Our story begins in Battle Creek, Michigan in early summer 1942, when my Dad was ordered to report for a physical exam, and was found to be 1A meaning he was physically fit for military service.  He received a letter from Uncle Sam soon after this and was ordered to report for duty on August 26.   His first stop was the Armory in Kalamazoo, Michigan were he received another physical exam and after once again being found physically fit was sworn into duty in the United State Army.  He was immediately after this placed on inactive duty for 2 weeks in order to get his personal affairs in order.

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Group shot of Recruits at FT Custer Reception Center, August 1942

Click image to view larger size

Dad used this time to say good bye to family and friends, his fellow employees at the Kellogg Company gave him a going away party and some of his friends bought him a fountain pen for the many letters he would be writing home.

This Small Picture was given to my Dad in March 2004, by a man that worked in the personnel department at Kellogg's,

He  found the picture and gave it to Dad at the Local Mall.  The picture was taken after Pearl Harbor for security reasons at Kellogg's.

On September 9 he reported for duty once again, he took a short 3 mile  ride From Downtown Battle Creek to nearby Ft. Custer where his Army Training officially began at the reception center there, he was once again give a physical exam along with mental and mechanical exams and was given his first army uniform.  His stay at Ft. Custer lasted 15 days, which he spent doing various duties around the post such as cleaning barracks, handing out uniforms, and KP duty.  His parents and friends also visited him several times and he also received 1 weekend pass which was convenient as he lived just minutes from the Fort. In the Evenings he went to the post theater and the service club. 


FT McClellan Alabama 1942

On a chilly,  winter like Michigan morning on  the 24 of September,  Dad got his first taste of the classic Army policy of "hurry up and wait" when he and the other recruits dressed in there winter uniforms waited for a 7:30 AM train that did not show up until 11:15 AM.  There destination this cold morning was FT McClellan, Alabama and after a long train ride that crisscrossed the South Eastern United States, the men reached there destination the following afternoon and found Alabama to be hot and humid  therefore they changed back into summer uniforms.

His Army Training really got into full swing now, with plenty of hikes, calisthenics, and running the obstacle course, also included in training was military courtesy, personal hygiene, the use of his weapon in his case the model M1917 Enfield Rifle, how to clean his weapon and use a bayonet, the use of a gas mask and how to recognize different gasses. There was also plenty of KP and Guard duty for the men.

Inside barracks at FT McClellan



It was not all work for the recruits in the fall of 1942 as they had the opportunity to visit nearby Anniston, Al  where there was a USO Dad remembers attending, playing  pool, ping pong, writing letters, and dancing with the local girls.

The training for Dad and the other recruits was going good in Alabama that fall, when one day the Lieutenant of Dads platoon took him by the arm and made him squad leader, shortly after this Dad was called before his company commander and asked if he would like to go to Officer Candidate School. After interviewing three different  men for the job, the Captain placed each mans name in a hat a drew two names, Dad lost the contest to be a 2nd Lieutenant, but now considers himself lucky he did.

Anniston,  Alabama, USO

On November 11, 1942 Dads name was read off to be shipped out the next day,  there destination was to be Camp Butner, North Carolina, new home of the recently reactivated 78th Infantry Division, Dad arrived by troop train to Camp Butner on November 13,  his 21st birthday.

He was assigned to Company A, 309 Regt. a rifle company in the 78th Division, and was quickly picked to be a basic in a machine gun squad, a basics job was to take the place of the 3rd ammo bearer in case a man was wounded,  Dad trained on the  M1919A4 .30 caliber machine gun along with the other men and even scoured the highest in his squad at the firing range, but yet he remained the low man on the machine gun totem  pole.

Two of Dads friends outside their barracks at FT McClellan in 1942. Don Harrington on the right and Ray King on the left.


At Camp Butner the physical training became more rugged, the men hiked everywhere they went, some hikes were 20 plus miles,  there was more training in military tactics, the infiltration course where live machine guns were fired over there heads while they crawled under barbed wire, all the time explosions were set off to simulate a real battle.  Once again the men did not train all the time, there was time for some recreation in nearby Durham.  Dad also  tired out for the regimental band that was being formed, he sent home for his cornet and played for a short time with them,  he was also asked to sing in a choral that was being formed,  They practiced one song, "This is the Army Mr. Jones" and performed it once for a local dignitary that was touring the base, the chorus disbanded afterward.

World War 2 Era Recruiting Poster


Christmas 1942 was Dads first Christmas away from home and he, like millions of men in the United States Armed Services that winter where homesick. The Army did what it could for the men, and in Dads case and the men of the 78th division at Camp Butner, they were given the day off of training, and treated to a wonderful Christmas dinner.  They had a traditional dinner consisting of roast turkey and dressing with all the usual fixings,  each man had a cigar and candy at his place setting and each table had 2 bottles of wine on it.  Dad was less homesick after dinner that Christmas. 

With the closing of 1942 Dad and the other recruits faced an uncertain New Year, I am sure they had thoughts of would they be alive for another Christmas, where would they be next year.  Follow Dads story into 1943 and found out what happened to him.

Pvt. Lynn K. Juckett