Quick Recipes and Easy

My Week as an Army Cook

Before the Korean War I was a member of the Utah National Guard. During the summer we always spent two weeks at gorgeous Camp Williams just south of the Utah State Prison.

I was in an artillery observation battalion.

I was in the “Sound Ranging” Platoon.

We could locate the position an artillery shell was fired from by recording the sound as it hit individually six microphones laid out on a surveyed two-mile baseline. A machine called the GR-8 recorded the time the sound arrived at each microphone as soon as the forward observer push an activation button that said he had heard a sound and it was on its way to the microphones.

A plotting table allowed us to record the time differential between microphones. Corrections were added to the speed of sound of 369.2 yards per second according to temperature and humidity. The “enemy” gun was then located and fire could be directed to the “enemy” position. We never fired on enemy positions at Camp Williams because the “enemy” was our own artillery.

Sound Ranging was used in World War II. There were only two Observation Battalions in the United States. One was in Europe supporting NATO and the other was the First Observation Battalion at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This unit trained us at Camp Williams. Later we were called up during the Korean War and replaced the First Observation Battalion at Fort Sill, training new recruits in the art of sound ranging, flash ranging, weather, survey, and RADAR. The First Ob was sent to Korea. (I was to join them there, but at Camp Drake in Japan, they didn’t know what a “Sound Chief” or a “Survey Chief” was and I finished up in the Infantry.)

Be that as it may, I chose that cooks got lots of time off (that is why they are always in the stockade) and I wanted to try it. I had made sergeant because of my ability to somewhat know sound ranging but I chose to try cooking. I went to Camp Williams a week early and spent my time in the kitchen with the fine regular army cooks of the First Observation Battalion.

Things went well during the week. We learned a lot and didn’t have to reckon too much about it. But as the week went on I longed to get back into sound ranging. Finally on Friday, we got the shocking news that the regular army cooks were going into town and that we would be cooking lunch on Saturday.

Saturday morning we learned that we would not be using the cooking facilities in the kitchen. We would be using camp stoves. These bruits are known for their orneryness. It took us forever to get them lit and burning. The menu was macaroni and cheese and fried liver, a culinary delight.

Things didn’t go well and a line of regulars were standing outside the mess hall waiting to be fed. We finally got the macaroni cooked. We immediately dropped it onto the kitchen floor when we tried to drain it. The would-be cooks moaned about what to do. I was only a teenager but I could make decisions. I said, “Get it back into the pot. We don’t have anything else to feed those guys.”

The regular army troops that had chose to stay at gorgeous Camp Williams patiently ate there floor-drained macaroni and cheese and ate their liver. Well, at least some ate the liver. We were standing there wondering how they could eat such crap without complaining when in came the base general. Here’s how our conservation went:

General: Sergeant, Can you feed me?

Me: You don’t want to eat this crap, General. The cooks are in town.

General: Well, the men are eating it. I would appreciate being fed.

I brought the general his tasty meal and watched him eat it.

General: That was very excellent, Sergeant.

Me: You are very kind, General. Do you know what I’m going to do tomorrow morning as soon as my unit moves in here for their two week camping experience?

General: What, Sergeant?

Me: I’m going back to Sound Ranging!

I wasn’t the only would-be cook that went back.

The End

John T. Jones, Ph.D. (tjbooks@hotmail.com, a retired VP of R&D for Lenox China, is author of detective & western novels, nonfiction (business, scientific, engineering, humor), poetry, etc. Former editor of Ceramic Industry Magazine. He is Executive Representative of IWS sellers of Tyler Hicks wealth-success books and kits. He also sells TopFlight flagpoles. He calls himself “Taylor Jones, the hack writer.”

More info: tjbooks.com tjbooks.com

Business web site: aaaflagpoles.com aaaflagpoles.com

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