38th A.D.G. REPAIR SQUADRON 1942-1945  

 

This squadron deployed from Robbins Air Force Base in 1942 to Africa and then on to Italy.  
More historical data to follow from the biographies of the remaining men.

HISTORY OF REPAIR SQUADRON 38TH AIR DEPOT GROUP

Through the term “war weary” had not yet been “invented”, it was the phrase that could best fit the men of Repair Squadron as they gingerly tamped down the steps of the steamer Evangeline when, on that March morning in 1943, it berthed at one of the few war-untouched harbor unloading installations at Casablanca. Wending their way down the steps of the gangplank, the men were loaded down with their barracks bags, full field pack, helmet and the like. They didn’t know what to expect, preparing for and anticipating the worst. With this inner feeling, they half carried, half-dragged their bags and “worldly possessions” onto the soil of this country in which they were the foreigners, the intruders, in a manner of speaking.
With an air of expectant anticipation though counterbalanced by that cautious and suspicious uncertainty, a bit after they stepped on this non-swaying, non-rocking, immobile substance known as the good earth, they paused in their wide-eyed gapings at their surroundings to take stock of themselves.
This was no “dry run”. True it was then that they were away from home. Though that home might have been somewhere along the great plains of Texas or in the expanse of the equally good, clean land of our other Southern States or in the busy metropolises of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn or wherever located, it seemed now that these homes, vastly separated though they might be, were now as one and that one, consolidated in just one beautiful word – America.
Before any further opportunity was given for added musings which would have availed naught but de-seated broodings, the Squadron was ordered in formation. Leaving out barracks bags on the docks guarded over by the detail of men, we started our march through the streets of Casablanca, not knowing where we were headed but anxious to go someplace where we might set up somewhere, somehow.
It was as if the war was practically over to hear cheers rise from the French people who gathered in doorways, on balconies to welcome “our American friends who will help wrest from the greedy hands of our mutual enemy the colonies which our merciless adversary requisitioned for their needs but which with America’s might shall be returned to us, the rightful owners”.
The war, we knew, was far from ended but already a great Victory had been won by the Americans…..that of full cooperation from these French people of North Africa and sincere devotion and gratefulness for having freed them from the rapacious, tyrant enemy.
As we later learned, we were bound for a bivouac area near an airport just outside of the city. Trudging in that warm North African afternoon sun, we realized much beforehand how great the distance was to the bivouac area. And so it is easy to imagine with what joy and graciousness we welcomed the trucks that we dispatched to pick us up but which could not make it until after we had wearily covered half the distance on foot.
On the grass of the bivouac area we pitched our pup tents and it wasn’t long until company streets appeared to bisect a military installation in miniature.
No sooner had the Squadron bivouacked when the wire fencing encompassing the area became pockmarked with Arabs, both big and little ones, both male and female, both clean and unclean though with the later predominating. Some came just to look and seeing them gaze at us from the outside looking in made us appreciate the privacy enjoyed by the goldfish in a glass bowl.
The other Arabs that came were reminiscent of the Fuller Brush salesman variety. They had eggs, oranges, slippers to sell. Soon started the advertising cry “Airs, Beg Weans” and “Oran Chess, Oran Chess”. When we bedded down for the night we heard that cry and it was the same “Aigs, Beeg Wuans” that awakened us in the morning.
Though up until that time we had not developed a dislike of the “c” rations, still, mixing them with the fresh eggs made them that much more palatable.
To acquaint the men with the work they were to do, a group of the mechanics was assigned to the shops and on the line of the nearby airfield. While only there for several short days, the men acquitted themselves well.
Since this area was only a temporary bivouac site, movement orders were expected momentarily. And they were just a few days in coming. We were alerted one morning and by late afternoon we were piling into the famed 40 and 8 French railroad cars. It was then that began an epic journey to Algeria. The “excursion” was of several days and nights duration. It will be long remembered. The scenic landscape of Morocco and Algeria tempered somewhat the many inconveniences, discomforts and annoyances that were brought about by the long trip on the World War I French version of our Streamliner. The many hours of just riding at the “terrific” speed of between 15 MPH and 20 MPH were whiled away in games of chance, in watching the little Arab kids run after the train to catch some “bon-bons” from the “c” rations of cubes of sugar or crackers that the G.I’s kept throwing at them.
And then, though it was unrehearsed, Sgt. John J. Falvo’s performance at Oujda helped add fuel to the conversation in all the cars just when subject matter was at a low ebb. This French Moroccan town was more than a whistle stop. To us it was a major stop-over for at the station, an American Red Cross canteen had been set up and gen-u-wine American doughnuts were being served. “Way out here in the middle of somewhere, good ole’ American Joes indulging in “sinkers and java”. It sounds fantastic but it was true, nevertheless.
After this sumptuous repast – and, in comparison, it was just that – we boarded the train and continued on the way. But just before the last car left the station proper, Sgt. Falvo who had inadvertently been delayed was running “lickety-split” after the train. But he did not pull a Bumstead for either he didn’t run fast enough or the train didn’t go slow enough.
But there’s a subsequent happy ending to this story for John J. made arrangements some time later and joined us the day after we arrived at our destination.
Our new bivouac area was La Senia, Algeria. Amid one of the famed North African cloudbursts, we began pitching pyramidal tents. The spot that was designated as our area seemed to be the muddiest, seemed to possess the softest and appeared to boast of the slimiest mud in the entire continent. Though we are not an amphibious unit, watching the men wade through that gooey substance trying to right the tents, an observer would be tempted to believe that we certainly must have had some water training. Be that as it may, setting up of the tents was completed after which the assignment of 6 men to each tent took place.
The dousing which each man received that day in the rain was only the beginning. The rain clouds hovered over us for several more weeks drenching the countryside so that even the absorption point was reached, then surpassed.
Just when the men began thinking that there would be no end to the rain, the storm clouds gradually moved away. And we saw the sun again! It was a welcome sight with it’s warm invigorating, healthful rays.
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