Dad’s Time in the Service 1955-1956 Part 02

March 29th, 2023 § 1 comment § permalink

Here is part 02 of Dad’s time in the service. I am including the full transcript as well.

So where did Bob serve?

Well, when Bob first went in, he went in at San Diego. And after his boot training, he was assigned to the aircraft carrier, Lexington, but they were out of San Diego at that time. And so he went in in October of 1940. In 41, our grandpa died. Bob got emergency leave to come home, but he didn’t get home in time for the funeral, but he was home.

That’s all the photos we have?

Yes, of him with grandma in his uniform.

He went back, and the Lexington sailed to Honolulu. I have cards that he sent, and some letters from Pearl Harbor.

The family thought he was at Pearl Harbor when December 7th occurred. Actually, he had sailed out of Pearl Harbor the day before. So his aircraft carrier was not there. He remained on the Lexington and it went into the Coral Sea.

And that’s where he was put ashore as a spotter at Guadalcanal. And he got wounded three times. One time was with hot gasoline from a plane engine. I’m not too sure exactly what the other two were. But while he was on Guadalcanal, the Lexington got sunk.

And of course, your parents had no idea where he was, did they?

No, but they knew that he was injured. They got word of that.

So then in the summer of 44, he got leave to come home, and so he was home for awhile. And then he did not go back overseas. He was stationed in Memphis at the Naval Air Station and in Virginia. And when I went into the army, he was stationed at Bainbridge, Maryland.

And Bob?

Bob was in-

Or Ed, I mean.

Ed was at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Bob was at Bainbridge Naval something or other.

And Warren was-

He was out. He was not in at that time.

He was, though, stationed in Missouri though, right?


Now did he go overseas?

Yes. But he did not see combat. I mean the war was still on, it was on when he went over, but he did not see combat.

So you’ve gone over your daily routine, when you were in Tacoma. How did that train you for then going overseas?

Well, after we got back from Yakima-

Right, Yakima, I’m sorry.

We just went around daily soldier stuff. We had classes, we had training. But then I got a temporary duty assignment back to Madigan Army Hospital, which of course, was right next door. So I went there for six weeks and worked on the psychiatric wards again.

And then when I came back to the unit, we started in our daily routines, and I actually gave some classes, but then one of the guys in my outfit… a bunch of them were going to be shipped out. And a fella by the name of Richard Neil, he had just gotten married, living off post, and he got transferred to Germany, and of course he didn’t want to go. So I volunteered to take his place. Now the problem was, I was a neuro psychiatric technician, and he was a regular corpsman. So, since I’d gone through all of this basic training as a corpsman, I said change my military occupation specialty number back to corpsman, and I’ll take his place to go to Germany. So they did. It’s called a Military Occupational Specialty is called an MOS. So they changed it, wrote me orders to go to Germany.

And so in November of 54, I went home on leave, and then flew to Washington DC and stayed a few days with Ed, and he drove me up to Fort Dix, New Jersey, and I sailed the Atlantic.

How was that.


No, I mean, here’s an Iowa boy, saw the Pacific Ocean, but put on a boat to sail the Atlantic. How was that experience?

But let’s retrograde a little bit so that you get a little better feel.

When we first started our basic training at Camp Pickett, we were not given leave at all. Three day passes or weekend passes we didn’t have. But after maybe five weeks, they started giving us passes.

So we would get off at noon on Saturday and had to be back in by first call on Monday morning. The sergeants were making big bucks with… They had cars and they would charge us, and we would go to Washington DC. And of course, I had my brother Ed in Washington DC, so I could stay with him. And I went several times, and in fact, Christmas of 53, I went to Washington DC on a longer pass to Ed’s, and then we drove up to Bainbridge, and had Ed and his wife, Barbara and I, had Christmas dinner with Bob and his family. So it wasn’t like I was being having a first Christmas way.

