My orders had been modified from assignment in Camp Pendleton to reporting in to San Francisco for orientation and then to Salt Lake City, Utah for Recruiting Duty.
Upon arriving in San Francisco, I reported into the Western Recruiting Division Headquarters which was in the Crocker Bank Building in the heart of the financial district. I was to be there for a few days for orientation before going to Salt Lake City. Col. William Harrison was the CO and Lt Col Hal Thorpe was the XO. They contacted Hq. Marine Corps and got my orders changed to remain in San Francisco as the Administrative Officer.
Betty flew out and we rented a room in a private home owned by Ginny and David Cook on Pierce St., in Pacific Heights. We lived there for several weeks until we found an apartment in Park Merced which was near the Harding Golf Course.
Betty’s dad had arranged the purchase of a (1946) Nash sedan for Bill Schick, Betty’s brother-in-law, upon his return from the Army. Bill didn’t want the car so Betty and I flew back to Cincinnati and bought it. We drove it back to San Francisco.
After our office holiday party Betty and I took a bus to Medford, OR, to visit my folks. It had been such a good party that we slept all the way to Mt. Shasta bus stop.
While there my folks drove us down to Patrick’s Creek to see the redwood forest in that area. Years later we always enjoyed taking that route.
Obtained membership in the Presidio Golf Course but also played the Harding Golf course on occasion.
Our son Robert Buell Thompson was born at the St Francis Hospital in San Francisco. When I went to see our new son he was nursing and the nun wouldn’t let me in the room until he was finished. I was left sitting in the hall outside of the room. A rather untidy looking news boy came down the hall and walked right into the room. As he came out of the room I stopped a nun coming down the hall and pointed out to her that I had been denied entry but there was no restriction for the newsboy. It turned out she was the Mother Superior and said they were concerned about germs and I had to obey their rules. She made no mention about the news boy’s unrestricted access to the rooms.
[click to enlarge]
Transferred to Quantico, VA, for Junior Officer’s Infantry School. I drove our Nash east with Frank Gunner, another recruiter stationed in SF, who was also going to the same school. Betty had to wait and fly back later because the doctor said it was too early for her and Robby to travel.
Frank and I visited Betty’s parents at Ryland Lakes Country Club near Cincinnati, Ohio, on our way to Quantico. Played a couple of rounds of golf at the Ryland course.
Hal Thorpe helped Betty to the airport and she and Rob flew to Washington, D.C. where I met them. We drove to Fredericksburg, VA where I had rented a make-shift apartment in an old southern home.
I commuted to Quantico with a group of Marines; one of them was Bill Bonner who had been my CO for a while on the USS Nashville.
One Sunday that winter we decided to go on a picnic. It was snowing lightly but we bundled Rob up in his crib and had our picnic in the Hidden Road Park (The Southern Army’s Civil War fortifications near Fredericksburg).
When Betty’s parents came to visit us we toured many of the civil War parks in the area.
We met many of our later close friends at this time. Sunny & Remmel Dudley. Fay & Gene Hudgins, Kathryn and Bob Wycoff, Bobby & Herb Zastrow (Herb and I had travelled together to Prep School in 1938 - he graduated from the Naval Academy).
Before school was finished Betty and Rob flew back to Cincinnati and I moved into the BOQ in Quantico to finish school. Betty came back for graduation leaving Robby with her parents.
Received orders transferring to 2d Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, N.C. We drove to Camp Lejeune, my new assignment, to get my name on the Quarters list.
The morning we left Jacksonville, N.C., for Cincinnati there had been a severe ice and snow storm which had knocked down trees and power lines. The car was covered with over an inch of ice. I managed to get the ice off the windshield by warm water from our motel. We drove to Fayetteville, N.C. and tried to check into a hotel but all were over-flowing with stranded travelers. I said “heck, Montana had worse conditions than this” so we drove on with no chains. The highway appeared nice and wide covered with snow. We saw no traffic. Must admit the car seemed pretty heavy. The next morning after an overnight stop there must have been about a ton of ice on the ground that had formed on the under-carriage. We got to Cincinnati with no difficulty.
When we returned I took the same road as it had appeared as a first class road. In many areas with the snow gone it was nothing but a graveled road. Betty recalls that trip with her Montana hubby.
