01 - Joining the army

Coming soon, a full book by George Weir, a WW2 veteran.

When I was 17 years old, my Uncle Fred (Gohlke, father of my cousin, Fred Gohlke, who is helping me organize this book) owned a 26-foot Mack moving truck (with a peak above the driver for extra storage space) which he leased to National Delivery Association, an interstate furniture moving company headquartered in New York City. Uncle Fred hired me and taught me how to drive truck during our many trips between Boston, Chicago, D.C. and all points between.

On December 7, 1941, while in Chicago waiting for a return load, we were having a bite to eat at a lunch counter. There was a radio playing on small shelf in front of us. Suddenly, there was a break in the program and an announcement that the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor! Everyone stopped and stared.

When President Roosevelt ended his speech, saying, "This is a day that will live in infamy!", I asked Uncle Fred where Pearl Harbor was. He shrugged and said, "I don't know." Soon, we all knew.

When we arrived back in Boston in early 1942, I enlisted in the U. S. Army. Shortly after enlistment, we had to take an IQ test. If your test mark was 125 or more they interviewed you to see if you would be a good candidate for OCS (Officer Candidate School). OCS lasted for ninety days and graduates became a Second Lieutenants - 90-day wonders.

As I recall, my IQ was 135, so I was interviewed. It didn't last long. I was an 18-year-old high school dropout with no previous government service, like in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), so I was not considered officer material. The highest rank I reached was PFC (Private, First Class) at $54.00 a month.

I began my service at Fort Devens, Mass in May of 1942. When I enlisted, I was assigned the MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) number 345, which identified me as a big truck driver. Thereafter, whenever they needed drivers for a certain location they used this number to find me.

On Day 1, I went for a physical at a building in Boston.

On Day 2, in a hall someplace in Cambridge, a Major gave us a rundown of the steps ahead for us. During his speech, he said, "I hope there is nobody here who is like the name of the County we are in." Cambridge is in MIDDLESEX County, Massachusetts.

On Day 3, we were sent to Fort Devens, Mass by train. On the first day, I was introduced to KP (Kitchen Police), the bane for all Army Privates. We spent a few days at Fort Devens before entraining for Fort Knox, Kentucky for 2 month's basic training.

We arrived at Fort Knox on Day 5, wearing the heavy dark brown winter uniforms we were issued at Fort Devens. It was hot at Knox!, and we swapped our heavy uniforms for light tan, one-piece coveralls.

On Day 6 we had our first close order drill!

Close Order Drills may be at the heart of learning about Salute - Execute. All communication is verbal. The Drill Sergeant shouts, TENNN-shut! Fall In! and we GIs snap to attention and arrange ourselves in ranks, quicker than a cat grabs a mouse.

The Sergeant hollers, FOR-WAAARD MARCH, and we all start to move in unison ...

... and away we go, HUT, two, three four, HUT, two, three four.

Pretty soon, it's COLUMN LEYUFT, HAAARCH, two, three, four, HUT, two, three four, TO THE RE-AAH, HAAARCH, two, three, four, HUT, two, three four.

And, finally, FALLLL Out!

Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

Later, after the brass learned of my musical talent, when an officer hike/marched us along a local road at 120 steps a minute, the Looey would holler, "SING WEIR!", "Sound off, two, three, four!", and I would bellow out a song like:

(to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic)
When this war is over, we will all enlist again,
When this war is over, we will all enlist again,
When this war is over, we will all enlist again,
We will like hell, we will ... LIKE HELL!

and all the guys would holler along with me. We had a lot of songs, some I learned from others. They were great pieces because their rhythm fit our steps.

"I know a girl lives on a hill, if she won't do it her sister will, two, three, four, Hut, two, three, four."

"Ain't no use in going home, Jodie's got your girl and run, sound off, sound off, Jodie's got your girl and run, two, three, four, Hut, two, three, Four."

One was more a poem than a song. It tells why it takes 8 men to mow a lawn:

"Two to come, Two to go, Two to shit, and Two to mow."

I think the marching and singing was another military way to get us all working as a team. I'll tell you a secret, though, I came to enjoy it. We were sharp. We looked good. I may have been the only one who was proud of the way we marched, all together, like one big machine, but I don't think so.

In July 1942, after two months of Basic Training at Fort Knox, I entrained for the Mojave Desert in California to join the newly formed 3rd Armored Division for training as an assistant driver/bow gunner. The temperature in the Mojave was over 100 degrees.