143rd AAA Gun Battalion - Page 7
Around the first week in July came our introduction to that legendary place , Camp Irwin, about which we had been told so much. During this visit all of us fired our individual weapons and conducted some preliminary firing with our main armament, the 90's.
The rifle range was so hot in the afternoon that it was impossible see the targets for the heat waves. Here we learned the meaning of those leaky canvas water bags, the camporized chapsticks, the desert heat.
The 90's were fired, and for most of us, it was the first time we heard any major caliber artillery weapon fire and we got an idea of the power of our guns.
Training on the various pieces of equipment in the Battery was emphasized, and we began to understand the value and the necessity of team work and good training to insure a well coordinated firing unit.
With the completion of this phase we returned the first of November to Camp Haan. Our home was area three with its comparative comfort of individual six-man huts and its proximity to the main gate to Riverside.
Now we felt a little more like real soldiers and wore our uniforms with more confidence as we went out on our first week-end passes.
With all this however went innumerable inspections that were necessary to check the progress of the unit and to see if we were ready to take the next and most important phase of our training. These inspections were seasoned with trips to Los Angeles, and the famous "Hollywood Canteen", "Ciro's", "Brown Derby" and "Laguna Beach".
Having passed all of our inspections with flying colors, we were ordered to Camp Irwin again this time for a minimum of nine weeks, which as it turned out, stretched to twelve weeks.
However, we went directly to the West Range which as you remember, was fourteen miles further from civilization. We moved into a tent camp that had been prepared for us by our advanced detail.
This was a lesson in taking care of ourselves in the field where there is no running water, no mess hall, no barracks; just sand, tents and grease wood.
On November 20th we started that hectic round of training and firing that constituted our advanced training. It became a routine of coordinated artillery drill, firing practice and "dry run" field problems.
Then more firing and finally our combat firing tests. The target practice firing went good and there was a healthy amount of pride and rivalry that went with each practice.
Each of us was convinced that he was in the best battery of the best antiaircraft battalion in the Army. It was hard and monotonous work, but there was a joy and satisfaction when the guns fired.