Part 2: Enlistment in the U. S. Army 1934 through Pearl Harbor Day 1941
Every narrative must have a beginning. The title indicates that this is to be about service in the Army but to start with my enlistment would be to start with no explanation as to circumstances which led to the decision to enlist.
I graduated from Charles L. Coon High in 1930, on time in spite of the fact that I just tolerated school. I enrolled at Atlantic Christian College and performed poorly for one year and dropped out. The two most popular Majors at the time were teaching and ministerial. I did not want to be a teacher and there was no “calling” to become a minister. When I told my father that I thought my continuing at Atlantic Christian would be wasting my time and his money, his attitude was that if I really felt that way, perhaps I should get a job.
I worked for Southern Dairies, Wright’s Ice Cream Company, and operated a Snack Shop in the Banner Tobacco Warehouse on the corner of Kenan and Tarboro Streets. In January 1934 I found myself without a job and really unsure of just what I wanted to do. Sometime in January I saw an acquaintance in Wilson who was a Sergeant in the Medical Detachment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I asked questions about the Army. He liked being in the Army. He talked freely, positively; answered my questions and I still remember one statement that he made and that was after thirty years service one could retire as a Master Sergeant at about $125.00 per month. I’m surprised that as a Twenty year old I would have had any interest in a retirement I decided that I would try the Army.
Since I was less than twenty one a signed consent was required from my parents. Mother was not happy with my decision to join the Army. One of her brothers had joined the Army years before and died three months later from pneumonia. Daddy’s comment was that “If that is what you want, that is up to you, but a year from now do not ask me for $120.00 to buy out of the Army.” I thought that he knew nothing about the Army, and still wonder just how he knew about a “purchase discharge.”
I went to Fort Bragg with the intent to enlist. I was dressed in a relatively new gray suit and looked “sharp.” I found the Recruiting Office and the Recruiting Sergeant was not busy. He was very pleasant and talkative. By today’s standards Fort Bragg was a small Installation; lots of real estate, but few troops. Stationed at Fort Bragg at that time were parts of four regiments and support personnel. In fact, the strength of the Army was about 125,000 with about 10,000 Officers. The Recruiting Sergeant gave me no encouragement. There were no vacancies and he had turned down Ph.Ds for enlistment. His telephone rang. He talked and I listened to his side of the conversation. I got the impression that some ”clerk” (term for typist) was being discharged and not re-enlisting. The caller was telling the Recruiter to be on the lookout for a replacement. After his call, I said that it sounds as if you are looking for a typist. He perked up and asked, “You type?” I said yes. He handed me a sheet of paper, opened a book of Army Regulations to an arbitrary page and said “copy that.” He was watching, and as soon as I started typing by touch and not “hunt and peck,” he said that is fine; took the paper from the typewriter, balled it up, and discarded it. He said , “I’ll send you a letter in about ten days.” The letter arrived on schedule and I went to Fort Bragg and enlisted for three years on February 6, 1934 with assignment to 13th Field Artillery Brigade Headquarters Battery. And that is how I joined the army when there were no vacancies. Headquarters Battery personnel worked in Post Headquarters. Recruit training was simple; mostly learning how to march in formation. Hq. Btry. was housed in a wooden World War I barracks. In the middle of February very shortly after I enlisted, I got up in time to go for breakfast and noticed a dusting of snow on my bed. During the night the snow had blown through the cracks in the weather boarding of the building. That was a new experience for me. Once a week I had to go to the hospital to get a three series shot, typhoid, I think. I was on time for the first one, skipped the second week; had to start over. Next week the same scenario and start over. I remembered the third time and completed the shots. After completing recruit drill I was assigned to work in the Post Headquarters Message Center. Some time during the month of February, I caught a heavy cold, or flu, and spent my first payday in the Post Hospital.
The Brigade Headquarters Battery was an excellent unit - some college graduates and most members of the unit had some college credits. I adapted to my new life. Work in the Message Center was simple and followed a routine. One of my duties was to collect information to be included in the Daily Bulletin. The Bulletin is an official document and covers information such as Officer of the Day, Guard Duty, Sunrise and Sunset hours and ends with “By Command of Brigadier General McCloskey.” I thought that very strange that the Commanding General would order the Sun to rise and set at a specific time. In addition, the Bulletin served other information such as Thrift Shop sales.
The Bulletin was the General’s pride and joy and had to be exact. I typed the draft, submitted it to the General’s Aide for approval and then ran off 200 mimeograph copies for distribution. The General’s Aide had a “thing” about “singular or collective nouns and the verb choice.” One time I used a noun and what I thought would be the correct verb in keeping with the intent of the sentence and he changed it. OK, if that is what he wants; now I know. Next day or so the same situation arose and I paired the subject and verbs as he had indicated previously that he wanted. He changed it as I had it originally written. Nuts - he apparently does not know what he wants. I changed it back and ran off 200 copies and distributed them. My changes did not go unnoticed. He called me into his office and said: “Winstead, you are a good clerk, but sometimes you make me so damn mad” “Yes Sir. Is that all, Sir?” “Yes. Get out of here.”
Brigade Headquarters Battery occupied old, World War I barracks which were just across the street from the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) area. Hq. Btry. enjoyed a joint or consolidated mess which was about one or two blocks away run by the Ordnance Detachment. I do not know the administrative details, but Hq. Btry. supplied at least one cook and no K.Ps. The cook which was supplied from Hq. Btry. was one of the best soldiers I ever knew. I could be prejudiced. I used to go with him sometimes when he went down to the kitchen to “bank the coal fire” and he would grill a couple steaks.
One day I noticed a new recruit in Hq. Btry. The Unit was small and the turn-over infrequent so a new arrival stood out. I was also still labeled a recruit. In talking to him I learned that he grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and lived with his grandmother prior to joining the CCCs. He was not happy in the CCCs and had just been discharged to join the Army. I wondered just why he would trade the CCC job which paid $30.00 each month for one which paid him just $17.85 ($21.00 minus a 15% cut which we in the Army claimed was done in order for the CCCs to be paid $30.00). We had a little difficulty with the federal logic. He then told me why he had gotten out of the CCCs and joined the Army. One morning in the latrine, shower room, or whatever you wish to call the room, he placed his toilet articles on the long shelf just below the mirrors and proceeded to wash his face and hands. When he reached for his toothbrush it was gone. He looked around and the individual next to him was brushing his teeth with the toothbrush. When asked “What are you doing using my toothbrush?” The startling answer was: “Oh, is this yours; where is the one that belongs here?” We became very good, and long time friends. Our paths crossed again years later in San Francisco. In fact, I introduced him to a girl in San Francisco and they eventually married. It must have worked OK. Last time that I heard from them (at Christmas), they were still married and would still talk to me.
