As a young man growing up during the mid 1930’s, in Orlando, Florida, I knew it was just a matter of time before I received the dreadful notification of ‘Boot Camp” for World War II. Yes, not to fight in any old war, but rather to fight in a global war. And, to make matters worse, I thought to myself, my name, Jeremy Tall, could possibly end up on the causality list! I was scared out of my mind but I knew that I was not alone.
There would be thousands of men and women called to serve as soldiers and they too, were potential candidates on the causality list. If only I could fast forward in time, I would have never imagined that over 75 million people would be on that list. Human beings died from starvation, bombings, diseases, and genocide. I’m fortunate that I’m alive to tell my story.
As I reminisce in the past, I remember the stories my dad would tell me pertaining to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935), the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the Japanese invasion of China and the Soviet Union (1937 & 1938,) and all the other global conflicts occurring simultaneously around the world. It was so vivid to me that the entire world was fighting and millions of people were just dying. I remembered wishing and praying for peace and the strength to endure the nearly impossible task of war that waited.
On October 3rd, 1942, I received the dreadful news from the United States Army Corps to report to The Dale Mabry Army Airfield in Tallahassee, Florida within 48 hours. What the heck was I going to do there? Learn to fly airplanes? For the first time, something really weird happened inside of me, more specifically, I felt a weird sensation in my gut. I was no longer nervous. Instead, I was proud and excited to go and serve my Country.
When I arrived at Dale Mabry, I saw a field where several barracks, runways, a hospital, and many other buildings stood. This was my new home in which I hope would allow myself and the other enlisted men and women the opportunity to prepare for WW II.
Training was hard both physically and mentally. Our training was arranged in a group style. We were called the“79thFighters”. Our days were long and intense. Downtime was provided but with a blink of an eye it was over and we returned back to training. During my limited downtime, I wrote songs. Some days the songs contained happy words and other days the words contained sad words. I guess it depended on my mood at the moment, which fluctuated pretty often. To be honest, a little whiskey eased some pain at times.
Besides the hard training and fluctuations in my mood, not seeing or speaking to my dad was very difficult for me to deal with some days. But as the days passed, I became closer and closer to my fellow mates, which formed into a friendship rather than just a working relationship. We first recognized that we were in this “together” and we needed each other’s support and once we all realized this, it was at that point the transformation occurred into a friendship. We told funny stories about back home, our old girlfriends, and the pranks we did on our friends and loved ones. Then there were days we sat around and said nothing. Those days were still meaningful because we were still alive, and all together.
The bond that we had formed was priceless however, the obstacles we faced were overbearing.
Climax: Discuss a significant battle I fought in
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