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Training and Waiting, Waiting and Training

February 21, 2012

Each post entry on this blog builds chronologically on the ones before. Journal entries are written in italics. Comments are written in bold print. I gratefully acknowledge the sources I used to follow and understand Al’s journal and have listed them on the page, “Where to Learn More”

Nov. 24
Left for Camp Lee, Virginia, near Petersburg.  Reception Center.

Nov. 29
Sent to Fort Eustis, Virginia near Williamsburg for basic training

Dec. 24
Two day pass home for Christmas

February 7, 1943

Completed basic training of ten weeks- made Private First Class – sent to Chicago, Ill. to attend Coyne Electrical School – subject: basic electricity, nine week course.

Courtesy of Mike Attala

April 14

Completed course and received diploma with final average of 91%.  Sent to advanced schooling, AAA school in Camp Davis, N.C. Made technician 5th grade.  subject: Fire control, automatic weapons – M5, M5, Director, Power plant and oil gear.  Completed course with average of  85%.

June 3

Finished the  six week course as Fire control electrician.  Sent to Enlisted Cadre Pool, Camp Davis.

June 4.

Sent to 381 AAA-AW-Bn, Fort Fisher, N.C.

June 5.

Due to overstrength of 381st, transferred back to E.C.P., Camp Davis, N.C.

How does a country prepare for war?  As  the world’s conflicts grew in the late 1930’s,  Americans had strong isolationist tendencies.  Knowing that the more advanced weapons would take a long time to produce, the Army prepared the groundwork as best they could. Mobilization plans addressed the size and composition of an initial defense force and its needed support.  They worked to coordinate schedules of troops and materiel and calculated  best locations, proper sizes and optimal schedules of training centers.  A website with a wealth of information about mobilization produced by the Army explains this in great depth. It notes that, interestingly, the plan failed to give adequate consideration to construction of troop housing and related facilities.

In December, 1941, the U.S. formally declared war in Asia against Japan and in Europe  against Germany and Italy. The Selective Service and Training Act had been passed the year before, and, just after Pearl Harbor had been amended by Congress to increase required service from one year to “the duration plus six months.” By the end of 1942, when Al was sworn into service, the Army sat at 5.4 million strong.

By 1942, when Al arrived at Camp Davis in southeastern North Carolina, it had become the premiere anti-aircraft artillery training center.  There he learned how to operate and maintain the M5 and M6 guns.  He also refers to Fort Fisher.  Just 50 miles down the road, its where anti-aircraft gunners received versatility training and how to be effective against tanks and other armored vehicles.  Both of these camps greatly benefited the local area in social, economic and cultural ways, bringing in high-paying jobs from construction to firemen and clerks.  Camp Davis also had a large contingent of WACs (Women’s Army Corp) and  African-American GIs were also trained there, too, so that women in the work force and race relations  were both issues in a time of great change.  More information and some great photographs are available at Greetings from Camp Davis .

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