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WWII Basic Training : Rifle Training

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Rick said of this photo: "Me and Reese Patterson, my childhood friend who pushed me through the armory bars twelve years before. We were both home on furlough at the same time in early 1945, when this picture was taken."

Starting February 21, 1943, I learned a lot in my eight weeks of basic training; a great deal about K.P. for one. I'd never had to scrub out forty- and fifty-gallon stock pots before, but I learned. I found out what a grease trap in the kitchen floor was, how it smelled (God awful) and how to clean it out, and all sorts of similar useful things that you don’t necessarily need in civilian life.

We were issued rifles, taught how to clean them, take them down (apart), and put them back together again. Then we were taught how to do it with our eyes closed. We may have been headed for Air Corps Cadet Flying School, but it was still the army, and part of our drill practice had to do with handling a rifle. We spent just one afternoon at the range learning how to shoot, what to do and what not to do. Fortunately, I'd been using firearms since I was a kid, so a lot of it was second nature to me.

My "Unk" Lou had bought me my first twenty-two caliber rifle when I was twelve and taught me gun safety and how to use a firearm properly. When I was fifteen, at my uncle's urging, Dad bought me a larger rifle, a 30.30 carbine. Unk and I went upstate to the Adirondak Mountains and he taught me how to hunt deer. I got my mother to fix some venison steaks (she’d had quite a few of them as a young girl in Indianapolis) and I must say we all enjoyed them. From then on, I went hunting every year. I learned never to kill an animal needlessly, but only if I could use it. I learned respect for firearms, for the animals I took for food, and above all, sportsmanship.

In basic training I was recognized, along with a former cop, as being familiar with gun safety and knowing how to behave properly with a firearm. We were separated from the rest of our group and made into semi-instructors.

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