Spitball Army

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Richard & Alice: 1944-1946

Richard – a Private in the United States Marine Corps – is on a train heading out of Chicago and toward the War effort.  Behind him, in Frankfort, Indiana, remains his wife of less than one month, Alice.  Ahead of him lies a West Coast destination.  It is mid-1944.

Richard and his fellow recruits arrive in San Diego late on the evening of May 30th, a Tuesday. By the next morning, they are already ensconced in the daily ritual of life at the recruit depot Marine Corps base.  Located near downtown San Diego, the R.D.M.C.B. – as he calls it, or M.C.R.D., as it is more commonly known – contains row upon row of composition-board shacks that each house approximately 20 recruits during the seven-week training program.

On Thursday, June 6th, the Allied Forces’ D-Day invasion of Europe takes place.  In Richard’s letter written the following day, from sunny southern California, there is no mention of it – but he does mention his new quarters: a tent.

The new recruits are subjected to a battery of immunizations: influenza, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tetanus, yellow fever and typhoid, among them.  The round-the-clock schedule of medical examinations, paperwork and rigorous physical training can wear on the military greenhorns.

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