I was looking at my dad’s discharge from the Army and my Uncle Chuck Francis’ book which among other things, covers his years in the Army. I discovered a lot of interesting information I either never knew or had forgotten.
Uncle Chuck was five years younger than Dad who was inducted into the service June 30, 1942. Uncle Chuck was drafted in early 1943. This story is about my Uncle Chuck Francis who was my dad’s brother.
He said he learned his first military lesson at Ft. Levenworth. One day they were all lined up by a sergeant who asked, “Will all of you who have attended college please raise your hands?” Uncle Chuck quickly held up his hand. “Okay, the sergeant said. “All of you college fellows follow me. We’re going to wash some officers’ cars.” The important military lesson: NEVER VOLUNTEER!
He was sent to Camp Crowder where he was interviewed to determine where to put him. They asked if he wanted to be a radio operator. He said, “No.” Would he like to string wire by climbing poles like a telephone man, or would he like to drive a truck. He said, “No.” In an attempt to get him slotted into something, they asked if he would like to be a messenger. “You will have your own jeep and everything.” He was glad he said no to that one because later he learned messengers lasted about ten minutes in combat. They sent messengers in when the carrier pigeons couldn’t get through. Finally, the interviewer asked if he wanted to be a cryptographic technician. “What is that?” He asked. They said it was dealing with secret codes. That sounded good to Uncle Chuck because he had a secret code ring when he listened to “Little Orphan Annie” programs on the radio. (Remember most of these guys were teenagers when they were drafted.)
That lasted a few months before he was notified his step-father, Dad Bowers as he called him, had died in his sleep. Uncle Chuck went back to Murdo for the funeral and when he returned to Camp Crowder, he found his records had been lost. They put him through basic training a second time. He pulled KP frequently, and scrubbed barracks that didn’t need scrubbing. He managed to get a temporary job in the supply room and was busy sorting socks one day when someone came in and said, “Francis, you are going to Washington for two months training and then you are going overseas. He went to Washington, but didn’t end up going overseas.
I’ll tell you another of his Army life stories. For at least two weeks they were fed boiled, not broiled, spare ribs for both the noon and evening meals. The ribs were a lifeless cold grey color. When they asked why they never had anything different, the answer was that someone had over-ordered. Camp Crowder had 80,000 men in it. That must have been some over-order. They called the mess hall cook, “Spare Ribs Wilson.”
That story makes me think of the time my brother told me that if I ate pork that wasn’t fully cooked, worms would come out of my legs.
So that’s my veteran’s story for tonight. I’ll tell more about Dad, Gus, (Korean War), and Kip’s Dad in another blog. I do believe his Grandpa McNinch served in WWI.
BILL FRANCIS, OVERSEAS DURING WWII
WWII and others changed the course of so many lives. Did you know that 7.6 million Americans went overseas during WWII?