David B. Kirby, L CO 355TH

My home, when I went into the service, was in Ross, California, a suburb of San Francisco. In 1942, after graduating from high school, I enlisted in the ERC (Enlisted Reserve Corps). I can't recall whether this qualified me for entry into the ASTP, but in any event, I was able to complete one year of college before being called to active service in the Army. I entered the service on July 2, 1943, and was sent to North Camp Hood in Texas for basic training of 13 weeks. At that time, all of the guys in my unit had been selected for ASTP and after basic we were sent out to various colleges and universities. I was in a relatively small group sent to Los Angeles City College. The college is located on Vermont Avenue, just south of Santa Monica Boulevard. The curriculum we studied was designed to make engineers of us and included a lot of math and science. We lived across the street from the college in some buildings that had been part of an abandoned school called Chapman College. These served as our "barracks." I assume these buildings no longer exist, though I believe Los Angeles City College is still going strong.

My life in ASTP was quite pleasant. The L.A. weather was good, I did well in my studies and was able to get sufficient time off to attend quite a few movies and visit Hollywood attractions. As a jazz fan, I vividly remember seeing the Les Brown band at the wonderful Palladium ballroom in Hollywood and other jazz performers at various spots on Sunset Boulevard and elsewhere. Some buddies and I also attended various sports events at nearby U.S.C. and U.C.L.A. Our ASTP program took us through the fall and winter of 1943 and I guess we assumed it would continue indefinitely. Imagine our surprise, then, to be told in early spring that Congress had pulled the plug on the ASTP and all of us were to be transferred to the Infantry. It was a real shocker! Within a day or two many of us were on a train to Camp Roberts and, after being supplied with Infantry gear, we were off to Hunter Liggett to join the 89th on maneuvers. It's hard to imagine a greater contrast between the muddy mountains of Hunter Liggett and the posh cocktail lounges of Hollywood!

I was assigned to Company L of the 355th and remained in that unit through VE Day. There were quite a few ASTP "alumni" in my company. These included John Lipscomb, who had been at Oregon State, and, to this day, is a close friend and correspondent. I formed other friendships as well, with former ASTP guys and we were the subjects, of course, of jokes and ridicule from the 89th "old timers." "All right, you smart ass college kids, drop your slide rules, pick up your friggin' rifles and start climbing that Goddam hill!" And so it went, on and on. In retrospect, however, it was all pretty funny. I'm inclined to think, also in retrospect, that the combination of Camp Carson veterans with the brash ASTP youngsters gave the 89th a certain vitality and even a strengthening of sorts. Certainly it deepened the experiences and expanded the viewpoints of all of us.