad they decided I was unfit for a rifle company.
My experience coming from ASTP to the 104th was good. The old-timers made us welcome. I think because we could soldier right along with them. Our basic at Hood was tough and thorough. Some of our ASTPers became non-coms pretty fast.
When our troop train arrived at Camp Carson we were reunited with buddies from basic who had been in ASTP all over the country. Many guys arrived with typewriters, tennis rackets, and fancy garrison caps, looking like Joe College We were told to get rid of all that. We were "in the Army now." We were welcomed to the 104th and told "infantry makes up 88 percent of all casualties" so learn fast.
I read your recent discussions about ASTP and possible promises made about OCS, etc. At Camp Hood I was in a training regiment, all guys with at least one year of college. I never heard of ASTP the entire 13-week cycle. No one there (enlisted men or officers) ever mentioned it.
We left Hood on a troop train, destination unknown to us. Shades stayed pulled down the entire three or four-day trip, like a secret troop move. We arrived at Grand Central Station in NYC and boarded trucks. We thought we were going to a ship. Instead we were taken to the Bronx and then told we were going to school. And we studied basic engineering for six months. For us it was a real vacation from soldiering.
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