General McCloskey had the reputation of sitting on the edge of the back seat of the Sedan looking from side to side to look for soldiers walking and being sure that the soldiers saluted. One day in the message center, I was sitting at my typewriter (sprawled comfortably is more descriptive) filing my nails. The other soldier on duty with me tapped me on the shoulder and pointed toward the Executive Officer’s office doorway. The General was standing there, beckoning for me. I untangled myself from the position and went to see why the General was calling me. I followed him as he stepped into the Execs office and he proceeded to give me a lecture along the line that when people enlist in the Army, some tend to forget or ignore how they were raised. He added that “The manicuring of one’s nails should be done in the privacy of one’s boudoir.” I laughed out loud. I knew what he was doing. He was giving me a “tongue in cheek” lecture. And I commented that “The General knows that I have no boudoir and very little privacy.” He dismissed me by saying “go back to work.”
I enjoyed the Army and my time at Fort Bragg. The Brigade Headquarters Battery was an excellent unit and the work was not difficult. Not so much in my unit, but many other soldiers on the post had tattoos. I suppose that I had seen tattoos but not that many. I wondered why people did that. Just listening to some talk about how their tattoos came about, many were pretty well under the influence of alcohol; more succinctly, plastered. I had no interest at that time nor since to have tattooing done. But I was curious enough about how the procedure was defined in the dictionary. In an old Webster’s Dictionary the definition was pretty straight forward until the last line. I still remember the last line which read: “Usually found on the bodies of sailors, soldiers, and other low class people.” The same definition does not appear in current dictionaries. Probably not “politically correct” to use that definition today. An amusing side line on my early service.
As I became more and more acclimated to life in the Army there was a definite element of wanderlust lurking in the background. One weekend during the summer of 1934 when I was visiting home in Wilson, one of Daddy’s first cousins and her friend (male) were visiting also. He had been in the Army at some time much earlier and stationed in the San Francisco area. He painted glowing pictures of the area which convinced me that a transfer to California was an idea worth exploring. When I returned to Fort Bragg, I asked the Post Adjutant about the possibility and he assured me that it could be easily done. He also told me to give an accurate and plausible reason for requesting the transfer and not the innocuous and worn statement that “the Army would be better served by my being transferred.” I wrote a letter requesting transfer to the Coast Artillery Corp at Fort Winfield Scott (San Francisco), California and gave the reason that having spent my entire life in Eastern North Carolina I would like to see and live in other parts of the country. I submitted the letter to the Headquarters Battery Commander who rejected the idea of my transfer and told me to think about it for ten days. Ten days later I was back in his office and requested that the request be forwarded. The transfer was approved and the Post Adjutant gave me the choice of travel by Army Transport from New York through the Panama Canal or Thirty days leave during the month of December and then to travel by whatever commercial transportation I chose at my own expense. I chose the leave. I decided to travel by bus because it was relatively inexpensive. The bus trip was something different and a fun trip. Mother and Daddy took me to the Rocky Mount Bus station about the twentieth or twenty first of December. One thing which I think about today is the ages of Mother and Daddy at that time. Mother was 44 and Daddy was 50. I was in Los Angeles on Christmas day (my first Christmas away from home) and arrived in San Francisco before noon the next day.
At the San Francisco Bus depot I asked directions to Fort Scott and was told to go to Market Street, (one block) take the “D” Street Car, go to the end of the line, and there would be a bus which takes passengers to Fort Scott. I waited for the bus and “stood out” like a sore thumb. I was in uniform wearing Field Artillery leather boots, standing on a corner on an Infantry Post where wrap leggings were worn. A Chevrolet drove in and parked in the restaurant parking lot and I just saw two stripes and thought it was a corporal going for a late breakfast. When he came out of the restaurant and I was still on the corner, he stopped and asked where I was going. When I said Fort Scott, he said get in, and I’ll take you. I was surprised when I opened the door and was starring at an arm full of stripes of a Staff Sergeant. There were not many of those at that time. He was talkative and inquisitive and wanted to know where I had come from and why and what I was “good for.” When I told him that I had been a clerk he perked right up and wanted to know if I wanted to work for him. I hedged and asked why he needed a clerk. He said that he had just buried his last clerk. He said that his clerk, in a drunken stupor stepped out in front of an automobile and was killed. He said that he would let me off at Post Headquarters and when I checked in, tell them to put me into Headquarters Battery. I figured that I was not about to start volunteering for anything or directing people about how to handle my assignment. I checked in; was told that I was assigned to “E” Battery and was given directions. I walked down to “E” Battery and they were expecting me. As I was still standing there the telephone rang and the First Sergeant said “Yes, he is right here.” He put the phone down and said: “You have just been transferred to Headquarters Battery.” I asked for directions; walked back and reported to Headquarters Battery. They knew nothing about me or why I was there. I said “while you are checking with Post Headquarters how about pointing me to the mess hall. I have not had any lunch.”
After lunch I was given transportation to go to the Bus Station and get my checked baggage which I had left at the station. Later that afternoon I was assigned my bunk and wall locker. The Supply Sergeant issued the basic equipment which was still on the Supply room floor. It had been the equipment of the Staff Sergeant’s deceased clerk. After the Christmas holidays and the normal duty hours were resumed, I was assigned as a typist enrolling applicants for the Civilian Conservationist Corp. The routine was for the applicants to fill out a form with such information as name of mother, father, address, next of kin, and to whom the allotment was to be sent. That form was presented to one of the typists who typed the same information onto a form for record. It was routine and I would verify the answers given on the pencil copy. It amazed me that many of them did not know they were “kin” to their mother. After giving their mother’s name, father’s name, and their address, many applicants would list the next of kin as Uncle Joe or Aunt Mary or someone other than the next of kin. After doing that job for about a week or ten days, I got up from the desk and said I’m going to take a break. I walked across the parade ground to Headquarters Battery and really thought about asking for some other assignment. I walked in and the First Sergeant saw me and said that “I was just about to send for you. You have been assigned as “Stock Record Clerk” with Staff Sergeant Nielsen at the Artillery Engineer Warehouse.” I reported to Sergeant Nielsen, and was not surprised to see that Sergeant Nielsen was the same individual who gave me a ride to Fort Scott and who had asked if I wanted to work for him. He was a Dane; spoke beautiful English with a heavy accent. He was also very critical of foreigners who did not learn English and spoke with an accent. The two desks in the office were facing each other with pigeon hole shelving on my desk with a file of Memo Receipt Records on the shelves. My orientation was “this is my desk on this side; yours is on that side; I am not going to do your work and I don’t expect you to do mine.” I had some basic questions which went unasked and of course unanswered such as “What is a Stock Record; just what do I do with them, and in fact, just what is my job.” I rummaged in the desk drawers, looked at files, to see what had been going on. My job was to keep records, receipts for property coming in, and getting receipts for property going out on “loan.” Almost immediately I was promoted to Private First Class. The job was allotted that grade. Staff Sergeant Nielsen turned out to be an excellent supervisor, mentor, and long time friend.
