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First Furlough
Excerpt from "Serving The Pieces" by Ed Walsh

- - - - -Many weekends some of us would take a bus into Lawton and go to other towns, Oklahoma City, Annadarko, El Reno. Tolavera and I were in Oklahoma City one Saturday night and met up with Captain Carlson and his wife. Tolavera was the captain's driver at camp. You are not supposed to fraternize with officers but he said, "Come up to our room at the hotel and we'll have a drink." So we did, talked awhile and when we were leaving, he said, "Here's a fifth of whiskey for you to take along." He said, "I had the bellhop get me three bottles from a bootlegger. I don't need it all."

Oklahoma was dry at that time. You could buy beer with 3.2 alcohol content but that was all. There was no hard liquor available in stores but bootleggers were getting rich.~

The Captain was a great guy.

---After being in the Service for one year, I finally got leave or furlough in August of 1943. Two weeks and travel time which was 3 or 4 days. I took a bus from Lawton, OK to Lincoln, NE. My brother Bob and my dad picked me up. We came into Seward, then Mom and Dad and I went out to the farm.

I did quite a bit of running around those two weeks, but many of the people I knew were gone. Guys to service and girls to jobs somewhere. .I was bashfull about asking anyone for a date. The girls I knew, that I went to school with that I might have asked, had moved away. Due to the Depression and drouth their parents had went broke and had to leave their farms to go to other places where they could get a job to make enough money to feed their families. I think I knew when I was on this furlough that World War II had changed the world forever. Nowdays you hear about this on TV and read it in magazines and papers, so when did they figure this out? :I knew it in 1943.

Practically everyone I knew, even relatives, had scattered coast to coast. Some I would see again, and many I would not. I always thought I would be a farmer. This idea along with the small farm was already beginning to disappear. So why worry about it? Maybe it's for the best.

When the furlough was over, the folks and I went to the home of my foster sister and her husband, Opal and Harry Pratt's in Friend for the night. Harry had had a friend make a combat knife out of a large file and he gave it to me. I carried it all through combat and still have it.---- No, ----I never had occasion to use it.. The next day I got on the bus at Friend to go back to Sill.- - - - -

- - - -We continued to train the OCS and FAS students but we knew would be leaving Fort Sill soon. There were rumors of going West Point Academy or the Army Proving Grounds in Maryland, of going overseas. We had not yet taken the Army Ground Forces tests so it seemed unlikely that it would be overseas.

We got word we would move out of Sill by motor convoy. There was not much preparation for this. We just put our bags in the trucks one morning and took off. I don't know if sealed orders were opened on the way, or if the officers knew where we were headed. No one in the trucks close to me knew.

About 150 miles later we reached our destination. The convoy pulled into Camp Howze near Gainsville,Texas at 1400 hrs March 11, 1944. We were assigned to the 244th Field Artillery Group. -- - - - - -

---I had a letter from my dad that Mom had been sick. He said it sure would be nice for her if I could get leave.- - - - - - -

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