World War II, Oscar C. Lawson
The “Uncle Sam” service call came in August and I was off to do my duty in World War II like many other Americans.
Whenever special units are activated, the personnel sections of the respective Army command areas screen records looking for specific human resources. I was called in to Baltimore for an interview and offered the Company C educational supervisor position, but there was one hurdle. My grade was one grade higher than the grade authorized for that position, but after I was assured that I would be carried excess in grade until promoted and not lose one grade, I agreed to the assignment.
I became an educational supervisor of Company C. The 1390 Special Training Unit (STU), as well as other black and white STU’s were organized to bring new trainees, who could not function at a fourth-grade level, up to a fourth-grade level within 12 weeks. Many could not write their names. They signed their name with an “X.” Every payday, Capt. Gordon H. Hines was required to write, “I certify that this is the man’s “X” (about 100 times each pay day.)
At the end of the 12 weeks of instructions, if the trainee failed the fourth-grade level exam, the instructor could recommend that the trainee be given four weeks of additional school and be retested. Also if the instructor thought the trainee would not benefit from an additional four weeks, separation was recommended.
All Company C team members were so happy to see most of the trainees after their 12 weeks of instructions write their name, write a letter home and read a letter from home.
The trainees, upon successful completion, were shipped out to various Army units for duty as truck drivers and stevedores.
The U.S. Army played a big part in reducing the illiterate and semi-illiterate population in the United States with the many outstanding STU programs, while helping to furnish truck drivers and stevedores that played a “big” part in winning World War II.
Later I was promoted to first sergeant of Company C, 1390 STU. In January 1944, my orders for duty in the Pacific were received. My assignment was first sergeant with the 577th Ordnance Ammunition Company in the Philippines. My unit was combat loaded aboard a ship in Manila Bay ready for the invasion of Japan, when the “A” Bomb was dropped. (Saving many American lives.)
I was sent back to the United States in January 1946 and separated at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis after signing up for the reserves.
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