It did not take long for Sergeant Nielsen to tell me that I should go to the Coast Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia. I learned that the Four Enlisted Programs at the Coast Artillery School covered Electrical, Radio, Clerical (Sgt. Major), and Master Gunner (Somewhat like Civil Engineering). Admission was by an exam covering English, spelling, and math. After passing the entrance test one was ordered to attend the Program on War Department Orders. Completion of the program would place one on the Chief of Coast Artillery promotion list to the grade of Staff Sergeant. That sounded like a good deal. I began to “brush up” on English and Algebra. At the appropriate time I applied to take the Entrance Exam. Fortunately I passed and was ordered to the Coast Artillery School. My job as Stock Record Clerk carried a rank of private first Class with it. Part of the reason for that was to enable the Artillery Engineer to be a little more selective in who was working for him. Periodically a list of property had to be made. I typed up the list. The Lieutenant reviewed and checked the list and said “Thank you, Winstead. After going over the list of the 2000 items in the warehouse, I fail to find an error.” Two weeks later when he learned that I would be leaving, he wanted me to resign the private first class grade. I refused. Regulations required that when an individual was accepted to attend an Army school he must have at least two years left on his enlistment at the conclusion of the school program. If there would not be two years left at the conclusion of the school program the individual would be discharged for the Convenience of the Government (C.O.G.) and re-enlisted for a three year enlistment. I was discharged on July 28, 1935 as a private first class and re-enlisted the next day as a private. Strange contradiction that on the application for taking the Coast Artillery School exam was the recommendation for going to school and for the grade of Staff Sergeant but not considered proficient enough to merit re-enlistment in the grade of private first class. Prior to my leaving Fort Scott Sergeant and Mrs. Nielsen invited me to their quarters for dinner. The dinner was delicious and the company very gracious. During the evening Mrs. Nielsen said: “Mr. Winstead, after one graduates from the Coast Artillery School the usual scenario is to get married, or buy an automobile, do you have any plans yet?” I facetiously quipped that maybe I could find a girl with a car. I left San Francisco on U.S. Army Transport in August 1935 on the way to Fort Monroe, Virginia by way of the Panama Canal and New York. Those of us going to Fort Monroe went by coastal Steamer from New York to Fort Monroe.
The Enlisted programs at the Coast Artillery School could be “labeled” as rigorous. We were in class each morning from 8 to 12 and each afternoon from 1 to 4. Compulsory study hall from 7 to 9 five days per week. The math was limited to Algebra but the AC and DC Electrical course used the same text books which were being used at MIT. Ironic that in High School I just tolerated school and dropped out of Atlantic Christian after the freshman year and now found myself in a school environment which required a serious concentration and perpetual study. Fortunately I passed the program and was placed on the Chief of Coast Artillery promotion list for the grade of Staff Sergeant, with a designation as Electrician.
I requested 60 days furlough and spent the vacation in Wilson. Sometime in late August or early September I reported in at the Brooklyn Army Base for shipment by Army Transport to San Francisco which meant another trip through the Panama Canal. The orders were not coordinated with Ship schedules and just ordered me to Brooklyn for transportation to San Francisco. Upon arrival I learned that the next sailing was not scheduled until about the middle of September. The passenger list was pretty well completed when I arrived and the Lieutenant in charge was not quite sure just how he could get me on the manifest to prevent my having to wait a considerable length of time for a subsequent ship. He finally came up with a solution. He said, “You are a clerk.” I said, “Yes Sir, I was a clerk a year or so ago.” He said, “You misunderstood me. You are a clerk, and I am getting you on board by assigning you to the Troop command as a clerk. You will go on board the day before sailing and report to the Sergeant Major.” The paper work was “fill in the blanks” procedures for KP, Guard Duty, Work Details, and any other duties for the troops. Troops were not involved in the operation of the ship. We sailed on or about the 15th of September. On the 18th of September one of the most severe hurricanes of record hit Hatteras, North Carolina. We were in that storm for three days. When the ship went into the trough of the waves, the wall of water on each side was higher than the ship and the ship bounced around like a cork with waves breaking over the Wheel House of the ship.
Upon arrival in San Francisco I debarked at Fort Mason (a major port of embarkation/debarkation) and caught a Street Car to Presidio and the bus to Fort Scott. I reported in (after having been gone for a little over a year) and learned that I was about to be dropped as AWOL. Somewhere along the line they had missed orders sending me to Brooklyn for shipment by U.S. Army Transport. Many changes had come about in the year that I was gone. A friend of mine had been promoted to Sergeant and worked in the Reserve Officers Office. I went by to see him and while there visiting, his supervisor, a Major, came in. Ft. Scott was a small post and the officers knew most of the soldiers by sight, if not by name. He wanted to know who I was. When he learned that I had just returned from the Coast Artillery School, he asked if I had graduated. “Yes Sir.” He told the Sergeant to sign him up for a Reserve commission. “But Sir, I’m not interested in a Reserve Commission.” “I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the Sergeant.” “Yes Sir.” Then he talked to me. “When you get the correspondence lessons, finish them as soon as possible and no later than the last of May. The ROTC class will be graduating in June. If you complete the lessons before that time I can assign you to the 6th Coast Artillery, with station at Fort Scott.” And that is how I became a Reserve Officer in 1937.
Back on duty at Fort Scott was different. Many friends were no longer there, and Staff Sergeant Nielsen to whom I owe much had been discharged, did not re-enlist, and went to Mexico to work for some oil company. I was assigned as a helper for a Fire Control Electrician and we worked at Fort Mason (not the same Fort Mason mentioned earlier) and Fort Funston; satellite posts of Fort Scott. He was easy to work with. He would pick me up at the barracks, after breakfast, and go out to Mason or Funston; back for lunch and same scenario in the afternoon. He must have been very “budget” conscious because we spent a lot of time salvaging wood screws, bolts, and other material for future use, just in case we had a use for them. My behavior was usually within acceptable limits. One day I got a call to report to the Battery Commander. The same Captain was Battery Commander of Headquarters Battery, Commander of the 6th Coast Artillery Band, and Post Adjutant. I reported as directed to the Adjutant’s office. He stated that the First Sergeant had reported me absent from Reveille on a given date. He stated that I could insist on a court martial or he could give the lesser 107. Of course I did not want a Court. He said the punishment would be restriction to quarters for one week. I asked if I could begin the punishment next day because I had a date that night. He said he would not bargain with me. Well, Sir, in that case the plea is “Not Guilty.” That caught him a little by surprise, and he said , “You can prove that?” “Yes Sir.” I do not remember just what it was, but something happened at reveille on that particular day that stood out. I said “call Sergeant Peyton and he will verify that I was at the formation.” He called and Sergeant Peyton verified my presence at the formation. Of course there was no punishment since I was not guilty as charged. The First Sergeant blew it. Had he picked any other day with the charge, he could very well have been correct. I continued as the Helper to a Fire Control Electrician and really was marking time until my appointment to the Grade of Staff Sergeant. I enjoyed my work, friends, and San Francisco. At that time San Francisco was a fabulous city. Sometime in 1937, spring or summer, a memo came from the Chief of Coast Artillery office stating that those individuals on the promotion list could return to the Coast Artillery School and attend the B course which was designed for Electricians assigned to Anti-Aircraft Units. I applied and was ordered back to Fort Monroe for the course.
