This post is part of a series of “Military Monday” posts where I follow PaPa monthly from induction (13 January 1943) to separation (17 February 1946). A complete list of all posts in this series can be found here.
Mission Accomplished: A History of the 547th AAA AW BN Mbl: January 10th, 1943, to September 2nd, 1945[ref]United States, and Ray E. Oakes. Mission Accomplished: A History of the 547th AAA AW BN Mbl, January 10th, 1943, to September 2nd, 1945. S.l: s.n, 1945.[/ref] (“Mission Accomplished“) edited by Captain Ray E. Oakes was published upon the return to the U.S. This book provides much of the information concerning PaPa’s training. Geeky did some legwork for you on this one:
The 547 AAA was a mobile Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion (aka Coast Artillery Battalion) Automatic Weapons (AW) which was attached 5 October 1944 to 21 May 1945. It was a component of the 95th Infantry Division of General Patton’s 3rd Army. PaPa was Sergeant Hugo Morris Webb, Sr. in the 2nd Gun Section (aka Popeye) in Battery B. He was credited with shooting down two of the three plans downed by Battery B.
PaPa’s official date of entry into active service was January 20, 1943. The day after Janis Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas. I’m not sure if PaPa had his copy of the Soldier’s Handbook[ref]COAST ARTILLERY TRAINING CENTER FORT MONROE VA. The Coast Artillery Journal. Volume 86, Number 1, January-February 1943. Ft. Belvoir: Defense Technical Information Center, 1943. <http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA499789>.[/ref] or not:
And then they were off to California.
According to Mission Accomplished (page 1), a “large group of newly inducted men from Fort Sam Houston, Texas got off the train…” the night of 30 January 1943. The train ride took five days and they had only been in the Army for a few weeks like PaPa. I can only assume he was on this train.
My family isn’t as lucky as Shelley Ferguson who has a series of letters that her father, Thomas Riley Ferguson, wrote. Part of the time he was at Camp Haan and I’ll occasionally include an extract from his correspondence. This is just a snippet so please check out Shelley’s website for a treasure trove of so much more! On July 11, 1943, Tom had this to say:
July 11, 1943
Camp Haan, California
We finally got here. This camp is near Riverside, Calif. That is about 55 miles from Los Angeles. This is Sunday and I’m down here under the swaying palm trees just taking life easy; soft music from the Service Club. Don’t you all wish you were in the army! … I am in the Anti Aircraft Artillery. It was part of the Coast Artillery but it has now branched off to an outfit itself. … I like the camp. They have better food than we had at Camp Lee….
PaPa had been there awhile, wonder if he stumbled across this newcomer?
In October of 1941, Camp Haan, according to the California Military Museum, had 353 buildings, 2459 tents, 5 chapels, a hospital, 18 miles of sewers, and 28 miles of streets. In 1942, Camp Haan was also serving as a prisoner of war camp. More about the camp to come….