The whole army’s crazy, but I’m beginning to like it

29 Aug

August 29, 1943

Barstow, California

Dear Pop,

I am here in Barstow today. It sure is good to get off that desert for a little while and get here where there are some trees. This is a small place about the size of Salem. They have a little place here for the U.S.O. but it’s air conditioned and it sure is good to cool off a little. I got a Pepsi Cola a little while ago. They don’t have any soft drinks out at the desert P.X.

This is our last week on the desert. We will fire the 40 mm guns this week and that will finish our first three weeks. We will go back to Haan and then I don’t know what we will do. We are supposed to have five more weeks on the desert but they may take them on the beach. These 40 and 90mm guns have to be a long way off before they can be fired safely because the 90 has an eight mile range.

I came to town today with a man named Smith from Baltimore, Maryland. I never saw anyone so homesick as he is and he stays that way. Lots of these guys are married and it is pretty hard on them to take them away from their wives. There is one man in the same gun section that I am, he used to work down at the N&W and I believe this desert has about driven him crazy. They are going to take him to the hospital I think. This place is enough to drive anyone  crazy. Well, from the way I see it the whole army’s crazy.

Civilians have the wrong idea about the army all around. Friday they told us we would have from Saturday noon til Monday morning free. They put me on guard that lasted til 5 o’clock then at 6:30 we had to clean guns and this morning we had to go out on the range and dig holes to put guns in. We got from 1 o’clock this afternoon until 8 o’clock tonight free. Believe it or not I’m beginning to like this old army. We work pretty hard but when work’s done you feel like you’ve done more than earn a little money like it was when I was a civilian.

I have been taken from my position on the gun temporarily and I am gunner now. That is a pretty good position and it calls for a corporal’s rating, if I can hold down the job I may get it for a permanent position.

I don’t want to do anything until I find out whether we will be shipped east or not. It looks like they are getting ready to do something; they are taking a lot of the men out of this battalion and putting them with others. Tommy Hawkins is being taken out of this battalion so I guess he and I will be split up.

I guess I’ll close for now.

Love, Tom

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