And so I got to see Washington DC. I went to the White House, I went to the Capitol. Of course, you can’t do a lot of that today. I went to Mount Vernon. All of the Washington monument, all of them that were there at the time. I got to see all of that. And actually on one of those weekend passes, I ate my very first pizza in Washington DC.

Basic training was like the first eight weeks was what every soldier goes through. So you had to take weapons training. We had to learn to clean the weapons and disassemble them, clean them, put them back together in a certain amount of time. We had to go to the firing range, fire the weapons. We had to go underneath, crawl underneath barbwire for a period. I don’t remember how far it was, but they were shooting ammunition and whether it was live ammunition or not, it sounded like it. I don’t know whether it was or wasn’t, but I kept my head down.

And one time in November, we went out in the field, and every soldier is given half a pup tent, a blanket and a couple of sticks that holds the pup tent up. So you have half, another soldier has another half, and you put it together and that’s where you sleep. Well, we had to sleep out and it snowed, and the snow was so heavy, most of the pup tents were down on top of us. It snowed in the middle of the night. And so we woke up in the morning with our tents laying on top of us. And then we went back into to our barracks, and I got ready and went to Washington for the weekend. And people in Washington DC had no idea how to drive in that snow. And it melted within one day, but it was a good six inch now, and it was heavy. So I got to observe those people.

We had a captain in Camp Pickett, his name was Captain DeGaulle. And I don’t know whether you want me to say on tape or not, but he was a first class prick.

Stereotypical, movies?

Yeah. And when we were out on this maneuver, we were fed. Cooks fed us sea rations. But they just took these sea ration cans and opened them up and throw them all together, and heated him up and slopped him into our mess kits, and he’d stand there and he said, “Oh my wife spent all week getting this food ready for you guys.” And there were actually guys that believed it.

So anyhow, when I first got to Camp Pickett, there was a real gung ho sergeant and he said we want our company to be the best, so we want to form a drill team. So they signed up people for the drill team, and I signed up, but on the day that they first met, I was on duty and I couldn’t practice with it. So they had this original list of people that signed up and they gave it to the First Sergeant and he took those people off of the duty roster. Okay, I was on duty the day they [inaudible 00:16:06], they made a new list, and those were the guys, and my name wasn’t on it. So I was taken off the duty roster and I didn’t pull KP again until he discovered it in late December and he put me on KP, and then he sat in the mess hall all day and laughed at me because he caught me.

But he soon was not laughing at me but every, I don’t remember whether it was week or every month, but they nominated someone to go to the Battalion Commander. There are four companies in a battalion, and four soldiers, one from each company, went to the Battalion Commander, and he quizzed them and did other things, see how they were dressed and all of that, and picked a Battalion Soldier of the Week. It was weekly. And in December I got to be Battalion Soldier of the week.

And then, there’s three battalions in a regiment, we were sent… Those who made Battalion Soldier the Week were sent to the Regimental Commander, a Colonel [Bolus 00:18:06], and I was named Regimental Soldier of the Week. And I was the first one from our company to get this. So our Captain was very happy, it made him look good. Our first Sergeant was happy, it made him look good. Our Platoon Sergeant, who was head of the drill team, and he also took us to Washington most of the time, he was happy. I got them, and I have at home an article and picture from the paper that they sent and, back in those days, they published that kind of thing in the paper.

Okay, I’ll need that.

So, when I left Camp Pickett, I went home on leave. They took me to Washington DC, I flew from Washington DC to Chicago and down to Kansas City. Took a bus to Des Moines, and was on leave, and then I took a bus back to Kansas city, got on an airplane, and the airplane stopped at Wichita, and then at Oklahoma City, and then Dallas. It was Love Field at Dallas at the time. We were late getting out of Oklahoma City because of an ice storm. This was on a Sunday, I had to report to Brooke Army Medical Center by midnight on Sunday, and this was on Sunday.

