F Company

There was nothing lower than a former A.S.T.P. Private in F Company 101st Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. This was a National Guard outfit of mostly Boston Area Irish and Italian personnel who had served together for many years.

In our company there was one kind of goofy guy who had been the low man on the totem pole and once we had arrived even he had some folks to look down on. We got the crummy details, kitchen police (k.p.) etc. After maneuvers we went to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina for our final training before going overseas. This training was pretty demanding, lots of field problems, night problems, sham battles etc.

Aside from the original guard personnel and we of the A.S.T.P., the company was filled out with southerners from Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia and West Virginia. Some of these southern soldiers were real pips.

One notable soldier from West Virginia was very unhappy with discipline and would periodically pack up his possessions take them up to the supply room for safe keeping and go "over the hill" or absent without leave. Eventually he would be found, returned to us and put in the stockade (Army prison) because the Army did not appreciate its soldier's running off.

Despite this he had to participate in training and one of us would have to pick him up each morning from the stockade, guard him thorough the training day, and return him to the stockade at night. I got my turn once on the day that he returned. It was very hot, as usual, and my prisoner was anxious to get his possessions from the supply room and run some other errands. I was running around after him cussing him out and finally told him that if he was going to run around any more he could carry the darn rifle. He said "OK" and took it and we proceeded to travel around on his errands. Upon turning the corner on one company street, who should we meet but our company commander. He did not take the situation lightly and I was restricted to the company area for a week.

Our squad leader was a buck Sgt. who had been in the Yankee Division as a National Guardsman for many years. At one point we lived in two story wooden barracks at Ft. Jackson and it was our platoon leader's routine to drink pretty heavily each evening along with his old F company cronies. One night they got going in high gear in the room of one of the noncoms on the second floor. A semi-friendly argument wound up with someone threatening to throw him out the window. He allowed as though this could not be done. So they threw him out the window.

Fortunately he was pretty loose that night and the sandy ground around the barracks was grassless and loose too. He dusted himself off, climbed the stairs and told them that they might get away with that once but they would never do it again. So they did.

The squad leader was made of strong stuff and was ready for duty the next morning, not much worse off than usual. Our platoon sergeant, another little rugged Irish National Guard and he was a good soldier and leader.

One of the other platoon Sergeants was known as "The Head" because his head was so large that the helmet liner we usually wore in training was a skin tight fit.

The first sergeant was regular Army from the word go. He had no relatives and his will was made out to the US Army. He was forever the optimist. Once while on war game maneuvers in Tennessee our company was "captured" by the "enemy" and we were held as prisoners in an open field. It was winter and we had no where to go and nothing to do but huddle up against a fence trying to keep out of the heavily falling sleet and snow.

Our optimistic first sergeant was doing his duty walking down the row of miserable cold soldiers along the fence saying "It could be worse boys, it could be worse." A wise guy said "Yeah, it could be raining _____ and snowing _____ " (referring to the possible content of the rain and snow in a way I will leave to your imagination). This broke up the whole crew but didn't lessen the miserable physical conditions.

An infantry squad had a leader, followed by First Scout, Second Scout, BAR man (Browning Automatic Rifle), a couple of ammunition carriers for BAR, several Riflemen, and an Asst. Squad leader.

I was awarded the position of Second Scout. I never knew why. The First Scout was required to go out in front of the squad to scout out the terrain and eventually the enemy. The second scout watched the first scout and when he got shot the second scout was supposed to be able to tell where the enemy was that shot him. I was very thankful that I did not get the honor of being first scout.

In the course of our final training one fine day another member of the squad and I were called to the orderly room and informed that we had the highest scores for rifle marksmanship in our platoon and we were being assigned to sniper school. We took quite a ribbing from the other guys who talked about tying us up in palm trees (we thought at the time we would be sent to the Pacific) and leaving us to knock off the "Japs" that came by.

In sniper school, we had courses on camouflage, surviving behind enemy lines, (and how to get there by infiltration) identifying enemy officers, how to behave if captured, etc. etc. All very thrilling possibilities.

One day our instructor came to me and asked if I really had to wear eyeglasses. I told him I sure did and had worn them since the age of 12. He was very distressed and apologetic, but dismissed me from Sniper School. Snipers, I learned, could not wear glasses. Hurrah!

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