My friend who requested discharge from the C.C.C.s and enlisted in the army at Fort Bragg must have transferred to the Philippines in 1935, soon after I transferred to San Francisco. He returned to the States in the spring of 1937. When he arrived in San Francisco he came to Fort Scott to visit with me. He requested reassignment to Fort Scott and he was assigned to Headquarters Battery, 6th C. A. I took him to visit friends and that is when I introduced him to his future wife. They are still married.
During the time of my assignments to Fort Scott the Golden Gate Bridge was under construction. I watched (from a distance) the construction of the towers and then the weaving of the cables which support the bridge. When it was completed and officially opened for traffic, I joined about two hundred thousand pedestrians who walked across the bridge on May 27, 1937
When it was time for me leave Fort Scott and go to Fort Monroe for the second course at the Coast Artillery School, I had to go through the same C.O.G. discharge and re-enlistment procedure again. I was discharged on July 26, 1937 and re-enlisted the next day. I answered an advertisement in the San Francisco Newspaper in which an individual was looking for someone to share gasoline expenses and share the driving back to Pittsburgh. When we arrived in Pittsburgh and visited with his family, his brother offered me a job. I think I took the train to Virginia.
The school program started in September and ran until sometime in June and covered motor convoy planning and management, transportation, auto mechanics, machine shop practice, welding, and anti-aircraft search lights. While I was in school and on “detached service” from Headquarters Battery, 6th Coast Artillery, Fort Scott, California the Army began expanding a little. Additional units were activated. One of those was the 65th Coast Artillery, Anti-Aircraft regiment which was activated and assigned to Fort Scott. Cadres were transferred from existing units and I was transferred to A Battery, 65th Anti-Aircraft. My being transferred was a paper transfer because I was on detached service to the Coast Artillery School.
Sometime during the Christmas holidays (I think), Daddy and I stopped by a house on the corner of Vance and Maplewood Ave. where an auction sale was in progress. The family was liquidating everything and moving to New York. We listened until a 1931 Ford Sedan was put up for auction. I bid and bought the car for $31.00. Daddy and I drove it down to the Ford Dealer. One of Daddy’s first cousins was a salesman. I asked what will you allow me on the ’31 sedan and what is there of interest on the lot? He said that about $125.00 was as high as he could go on a trade in, but there was really nothing on the lot which would be of interest. BUT, he said that he was within $25.00 on a trade for a 1934 Chevrolet with 20,000 miles. Nothing wrong with the car; the owner just wanted a Ford. The owner was holding out for $400.00 trade in and the Salesman’s maximum allowable trade in offer was $375.00. If I wanted the Chevrolet for $400.00 he could trade and we could trade. We took a ride to Sharpsburg, talked to the Chevrolet owner, took a test drive; went back to Wilson and completed the trade.
When school finished I took the usual lengthy leave time and went to Wilson. I proposed to Josephine (Jo) Minshew on the 4th of June (her birthday) and she accepted. At that time no date was set for the wedding. I decided that I would look for a temporary job while on leave. I told Daddy that I would go down to Hackney’s Body Company which made School Bus Bodies and apply for a job. Daddy was a little skeptical about there being any vacancies at Hackneys. I applied and the foreman said he would call me. The next morning he was at our house about 7 AM and said “Are you ready to go to work?” My job was to connect the School Bus Body electric lights. I was unfamiliar with the “Stall Tactic.” The job was simple and I ran out of Bus Bodies on which to work. I was ready to leave for the day and come back the next day when more school bus bodies would be ready for electrical work. The foreman said that he needed me in the Paint Shop. I reported to the paint shop where the school bus bodies were being sprayed with a red lead primer or base coat. When I left that afternoon I had red lead paint in my nose, hair, and on my clothes and probably in my lungs. I decided that once was enough. I started back with the electrical hook-ups the next day. Sometime later I ran out of School Bodies for wiring. Again, the foreman said that he need me in the Paint Shop. I told him that he possibly needed some help there but not me. He became a little more adamant. He was not accustomed to having the employees under his jurisdiction questioning his directives. I could see that he was going to fire me; so I quit. I turned in the few tools issued to the stock room. I knew the Stockroom Clerk from High School. He asked just what are you doing? I told him that I had just quit. He said: “What? Nobody ever quits at Hackneys.” The conversation then went something like this. “What are you going to do now?” “I’m going to get married.” Short silence. “Oh, your wife is going to work.” “No, she just quit too.” I did not volunteer any information, just left him guessing.
The Army required permission to get married for any soldier below the grade of Staff Sergeant. I went to the National Guard Armory and checked the appropriate regulation, borrowed the use of a typewriter and wrote the letter to my Battery Commander requesting permission to get married with the second paragraph of the letter stating that I was number two (2) on the promotion list to the grade of Staff Sergeant. It came back approved. It really would have made no difference in our plans. We had already planned the wedding for September 2nd. We were married in the First Christian Church with the Rev. John Barclay officiating. Drove to San Francisco, rented an apartment, and a couple days later reported in for duty with my new unit.
The First Sergeant was very pleasant and welcomed me to the unit and that my reporting was anticipated. I acknowledged his welcome and stated that I had a couple requests. I was requesting permission to live out of barracks, separate rations, Exchange credit and Commissary credit. He said you better talk to the “Old Man.” We went in to see the Battery Commander. The First Sergeant told the Captain who I was and from where. The Captain welcomed me also. Then the First Sergeant told the Captain of my request for permission to live out of barracks, separate rations, Exchange credit, and Commissary credit. The following dialog ensued “Are you married?” “Yes Sir.” “Who gave you permission?” “You did, Sir.” “I did?” “Yes Sir.” “Sergeant, get me his file.” He flipped through the file until he came to my letter and his approval. “I really did! How long have you been married?” “Ten days, Sir.” “You better stay out of barracks. OK, Sergeant. Assign Winstead to duty at the Search Light section as Assistant to Tech Sergeant Horshay; no guard or fatigue duty; permission to live out of barracks, separate rations, Exchange credit and Commissary credit.” The First Sergeant asked, “How much credit at the Exchange and Commissary, Sir?” The Captain startled me when he answered, “Staff Sergeant credit.” I thanked the Captain and beat a hasty retreat. When I came out of the Captain’s office, the Battery Clerk, a Sergeant, appeared to be a little disgruntled at the apparent special treatment which he thought I was being given, said: “I’ll need to see the marriage certificate tomorrow so I can list it on your record.” I said: “Forget it. If the Old Man is convinced that I’m married, I don’t have to convince you.”
