This is the first installment of the remembrances of Irv Messinger. Irv is the Dad of my College Roommate, Don Messinger who has been a good friend for over 30 years. The Messinger's have a great talent for "embellishing" a tale and I look forward to posting as much as I can worm out of him.
Irv Messinger at Sampson Naval Base
The year was 1945, June to be exact. The war was still on and I had enlisted in the USNR. I was on my way to Sampson Naval Training Center , the very night of my graduation. I was a young lad of 17, from Amityville, L.I. and had never been further than Jersey.
When we arrived at Sampson we were issued clothes that didn't fit. I lost 38 pounds and held my pants up with a piece of rope at the end of my boot training. Immediately after cloths issue we had to stencil everything even handkerchiefs with our name and serial number. Many a boot tried to hide his dirty wash in the ravines that separated the units only to be discovered and punished with extra duty for the offence.
There were some men who were slobs and didn't make their bunks up navy style and caused us to fail inspection, which resulted in all of our few privileges being taken away. Our answer to them was cold shower and being scrubbed down with a corn broom and yellow soap, and all their clothes and mattress went in the shower too, what a marvelous effect it had on these men, they shaped up fast. The barracks were two story wooden structures, there were two company to a barracks. My company number was 232 , the same as my apt, number at home , 232 Broadway, Amityville.
Guard duty was a must for everyone. they had so many boots they assigned them to guard garbage cans, clothes lines, the inside and out side of the doors, even the drinking fountain . we were warned it was war time and falling asleep on duty was a court marshal offence. we were warned to challenge all who approached our barracks. We noticed that several of the front door guards had disappeared and were two to three weeks behind us now. we asked them what happened and they said they challenged an officer three times and he just kept coming, the guard saluted him and was arrested for not stopping a possible saboteur, what did he know he was just a young kid. I swore that would not happen to me.
The next time I got front door guard duty, I was given a broom handle as a night stick and told to let no one pass who didn't identify themselves. About PM I saw an officer turn into our barracks path as he walked toward the stairs I felt my guts go into a knot and I prayed he would identify himself if challenged. I challenged him three times and as he started up the stairs I took off and hit him a good shot with the broom stick, the other guards came a running and gave him a belt.
We called the company commander, who called the officer of the deck, who sent him to the hospital. A few days later I was told to get into my dress blues and report to the commander of the base. He told me this was a court marshal offence, and what did I have to say. When I told him of the missing men he told me to forget the whole incident and there would be no record of it also he said I did the right thing. That was the beginning of my naval career.
On my boot leave I came down with walking pneumonia and spent a month at the St. Albanes Naval hospital. There were so many boys from Sampson there that congress shut it down as a health hazard, I like to think I had a hand in shutting it down.
Next installment , sea duty...