March 5, 1943 (Chester Biven)
Friday 8:07 P.M.
March 5, 1943
My Dear Dip,
To say I was pleased as punch to get you letter to-day would be putting it very mildly – I was tickled to pieces! Several times I have had the notion to write to you c/o Minneapolis and have it forwarded but then everyday I expected to hear from you giving me your correct address at Sill. I didn’t even know whether Jimmy, Earl & Baird A. ever got to Sill. A kid who came down here for the class that started in January knew that you were slated but he understood that for some evil reason Jimmy and the others had been delayed.
Sorry to hear that you were ill but I trust everything is under control by the time you read this. By the way, I borrowed this contraption from a candidate next door so I could really write something in this letter rather than send a longhand letter in which I could not get all the dope.
Here, we are nearing the end of the rope. At 10:10 next Wednesday morning I will take the oath of office and be a 2nd Lieutenant. It has been an awfully rough grind and I have the kitters something fierce but a little time off will cure that.
We got our assignment yesterday. I have been assigned to the Chemical Warfare Service and will be stationed at the Chemical Warfare Replacement Training Center, Camp Sibert, Alabama. Imagine that, CWS! Quite a number of us new jeeps from this class got that assignment; the other are spread ober the 4th, 1st, 2nd, & 8th Service Commands, and one or two to the 5th. Our bunch (the CWS lads) were the only ones assigned to a branch, the rest being commissioned AUS and will serve in the army at large.
Of course I am satisfied with the assignment since although Camp Sibert can boast of more Rebel Alabama Gumbo than most camps, it is a growing concern having just been activated last August. We have no idea what we will be doing but the boys who have graduated from here get everything from Company Commanders to 5th Asst. S-2’s.
We have been authorized 10 days delay en route plus travel time from Gainesville to Sibert which amounts to one day. I’ll be reporting there sometime around the 21st.
As to the session here, I have been very successful, if I may say so. I was one of five considered to be retained for members of the faculty & staff however, last Monday Colonel Barco had the five of us in and said that The Adjutant General could not see any additions to the staff at this time in view of needs elsewhere. We had our own company officers here and I was one of them – platoon sergeant.
It has been nice this last month to drill the boys all the time instead of having someone drill me! We got quite a slathering of tactical work here much to the surprise of everyone I mentioned it to who had their own ideas as to what went on at this OCS.
In addition, I was in on a Moot Court-Martial we put on here; I got to be officer of the day one, and at the present time, in our Command Post Exercises, I am Major Biven, Adjutant of the mythical Fort Heldridge. These exercises are what are called Administrative Maneuvers and are very interesting. We activated two posts and the same problems are sent to each post. The results of how the problems are handled are judged on a competitive basis and a winner for the exercises is determined. It lasts for three days and we really work like hell.
All in all, I have tried to be as active in affairs around here as was possible. I have come through with a tactical rating of A plus, (imagine) and I rate seventh in the class academically, out of the 170. I am going away with the feeling that I have really earned my gold bars and really learned something doing it. It has been a wonderful experience.
Herby Vogt is here in the new class that started Feb. 19th. I saw him quite a bit at first but as does happen, you get so involved in your work that there is no time for socialabilitude (?) during the week.
I agree with what you said, Dorance, about leaving the Hq. Btry at Fort Bragg. My one hope, and I get it, was that I wouldn’t get assigned to the 4th Service Command for subsequent assignment for fear I would have to go back there. There is nothing the matter with the place (except of course, Fayattevile) but I was anxious for a change of scenery after 11 months on that sand pile.
As to marriage plans, about which you kindly asked, nothing doing for now. Its just going to take so much money to see me through these first couple of months that we couldn’t see our way clear. I wouldn’t care particularly to get married and have to leave Dorothy behind so we decided to wait until later. In addition, Dorothy’s sister has been lying on the brink of death for a month. She is pregnant and had a bad accident in which she was very severely burned up and down the front of her body. They don’t know from one day until the next whether she will pull through although through it all she has retained the baby but I don’t know. Such things don’t tend to make you think of marriage plans – you know how it is.
This letter has contained more “I’s” than is good for any letter but since I haven’t heard from you for so long there is a lot to tell.
When you have a moment, I wish you would send a post card to my home address which you have, telling me when you graduate. I have lost track of the date since I don’t know exactly when you got out there. Send it home because it will be probably the end of the month before I’ll be able to send you my new permanent address at Camp Sibert. When you graduate, be sure to let me know where you are and for heavens sake, tell Jimmy, Oil, & Baird A. to do the same. They can always address me at 87Admiral Dewey Avenue, (5),m Ingram, Pittsburgh, Pa., if they don’t know where I am.
Tell my son James to wash behind his ears everyday and to be a good soldier like his papa & me want him to be. Zounds on him for not writing before this! If you two get into any trouble with each other like you used to, just send me a wire & I will get leave and come straighten you out.
Sincerely, remember me to the lads and to Ed L., and write as often as you can.
This has been rather lengthy I know, but you caught me on a good night. We have no studying to do this last week, and it was a real chance to sit down and bang one out (without the aid of a type eraser as you will notice).
Be a good boy Dorance and the best of luck to you. It is now about 9 o’clock and high time I got into that nice, warm, comfortable bunk-bunk. So long.
P.S. Dorance, we have had the grandest weather for three months! We wear field jackets some mornings, but the rest of the time its just shirts.