I learned today (from a letter written home in August of 1943) that I came by my sharp-shooter skills honestly! Dad evidently won “big money” back in the day:
“Last Thursday I was called up in front of the company, with six others, at retreat. We were the high scorers in the rifle competition. The company commander congratulated us, shook our hands and thanked us for making a good showing. The first prize was $10. I got $7.50 as second prize and five others received $5 apiece for tying in third place.”
I do not believe the army gives cash prizes anymore for demonstrating skills proficiency!
He then presents his latest challenge (torment, fad!) to his family in his typical matter-of-fact way:
“As I sit here thinking of what to write, I am afflicted with a new torment. My latest fad is heat rash. This is similar to poison ivy and spreads like hell. It is very itchy.”
I can see him sitting there on his bunk bed, pen in hand, thinking of what news to send home . . . scratching!
Shortly after receiving his commendation for weapons skills performance, Dad was finally picked up for advanced schooling and sent to Texas A&M. His first induction to college life, however, was all but academic:
“Yesterday we started our college work. We were presented with grass cutters and told to have a certain part done by noon.”
Army boys at college were still, first and foremost, army boys.