T4 Oliver R. Smith

I got a chance to go HOME to California. We had no idea when we would go over seas or where. I requested a furlough and received a 7 day furlough and a 3 day pass to go all the way to California. I took the bus from Tallahassee Fl. to New Orleans La. then the train to L. A. Four days each way and Two days at home. Quite a trip but I felt it was worth it.

In April the 2nd Brigade left Fort Ord for the South West Pacific this created an opening at Ft. Ord so the 3rd Brigade moved to California by train. As I recall we had pullman cars, with two to a bunk.. Meals were prepared in Baggage Cars by our cooks. Quite a trip.

We arrived at Fort Ord East Garrison April 22, 1943. (note in Feb. of 1997 Elger and Wilma Anderson, with Lorraine and I. Found the Barracks #1951, Steve Johnson had a reference to it in his journal We have pictures of Elger and I standing in the Co. street)

At Ft. Ord we did all sorts of training Including An overnight to Sana Cruz. We got our first boating experience of boating in the Pacific Ocean. Beach landings, Boat maintenance, Dead reckoning Navigation, and boat operation. There were also long distance runs from Monteray to Los Angles San Pedro. This was all a learning process of things to come. July 31st 1943 Colliers Mag. had a feature article "Shore To Shore Invaders" If we had seen the article we would have got a better picture of what our mission was. I didn't make the run to L. A. I was on a 3 day pass and was home in Long Beach when they were in San Pedro and went to the harbor and visited with them. They were very wet and bedraggled. It was a very rough voyage about 400 miles in the open sea, including going around Point Concepiton which has been the graveyard of many ships.. The LCVPs they were using had been decked over with canvas to protect the crew sleeping area. I think there were 3 - LCVPs and one LCPL these landing craft were only 36 feet long. To this day I believe it was quit a feat.

As part of our training we would do night problems on Monterey Bay using RPM speed curver to Figure our speed and the compass for our courses. The problems were to locate a bouy in the harbor and beaches to land on, even in the fog. I would hate to have to do it now. These programs went on during the summer of 1943.

We found out much later that we were just killing time until transportation became available to the South Pacific. The Transport we were scheduled for had been sunk in the Guadalcanal. area. So a lot of things had to be had to be rescheduled.

One the things that was part of our training took us. in to the Mojave Desert. In Oct. 1943 we were ordered to load into trucks with our fieldgear and we headed south. We spent the first night in Bakersfield. I figured that we would stay there in the fair grounds. I committed a sin I called my folks in Long Beach, and Suggested that they visit our friends the Closen's. And doggone if they weren't waiting at the entrance to the grounds when we got there. we had a nice visit. We set up pup tents (Shelter Halfs) on the grass for the night. The next day we went south and east over the Tehachapi Pass and dropped down into the High Desert of the great Mojave Desert.. Then on to Victorville and about 50 miles to LEACH LAKE, a dry lake about 30 miles from Death Valley. We again set up our shelterhalfs and made camp, our purpose was to fire Ack Ack machine guns at targets that were being towed by air planes. We soon learned that we were to get along on one ( 1 ) canteen of water a day. We were lucky it was winter an the heat was not a problem. We also learned that we would be required to shave every day. this could have been a problem except for the old improvision. We got an extra cup of coffee in the morning and shaved with warm coffee.

Leach Lake is in what is now Fort Erwin the large desert training base in the Mojave Desert. Darby Larson spent several years at Ft.. Irwin as a Tank Mechanic in the mid 1990s Small world. 56 years later. Darby is Flo and Stan's Grand son, and Becky and Phil's son.

Our training started the next day the targets were pulled across the firing line. We used water cooled 30 cal. and water cooled 50 cal. I don't know if we ever hit any thing. It was all very interesting. We were there about a week and were a pretty dirty gritty bunch. When we go the word that we would be leaving the next day we wanted to get cleaned up, but no water except our canteens. Again the improvision came into play. The water cooled machine each had about 5 gal of water in their cooling tanks, and it was warm from the firing of the guns, the water also had a lot of oil in it. We also knew that no ordnance man wouldn't let the guns be fired with out replacing the water. So that night we went to the firing line and put some of the water in our helmets and had "good" wash with oily warm water. The next day we loaded up, and returned to Ft Ord, by way of Bakersfield.

Our Company was made up of three boat platoons and headquarters platoon, about 300 people. Each Boat Platoon had 15 LCM's. I was in Headquarters Platoon. In Headquarters one squad was communications and operations another squad ran the office, including the quartermaster (supply) and another were the cooks. I was in operations, which ran the Control & service boats of the Company.

We had a unusual thing that took place while at Ft. Ord, The company commander thought we should have a vacation. At least the closest thing we would get while in the army. Big Sur is about 30 miles south of the Fort and there is a State Park there. One day we all loaded up on trucks and went to the park for a week. We made one over night hike up in the mountains of course with our weapons and field gear, really a nice outing. Other days we would go down to the beach and fire rifle grenades and mortars. Always there were swims either at the beach or learning what to do for man over board, in a pool or pond in the park.

Knowing that we were going overseas the Mess Sgt. ,Sgt. Crumb, who had been in WW-1 knew what the problems with getting rations (food) overseas. He was going to make sure he was going to take every thing to eat that he could. Every field stove that was crated was stuffed full of canned goods. Every create that had any room in it for any thing was stuffed with any thing he thought we would need. After all his plans to take care of us, at the last moment before we left the medical dept. said he was to old, they not let him go over with his people. Sgt Pugh was the new mess Sgt. who did a very good job with what he had.

Now the big day arrived we were going to go over seas. Dec 17, 1943 we moved out of Ft. Ord.



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