prune picker

This is the blog of a prune picker. (Native born Californian) Retired oilfield. I am an old man. (91) I blog a lot about my body and getting old. As I approach death life gets more interesting. More interesting is not good. I still drive. I attend sports, music, and civic events. I am writing my memoirs. I attend swim class three times a week. Some of my blogs might be interesting. A lot of my blogs are silly and trivial. None are very long.

Monday, January 6, 2014

(Army 4). Graduate from Basic Training. Spend a month in San Bernardino.

Late in October 1943 we had a big ceremony on the parade grounds at Camp Cooke. Every man of the 154th Engineers was dressed to a T and marched in front of the reviewing stand. Speeches were made,  congratulations given, and we were told we had graduated. I do not think that many failed. We had an Indian in the group named Walking Eagle. He looked like the head on the Indian nickel. He was the man who walked at the very front of the battalion carrying the banner. He was tall and looked striking with the banner. One day Walking Eagle went for a walk and never came back.

On November 1, 1943, with our destination secret, we loaded into a troop train and left Camp Cooke. Late that night we arrived at Base General Depot, San Bernardino. We put up tents and settled in. We were put to work constructing warehouses. I can remember doing cement work. This was my first experience with cement. It is hard work. The Depot served as a supply base for the desert training going on in the deserts around San Berdoo. Berdoo is prunepicker slang for Bernardino.

Two memories stay with me from our stay in San Berdoo. One was pulling latrine flyswatter duty. Another was being a caddy in a pro-celebrity golf tournament. I blogged about these two items in this previous blog. Click here.

We did not stay long in desert training. We were put in trucks and transported to Camp San Luis Obispo. On the way we stopped overnight in Santa Barbara. I have blogged about our stop in Santa Barbara here. Some refer to the fights that night between our men and the Marines stationed nearby as the Battle of Santa Barbara. We were soon to be allies of the Marines.

You might notice that the Army sent us several hundred mile south to be at San Berdoo for 30 days and then back north to very near Camp Cooke at Camp San Luis Obispo. Maybe the Army thought we needed a train ride down the coast and a truck ride back up the coast. At Camp San Luis Obispo we were to take amphibious training (how to get in and out of a LCVP) at Moro Bay. Training conducted by Marines!

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