T4 Frank E Howsmon

Hi Craig-- I was very happy to hear from you, and I'm pleased to ramble on about Fort Ord. I don't know exactly how to frame this kind of thing, so I will just go by each memo

1-- I left high school (Chico High) where I was majoring in machine shop, when I reached eighteen, and enlisted in the Army as a "machinist". I was assigned to Hq & Hq Co 7th Qm Bn, and was sent to the East Garrison, Camp Ord for my basic training. There were about 30 guys in our recruit platoon. We lived in 6 man pyramidal tents, and when it rained, which it often did that time of year, our shoes would float across the tent. Those were the days before combat boots. We wore shoes, and leggings. Our tent was heated by a cone shaped stove called a "Selby Stove", and used coal. The most important "general order of the day" when pulling guard duty, was to watch for sparks. Shortly after completing basic, we moved into the new barracks at the West Garrison.

2--Our battalion was a 3rd Echelon repair unit. We actually rebuilt engines, and replaced them for the division. We did all kinds of repairs-- engines, brakes, transmissions, transfer cases front ends, battery rebuilding, upholstery, you name it. We had two trucks (6x6) set up as mobile shops. Each had a Hobart welder/generator, 9 inch metal lathe, valve grinder, brake relining equipment, equipment for cylinder honing, and tool cabinets full of any tool needed for a roadside repair, or field repair. I was the machinist on one truck, and drove it as well. The other guys in the battalion were mechanics, and technicians, and actually performed all the work except for things we done such as machine turning, valve grinding, brake relining, honing, and that sort of thing.

3--I was never formally introduced to Gen Joe (Vinegar Joe) Stilwell, but did have occasion to have a short conversation with him. I was under a 6x6 torquing the crankshaft bearings while my partner was on top dropping the pistons down the cylinder holes. Unbeknownst to me, my partner went somewhere, and when I was ready for another piston, I looked out at what I thought was his feet and told him to drop another piston. Down came the piston, and a very strange voice from above said, "is that OK son"? I said yeah, its OK. I later found that my new helper was the Gen. It was a very common sight to see Stilwell striding around Company streets, with his car trailing along behind somewhere. He was definitely a soldier's Gen.

4--I don't remember if it was mandatory or not, but I donated one dollar each payday towards the building of an enlisted men's club house. It was in the process of being built when Pear Harbor came along. I never saw it after it was completed. My rank at that time was T/3. I later moved on up to Tech/Sgt, and was transferred to a Troop Transport Battalion as motor sgt. Prior to shipping out to the South Pacific, I was transferred into an Eng/Dept Supply Unit as a heavy equipment operator, and before we shipped out, I got busted for getting sh.t faced, and was honorably discharged the last of Dec 1945 as a T/4.


"The things that come to
those who wait, are usually
the things left by those
who got there first"












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