Morgan I Doyne: ASTPR

Over the years I have read with interest the histories of those who came to the 89th division more or less directly from ASTP. However, I have no recollection of reading about those who came to the 89th via ASTRP. Could I have been the only one?

When I started high school in September of 1939, WWII was only a few days old. I decided that after high school I was going to attend West Point to become a career officer. I started learning things that even a plebe was obliged to know; e.g., responses to "standard" questions from upper classmates, etc. It wasn't long before I discovered that my vision -20/200 - would not let me qualify for West Point, so my intended career plans came to an abrupt end. Happily, academics, athletics, other extra-curricular activities and girls (or were they "extra-curricular" activities?) overcame my sense of defeat. By the way, one of my fellow students from Soldan High School did make it to West Point: Tom Lombardo, captain of the Army football team which included Blanchard and Davis - "Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside."

Moving ahead to January 1943, I was just 17. I was due to graduate from high school in six months and it was decision time again. Somehow, the draft did not appeal to me; someone else would be making all the choices. I tried enlisting in the Marines, then in the Navy. With my 20/200, I was not considered much of an asset. Then the Army publicized its ASTP concept; for me, it seemed to be the answer. When I attempted to enlist, I discovered that the Army would not take me at 17 years old, but referred me to the Army Specialized Training Reserve Program (ASTRP). This worked out fine I took the AGCT passed and signed up. The ASTRP would notify me when I was to report.

Shortly before high school graduation, I left home (St. Louis, Missouri) and enrolled in the summer session for engineering students at the University of Missouri, in Columbia. I had attended classes for about a month when ASTRP ordered me to report to the new unit at Kansas University at Lawrence, Kansas.

At KU, the ASTP/ASTRP unit was being formed. There were several hundred in ASTP and perhaps 50 of us in ASTRP. Together we took over the newly completed geology building, Lindley Hall. Undoubtedly, to placate the female civilian population, the Army selected Lindley Hall because it was across the street from a sorority. Remember the song, "...what's good is in the Army, what's left will never harm me...they're either too young or too old?" Shortly after the 1st semester ended, I contracted pneumonia, spent some time in the university hospital and was sent home to recover. An interesting coincidence at KU, I became friendly with one of the ASTP's, Eldon L. Lackey. Sometime later I heard from him that he was (as I recall) in the ill-fated 106th Division. I heard nothing until 1988 when I discovered that, prior to his death, he too had been in the 89th.

In January 1944, I was reassigned to the ASTP/ASTRP unit at the University of Missouri where I had started almost a year earlier. There, as at KU, were mostly ASTP's, plus a few of us ASTRP's. All of us were quartered below street level in a structure called the Diesel Dungeon. Forty-four years later, as Engineering Manager for Special (construction) Projects for the four Mizzou campuses, I "visited" the Diesel Dungeon. It looked much better as offices than it did as a barracks!

In the spring of 1944, the Army discontinued ASTP and ASTRP (anticipating D-Day?), the former going to other units, and the latter reporting for basic training. In my case it was IRTC (Infantry Replacement Training Center) at Camp Hood (now Fort Hood), Texas. Suffice it to say that my "Killer" education was a unique experience for a naive city boy. After graduating from "Killer Kollage" at Camp Hood, I was sent to the 89th Division at Camp Butner, North Carolina. Joining me in the transfer from Camp Hood to Camp Butner was my close friend, John Kemper. (In December, 1945, John and I went home to Jefferson Barracks together.) Arriving at the 89th Division as two gung-ho infantry riflemen, we were in for a surprise. The Sergeant who "welcomed" us said that the Germans had been killing combat medics at an increasing rate and that John and I were to be medics in the 2nd Battalion of the 354th Regiment. At infantry basic we had never heard of "combat medics." We were instructed to patch up ourselves and to swallow the sulfa pills from the Carlisle Dressing packs on our belts when we were wounded. My first reaction to this change (certainly the most stupid remark I ever made) was "I didn't enlist in the Army to carry bed pans!!" When the Sergeant finally stopped laughing he said, "Don't worry, you won't carry bedpans." He was incredibly accurate. And now, here we are, living only 50 miles from Fort Hood. It was a Texan, "Mr. Sam", who said, "What goes around, comes around."