Camp Polk

Entrance to Camp Polk

It took 22 trains and one week to transport the proud and cocky division to Camp Polk in the west-central area of Louisiana.  This was the home of the armored forces and it would not take long for the two units to clash.  But first, the 11th A/B planned to enjoy the improved living conditions and the 3.2 beer.  They found time to “hit the town” and often it was a place called “Scotty’s,” just outside of Southern Pines.

Camp Polk 1944

The tank units, who called Camp Polk their home, did not take kindly to the new finely tuned troopers who were in the best shape of their lives (and they knew it!).  The 11th A/B  would often “unboot” the tankers when they were in town, forcing them to return to base barefoot and find their footwear neatly lined up in their barracks.

building a pontoon boat in Calcasieu Swamp

Beginning Jan. 10, the men underwent harsh training in preparation for the tests at the hands of the Third Army.  The Louisiana Maneuvers began Feb. 5 with the troopers bivouacked near Hawthorne, LA.  There were 4 tactical maneuvers lasting 3 days each.  First, they jumped and marched immediately after.  Then they attacked and defended using an attack sequence of “flags & umpires.”  Finally, the “enemy” broke through and they would retreat.  The weather in the Calcasieu Swamp was snow, hail, sleet and enough rain to swallow a jeep.  The men joked that the camp should be a naval base.  On Feb. 20, the 11th airborne division took and passed their infantry tests.

Everett Smith w/ unknown buddy, Camp Polk

About this time, Gen. Swing was pleased to be told that the troopers were being sent to the Pacific Theater and MacArthur would consider the unit his “secret weapon.”  This turned out to be one reason for the lack of newspaper coverage for the division until they landed in the Philippines.  I discovered this after an extensive search in the Australian library and newspaper archives.

Camp Polk

The 11th was restricted to base for one month.  Swing decided the men should travel to their POE (Port of Exit/Entry) Camp Stoneman, CA incognito as Shipment # 1855 in an effort to bypass the Inspector General’s men.  Orders were to look and act as a “straight-leg” unit; ALL paratrooper I.D. and clothing to be stowed away.

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News from home:  The Banner (Broad Channel newspaper sent to servicemen) reports:  NY Governor Dewey signed a bill that would allow fishermen of Jamaica Bay to shoot an unlimited amount of eels, but the shooting had to be done with bow and arrow.  Smitty’s mom says:  everyone is still trying to figure that one out.

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Fellow blogger, Carl D’Agostino at “i know i made you smile”, sent me his father’s pictures and information.  Arthur D’Agostino had been with the 8th Armored Division.  They were stationed at Camp Campbell, KY until 1943 when they were moved to Camp Polk, LA to prepare for combat.  The division was sent to the European Theater on 5 December 1943, but Mr. D’Agostino was in recovery from surgery and was spared the journey.  Carl’s blog can be found HERE.

Arthur D’Agostino

Unfortunately, the world lost  Arthur R. D’Agostino, 97. when he passed away March 17, 2021. Served 8th Armored Division March 1943 – September – 1944. T-Sgt. Survived by his son, Carl, two grandchildren and 4 great children. An honest, upright, kind and generous man to all and the best father a son could ever hope for.

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Personal Note – I have recently noticed that I have lost links to blogs I follow.  I can not imagine how it happened and I have recovered a few – BUT I do not know how many others this has happened to.  Please contact me if I have not been on your site the past few weeks!!

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Military Humor from WWII’s Camp Polk – 

Click on to enlarge.

Drill Instructor

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Farewell Salutes – 

Chester Balinski – Highland Heights, OH; US Army, WWII / USMCR

Harold Bates – Rush Center, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Bobbie Ray Daniels (17) – Bedford, VA; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co. F/2/5/1st Cavalry Division, KIA (Waegwan, So. Korea

Hubert Faure (106) – Neuvic, FRA; French Commandoes, WWII, ETO, Chief Warrant Officer, 1st Battalion, Fusiliers

Abigail Jenks – Gansevoort, NY; US Army, Spc., 1/319 Airborne Field Artillery/3rd Brigade Combat Team

Susanne Kostelnik – Dearborn, MI; Civilian, WWII, teacher at Willow Run Air Force School

Walter Mondale – Ceylon, MN; US Army, Korea / US Senator, Vice-President & Ambassador to Japan

Clayton Schenkelberg (103) – Carroll, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Pearl Harbor survivor, (Ret. 30 y.)

Bernie Sippel – Morningside, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Capt., C-46/C-47 pilot, 64/433rd Troop Transport/ 5th Air Force

Wallace Taylor – Louisville, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, MSgt. / Korea, 38th Ordnance Co., Colonel

Ernest N. Vienneau – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., B-17 co-pilot, 340/97 BG/15th Air Force, KIA (Maribor, YUGO

KRI Nanggala 402

In honor of the 53 souls lost when the Nanggala went down below the waves.  May their final voyage be on eternal peaceful seas.

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on April 26, 2021, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 151 Comments.

  1. War is always about people… Thanks for introducing us to so many!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi J.P. This is an interesting post representing a lot of research. I am interviewing John Steiner on my blog, and he wanted to give you a shoutout. With your permission, I’d like to link this post to your name.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you and I hope you and John will continue to read here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • War isn’t my favorite subject in history, but I love the stories around it. I used to have a blogger friend in Indiana who wrote about different ship stories. This was a young man that blogged about history, and I adored him. He hasn’t written in a couple of years but his site is still here. https://southcarolina1670.wordpress.com/about/ I wish I could remember my other friend’s blog. It wasn’t her name and she was a young writer as well. 🙂 Thanks for getting in touch with me, and look for your link on John’s interview tomorrow. 🙂

        Like

        • Admiral Daniel V. Gallery has written a few books about his Naval service during WWII and the man does have a sense of humor. (In case you’re looking for that).
          I’ll check out that Indiana site right away and I hope you’ll stick around for Smitty’s letters. He never wrote about the gory side of war, so I think you’ll like them.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was graduating from high school, I had a long conversation with our neighbor, who was a veteran. His service began at Camp/Fort Polk… and boy, did it make an impression on him!

    I survived a tour in Alabama, but I can’t imagine doing basic training in Louisiana in the summer… I’ll never forget the smile on his face when he said “all of us guys called it Lousy-ana.”

    The smile belied the fact that many of the recollections he had about Polk were fond.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have lost lots of links and likes, a couple of people have said my likes don’t show up for them bizarre.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you, both!

    Like

  1. Pingback: John Steiner Travel Blogger – Challenge Player – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write

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