Humphrey's essays spark memories
The article in the fifth issue 2003 by Robert E. Humphrey brought back many memories, both pleasant and resentful. It is apparent that he was an ASTPer.
I started out in the Air Corps as an aviation cadet. I became airsick in pilot training, so they sent me to navigation school thinking I would not get sick in a larger plane. However, I still got airsick in the twin-tail navigation planes. I received a discharge, and reenlisted three weeks later at Hondo Texas Navigation Base. Because my grades were good, I became a navigation instructor, teaching dead reckoning. I had three years of engineering at the University of Texas, so when ASTP opened up, I applied and was sent to Texas A&M. When ASTP was disbanded, I was sent to Camp Maxey at Paris TX.
Our sergeant resented the "college kids" and was determined to break us. However, we were in top physical condition, and at the end of a 25-mile march, he would tell us to double time the last mile. We would outrun the sergeant and yell for more. He quickly learned to respect us.
Once, during a long march, I was at the end of the column when it began to rain. Having enough sense to get out of the rain, I donned my raincoat. After a while the lieutenant fell back to the end of the line and saw that I had my raincoat on. He yelled, "Soldier, why do you have your raincoat on?" "Because it's raining, sir," I replied. He then yelled, "Take it off! I didn't give you orders to don the raincoat." After I became completely soaked, he issued the order "don raincoats."
After the Battle of the Bulge, General Lauer addressed the 395th Regiment, and he stood on the hood of his jeep to make himself head. He said, "I have given you the opportunity to fight in the mountains, and I shall now give you the opportunity to fight on the plains. I know you can fight, because I can make you fight!" And he added, "I know you can die because I can make you die!" That speech did very little to help our morale.
I am proud to have served in the 99th Division as a demolition specialist and that I do not have to tell my grandson, "Yes grandson, I fought the battle of Hondo Texas Air Force Base."
Houston TX 77074