143rd AAA Gun Battalion - Page 8
And, too, it was a great satisfaction to all of us when we learned that each battery had been awarded a special award for outstanding gunnery as a result of this firing phase.
It was time for the twenty-five mile hike. There were practice hikes that we took with regularity to build up to that physical test of hiking twenty-five miles with full field equipment in eight hours or less.
Each of us will remember the hundred little incidents and discomforts that will make that day, and the day following one of our most cherished (?) memories.
However, we all made it - one way or another.
After the hike we went on the two-week field problem.
On the 13th of December, the Battalion was given the mission of providing the antiaircraft gun defense of the Marine Supply Dump at Dagget. It was our first taste of blackout driving and setting up our guns at night.
From here we moved to Muroc Air Field and set up defense of the dispersal bay and the shops of Muroc Army Air Field.
A heavy rain made this trip a real test of endurance and mobility. We had to work while wet, muddy , and we saw our equipment get mired hub deep in the mud of the secondary roads , which we were required to use.
Our motor transport learned the value of and appreciated the ability to use the winches that had been provided on our vehicles for this work.
Perhaps most of us did not realize then that the lessons we learned there were to be put to good use later under combat conditions.
At Muroc a two day break in the problem gave us an opportunity to clean up and see the movies. The Army could be human at times.
At the start of the second week, we moved to Mojave California, and set up the defenses of the rail marshalling yards there.
The rain continued and all of the roads were a mass of mud and in some places practically bottomless. It was one of the hardest and most disagreeable moves in our whole existence.
However, everyone did the job that was necessary and all units finally got through; although, in some cases it was an all night job.
With every field problem go the inevitable inspectors and the thousand and one questions that they ask. It seemed the white arm banded officers were everywhere. Apparently we did our job in good shape.
We passed to the next phase of the problem which was to provide the anti-mechanized defenses of Calico Pass and Pick Handle Gap. In that position we were raided by a commando party , which however , was driven off after a little forbidden bodily contact.
On the 24th of December, the problem ended and we all returned thankfully to what was then our comfortable home on the West Range. The fifty percent of us who spent Christmas away from camp will long remember our grateful appreciation of the comforts of civilization.
As the New Year started, we got our new radar mounts which took so much of the uncertainty out of the antiaircraft artillery firing. Many tracking missions were completed and the batteries were all smoothing their operations with the new sets.