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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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any case, I wasn't faced with that problem because I was a very early draftee, and so I went in without any sorrow about that at all, in May of '41, which was quite early in the draft.

First thing I tried to do was avoid any kind of public relations job in the army. I didn't want that at all. And my idea was that I'd hoped to be somewhere I guess if not exactly emulating my cousin Julius in World War One -- Nevertheless, I did want a very active combat position if we ever actually got into the war, which I thought we would. In any case, I tried to avoid PR at all costs.

And I was so horrified by the training process for the draftees like me that summer of '41 that -- it was so desultory and so much wasted time in the training -- I was assigned to Fort Meade as it was then called, near Washington -- that I actually sat down and wrote a long letter to my cousin Julius who by this time was a colonel or maybe even a brigadier general in the reserves. I'm not sure if he'd already gone into the active army. He sure did soon after that if he hadn't already. But he was a good friend of the then Secretary -- or Assistant Secretary? -- of the Army, Dick Patterson. And I wrote to Julius complaining bitterly about the lack of training that was going on, how people like me were marched out to a field and sat down under a tree and spent the next two hours sleeping and the sergeant would then bring us back. I was just shocked by the utter -- what seemed to me utter lack of any real spirit of urgency or training in the army. It's hard to describe that --


Yeah, you don't hear about it much.

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