Monday, March 1, 2010

On Bivouac; Going Up The Country

March 1, 1952
Fort Knox, KY

Dear Mom and Dad and All,

Here it is March 1st and I am 15 miles south of Knox on Bivouac. [1]  We left about 6:00 Monday morning and our first camp was 8 miles out. It sure was cold that first night and I thought I would freeze. I know water froze ice in our canteens that night. [2]  Two of us sleep in a tent. We have sleeping bags, 3 blankets and a poncho. We put leaves on the ground and then a poncho to keep dry from the damp ground.
Today is Sat. and we all went in for 2 hrs, for a shower. We also got candy bars and flashlight batteries, or any thing we needed. We got most of our field clothes with us so we can change when some get dirty. It gets real warm around noon so that’s when I shave and brush my teeth.
We can only have fires on weekends. I had 3 cans of heat I burnt the first 3 nights. [3] It rained yesterday afternoon, but we was off for the weekend so I wasn’t out in it. Stayed in the tent. We got 5 days left so I guess I will make it. After the first night most of us were used to the cold.
Billie won’t get home for 18 weeks, maybe 20. I haven’t seen Lowell for quite a while. He must be done training by now.
I still weigh about the same. 175 lbs. The pictures were good. Has dad said any more about coming down April 1st. I might call home before I come.
We traded our old horse blanket overcoats in today for a $60.00 dress overcoat. Are they ever sharp. I will have it next time home. I won’t get to go to church this Sunday. It is getting late in the afternoon so will sign off for now.


P.S. Starting today we get a 9 dollar raise. For being in the Army 4 mo.
[1] Bivouac sounds so French. I don't recall ever hearing my father utter the word. Actually, the word bivouac comes from a gallification of a Swiss German term beiwacht, and refers to night watch at an army encampment.
[2] The expression "water froze ice" is utter vernacular, frozen in time.
[2]  Heat is Sterno.  The iconic '60's band Canned Heat took their name from this product.

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