Gallery      WWII Radio
A year at Fort Sill, Oklahoma
Training the OCS at Fort Sill
Excerpt from "Serving The Pieces" by Ed Walsh

Upon our arrival at Lawton, Oklahoma, we were put on trucks and hauled to our new home, another tent city at the west end of Fort Sill's main camp. Our equipment came onto the base on a railroad siding. As soon as we were assigned tents and cots and were settled in, we had lunch and went to unload the equipment train.

Then there was a meeting where we were told why we were here and what we would be doing, the rules and regulations of the base, about guard duty, passes, where things were, the theaters, px, cafes, etc. It sure sounded better than Yakima even if we were still in tents.

The reason we were here was to train the OCS, Officers Candidate School (the guys that came out of ROTC in college, or had been chosen out of ranks to try to become a 2nd Lieutenant in 90 days of tough training, or ninety day wonders as they were called.) Fort Sill turned out officers from this school by the hundreds every month. Those who did not make it were given the rank of corporal and were transferred out.

Also at Sill was the Field Artillery School where guys were sent from outfits all over the nation to become specialists in radio, telephone survey, mathematics, truck mechanics, gun mechanics, ordinance, ammunition, cooks, bakers and other jobs in the Artillery. We were to train these guys, too.

The Field Artillery School would furnish men to do jobs in their specialty for us and the OCS would furnish the students (would-be officers). We would do some work but mostly watch and help them or show them what to do so it was done right.

So the next day we would go out and start "The Battle of Fort Sill", which would go on day and night for a year.

Next morning we went on the firing range, not with our 105mm Howitzers, but with French 75mm. Seems the Arsenal had millions of rounds of 75mm shells left over from World War I and they figured they might as well use up the ammunition. - - - - -

- - - - - -We would fire from a few rounds up to 2000 rounds a day. I recorded day after day for A Battery until I was transferred to the Survey Section as messenger or agent. (Sgt Reed said to me one day, "Kid, there are some openings coming up, would you like to go to the kitchen as a cook, you would be a sgt in no time. Or you could be the A Battery messenger, carrying firing orders or messages from Hdqtrs to the battery?" I took the messenger or agent position.)

GETTING ARMY DRIVERS' LICENSES

We had to have drivers' licenses for the Army vehicles and we had to have good control over what we were driving in order to get the license.

The Motor Officer would take a bunch of guys and different kinds of trucks out to the back side of Signal Mountain. Here he would ride with each guy in different vehicles and ride around. Finally in a place that seemed almost straight up you had to stop the truck, set the hand brake, and shut off the engine. Then start the engine, put it in gear, release the handbrake and go on up the steep grade without rolling back more than 18 inches.

Some guys never did get a license. The Motor Officer was a great big young guy just out of Officers Candidate School. He was real easy to get along with, but he would worry someone would panic and the big truck would roll backwards down the mountain, wrecking the truck and he and the driver would get hurt.

The Lieutenant sweat pretty easy anyway and it was hot the day I went out to get my license. His whole uniform was soaking wet. I was one of the last to drive and as I got in the truck, he said, "I'll sure be glad when this is over, it's wearing me out."

We got to the grade and I stopped as directed. He said, "For God's sake, don't let it roll back or kill the engine."

I said, "I won't.---- I know how to do this." I put the truck in gear and pulled out. Never rolled back an inch. I could see the relief on his face.

The others said he had said the same thing to everyone on the grade, but some had rolled back 15 or 20 feet and scared him to death.

He never went overseas with us. The Colonel must have thought he wasn't tough enough, or maybe too big to be a forward observer, would make too good a target for the Germans. - -

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