So we were late leaving Oklahoma City, and by this time I’m getting worried. We flew to Dallas, and in Dallas when we landed, it was on ice. We didn’t miss the terminal by very much, the wing of the plane, and then we were delayed getting out of there. Well there was a man on the plane, who had talked to me in Oklahoma City, and we were both from Des Moines, because we’d gotten on there, and he bought me a Sunday night dinner, because, quite frankly, I don’t have any money. And I got… Then took off late from Dallas and got into San Antonio after 11. I went to a telephone, looked up the number of Fort Sam Houston, called them and said, “I’m here at the airport, if you want me, come and get me.” And they sent a Jeep and a driver and picked me up. And then they put me in a barracks that was not where I was supposed to be.

And I got up the next morning and shaved and all that, went to breakfast, and they said, “Well we’re going to have to find out where you belong. Go back to the barracks and stay there.” So I did. And all of… I was looking outside and stuff, and guys out there playing baseball, throwing the baseball back and forth. And one of the guys was Don Newcombe. So when they came to get me, I said, “That’s Donq Newcombe, isn’t it?” “Yeah, yeah.” So I said, “Well, what’s the matter?” “Well, he wets the bed every night, so he can get out of the Army and go back and play baseball for Brooklyn.”

And they got me to the right place then, and started my training in a couple of days, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Brooke Army Medical Center. We’re known as the Country Club of the Army.

Dad’s Time in the Service 1955-1956

February 28th, 2023 § 1 comment § permalink

I sat down with Dad a few years ago and had him tell me about his time in the service. He talked for almost four hours. Here is part one of five. I cut out quite a bit to help move it along, however I am including the complete transcript in this post.

Mic check, one, two.
Okay We’re just going to start off and give you some basic who, what, when, where questions and then try to gradually build on those and get a narrative.

Let’s start with actually, your name, and your service, what branch of Army you were in?

My name is Richard Delk. I served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1956. August 53 to August of 56.

How old were you when you joined?


19? So fresh out of-

I had one year of college.

Okay. Why did you join?

Well, two reasons. One is that I ran out of money, and I needed the GI bill. The other one is that I really didn’t know what I wanted to do or what I wanted to be.

Were other people around you like that? Was that common?

Very common.


Very common.

Why’d you choose the branch you did?

Well, I’m blind in my left eye. I would not have been drafted. The Army only required a three year commitment, and that’s really all I wanted to give them. I thought it would be easier to get into the Army than the other two services, or three services because of my eye.
Actually, they first told me they wouldn’t take me. After some discussion and reconsideration, they decided that it would be all right. I agreed to go into the Medical Corp. They were okay with that because they had schools that they had openings in, and they were willing to take me on that basis.

How did Grandma and Grandpa feel about that?

My parents were not happy. They did everything in their power to dissuade me. I was not their strongest child, physically. I had troubles. They had up to three sons in the service. One is already in, two out. Actually, one out, and two in. My dad wanted to get me a job in one of the banks.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

I did not want that to happen. I felt I needed time to figure out what I really wanted to do. I went ahead with it, despite their objections. They finally said, okay, they would take me in the Army, as long as I went in the Medical Corp. I picked a school that I thought I would like, called Neuropsychiatric Technician School. I got committed to that school.

Where was that at?

The school was at Brook Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. I had to go through basic training, first.

Where was that?

Basic training was at Camp Pickett, Virginia.
When I first entered, they put me on a bus with other recruits to Fort Riley, Kansas. That was a recruitment center.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

From there, we got our uniforms, our shots, whatever we needed to continue. From Fort Riley, they put us on a train and sent us to Camp Pickett, Virginia. I know we went through Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and I’m not sure exactly where we got off the train. We took buses, then. There was a few of us going to Camp Pickett, and we took a bus from wherever we got off the train to Camp Pickett, Virginia, which is outside of Blackstone.

