Humphrey captured story of ASTPers
Robert Humphrey, in his essay "The 99th Infantry Trains for War," captured the events very well. I was one of the ASTPers who joined the 99th in March 1944. I had been attending Hendrix College in Conway AR, after having infantry basic at Camp Hood TX.
The one event that was left out was the ex-Air Force personnel we received into the division in June to bring us up to T/O strength. Many of these guys came to us with rank and were assigned to like rank positions within our infantry companies.
We had openings for assistant squad leaders and here come these ex-Air Force replacements with sergeant and corporal rankings to be placed into these slots. There also were a number of Pfcs in this same group of replacements who took up any openings available for those of us already there.
Plus, these guys didn't know beans about anything infantry. So it was back to the basics. More close-order drill, manual-of-arms, extended-order drill, and a lot more rifle range time. The latter wasn't all bad because we all gained from more range time. Their welcome into the units was not a warm one but was better than we ASTPers had received.
The whole retraining was designed to get these new men up to speed and combat-ready. In some cases it didn't work. Others really tried and did manage to fit into our units.
The Bulge took its toll on all of us but I feel these late replacements didn't do quite as well. I can't testify to this to confidently, because I became separated from the division and was put under the "care, custody, and control of the German Army" in mid-January 1945.
Keep up the good work. We still have a great, if not the best, publication in the Checkerboard.
Robert Mesler L/393
1401 Pleasant Ridge Dr.
Midland MI 48640-2893