Tech Sergeant Horshay was easy to work with. He was about 40 years old and had graduated from the Coast Artillery School years before and was more of the Sea Coast communication electrician than the more recent Anti Aircraft electrician. I was familiar with the portable Anti-Aircraft Search Light since I had studied it recently. The lights were remote controlled. One of the lights turned left when the remote control apparatus tried to make it turn right. Sergeant Horshay asked me to check it out. I asked for the Operation Manual and learned that they were in the Battery Office in the safe. I asked the First Sergeant for the manual and got the ridiculous answer that they are classified. That is fine, but I need to see the wiring diagram so I can correct a problem with the Search Light. He gave me the manual to use, but I think reluctantly. I checked the diagram and compared that with the connections in the cable and the light and sure enough, there were two lines reversed. Simple solution. Reconnect them correctly. It worked.
About a week after I reported in, I was working at the Search Light Shed when I got a telephone call to report to the Regimental Commander immediately. One does not argue with, question, nor delay when so ordered. I was about two blocks away. I walked into the Commander’s office, reported, and noticed that the room was pretty full, to include my Battery Commander. The Regimental Commander did not “draw out the suspense,” but immediately got to the point with “Congratulations, Sgt. Winstead. We just received a radiogram from Washington which stated that you are Promoted to the grade of Staff Sergeant.” The congratulations continued from the others in the office, to include Captain White, my Battery Commander. The Regimental Commander asked; “And what are your plans now, Sgt. Winstead?. My answer was; “Sir, first I’m going by the tailor shop and have the chevrons sewn on, and then I’m going home and show them to my lovely wife.” “Sounds like a good plan to me,” he said.
Jo knew basically nothing about the Army and really did not comprehend the importance of the promotion. Actually the grade of Staff Sergeant was the lowest grade which the Army considered financially able to support a family. She understood that we would get additional money and that we could live quite comfortably in Sausalito, which is a few miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The job went very well. I had to adapt to the differences in age. My contemporaries, were about 15 years my senior. The upper three grades, Staff, Tech, and Master periodically had to state their choice for overseas duty. Choices were, Philippines, Hawaii, and Panama. I selected Philippines as my first choice. Another example of being careful what you ask for - you might get it. I was ordered to the Philippines in the early spring of l939 with a sailing date of early May. I sold the car to a Sergeant in the unit, conditionally that I keep the car until we sailed, and with approval for my driving it on a trip to North Carolina. He paid half at that time and agreed to pay $20.00 each month after we were in the Philippines. The title to the car was transferred to him after we returned to Fort Scott from North Carolina. He got a good deal. The car was worth more than the selling price. One normally tried to clear up any indebtedness before leaving a Post. I figured that the car had served its purpose and even if I never collected any of the promised monthly payments there was no great loss. My faith in “human nature” remained intact. He fulfilled his promise and the money orders arrived on schedule each month with one exception. One letter had no money order and the explanation was that he had to buy a battery and he would continue the payments the next month. The payments resumed and were completed as promised. Strange just how differently people prepared for a permanent change of station assignment, to include going overseas. Some sell furniture and others buy furniture. In our case we had very little to ship and nothing to sell, but we did buy a sewing machine for two dollars from someone who was going overseas also. The sewing machine did not work because the needle was put in incorrectly. I corrected that problem and it operated like a “sewing machine.”
We sailed from San Francisco on May 2, 1939 for Manila, P.I. on the USAT U.S. Grant with stops in Hawaii and Guam. We were met in Honolulu by a friend whom I was with in the Coast Artillery School and we were invited to stay with him and his wife over night in their quarters. Next day we were given the usual “cooks tour” of Oahu. The tradition on arrival and departure by ship is to present the passengers with a lei which is draped about the neck. A custom is to toss the lei overboard as the ship leaves the harbor. The belief is that if the lei floats to shore you will return soon. Mine must have gone straight to the bottom. I was scheduled for a two year tour and it took me six years to return to the states and on the return trip we skipped Hawaii and it was another twelve years until I revisited Hawaii.
Jo and I liked to travel by ship and had no problems on board. Our table mates were not so fortunate. As we left San Francisco at noon time, we were on deck until we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, and then went to the dinning room for Lunch. The wife of our table mate was seasick from the San Francisco to Hawaii; with the same scenario from Hawaii to Guam and from Guam to Manila. She had a miserable trip. As we entered the harbor in Guam, the ship’s Captain went on the wrong side of a buoy marking the channel and hit a reef at about half speed. The damage to the ship was minimal in spite of the ship being up on the reef until there was about three feet of water under the bow and seventy-eight feet under the stern. The forward holds of the ship were unloaded to shift the weight which aided other ships in the effort of pulling the ship off the reef. It took four days and a Cruiser, a Dollar Line Ship, and a couple of Tugboats to get the ship back into deeper water. The passengers were given box lunches and put ashore each day. At that time Guam appeared to be an unmolested tropical island. The natives were very hospitable. Divers were sent down to inspect the damage to the ship. No major damage which would be dangerous or further delay the trip was found and we departed for Manila. In the Philippines the ship was put into Dry Dock for a thorough inspection and to repair any damage caused by the reef.
The Army had a system for taking care of newcomers overseas. A volunteer host agreed to be host for a particular new comer upon arrival and give necessary help and orientation. Our host hitched a ride on the Harbor Boat which the Pilot used to meet the Ship. Jo and I were watching from an upper deck and noticed the individual “pointing” toward us. I learned later that he was a little concerned upon seeing us, because he had agreed to be host for a couple and nothing had been said about a “teenage” daughter. From the distance he had misjudged Jo to be my teenage daughter, since she was only four feet, eleven inches tall.
We arrived in Manila, P.I. on May 28, 1939, debarked, and immediately boarded the Harbor Boat to Corregidor ( which is Fort Mills, P.I.) where I was assigned to Headquarters Battery, 59th C.A. and further assigned for duty with the Artillery Engineer. We had traveled from San Francisco to Wilson and returned to San Francisco, and then traveled from San Francisco to Manila, Philippine Islands. We arrived in Manila with $15.00. Fortunately payday was not very far off. Our host and hostess did a fantastic job in taking care of us; getting us established in our quarters, commissary shopping with us, and in general, giving an excellent orientation. We were told that the little black ants and scorpions could be a problem. To thwart the ants from access to our bed, it was necessary to put the bed legs in small saucers of kerosene or water. No matter which was used it was necessary to keep the dust film from forming on top of the liquid. Otherwise the ants would walk across on the dust. We also learned to turn our shoes over and shake them to determine that there were no scorpions in the shoes. Geckos which we recognize today as a personable cartoon insurance icon actually exists. In the wild the gecko is a six to eight inch long lizard, excluding the tail, with a large head and has suction cups on its feet. One day a gecko was on the ceiling of the bathroom when Jo started taking a shower. The warm vapor from the shower must have bothered the gecko or it rendered the suction cups incapable of supporting the gecko and it fell to the shower floor. There was not enough room for Jo and the gecko in the same shower room. She came out noisily, - hurriedly, - and dripping.
The duty was not strenuous and the living was pleasant. We only worked in the mornings. A group of us who came at the same time and were about the same ages spent much time walking, exploring the trails, and socializing. We soon learned that there were two tribes of monkeys on the island. We thought that we were walking and exploring the trails to find the monkeys. We were in error. The monkeys were swinging along the tree branches near the trail watching us. We had a lot to learn about our new surroundings.
