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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Tales from the old-timer

Inspection Day

After being inducted into the US Army on July 14, 1943 I was sent to Fort Bragg, NC for Field Artillery Basic Training, a 17-week program. We had a strict inspection every Friday in the barracks by one of the 1st lieutenants and First Sgt. Barker. My Battery of about 200 men had a rifle shortage, and since my name, starting with a “T” put me near the end of the roster, I went the first few weeks without my US Carbine Cal. 30 M-1 and I missed the first few gun inspections.

I had gone to the post exchange and brought back a sealed box of cookies. I placed them in my foot locker, unopened and neatly positioned them among the other items.

Came the Saturday inspection and the Lt. stopped and “gigged” me. The cookies were forbidden, but I didn’t know it.

I had to report to the Battery Commander as a result. I stopped at his desk and said, “Private Thibodeau reporting as ordered, Sir.”

The Captain said, “Thibodeau, you are a Wisconsin man. I thought you would be a good soldier. Do you know why we don’t want cookies in the barracks? “Yes, Sir. Cockroaches, Sir!” I responded. For this infraction I was given a half day of KP in the mess hall the next day, which was Saturday.

I was again gigged for a dirty mess kit the next Saturday as we had had an overnight bivouac, and I hadn’t done a good job with my mess kit in the big trash can full of hot water that morning. This time I got all of Saturday on KP as punishment.

On the 3rd Saturday, I finally got my rifle. I had watched the other men cleaning theirs, and thought I knew how. But I ran an oily patch through the barrel just before inspection and that was a “no-no.” So I got a 3rd gig for that reason, and got a whole day of KP as a result.

We went to an overnight exercise just before the 3rd Saturday, and this time I was gigged for a misplaced foot locker.

But I received praise from the Battery Commander for correct response to his question, “How many horizontal lines does the gunner on a 105mm howitzer have in his sight?” Other men called out “Three,” “four” and “five,” and all were wrong. I raised my hand and said, “None, Sir. He is only concerned with deflection right or left, not elevation.” My answer was the only correct one!

Over 3 years later I was at Fort Bragg for my discharge. Old Sgt. Barker was still there. He hailed me, “Thibodeau, you were the only one there who had the answer right.”


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