What were your comrades, your soldiers, how were they feeling about this? Were they all going to basic training to then disperse other places?

Yes, they were going to basic training. That’s what Camp Pickett at that time was the basic training center for medical service personnel. We would go through eight weeks of regular basic training. Every soldier that went in went through eight weeks of some kind of … Then, we went through eight weeks really designated for medical service personnel. I was there a total of 16 weeks.

Then, where did you go?

From there, I had a short leave, and then went to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

How long were you there?

I got to Brook in January, and we left there sometime in February. I went to Madigan Army Hospital. This was on the job training, served in a Medic and Army Hospital outside Tacoma, Washington.

Some people in my school went to an army hospital in Denver, some of them went to the army hospital in San Francisco. Others went to other army hospitals. There were a couple that stayed in Brook Army Medical Center.

What did you learn at Brook?

I was taught by psychiatrists, mostly, about psychiatric issues and psychiatric treatments.

At that time, there was two basic treatments other than just talking to you. There was electric shock, and insulin shock. We learned about the care of mentally ill patients, we learned how to attend to them during the shock treatments. We learned about what their tendencies were, what we can look for, and how we were to respond to them.

Were you still going through other training as well?

No. When I got to Brook, it was classroom training. We did visit the wards, but there was no hands-on there.

When I got to Madigan, then I was put right out to pasture. I had to do the things necessary. The wards were all locked wards. I was given a key to the wards, and I was to guard it with my life. You never knew what the patients were going to do.

While on the ward, I helped manage the patients, I helped give them treatments. When they were given electric shock or insulin shock, I helped hold them down. Generally, they did not get these treatments every day, but every day they were on duty except on the weekends, we gave treatments to some of the patients.

These patients were from the Korean War?
Some of them were from Korea.

An example, one very, very intelligent young man had gone to Cal Tech, I think. He was put on a duty in Korea where he spent eight hours looking at a screen that had gauges on it. When those gauges did something, he was supposed to do something. He never had, he never did. He spent eight hours a day, staring at this screen. It affected his mind because he was used to using his mind in a lot more substantive manner.

You’re done with Madigan. Did any time when you were in service, was there a fear that war would break out again?

Not while I was in the United States. I didn’t have any fears whatsoever. After I left Madigan, I was on leave. I went back, I flew from Seattle to Minneapolis, took a bus to Des Moines, and was on leave. That was in April 54. I took a train, then, back to a base between San Francisco and Sacramento, California. That was the base where they assigned you to where your permanent position was to be.

I got to that base, and I don’t recall its name. They immediately shipped me out, and sent me back to Tacoma, Washington to 24th Infantry Division, in their Medical Battalion.

When I got to Fort Lewis, they were all out … Fort Lewis was by Tacoma, by Madigan Army Hospital and McChord Air Force Base. They immediately sent us out on a truck. My civilian clothes, my army clothes, everything was loaded into a truck, and several other soldiers. We went across the Cascades, to Yakima Proving Grounds, near Yakima, Washington where they were on maneuvers.

I immediately went to the Medical Battalion. They had their tents sent up, kind of like a MASH. They had a receiving tent, where wounded would be brought in and evaluated. They had a surgical tent, a ward tent, and an evacuation tent. They had four basic tents. I was assigned to the ward tent, but of course we didn’t have patients because we were just on maneuvers. Well, we did get some patients eventually, but not psychiatric patients.

The maneuvers involved the whole Division. We’re in a desert. We simulated battle. The big thing that would happen every day, we would have an air raid from planes from McChord Air Force Base. We had to be prepared for that. We did have a few patients with injuries, some of them were minor. We had one major patient, not psychiatric, but he was an Infantry man that threw himself down by some rocks. A rattlesnake was in the rocks, and it bit him in the corroded artery. He did not make it. Other than that, and a few bruises and a couple broken bones, we didn’t have anything. The big thing was keeping our equipment clean and getting ready for the air raids.

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