At the entrance of Manila Bay were four fortified islands: Corregidor, Caballo, El Fraile, and Carabao. Corregidor and Caballo (“Ft. Mills and Ft. Hughes”) covered the two mile north channel between Corregidor and the Bataan peninsula, and El Fraile and Carabao (“Ft. Drum and Ft. Frank”) covered the south channel. Both channels were further protected by seacoast contact and remote controlled mines planted in the channels. The largest guns on Corregidor were 12” Disappearing Carriage which could not traverse enough to fire on Bataan. Caballo (“Ft. Hughes”) had 14” guns as did El Fraile (“Ft. Drum”) and Carabao (“Ft. Frank”). Ft. Drum’s 14” guns could reach parts of Bataan but Bataan was out of range of Ft. Frank’s guns. The larger caliber weapons of the Harbor Defense of Manila Bay were never designed to defend the Bataan peninsula, nor from any attach from Manila Bay.
We continued learning about Corregidor and the Philippines and continued in our ignorance about our vulnerability and international diplomacy. There were four regiments on the islands of the harbor defense; two continental and two Philippine Scouts. With the two Caucasian regiments and their families, and in spite of there being two Philippine Scout regiments, four barrios(villages), Chinese and Hindu merchants, Corregidor had an American culture and flavor. Jo and I spent a weekend in Manila some months after arriving in the Philippines. It came as a jolt; we were foreigners. That truth was reinforced when we realized the length of time it took to get mail from the States. We were there for about a year before the Clipper (airmail) was put into service. We were assigned better quarters. I’m not sure whether the kitten came with the new quarters or we acquired him from friends. The kitten would follow Jo anywhere. She is the one who fed him. He would follow her through the swinging door between the kitchen and the dinning room. One day he was a little slow and got caught between the door and the door frame. Just how do you extricate a squalling animal whose head is on one side of the door and his body on the other without breaking his neck? Very carefully. I’m not sure just how, but it was done without breaking his neck or taking the door off the hinges.
When my turn for outpost duty came, I was sent to Ft. Frank. The outpost tour was normally a six months stretch. At the same time another Staff Sergeant was assigned to Ft. Drum. Our wives decided to share the same quarters while we were gone. One weekend Jo came to Ft. Frank to visit me; she also brought the kitten. The kitten apparently did not like the covered picnic basket in which she put him for the trip. When she arrived at Ft. Frank and partially opened the basket, the kitten jumped out and ran off. I chased him and caught him. Otherwise the snakes (probably a python) would have gotten him. We spent a pleasant weekend. Jo could see what I did and how I was living. She also learned that I had an abundance of bed bugs which I did not know about. They chewed on Jo pretty good but did not bother me. The bugs had made a home in the bed springs. I got a blowtorch and eliminated the bugs. Sometime after Jo had returned to Corregidor there was an earthquake. It jolted pretty good and I wondered if my quarters were going into the bay. No real damage from the quake.
Sometime during my assignment to Ft. Frank another Staff Sergeant and I decided that we would go deer hunting on Zimbales mountain range across from Ft. Wint and Subic Bay. A Philippine Scout Sergeant from Ft. Wint was our guide. He lived at his home which was a nice nipa hut across the bay from Fort Wint. A typhoon canceled our hunting. After the storm, the Philippine Scout sergeant gave his Negrito servant a shot gun and one shell and told him to go get a chicken. He was talking about a wild chicken. About thirty minutes later the servant came back with a chicken. I liked the outrigger sail canoe which the Sergeant had. He said that one would cost about thirty pesos ($15.00). I asked him to buy one for me and have the harbor boat tow it back to Corregidor. When it came it was moored at Corregidor north dock.
On Sunday afternoon, after Jo and I had attended a Filipino christening, we decided to take a ride on our new sail boat and take it around to south dock. At the same time I reasoned that if we could sail around the tail end tip of Corregidor and moor the boat at south dock, it would lessen the length of the trip for me on Monday morning when I sailed to Ft. Frank. We enjoyed the ride and got along beautifully until we tried to tack around the tail end of Corregidor toward the south dock. At that point I realized that we had no keel, which we badly needed. I tried to paddle and quickly learned that propelling a twenty-five-foot log by “paddle power” isn’t easy. We kept slipping further away from Corregidor, but fortunately we were still in the bay and not out into the China Sea. It was getting late and would be dark soon. I decided that Bataan was much closer and we headed in that direction. I anticipated reaching the little village of Cabcaben then take a bus to Manila and the harbor boat back to Corregidor. I could telephone Corregidor and let them know where we were. For awhile the lights of Cabcaben guided us but then the people turned out the lights and went to bed. As we neared the Bataan shore the surf grew louder and louder. About that time one of the outriggers rode up on a rock. I backed off in a hurry. That was “shark country.” We headed back across the bay toward Cavite. It was very dark; no lights and we had to cross two active channels. I knew that the officials on Corregidor knew we were out on the sail boat. Since dark the searchlights on Corregidor had been sweeping, looking for us. We were too low in the water to be picked up by the lights. Some distance from Bataan and the north channel I saw a fishing boat with its nets cast. I headed toward the fishing boat. As we came along side I threw one of the crew a line and by the time he took the line I was on board. He of course wanted to know why we were out in the bay at that time of night. After listening to our story, he fed us fresh fish, bread and water. It was delicious. I told him that we wanted him to take us to Corregidor, but the crew member said the captain would be up in a little while to take in the nets and I would have to talk to him. When the captain awakened he was a little surprised to learn that he had two passengers and an outrigger in tow. I finally prevailed upon him to take us to Corregidor with assurances that his boat would not be confiscated nor would he be in any trouble. As we headed toward Corregidor, the searchlights picked us up in the beam. At the same time signal lights were asking for identification and what was his mission. The skipper did not want anyone to think that he was trying to sneak up on Corregidor and he continually blew his whistle. I did not volunteer the information that in addition to the searchlights there was an alert crew manning a 155 mm gun which was tracking us. We arrived at north dock and I had never seen so many military police at one time. I told the Lieutenant that the skipper was really worried about his safety. The name of the fishing boat was taken and it was released to go. The skipper wasted no time in his departure. The next morning, Monday, I towed the outrigger behind the harbor boat to Fort Frank. I sold it in a couple of days.
One day I received a telephone call from the Artillery Engineer and he asked a very ridiculous question: “How would you like to return to Corregidor for duty?” Answer: “Yes sir, I’ll catch the next boat back.” “Not so fast. There is a little chore that I need for you to do first. There is a radio on Ft. Frank and we can get no signal from it at Corregidor. Fix it and you can come back to Corregidor.” “But Sir, I’m an Electrician, not a Radio Technician.” “You want to come back to Corregidor?” “Yes Sir.” “Fix it.” “Yes Sir.”
