Basic Training
Joe Lipsius  
                                        Headquarters 272nd Infantry Regiment                        


I took my Basic Training in the 3rd Platoon Company  C, 32nd Infantry Training Battalion, Camp Croft, South  Carolina.  Camp Croft was known as an IRTC (Infantry Replacement Training Center) newly built for WWII.  It had been carved out from land used as peach orchards near Spartanburg and Gaffney, SC.  The men of Company C were October, November, 1941, draftees, from the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee, with a few Yankees thrown in. 

The 3rd Platoon's Sergeant Knight was a ramrod  regular army man of many years service whose only pleasure seemed to be training us to become good soldiers.  Captain Beck was the Company Commander.  I never learned of his background.   I remember Captain Beck all too well.  At our first reveille he ordered all mustaches be shaved which made me shave mine begun the day of my draft, October 23, 1941. At first, Captain Beck was the only officer in the Company.  Our Mess Sergeant was an another regular army, Sergeant Stout, whose food I loved to eat.  During one of my KP tours of duty he was so impressed with the way I washed pots and pans he offered to transfer me to the Mess Hall and make me a cook.  I declined. Until this day, I am at a total loss when it comes to boiling water.  

I entered the service with a great bit of jitteriness wondering how a person from a Jewish heritage, although not too religious, was going to fare being thrown so closely among Christians.  It didn't take long for these fears to be dispelled.  How well I remember strolling through Gaffney on Christmas Eve with several of my Christian friends, singing carols in the neighborhoods of highly decorated homes.  

It has been almost 65 years ago since Basic Training.  I have no mementos left as reminders.  Numerous photos and a purchased posed Company photo were lost years ago years ago when little importance was given to them .  Fading memory makes it difficult to remember names.  Borrowing the famous line, we, too, were a 'band of brothers.'  I remember my next bunk mate, Joe Wurfel, from Montgomery, Alabama.  Then there was this little guy about my size we called "S--t-eating Shirey."  Shirey was the forerunner of emission controls.  Woe be those marching behind him.  Shirey could break wind of the most unusual odors, seemingly at will!  There was Nash, Gonzalez and Nunes, I believe was his name, from New Orleans, LA., or nearby.  These three crowded in my father's small apartment with me in Atlanta, GA. several times while on weekend passes. 

There was a great soldier by name of Bollinger who went to OCS with me, then to  the 96th Infantry Division where he was a Silver Star winner fighting in the Pacific.  How could I forget Finkelstein, an admitted New York gambler, transplanted to Mississippi, I think.  Fink enticed me into a dice game before I knew his background.  You guessed right!  In my first gambling encounter with him, my lowly monthly pay disappeared in a few minutes when he used his loaded dice!  How about "bully"  Williams from Tennessee?  He was always picking on the little guys.  One Saturday night while he was drinking beer at the PX, his bed was short-sheeted , a favorite stunt of his on others.   When he stumbled up the steps in a drunken stupor, we were holding our breath for what would happen?  Williams became so enraged, the Military Police were called and he was never seen again. 

I have a single tie to those glorious days. On one assignment  while helping to sort mail in the orderly room, I found a letter addressed to  Any Soldier, Company C 32nd Inf Trng Bn, Camp Croft, SC.  I asked the 1st Sgt, "Who gets this?"  He said "You answer It."  This began a correspondence with a young lady which lasted until after the war, with an interlude when the 69th was at Camp Kilmer that involved a visit to the family in the Bronx and a night out to the New York, Roosevelt Hotel, to eat and dance to the music of Guy Lombardo. 

In 1952, the brother of the letter writer who ironically became a member of the 69th, came to the 69th's Reunion in Atlanta and looked me up.  He and I have been in touch until this day. 

Basic Training at Camp Croft, South Carolina was an experience I will never forget.  Those days were among the happiest of my life.  

Yes, I Remember, all too well!