Whitesburg KY

Remembering basic training

At the end of World War II, I ended up at Sheppard Field, Wichita Falls, Tex., for army-type training in the old Army Air Corps.

I was the youngest in my flight of 100 men. Our flight instructor was from Hazard, and me being the only other Kentucky boy, he helped me in many ways.

I was the first to learn to make a cot and I showed the other men. Also the first to use the gas mask. Within the first week I was marching our flight to the mess hall, classes and everywhere we went.

Our first trip to the rifle range I made sharpshooter, but the rest of the flight looked very bad. On our farm in Cane Branch, we always had guns in our house for hunting and to shoot the hawks that were after our chickens.

The second trip to the rifle range, I showed my flight how to set the sights on their rifles. Most of them made sharpshooter.

Our captain was very pleased with me and made me acting corporal.

Before we graduated, all my flight made sharpshooter. It was the first time that had happened during basic training at Sheppard Field.

From my athletic career in school I was always in good shape. Walking the four miles round trip to Burdine School helped a lot. The only other person from Jenkins who made it to basic training was Dickie Anderson.

At the end of our training was the dreaded 14-mile march to Red River Valley for two weeks at the bivouac area. I was marching my flight along this dirt road and this big Army truck came up behind us, tooting his horn. I got my men off of the road, and sitting in the rear of the truck was Dickie Anderson, waving at me.

I could have choked him.

He was in another flight, and men who could not make the 14-mile march were giving him a ride to the bivouac area.

Dickie went on to become a cook, and I went to school to become a radio operator on a B-17 bomber. I never saw Dickie again, though I understand he went to England and married a girl there.

I met her once in Jenkins while I was home on leave. She was staying with Dickie’s parents while he was assigned someplace she could not be with him.

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