Friday, February 15, 2008

Life History of William Ricketts Smith, Part 8: New Son, Tank Training, Fort Knox

(Part 7 is here.)

Shortly afterward, we left for Washington state where we visited some of Trudy's relatives and where I later became employed at the Bremerton Navy Yard as an electrician and was later called into the Army in September. I was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where I was in basic training in the Armored Force. After five weeks of basic training, I was sent to Armored Force School for Tank mechanics and graduated with a T5 (corporal) rating. Shortly thereafter our son was born.

I applied for an emergency furlough, which was refused because the Red Cross reported that the mother and child were doing fine. The company clerk made out a request for furlough and told me to carry it to the battalion commander's office and see if it would be approved... and it was. I arrived at the hospital in Vancouver [Washington] just as Trudy and the baby were being released. I spent several days there before returning to Fort Knox. I continued working at the motor pool tank shop.

Meanwhile, they had expanded the training center to three groups and we had received several shipments of new tanks. However, men were getting transferred and shipped out continuously and life was quite uncertain from day to day. In the spring of 1944, we were organized into an Ordnance Company and became the 698th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company. All men with limited service classifications due to age or minor disabilities were transferred out or discharged, and new men, mostly trained at Aberdeen, were brought in. We finally became a line outfit and life became a little more certain.

A short time later, Trudy decided to come to Kentucky so we could be together. Through a friend in the outfit, I found a small house in West Point, Kentucky and rented it. Trudy and the baby arrived in Louisville on the train and we got settled in our little house in West Point.

(To be continued next Friday)

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