More Advanced Training…and a Wartime Wedding
For my Uncle Phil, the next several months were a whirlwind of training and advanced training in radio maintenance, moving from one base to another, knowing all the while that it was all a prelude to an eventual assignment in a combat zone.
Phil spent a lot of time at Scott Field, Illinois, near St. Louis, a sprawling establishment which he compared to a Chicago with nothing but servicemen as residents. Scott Field assumed the important wartime mission of training radio operators/mechanics and became known as the Communications University of the Army Air Forces. By the end of the war, Scott’s various communications schools had graduated 77,370 students.
Phil made some close friends at Scott Field, but he also took time to continue his romance with Bea:
I was in touch with home quite a bit, and it was decided that I was going to have a wedding on my hands with the little girl that I had been going with for about, oh, two or three years before leaving for the service, and Bea entered the picture at this point….
While at Scott Field, I had a week coming to me — what they called time enroute — in other words they gave you, say, 10 days to get where you were going, knowing that you didn’t need 10 days. It was a little complimentary thing from Uncle Sam to give you a few days after you left the school to do more or less what you wanted to do.
A St. Louis wedding
My wife and I were engaged in 1940 … and we were married in St. Louis in 1942 in September, Sept. 26 to be exact. The Presbyterian minister officiated at the wedding. I had about eight of my friends from Advanced Maintenance School at Scott Field, plus my mother and father. That was the wedding group that was in that small hotel room that night.
The war prevented the newlyweds from enjoying a real honeymoon. Bea, like tens of thousands of other women, had joined the war effort, and had to return to her job at the Bendix Corporation’s Eclipse Division, a defense plant in Elmira Heights, N.Y. She started that job a week after Phil’s enlistment, first on an assembly line and later in the personnel department as a file clerk, her first office job. She worked for Bendix until near the end of the war.
Soon Phil was off to Utah again, to Ogden, for yet another assignment, living for a time with other soldiers in a comfortable civilian house off base. One day, as he was watching messages come through from the AACS headquarters, his name appeared: he was to be prepared for “overseas shipment.”