Watch and learn

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I entered the Army in May 1943 and was sent to Camp Edison in New Jersey which was close to the resort town of Asbury Park, which I never got to see. On about the 3rd day, this sergeant got about a hundred of us lined up along the side of a great big lawn. He was a much older man. Perhaps 40 or more and he spoke in a very gruff voice. I thought it was a foreign accent so I wondered what he was doing in the Army. He also sounded mean.
So we were lined up and he ordered everyone to make a left face. Now we were looking across the field. He then ordered all the men who graduated from college to take two steps forward. A few of the fellows did. I was sorry I wasn't among them because it was obvious that they would get special treatment.
Then this sergeant ordered all the men who had been to college to take one step forward.
Since I had gone to college for a while, I moved forward.
"Now you smart guys I want you to police the area. That means pick up everything in your path that doesn't grow. I mean twigs, matches cigarette butts and anything else. Hold it till you get to the other side. Then put it in the trash."
I was disappointed because I thought something good was going to happen.
As we started to walk across the field I heard the Sergeant shout to the fellows who were left behind, 'Now you dummies standing there, watch and learn.!"
I felt like laughing but I thought I'd get in trouble. I got to the other side but I found nothing to pick up.
I suppose there was some reason for this exercise, but I could never figure that out unless it was to teach us that some screwy things would happen while in the Army. and that was true.

Paul Kessler, Collingswood, N.J.

Branch of Service:
Army

Submitted by:
Paul Kessler

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