Sioux County

Pvt. John Harold Mulder




Camp Claiborne, Louisiana
June 15, 1941

Dear Ed,
About 2 months ago when I left home, I had many requests for letters.  Being impossible to write everyone, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by writing a letter in the Sioux Center News.  If you’ll permit, I’ll make an attempt to do so.

Most of you have read the previous letters in the paper of the other fellows at camp, so their isn’t much I can add to that.  I’m not a privileged character, so I get up as well as the other fellows at 5:00 A. M., which after you’re used to it, isn’t so bad.

Recollecting a few of the many things having been taught us, I feel it an experience well spent.  We all get discouraged at times, but anybody without patience wouldn’t last long.  There’s two ways in the army, “The right way” and “The Army way.” We do it the army way.

I find being in the Medical Regiment, a very interesting part of the army.  This regiment is divided into three battalions, collecting, hospital, and ambulance.  There are three company’s to each battalion, and the company I’m in is in the ambulance battalion.  Our job is to transport casualties from collecting station to the field hospital.  Possibly it would be a distance of 10 or 12 miles.  The collecting company gathers the casualties from the front line to a first aid station, the ambulance company transports them to the clearing station (field hospital) where more care is given, sometimes stay there from 10 minutes to 1 hour.  From there they are transported to a large stationed hospital.

The basic training I had consisted first of continual drill and long marches.  I’ve been fortunate enough not to go on any march with a “full pack.”  We also had a number of lectures on first aid, anatomy, physiology, material medica (pharmacy), bandaging and splinting, and chemical warfare.

Our present training is mostly driving tests, that is, going through forest and swamp areas, up and down steep hills and if a tree of about 4 inches diameter gets in the way, the only practical thing to do is run over it.  Those ambulances are “four wheel drive” and pretty hard to stop them from anything.

Last Thursday we went on an all night maneuver, practice driving at night without lights on.  This coming week we are scheduled to have a 4 day and 3 night maneuver.  These maneuvers are all a preparation for the big six week maneuver in Aug and Sept.  This will be an example of actual war conditions consisting of over a half million men.

The much talked recreation we have in camp is very hard to find.  When a group of fellows gather in one tent, trying to find something interesting to do, other than talk about the army, we call that a pretty good time.  Many of the fellows go to town, but when about 90 percent of the population are soldiers, there isn’t much gain in that.  Generally by 9 o’clock most of us are ready to sleep.

The climate here is considerable different from good old Iowa.  The last I heard from home, you have some cool weather and lots of rain.  We’ve had the rain, but far-be-it from cool.  Its rained here for 9 consecutive days, but when the sun comes out, it beats down and burns like sun through a lens.  The nights are cool, but very damp.  We can usually have a blanket over, but when you get to putting your clothes on in the morning, they are very damp.

I spend quite a bit of time at 133rd Infantry where most of the Sioux Center boys are.  When we get together there is quite a number of us, which doesn’t make me feel as far from home as I actually am.  There are seven of us from Sioux Center here.

I hope you find this worth your time and reading, and it is always appreciated to hear from friends.

Pvt. John Harold Mulder
Co. F., 136th Med. Regt.
A.P.O. No. 34

Source:  The Sioux Center News, June 26, 1941