Upon returning to Camp Lejeune we were assigned Quarters in a new section. Our unit, a three bedroom single story bungalow had only been occupied for a few months. All of the furniture was new.
I was assigned as Adjutant of the Headquarters and Service Battalion, 2d Combat Service Regiment, 2d Marine Division. My CO was Bill Flake. Col. Tony Huff was the Regimental CO., and Lt. Col. William Barnes was the XO. Dick Scutt and Harvey Miller were friends on the Regimental Staff.
My class mates from Junior School Gene Hudgins and Remmel Dudley were assigned to the Division Headquarters Staff. Gene and Fay became our very close friends.
We were close neighbors of Kathryn and Bob Wycoff Ginny and Earl Stirewalt.
I was assigned to burial escort duty in New York City for WW11 Marine Officer casualties. This was a most difficult assignment with reactions of the relatives of the deceased varying from stoic impassiveness to outright belligerence and threats in a few cases.
Betty had just received her driver’s license but had never driven alone. I had to catch the airplane at Peterfield Point at like 6 AM in the morning. When we got there ahead of departure time the plane had just taken off. The Major in charge of the detail and I got the control tower to recall the plane. We were instructed to drive to the far end of the field to catch the plane. I boarded the plane leaving Betty on the airstrip to get off the airfield and home as best she could in her first solo trip. Not that he could help but she did have Rob with her.
The reason the plane had taken off early was that 1st Lt Challicome, a member of the detail, told the pilot I’m aboard you can take off now. Needless to say, the pilot and our Major had a few words with Challicome. He did carry a big ego in that his dad was a Marine General.
Departed for Boston to join the USS Edisto for the Arctic Operation.
Returned to Camp Lejeune.
Assigned as CO of the 2d Ammo Company, the last Black company in the Marine Corps on the east coast before integration.2
I received personal orders from General Franklin Hart, the Division Commander, to improve discipline in the organization and improve the marksmanship training. He gave me carte blanche authority and direct access to him on any problems.
My Lt and I were the only white members of the Company which had just been redesignated from a Battalion, consequently it had over 300 black Marines. The 1st Sergeant was First Sergeant Presley. He and the Staff NCOs were outstanding Marines.
The first morning I held inspection I found practically every man with a beard, mustache, Fu Manchu growth or something including non-regulation haircuts. I had just returned from my arctic trip and was sporting a mustache. After my inspection in front of the whole company I said I would shave off my mustache and ordered every mustache, beard, etc., including the 1st Sgts to be gone by the next morning’s inspection. A few who tested the system found forced cuts by the Platoon Sergeants, a big and burly group.
The Battalion CO was ░░░░░, a southerner. The previous temporary CO was a Warrant Officer who also was a southerner. It was evident from the beginning that they were prejudiced and showed no inclination to treat the men fairly as Marines. There were about 12 men AWOL. When the first one returned to duty and appeared for office hours (discipline hearing) before ░░░░░ the WO, who was now the adjutant and had no voice in the hearing, used profanity and degrading language directed at the Marine. I broke in and told ░░░░░ if the WO didn’t apologize personally to the Marine and 1st Sgt Presley, who was at the hearing, for his language and behavior, I would bring charges against ░░░░░ and the WO. I got the apology grudgingly and no doubt gained the respect from 1st Sgt Presley. ░░░░░ and I became good friends and he left me alone to run the company as I saw fit.
I made arrangements to have the entire company receive pistol and rifle qualification training as a group instead of a few at a time. I found the same thing with most of the rifle range coaches - that they were prejudiced, impatient and unwilling to teach the men in the skills of marksmanship. Again, I had to tell the range officer that the behavior of his coaches was unacceptable and I wanted my Marines to be treated with the same dignity as any Marine. It got results and the overall qualifications were significantly improved.
My mother passed away.
Our daughter Susan Elizabeth Thompson was born at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital.
A neighbor took Betty to the hospital because I was at work. I rushed to the hospital and was there for Susie’s arrival.
Received transfer orders to be CO, Marine Barracks, Naval Operating Base, Kwajalein, Marshallese Island, effective 1 June. My family was to travel to Kwajalein with me.
2) 2d Ammo Company was made up of Montford Point Marines, from Montford Point Camp. Montford Point Camp is now Camp Gilbert H. Johnson – renamed April 19, 1974.