||1944 started out for the men of
the 78th the same way 1943 ended. Lots of training, passes and visiting
On January 7, Frances Dee, Hollywood actress visited the men of the division and Dad, got to shake her hand.
Frances Dee from the 1943 film, I walked with a zombie.
||On January 19, the men of the
78th began packing equipment for there move to the Tennessee Army Maneuvers.
The trip for the 78th took several days and Dad recalls stopping for the
night in Jonesborough, Tennessee, it was Sunday and the men pitched there
pup tents in a large field, the towns people came out and watched
just like a circus had come to town. The General order the division
band to get there instruments out and play church hymns, and the chaplain
invited the towns people to join them in worship that night. In the morning the ladies handed out a bag of homemade cookies to each truck in the
These maneuvers were to last for nearly 3 months and have 4 divisions plus additional supporting units competing against each other in tactile exercises. The maneuvers took them all-round the state of Tennessee. With lots of rain the maneuver areas were quite muddy and sometimes deadly, Dads knows of 2 incidents were 78th men lost there life's, one was a man who was ran over by a truck at night while they were simulating blackout conditions, another time a pontoon bridge over the swollen Cumberland River collapsed while 3 trucks were crossing, 3 men drowned that day and a fourth man who dove into the river and saved several men died later from pneumonia. He did receive some sort of medal for his bravery that day.
Once again it was not all work for the men they did have the opportunity to visit Nashville, TN. and did the usual things soldiers did on there free time.
Major General E.P. Parker Jr.
Commanding General 78th Infantry Division
Enlisted men of 78 division headquarters and headquarters company. Camp Pickett, VA Summer 1944
Click image to view a larger size
|On march 27, the Tennessee maneuvers ended. The 78th now
headed for there new home at Camp Pickett Virginia, there primary
mission at Pickett would be to prepare for over seas duty. There was
intense physical training, hiking, obstacle courses, and physical
exams. Each man had to qualify again on his weapon, now Dad
was armed with the .30 cal M1
Carbine, each man also had to fire a variety
of other weapons to familiarize themselves with them. The 78th also
received new men to bring them up to full strength. At the
end of April Dad received his fourth furlough of his army career, he split his
time in Washington D.C. and Battle Creek, visiting family and friends.
|Camp Pickett was located in rural Virginia, the nearest town Blackstone was small with not much to entertain the troops, Dad spent most of his free time at the post theater or amphitheater, the USO put on a variety of shows for the men and he recalls they were always quite good. On weekends the men went to Richmond VA, and Washington D.C. Dad even went once to visit his uncle Harold Loder who was stationed at New Port News, Virginia with a Anti Aircraft unit guarding the navy bases from attack. On July 15, Dad received his fifth furlough, once again he split the time between Washington D.C. and Battle Creek.||
T5 Juckett in Newport News, VA
|In late September the 78th
finally got the news it had been waiting for, They were going oversees.
There was much speculation as to where they were going, would it be Europe
or the Pacific, the whereabouts was being kept very secret. Dad was
perhaps the first enlisted man in the division to find out the answer, he
normally ran the mimeograph machine At HQ, but when it came time to
print the shipping orders Dad was told to step aside an officer had to
print the top secret documents. When the officer was done he
carelessly threw the backing sheet for the stencils in the wastebasket,
Dad was able to read the orders from the dents the typewriter made in the
paper. The orders clearly read Europe, first stop the staging area at Camp
Kilmer, New Jersey then on to England.
The men arrived at Camp Kilmer in early October, they spent a week there, filling out forms, having lifeboat drills, rechecking equipment, getting there inoculations updated and medical exams.
Dad received a pass to New York City, where he saw the stage show Oklahoma, and saw the Milton Berle show being broadcasted from the RCA Building, Uncle Milties guest that night were Lupe Velez and Lou Gerhigs widow.
Continue on to Europe with Dad and the 78th click here
Movie Actress Lupe Velez