143rd AAA Gun Battalion - Page 9
January was the month we fired to our heart's content. Sleeves, radio-controlled PQ-S's, equi-angular firing, day and night anti-mechanized firing and terrestrial firing were all successfully completed to everyone's satisfaction.
The field artillery firing was especially interesting to many of the brass since an increasing number of reports were coming from the overseas theaters of the use of 90 milimeter guns in delivering field artillery fire. It was a considerable satisfaction to us all when we received for each battery at least one award for outstanding gunnery as a result of this firing phase.
On the 20th of January 1944, our long spell on the West Range was finally over and we headed for Camp Haan, via Palm Spring's Air Base where we set up the defenses of the dispersal areas and the shops of the Palm Spring's Air Base.
We arrived at Camp Haan to prepare for the Inspector General's inspection and to complete the pysical proficiency test which would remove our last obstacle to shipment overseas and to the combat area.
Those of us who were the actual participants in the physical proficiency test remember too well its strenuous nature. But after a third attempt we passed it and completed our MTP. Now a few furloughs could start.
On the 23rd of February, we received orders from the Anti-Aircraft Command of Richmond, Virginia assigning us to the 4th Air Force and directing us to proceed to the Muroc Army Air field for combined training with the Army Air Forces.
The actual move was made on th e 4th of March and the battalion set up a bivouac in a pyramidal tentbarracks area. Despite the strong wind that habitually blew, the stay at Muroc was most interesting and not as rigorous as the previous months.
You know how much we enjoyed the infantry field problem that took us to Kern Valley in Central California and gave us a welcome change from the desert. During this stay, too, in combination with the Air Force problems, the AAAIS and the gun operations room were worked out in more detail.
Here we first got some inkling of the communication nets that were later to be the rule in combat. Here again at Muroc we were fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of Los Angeles where we could have a lot of fun on week-end passes.
It was while we were here at Muroc that our final authority for the granting of preembarkation furloughs came through and three hundred forty men left camp on May 2nd on a special 143rd leave train that had been arranged for by our unit.