Basic Training Memories

After waiting to be called for US Army pilot-navigator training for over three months, I enlisted USN in the Navy a few days before I would have had to register for the WWII draft. The Army Air Force had had more test passing pilot-navigator enlistees then needed.

I ended up in what was an unusual Great Lakes Naval Training Center Boot Camp Company 966 in April 1944. It was about half draftees, some in the early 30’s in age. We had a tough, but by most of us a liked and respected chief who was a dedicated good drillmaster.

We won the “Rooster”, a Battalion Banner “of Pride” as the best marching Company all, but the first week in Boot Camp. As a result we were held over for a week to be the Color Company for the June 1944 transfer of command of 9th Naval District from RADM, John Downes who was retiring after 46 years in the Navy.

The morning of June 6, 1944 around 6 a.m. as packing to leave Boot Camp we heard on a barrack’s radio about the “D” Day Normandy invasion of France.

I was one of the few in Company 966 who made it through boot training without getting a “Happy Hour” work detail for some infraction. I credit it to having gone to a prep school for my high school years having had to live under strict rules, some punishment given for rules broken. I credit my high marks in the eight different subjects boot camp tests to the prep school type testing too, resulting being sent to Navy Radio School at the University of Wisconsin after boot camp.

Walter H. Neumann, Spring Hill, Florida

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