I knew where the radio room was but had paid no attention to it since it was not my responsibility. Now, I had a very real and personal interest in that radio. I turned the power on and a number of dials registered the functions. Everything appeared normal. I called the radio section on Corregidor and talked to a Radio Technician who was my host and friend and told him my problem. He told me to turn the power on and read the dials. I told him that I was doing that and gave the readings on each dial. His answer; “You are on the air.” “That’s fine, can you hear me?” “No.” “What do you recommend?” “Could be the antenna. Where is the antenna and how high off the ground is it?” “I don’t know, but it has to be up on top of the emplacement. How high off the ground should the antenna be?” He said that the antenna should be 25 to 30 feet above the ground. I found the antenna up on ground level and it was very close to the ground. I spoke to the Unit Commander, told him the problem and asked that he send a detail up the Cavite Province coast, not far from the Post to get some sturdy, big, and tall bamboo. The bamboo was delivered. I took a couple tall bamboo poles; fastened the antenna to each pole with sufficient lead in wire and braced the bamboo with guy wires. Then I hurriedly and with eager anticipation went below to test the radio. I turned the power on and telephoned my friend on Corregidor. I said: “I raised the antenna to about thirty feet off the ground, and I am in the radio room with the radio on and the dials look OK. Can you read me?” “Yes, you are coming in loud and clear.” “That is fine. Get off the phone. I have another call to make. I’m coming home.” I called the Old Man (Artillery Engineer) and told him that the radio was operational and I was catching the Harbor Boat back to Corregidor the next morning.
We continued to enjoy the tropics. Corregidor was without mosquitoes and the weather was comfortable most of the time. December, January, and February were usually dry and cooler. March, April, and May were usually dry and somewhat warmer, and the Rainy season usually lasted from June through November, sometimes with rain being about forty plus inches per month. The Philippines are made up of 7100 islands with a population of about fifty million inhabitants who have about seventy different languages or dialects. Most inhabitants live on one of the eleven inhabited islands with Luzon and Mindanao being the largest. The land area of the Philippines is slightly larger than the State of Nevada. The Philippines (Manila) are located approximately 5000 miles west of Hawaii, 1800 miles south of Tokyo, Japan and about 2000 miles north of Darwin, Australia. So much for the geography lesson.
A soldier, a corporal, I think, was returning to the States and had an Oldsmobile Roadster for sale for thirty pesos ($15.00) It was more of a mixture. It had no top, running boards from a Cadillac, Ford radiator, and a muffler made from a brass artillery round casing. Jo commented that she wondered just what kind of noise it would make falling over the cliff into Cheney dump?” I bought it. It ran pretty well. We enjoyed it and decided to postpone pushing it over the cliff. We had a group of friends over and sometime during the evening one of them asked “What are you going to do with your car?” “What prompted that question?” I asked. He said: “The General is not going to allow his officers to ride around in that car.” I said: “That has nothing to do with me.” He said: “It does because you are going on active duty in a few days.” I thought he was joking. He said: “OK. If you are called to active duty soon, then sell me the car for what you paid for it.” Not believing any of it, I said OK. About a week or ten days later I had to sell him the car as I had promised.
My three year enlistment was up and I was discharged on July 26, 1940 and re-enlisted for three more years the next day. The discharge was the third discharge from the army in 6 years, 5 months and 21 days of service. That was the first discharge which covered a three year term. On the morning of August 7th I came home from work and Jo told me to call the Post Headquarters Sergeant Major. He had been calling several times that morning trying to reach me. He knew that I was at work and not at home during the morning. I returned his call and he said: “Report to the Post Adjutant immediately.” I asked: “What uniform?” and he said: “Whatever you have on.” I ignored that ridiculous remark; changed into fresh khaki; walked to Post headquarters and reported to the adjutant. He was very gracious. He asked: “How would you like to be called to active duty?” My answer surprised him a little. “I have several questions. Under what circumstances, with an assignment where, and for how long?” He said that the assignment would be to one of the Philippine Scout regiments on Corregidor for at least one year and I would move into officer’s quarters at middle side. I said that you realize that I am married. His answer irritated me when he said that yes it was known that I was married and that had been checked very carefully. I asked: “How much time do I have to decide?” “Lots of time,” he answered: “by 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.” My answers became a little flippant. I hesitated briefly, and said: “I’ll take it. I always wondered how the other half lived.” “May I use your phone?” “Yes, of course.” I called Jo and said: “Get ready to move. I just made a lady out of you.” The next day I was discharged again C.O.G.. That made four discharges in 6 years, 6 months and 2 days of service. The last discharge covered only 12 days. I was sworn in as a 2nd Lieutenant on August 8, 1940. I was assigned to Battery E, 91st C.A.(PS) with Captain Joe East as my Battery Commander. We moved into officer’s quarters at middle side and I had to sell our car as promised.
Admittedly the status was different, but the transition was no problem. We were accepted by officers and their wives with no hint of discrimination. Captain East was an effective, efficient Battery Commander as well as a friend and mentor. In fact he had known of me when he was Battery Commander of Headquarters Battery, 6th C.A. and I was on detached duty at the Coast Artillery School. He was also Commander of Fort Frank for part of the time I was on duty at Fort Frank as a Staff Sergeant. Initially I was assigned to another Battery of the 91st C.A.(PS), the Battery Commander of which was the Commanding Officer of Fort Frank when I was originally assigned to outpost duty. We had a couple differences of opinion when he ordered me to do something which I thought overstepped his authority. I called his hand on it and “won” at least temporarily. I asked Captain East to “do something.” And he did. He quietly had me transferred to his Battery as his Executive Officer. With fairness to the officer with whom I had the minor “run in” I never saw or knew of any discrimination toward us, either officially or socially. At a cocktail party some months after going on active duty Mrs. East said that “I have been watching you and Jo and she has not changed a bit.” My reply of course was: “thank you very much.” I appreciated the compliment. As I became more adjusted to my new responsibilities, I learned that I could probably be promoted to lst Lieutenant in about six or seven months. I also learned that by taking a test I could reduce the time. The difference in pay made the possibility more interesting. There was possibly a correspondence course involved; if so, I have forgotten that minor detail, but I know that there was a practical test. I passed the test and was promoted to the grade of lst Lieutenant on December 6, 1940. Sometime during the time that I was a Lieutenant, the time came for examination for permanent promotion for Tech Sergeant, Electrician. I took the examination and fortunately passed it. Later, War Department policy was published that stated that those who were commissioned could re-enlist in the grade of master sergeant when relieved from active duty. Much later I took an examination for appointment to the permanent grade of Warrant Officer. I passed and was appointed to the grade of Warrant Officer subject to joining that grade when I was relieved from active duty, if I wished.
One day on the small arms firing range the Battalion Commander said that he had to ask a personal question. He wanted to know if Jo was pregnant. I laughed. That is no secret. He said the reason for the question was that an officer had to be sent to Fort Wint on Subic bay, which was considered outpost duty, and the policy was not to send pregnant women to an outpost. Had to do with medical facilities.
