by Jack W. Mills

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Basic Training, now there is an experience that everyone had ought to go through, but I wouldn't recommend it to a dog, even one that you didn't like. I said before that the Bill of Rights were left at the gate, but here they had never even heard of them and a person soon learned when to look busy and inconspicuous and just sort of mosey off and get out of sight and keep quiet.

We were taken on a forced march one day and made 9 miles in an hour and fifty five minutes, carrying a 70 pound pack and a nine or ten pound Enfield rifle, and had 2 ten minute breaks, some guys fell out and had to be hauled in but most made it. The calves of my legs hurt something fierce and one of the old timers told me to loosen my leggings, which made it a lot better. I had laced them up to tight and didn't know the difference. Leggings were worn then and later they issued us paratrooper boots and they were real nice boots, and they were a totally different boot which was a lot better.

We took a crash course in basic training for 11 weeks. We were marching and drilling on the parade grounds and I was hurting something fierce and I told the Sgt. that I had to take out that I just couldn't make it any longer and he cussed and raised cain with me and I told him that I didn't care what he done I just couldn't go any longer. He finally told me to get on back to the company and report to the Ist Sergeant which I did. He chewed on me awhile and finally told me to get on down to sick call, which was about a mile away. He made me walk all the way to the hospital and they diagnosed me as having acute appendicitis. I was in the Hospital for about 2 weeks but I wasn't operated on for it but was treated medically for a couple of weeks. I heard later that they really chewed on the Ist Sergeant for making me walk to the hospital. They never liked me after that but that is the way of the Army. Grudges are held onto indefinitely.

After our 11 weeks were over and they were dandies to, We were then shipped off to Louisiana around a place called Leesville and Alexandria. I think Larry probably has some fond memories of Louisiana. I developed a fond hate for the place, Well it was not a hate exactly but you could call it an extreme dislike. It was a miserable time and I can't think of one good thing about it except when we left.

While there we were engaged in a mock war (the Blues and the Grays), under General George S. Patton, Jr. His philosophy of life was to make things as miserable as possible for the enlisted men and called it training but what it amounted to was, it built up a don't care attitude for anything military to the point that you didn't care what happened and at that point you were ready to go overseas.

It was his ego that had to be fed and it seemed it was always where the other party had no other option, because you couldn't say anything, he had the power of life and death over you. When it was pouring down rain that was the time to break camp and move a mile or so and it was better to throw food out than give a guy a second helping. I remember one day we went through the chow line and hadsome real good steaks and I went back for seconds and they had a bunch left but would not give them out but when every one had been through the line they dumped them in a six by six hole and covered it all up, I seen that happen. It was raining one day and we were told to brake camp, we were moving out. Well we broke camp and just set there and all our stuff got wet and then we were told to make camp that we were not moving after all, now that is fun. Where our pup tents had been now was all wet and muddy now and we had to sleep in the mud that night.

That was the swampiest, muddiest place that I have ever seen and on top of all the other inconveniences there was the mosquito problem and some of them were so big that they had to run to get airborne. I was told about a pair of mosquitoes who had a small soldier down and one said to the other, "should we eat him here or take him down in the woods?" The other one said "no, we better eat him here or the big ones will take him away from us down there". There was another couple that had taken down a horse and they had eaten the horse and were pitching horse shoes to see who would get the saddle.

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