In the Army Now


January, 1943, Fort Custer

January, 1943, Fort Custer

8 a.m. Sun. Jan. 3, 1943 – Barracks 1013 Fort Custer

Dear Folks:

I won’t be able to mail this letter until we get out of quarantine sometime Monday or Tuesday. I saw you looking for me as the train pulled out but you were looking too far back towards the end of the train.  I had to sit on the other side of the car so I wasn’t very near the window.  I’m sorry about the way I hurried away but I think you know why so that’s enough said about that.  We got to Battle Creek about 6:05 but spent about 1½  hours being pushed and pulled around the tracks till we got on the right spur that took us out to camp.  We got there about 7:30. We were put into a trailer and driven around until we came to a sort of assembly hall of some sort.  We sat there awhile and then we were walked to the infirmary. The Doc had us all say “ah” and looked at our throats to see if we had a cold. Finally we went over to the mess hall for supper at about 8:30. We had string beans, soup, (I don’t know what kind it was and neither does Hugh) potatoes and gravy and bread but NO BUTTER!  From there we went back to the assembly hall where the corporal talked a little and gave us our identification tags.

Back again at 2:10. After we got our tags we were taken over to our barracks and went to bed at 10:30.  We have those double deck beds.  I slept on top and Hugh slept below.  I don’t think that most of them slept very much.  Every time I woke up I could hear them turning and coughing.  We didn’t have to get up till 6:45 but most of them were up at 5:30.  I got up at 6:00. At 7:20 we had breakfast.  Cereal (corn flakes) bread and butter and a fig.  From there we went back to the barracks for a little while and that’s when I started to write this letter. Then we went over to a warehouse and had a brief phys. exam.  From there we went and got our clothes. Was that something!  Two suits of 2 piece wool underwear, three pairs of cotton shirts and shorts, 2 pairs of shoes size 10 ½B, (By the way, you won’t find my brown shoes with my clothes because I’m going to keep them.  They are O.K. to wear with a uniform and they didn’t give us any oxfords.), 2 pairs of wool pants, two wool shirts, 2 pairs of cotton pants and 2 shirts, a wool blouse, our overcoat, 3 prs. of wool socks, 3 pairs of brown cotton socks, a fatigue outfit of 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, 2 jackets, and a hat, two hats like I wore in college once for my wool uniform & one for the cotton, 2 ties light brown besides a star double edge razor and blades, soap, tooth brush, 3 towels, comb and knife, fork, spoon, etc., gloves, wool stocking cap and that’s all I can remember.  From there we went back to the barracks for a few minutes and then went to dinner at 11:50.  Potatoes, gravy, peas, head lettuce, milk, bread & butter & ice cream.  From there we came back and they lifted the quarantine till four o’clock so that we could leave the barracks if we wished.  Hugh and I stayed and washed, shaved, and cleaned our teeth while the mob was gone.  It’s 2:25 now.  Hugh is reading a funny paper someone bought.  It’s snowing pretty hard.  We are to eat at about 4:20.  We still have to have our intelligence tests, a personal interview regarding our past experience and any particular field for which we might be fitted.  We also get a vaccination for smallpox and one shot for typhoid before we leave here.  I haven’t seen any of the fellows who came over Monday.  One kid who has been here from Bay City since Tues. said from 600 to 800 left Sat. morning and they were probably some of them.

According to latest word we won’t be out of quarantine until sometime Tues. noon.  Then we can mail letters and I’ll try to get this out as soon as I can.

You wouldn’t know these guys with their uniforms on.  They look entirely different.

I expect to leave here sometime Tues. or Wed.  Most of the kids we meet have been here from 2 to 6 days.  As soon as they get out of quarantine they are put on K.P. cleaning barracks and working in the kitchen.  Not for me!

Well I seem to be out of ideas so I’ll add some more when I can. (2:40).


7:15 – Back again.  Had free time till 4:30 and then ate supper.  Potato salad, cottage cheese with pineapple, soup, cake, peach, bread and butter.  I think you know that when I say I like something, I mean it; and the food really is good.  I hope it will be as good wherever I go from here.  They have signs in the mess hall that say “Don’t take anything you don’t want but eat all you take.”  Tonight we had so much that nobody could eat it all.  I pass up the meat and still have plenty.  So you don’t need to worry about that.  The barracks is heated and although we sleep between sheets, we have two woolen blankets over us.  After supper we went back to the barracks, then over to the Post Office for paper and string, back to the barracks to do up our clothes and then back to the Post Office to mail them.  I kept my shoes.  I don’t know what you can do with my hat.  It was flattened out before it was mailed.  Maybe it can be cleaned and blocked.  The gang was given freedom again from 6:30 to 9:30 and most of them are gone.  Miller and I and some of the rest stayed.   They are listening to Jack Benny on a portable radio while I’m writing.  We can only go a certain distance and the theater is beyond that.  There’s nothing that I care about at the PX (Post Exchange).  I understand you can get 3-2 beer there but I’m not interested.  Well I’ve run down again.  See you later. (7:25)


Mon. 12:30 – Got good night’s sleep and didn’t get up till 6 o’clock.  Had intelligence tests on mechanical ability, telegraphy and general I.Q.  Enclosed you’ll find some pictures.  They were taken yesterday after we got our uniforms.  We get out of quarantine tonight so I’ll call this the end and get it ready to mail.  I don’t think I’ll be here long but if I get a permanent address I’ll send it.  Don’t write until I do.



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