Yes, I know: it should be a 48-star flag... The 115th A.A.A. Gun Battalion, 1943 to 1945

The United States (Part 2)

CAMP PICKETT

"March Order", words we were to come to know only too well in the near future.

"As any fool can plainly see, and nacherly we do" there were no tears shed when word came to leave Swamp Hollow forever. Anything would have looked good to us, but we were hardly prepared for the paradise that greeted us that evening at Camp Pickett, Virginia. We had convoyed over 230 miles that day and our aching backs cried for soft beds, empty bellies pleaded for food, and of course a warm shower was badly needed by all. Under normal Army routine this would have been accomplished in a matter of a few days and we would have felt very pleased indeed. But not at Pickett! The 115th A.A.A. Group had done a splendid job of preparation; the barracks were spacious, newly cleaned, beds and mattresses ready, rations drawn, showers available in the barracks. Quick inspection the next day revealed several movie houses on the post, a large Service Club, a tremendous P. X. serving beer (all you could pay for), ice-cream, soft drinks in addition to the usual P. X. supplies, excellent dry-cleaning and laundry facilities. Did we mention the fact that now we were within week-end pass distance to most of our homes? And that passes were frequent?

Before you get the wrong impression though, we hasten to let you know that we weren't in Pickett for a rest cure (although that would have been much more to the point after Davis). We left the AntiAircraft Command and were assigned to the Army Ground Forces for what proved to be the most interesting and most taxing of all the training we were to undertake. We were introduced to landing nets of rope and metal, embarking and disembarking from all kinds of landing craft, forced speed marches, beach assault, new-fangled obstacle courses, infiltration courses, all variety of small-arms fire. The personnel got a look at their brand new radars, the latest word and so very hush-hush (even if they had wanted to tell someone about it how were they to explain the two-million dials, bulbs, tubes, switches, lights and buttons plastered all over the place!?).

Langley Field attached a plane and two pilots to our battalion to provide an air target for radar tracking purposes. With this plane at our disposal the radar crews were able to put in many intensive hours learning what made their new equipment tick. The eyes of the whole antiaircraft command were on us at this time for we had the honor of being selected as the first battalion to be equipped with and to fire with this advanced type of radar. Our experience with it was the "in practice" test of the equipment.

After weeks of intensive training on dummy ships -- and just as intensive relaxation after hours -- we were sufficiently acquainted with amphibious operations to advance to the final stage -- actual participation in boarding, loading into landing craft, and assaulting beaches. It was for this purpose that we left Pickett on the 29th of September for . . .

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Departs Camp Davis NC after six months, for Camp Pickett VA, 14 September 1943. Their first stay at Pickett's "soldier's paradise" is only two weeks as they begin practicing target tracking with their new radar. The 115th is the first battalion to be equipped with the top-secret SCR-584 radar. They also begin training for amphibious operations.
 
Updated Tuesday June 07, 2005 09:11:28 PDT
The original text of The Story of the 115th A.A.A. Gun Battalion, published by the unit in 1945, is in the public domain. So how, you may ask, can I claim that the contents of these web pages are protected by copyright?

The answer is that it is my own transcription of the text and images into electronic format, and compilation into these web pages that is copyrighted. In addition, the web design, art, and annotations, plus all material from my father's personal albums are copyrighted original works. I reserve all rights to how all these materials are used. You may not copy them or store them in any retrieval system without permission.