[ USS CHENANGO ]  A Personal Account of WWII Boot Camp Great Lakes Navel Station
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Great Lakes Navel Station ...
(Journal 2 of 14)
  The great lakes Navel Station is situated on the banks of Lake Michigan in Illinois. It was a formidable site with the main complex called "MAIN SIDE" housing the operation, hospital, supply paymaster, and gymnasium. The training facility consisted of three camps. Camp DEWEY, Camp DOWNS, and camp PORTER. Each consisted of a group of barracks, drill fields, obstacle course showers, head, and mess hall.

It was late July when I arrived at Great Lakes. It was a short ride on the North Shore Transit line from Milwaukee Wisconsin to Great Lakes Illinois. The cars were loaded with sailors and would be sailors. Some stayed on, destination Chicago. The run was from Milwaukee to Chicago. It was good to know that Great Lakes was not too far from home.

Check in, stand in line for everything. Get uniforms, see the doctor, get a hair cut, and report to my assigned barracks. My twin brother was also in my unit. I did not think that we would be kept together for long, but we were through Boot Camp. There was some comfort in this.

When I got to my barracks, we were assigned a bunk, and got to meet our commanding officer. Our C.O. was a specialist A chief petty officer, the A stood for athletics, and he promptly told us that he wanted to fly the "A" flag over our barracks for the duration of our stay .It seems that was a game for the C.O.’s Everyone was obliged to get into some sport. The company that won the most points at the end of the week got the flag to fly over their barracks. Our C.O. made sure that everyone got involved, and came around personally to find out what we could do in the sports area.

I had taken boxing lessons when I was real young, and boxed at the Y.M.C.A. and was getting pretty good at it. I had a great teacher. My brother Dick played baseball, and was good enough to have played triple A baseball and had tryouts with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The war put a halt to his baseball career. For the two months we were at Great Lakes our barracks flew the "A" flag over our barracks every week. My C.O. was in my corner for every fight.

Much of what we did at Great Lakes was conditioning. We would march for hours, and then rifle drill while we marched. I also learned how to treat blisters. And the obstacle course was a challenge. Being young and athletic I had no problems with Boot Camp, and I also possessed a good attitude about my new carrier in the Navy. I did feel sorry for some of the older guys who had wives and kids, and were not in good condition. For them Boot Camp was a horror. Besides all the walking, there was calisthenics every day, and you do learn how to say YES SIR briskly, You do that about a hundred times a day. All in all I got through Boot Camp in good style, and I did learn many things. The biggest thing I that I learned, was to get along in military surroundings. I was ready for what was to come next that I knew.

As for my brother Dick, he got hurt while playing ball for the Great Lakes baseball team. It was with mixed emotions that I graduated and moved on without my brother. We said our good by’s and I was gone. I had been promoted to SEAMAN SECOND CLASS, and had orders to take a train and report to CREEDS FIELD VIRGINIA, about thirty miles from NORFOLK VIRGINIA. It was a little air field developed by the C.C.C boys in the late 30's. It was not what I wanted, but oh well that is another story.

Next Journal: "First Assignment"

Journal 1
Journal 2
Journal 3
Journal 4
Journal 5
Journal 6
Journal 7
Journal 8
Journal 9
Journal 10
Journal 11
Journal 12
Journal 13
Journal 14