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Silence of a Soldier
William J. Duggan
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Bub was learning his father’s business inside and out. His friendship with Treg had grown into a loving
relationship. There was, however, a cloud on the horizon. Germany invaded Poland. England declared war. The
US instituted the draft in preparation for America’s inevitable involvement. The storm clouds would darken.
Bub and Treg knew instinctively that their lives would change. Bub had a great survival kit. What he had
learned from his father, his love for his mother, and his love for Treg would form the cornerstone of his struggle
(Return to Contents)
Bub received his draft notice in March, 1941. He and his Dad were involved in a major project to remove a
sunken hulk from East Tawas Bay in Lake Huron. The hulk was a hazard to shipping. Bub requested and
received a three month deferment. In June of 1941, he reported to the Ft. Wayne induction center in Detroit,
Michigan. he said his good-byes to his Mom, Dad, and Treg in Algonac. The trip to Detroit was fifty miles.
Little did he know as he held Treg tightly in his arms that he would see her only twice more before the bamboo
curtain would cut him off from all means of communication with his friends, family, and Treg.
During the physical examination, the doctor was concerned about two things. Bub had his back tightly taped
because of a fall two days earlier. He was removing a battery from the trunk of a car. He fell backwards with the
battery in his lap. His back was very sore from the fall. The doctor was also concerned about the fact that both
of Bub’s eardrums had been ruptured. Two of many adventures on water skis resulted in the busted eardrums.
Bub was careful to point out to the doctor that the back was healing quickly. As to the eardrums, they had been
treated medically and presented no loss of hearing. Bub pleaded with the doctor that these minor conditions
should not keep him out of the army. He could not live with himself if he did not do his duty. The doctor gave
Bub a clean bill of health.
The army into which Bub was drafted was far from the caliber of today’s army. The pre-war army of the late
thirties and early forties was a conglomeration of malcontents, misfits, and social pariahs. The enlisted men
were crude and uneducated, but quite skillful at goldbricking. The non-commissioned officers (NCOs) were not
much better. They would march and drill the men; but cared little about them. The social life of the NCOs was a
continual round of drinking, gambling and fighting. They also took great pride in conning the draftees out of as
much as they could. The officers, from lieutenant through major developed their own ritual of survival. They
did not know how to control the NCOs or the men; so they ignored them. The senior officers were the elite
country club types. Some of them would rise to greatness during the war. One has to wonder why the
Marshalls,MacArthurs, Eisenhowers, Pattons, and others would let the US army deteriorate to such a low level.
In this environment, Bub developed a healthy dislike for the army.
The same evening of Bub’s physical examination, He left for Ft. Grant, outside of Chicago.It was not so
much a boot camp as a center to identify the specific skills of the draftees. From there, the men would be sent to
camps which had a specific mission. It was very early in the morning when the train from Detroit pulled into Ft.
Grant. The sergeant in charge asked for volunteers for KP duty. The understanding was that those who
volunteered would be excused from the morning drills. Bub was not very sleepy. He volunteered. His job was to
crack open several crates of eggs for the morning breakfast. There was a specific procedure. A bucket was
placed on each side of the cracker who sat with another bucket between his legs. Picking up an egg in each
hand, the eggs were cracked on the edge of each bucket. The shells were deposited in the bucket between the
legs. The sergeant in charge supervised several operations. He spotted Bub standing up and stirring one of the
buckets. “Hey soldier, What are you doing there?” Bub explained that one of the eggs had feathers on it. He was
trying to find it.” Hell, soldier, don’t worry about that, this is the army and the men will eat anything.”
Bub went to sleep about four AM. At six AM the sergeant came roaring through the barracks. He awakened
everyone for the morning drill. Bub told the sergeant that he was one of the KP volunteers. He shouldn’t have to
drill. The sergeant yelled, “This is the army, everybody drills!” Bub felt he had been lied to. After the drill, he
walked straight to the Colonel’s office. The desk sergeant said, “What’s up soldier?” Bub replied, “ I want to
see the Colonel!” “No way soldier, he’s busy.” Bub walked over to the Colonel’s door and opened it. The
Colonel was sitting at his desk with his feet propped up. Bub saluted the officer and said “Sir, I volunteered for