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Serving Uncle Sam: A Military Life in WWll

Gerald Schwartz USAAC (USAAF) 1940 - 1945


Chapter 1: Enlistment in the U.S. Army Air Corps, May 1940.

Initially they had no room for recruits, so I waited until they called me on Oct 30 1940 and said to come to 39 Whitehall St, New York, NY to be sworn in.

I was offered the option of being sent to the following locations; Mitchell Field, Long Island, N.Y., or Chanute Field, Illinois, or Langley Field, Virginia, or Hickam Field, Honolulu, Hawaii.

I agreed to Mitchell Field because I had promised my parents that I would be sent there, so close to our home in Brooklyn, N.Y. That was the only way they would agree to sign my enlistment papers because I was under 21 years of age (actually 19), and could not sign a legal contract.

Myself in Desert Garb

Mitchell Field in 1930

I was then sworn in and reported that day at Mitchell Field. I was given 2 blankets, half of a mess-kit, and a folding cot, and was told that they did not have any uniforms. I was sent to a hangar, where I found 600 other recruits. We were given 8 weeks of "close order" drill (Marching).

In December, my parents and brothers visited me, and found that I was still wearing the same civilian clothes I wore when I enlisted. My older brother, Murray, asked me if I was sure that I was in the Army!

Such were the conditions a year before the war in the U.S. Armed Forces that they had no uniforms to give us!

I was chosen to go to Airplane Mechanics school because I excelled in the aptitude test. They were too embarrassed to send me to a school in civilian clothes, and somehow they found a uniform for me, and in December1940 I went to a brand new aeronautical School At La Guardia Field, called 'The Academy Of Aeronautics', owned by Casey Jones who also owned such an academy in Rising Sun, Pennsylvania. I was not on the active reserve as were the draftees.

(Left):Casey Jones School (Right):Aircuda Fighter at LaGuardia 1940

They were placed on the reserve, and were subject to recall (and were actually recalled) every time the President declared "a National Emergency"!

This is the first installment of my life in the Military. I shall add further installments ending upon my discharge immediately upon my return to the USA on Aug 31 1945.

< List of Contents  •  Chapter 2 >
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