There was a shuffle and I was transferred to Battery E, 92nd C.A.(PS) which was also known as the guard Battalion. There were about 600 civilian Filipino prisoners used as a labor force on Corregidor. The prisoners were sent out to work where requested in groups of six (6) to one guard who was armed with a repeating Shotgun. The prisoners were long term prisoners. Some had sentences of 300 years. The Battalion was still an artillery unit with 155mm guns. We drilled on the guns and fired target practice when scheduled. While I was there acting as range officer, we won the trophy for best target practice. The work as the guard unit for civilian prisoners was interesting and different. At the end of the day the prisoners were returned from work detail to the stockade. The Americans are generous by nature and would give many things to prisoners. The prisoners had to leave those things outside at the gate. The Officer of the Day would look at the gifts. If there was contraband, things not allowed, it would be confiscated and the other gifts were returned to the prisoner. When I was the Officer of the Day and I found contraband items, I wanted to see the guard to determine how it happened that the prisoner had acquired the items. There were some Muslim prisoners primarily from the southern islands. Their food had to be different. Among other things, they could not be served pork. During the Christmas holidays double feature movies would be scheduled. Happy and satisfied? No indeed. They wanted triple feature movies. The Officer of the Day had to make one inspection of the stockade between midnight and reveille. There were no restrictions on the movement of the OD on the post as long as he was available by one telephone call. If we were up late at the club or a party I would wait until a little past midnight and then make the required inspection. At times the uniform was quite formal.
Our first child was born on Corregidor on February 3, 1941. Soon after that; I think Jo was still a patient at the hospital, I was on duty one day as Safety Officer on a boat which was towing the target for machine gun practice from shore. I received a radiogram from the regimental adjutant asking if I wished for my dependents to be returned to the States on the ship which would sail within a week. My reply was “No, repeat No.” Department of the Army was returning all military dependents to the states. Sometime later either in March or April we were notified that two transports would sail for the states in May. Those who wished to go to New York would be sailing on May 6th and those who were going to San Francisco would sail about a week later. Jo and the baby (Dee) sailed from Manila on May 6th and were en route to New York for 36 days by way of Hawaii and Panama. The transport was under naval escort from Manila to Hawaii. And that was almost seven months prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. Jo stood on the deck of the transport in the Honolulu harbor and watched a blackout drill for Honolulu as the lights of the city went out block by block. She knew that Corregidor was already on an alert status. She never did understand just how Hawaii got caught by surprise. Jo and I spent two years on a very beautiful tropical island. The duty was pleasant and interesting and the living gracious. But all of that came to a screeching halt when Jo left. I’m very glad that Jo and the baby got out. I resented then, and still do, having international politics played with my family being the pawns in that game.
After being on duty with the guard Battalion for about three months, the Battalion Commander called me to his office; which was in the same building as my office , and just across the hall, and handed me an official looking document and asked if I knew anything about that. I scanned the document rapidly. It was orders transferring me to duty with the Harbor Defense Ordnance effective immediately. I told him that it was news to me. I had not been asked nor told of any change. Happily neither the Battalion Commander nor my Battery Commander wanted me to transfer. Apparently none of us had a choice. I reported to the Harbor Defense Ordnance Officer the next morning. I was welcomed very graciously by the Ordnance Officer. My assignment was as his Executive Officer, Harbor Defense Ordnance Supply Officer, and Ordnance Detachment Commander. My normal duty station was in the same office with Ordnance Officer. Our desks were butted together facing each other. After I had been on the job for about two weeks, he asked how things were going. I said: “OK as far as I know.” He answered that you sound a little skeptical and less than enthusiastic. I answered that I was a little concerned because this was the third major transfer in six months. Career wise that is not good. The first two changes I recognized and accepted the reason for them, but this one came rather out of the blue and unexpectedly. He smiled and said that is very easy to answer. I asked for you. That bit of information caused me to smile. “I can live with that. Thank you very much. I appreciate the confidence and that is information that I needed.” The tables of organization for the Harbor Defense Ordnance Department authorized an artillery officer to be assigned to the Ordnance Department. The 59th C.A. Regimental Commander kept pestering my Ordnance Colonel about sending that artillery officer back to the artillery. In retrospect, my assignment to the Ordnance Department probably saved my life.
As Ordnance Detachment Commander I was on the Post Exchange Board. At that time the Post Exchanges were local Posts’ operations and had not been centralized. Each unit had Stock or Shares in the Exchange operation which paid dividends each month. That was the source of income for the Unit fund. The number of shares each unit owned was based on its strength. The Chairman of the Board was the 59th C.A. Regimental Commander. An excellent officer who gave the stereotype impression of a British Colonel in India. Many people were a little afraid of him. I was not intimidated. I was not under his command. We got along fine. In fact, a Sergeant assigned to the 59th C.A. wanted to transfer to the Ordnance Detachment but could not get an approval from the 59th. I went to see the colonel and he approved the transfer. At one of the Post Exchange Board meetings, the Exchange Officer requested approval for a purchase which he had made without Board approval. His reasoning was that it required immediate attention, was not a very large purchase, and in his opinion did not justify requesting a Board meeting. The Chairman really read the riot act to the Exchange Officer; a little tongue in cheek I think, and threatened him with having to pay for the purchase with his own money. The Board approved the Exchange Officer’s action and request. At the very next meeting, a similar request came about, this one involving the Chairman. He was also responsible for the Library in some capacity. The Library was his pride and joy. He had also made a purchase without Board approval and was requesting after-the-fact approval. I think the item had to do with Photo Album Paper. I moved that the request be denied and that the Chairman pay for the paper out of his pay. (also tongue in cheek). I think that there was no second to the motion. The Board approved the request. The Chairman recognized the irony and humor in the motion.
When General MacArthur assumed command of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East there was no program for any large scale reinforcement of any garrison in the Philippines. Apparently the thinking was still governed by the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which limited the modernization or major construction after 1922. I dislike treaties. The requirements and limitations often come back to haunt us. The attitude changed rapidly and General Marshall approved many of General MacArthur’s requests. In fact on December 7th a sizable convoy had already left Hawaii and was en-route to Manila with considerable material, supplies, and additional units and equipment. The convoy was diverted to Suva, Fiji Islands to await further directions. A few days later the convoy was ordered to Brisbane, Australia with instructions to get the equipment, to include the planes, to the Philippines as soon as possible.
From late summer of 1941 there was additional activity on Corregidor. A few additional troops arrived. I think the last Army Transport arrived in November. There was also additional training and an alert status. The news by short wave radio from San Francisco about the on-going diplomacy between Japan and the United States led to some speculation, concern, and rumors. Japanese aircraft, probably from Formosa, were over northern Luzon two weeks before Pearl Harbor. At 5:00 AM on December 8th, 1941 (December 7th in Pearl Harbor) the Ordnance Officer called me on the telephone and said, as a matter of fact statement: “The Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbor.” I just asked, “Where are you?” and he said that he was in the office. “Yes Sir, I’ll be there right away.” There was no element of surprise that hostilities had begun. We had been on alert for sometime, and at gun positions for two weeks.
EDW Part 1, EDW Part 2, EDW Part 3
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