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Ben Hartley Letter 014 - 1943-03-19

Postage Stamp:  FREE
Postal Mark:  Wichita Falls, Texas
Postage Date:  Mar 19 06:30PM 1943

Pvt. Ben R. Hartley
A.S.N. 18,232,843
Barracks 293, Service Squadron 32
308th Training Group
B.T.C #3
Sheppard Field, Texas

Envelope Reverse:

To:  Mrs. Louis D. Hartley
The Mart Herald
Mart, Texas

March 19, 1943

Dearest Mom,

There isn't any news to tell except that we are still on this quarantine, but there is a chance that we might get out Monday.  Nothing happens in here except occasional squabbles when the pot in a big game gets too big.  Such quarrels as that never amount to much however.

I have never told you much about the men I am living with; but now that I have been couped up with about ninety soldiers for five days, I know something about most of them.  There are quite a few characters of the log, but the greater majority are non-descript fellows with no personality and no brains.

First, there are the three Indians who never say a word; but eat like hourses, always being the last out of the mess hall.  They are good, hard workers, but seldome smile or take part in any group activities.  Their backwardness is due to their lack of understanding of and inability to use the English language.  I get a great deal of enjoyment out of watching them try to understand what is going on.  I t hink they will make good soldiers. (Incidentally they are Navahoes from N.M.)

there are more Yankees than Rebels in this barracks, but the Yanks are so ignorant that we Rebs have about convinced them that Grant surrendered, not Lee.  The boys are from New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas.  There are probably other states represented that I don't know about.

As I have said before, only five other cadets came into this barracks with me.  There were about ten or fifteen cadets already in here, and the eighty-odd other men are regular army men.  The cadets are by far the cream of the crop, speaking in terms of mentality, courtesy, and cleanliness.  One cadet I know became particularly friendly with - Dan Finney, a boy from Ohio who no doubtably came from a good family.  He's polite, witty and lot of fun -- way ahead of the rest of the guys in here.

Mexicans are numerous, most of them able to speak, read, and write English, they keep their proper social position, so there is no social trouble.  The illiterates are also plentiful; I did not realize that such people existed.  Men from ther backwoods of Louisiana who can't read or write and speak a poor French-English dialect.  One of that sort sleeps in the bed next to me.

In the bed on the other side is a fellow named Likten Ward, an married, 33-year old ex-cop from Detroit, Michigan, a swell guy that has been plenty nice to me.

At the time we were quarantined we had no more coms in the barracks which makes us very lucky soldiers, for there is no one to make us do anything.  Our C.Q. (charge of quarters) has chanced here now; and he is very easy with us, making only those who have violated the rules work.

To get on with my characterizations: there is Smitty, the man who just caught his third wife.  He talks a lot about nothing, but he is quite a man of experience.  He is service his secont bit and has had two years overseas at Pearl Harbor.  He was once a buck sergeant, but was busted for bambling.  At this very moment he is telling of some escapade on the waterfront in San Fransisco.

There are a bunch of eighteen and nineteen year olds draftees from Colorado and Pensylvania who are plenty wet behind the ears.  The ages and marital status of quite a few of the men I am not certain about.  There is an eighteen year old boy that is married, and there is one old man who must be approaching sixty who wooes women at every opportunity.

You probably have never beein in an Army Barracks, but they all look alike.

There is life more pleasant than living under the same roof with a hundred other guys (expecially when the place is only authorized for 63 men).  Nevertheless I can be happy here and could be happy here for quite a while, but I would not content myself to have a permanant status as a private here in Sheppard Field.

As I said before, we might get out of here Monday; and if we do, I might ship out of here before the end of next week.  Lets hope fso anyhow.

I'll write again soon.

Much love to both you and Louie

Your Son


P.S. Could you send about six or eight coat hangers?  I haven't been able to get enough up here.  Please send Fred & Mary's address.  Also Billie Gould - I would like to send him a card.

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David Sarvai

David was assigned to Lt Col "Face" Nichols Computer/Security office in 1997, and has been the maintainer of the website since. He enjoys spending time with his two children, and of course anything plugged into his keyboard/mouse.

Website: www.510fs.org
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