Thank You San Antonio!

My best experience, during Army basic training, in WW II was not just mine, but one probably shared with thousands of other GI's - Army, Air Force, Marines. Maybe Navy and Coast Guard, too, although I don't recall seeing many sailors during my three months in San Antonio, Texas in early 1944.

I don't know how many troops were stationed in and around this beautiful old city, but there were a lot. Fort Sam Houston, Camp Bullis, Lackland and Brooks AFB's, and a bunch of other training locations surrounded the city, and when half of those bases got a weekend pass, it could have spelled trouble with a capital T. At least as far as my time there, it never happened.

From Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening, downtown "San Antone" would be wall-to-wall troops, with uniforms vastly outnumbering suits and dresses. Sure, we left a lot of money in all those little bars and shops (including three bucks for the cap in my picture), but it really wasn't our dollars, it was the friendliness, support, and good will of the people of San Antonio toward every one of us.

Just one example. Our "end of basic" treat was a full-gear hike from Camp Bullis to Fort Sam - 20 miles along the outskirts of the city. Civilians along our route came out to wave, applaud, and salute, and they did it for every training battalion that made that same hike.

I really appreciate this opportunity, some seventy years after the fact, to be able to say "Thank you, San Antonio - you were my first home-away-from-home, and you couldn't have been nicer to this lonely 18-year old kid from Illinois, and thousands of others just like me!"

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