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Camp Croft, South Carolina
US Army Infantry Replacement Training Center

Whether they were trainees, staff, cadre, or civilians, everyone who was a part of Croft has a story worthy of telling. The stories below are summaries of interviews with Camp Croft participants, excerpts from letter or diaries, and recollections handed down to and related by children and grandchildren. If you also have a story to tell please consider contacting us and allow us to share it with other.

You may also want to check out our "Who's Who at Camp Croft" page for bios on notable figures stationed at Croft.

Rudolph Barnett  Wellford, SC

Frank Burwell  Spartanburg, SC
Donald Chase  Framingham, MA

Philip J Christner  NY
Ronald Croft 
Potomac Falls, VA
John Culler 
Lexington, SC
Andrew J. Daley 
Bellflower, CA
Louis A. DeFrancesco
 Elkmont, NY
William DeLair
Valentine "Val" DePace 
Coranopolis, PA
Roland Despres
Howard Drushel 
Ashland, OH

Richmond S Frederick  Roxboro, NC
Norman Gautreau 
Revere, MA
Joseph Geczi
Noah Gordon 
Brookline, MA
Paul Grubb  
Inman, SC
Shouphie Habeeb 
Vicksburg, MS
Charlie Harrison 

Harold Holt  Marion Center, PA
Joseph P. Hudock 
Irviner, PA
Rev. John B. Isom 

Marion Jereb  PA
Joseph Jones, Jr.

Joseph A. Katalinas
Henry A. Kissinger New York, NY
Don Koos Whiting, NJ
George Kreger Greenville, SC

Frank Kreisel Woodbridge, NJ

Joe Kudlick  Syracuse, NY
Fred LaFone Clermont, NC
Wilfrid "Lefty" Lefebvre Largo, FL
Warren Maguire Fresno, CA
Howard W. "Mutt" McCord Sheffield, AL
William J. Miller Cincinnati, OH
George J. North, Sr. New Orleans, LA
John "Jack" Phelan Utica, NY
Philip Plotkin New York, NY
Albert J. Prendergast Fort Myers, FL

Malcolm Prouty Charleston, SC

Nelson Riddle 
Edward L. Slayman  Hudson, FL
Thomas Street

Stanley Swegle Dixo, IL
Robert Taitt Corona, NY

Presidential Memorial Certificate for Deceased American Veterans

Every American family that has a deceased member who served in the military should apply to the White House for a Memorial Certificate.

Regardless of when a veteran served or cause of death every family is entitled to receive a Memorial Certificate from the President of the United States.

If any deceased member(s) of your family served in the military please travel to this website for information on applying. Future generations of your family will appreciate you making the time to obtain this family heirloom... your only cost is a few moments of your time and the price of a first class stamp.


Warren Maquire
Warren Maguire
Interview, November 2000

Warren Maguire, a 21 year old student from Medford, MA, enlisted in the US Army the same week of the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941. He had written to the National Research Council seeking a Signal Corps assignment because of his interest and experience in commercial and amateur radio. He reported to the induction center at Fort Deven in Massachusetts on March 5, 1942 and was sent to Camp Croft for basic training. "I was in good shape from track so I was able to march forever", boasts Maguire, "We trained on the '03 rifle, machine gun, BAR, but we didn't have M1's yet."  One person he remembers well was Platoon Sergeant KinKursky who constantly demanded "Get that man's name!"  Apparently his unit was doing something right as they received a reward trip to nearby Greenville for their excellent performance at close order drill. After nine weeks of training Warren was asked to remain a few months as part of the infantry communications program cadre. His next assignments were as a communications instructor ar Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and Camp Kohler, California. While at Kohler he met a Sacramento girl and they were married in 1943.  His final assignment, again as an instructor, was in the China-Burma-India theater as a member of the 933rd Signal Company instructing Chinese radio operators. On December 31, 1945 Warren was honorably discharged from the Army having attained the rank of Tech Sergeant. Returning to civilian life he worked for a while at his father's Hudson auto dealership before moving back to California as owner operator of several service stations. He has since retired and resides in Fresno, California where he volunteers his time at the Legion of Valor Museum.

George J. North, Sr.
George J. North, Sr.
Interview, March 2001

George North was an office clerk in New Orleans when he was drafted on August 23, 1941. He was only at Croft one month before he was removed from training with Company C, 40th ITB and became a company clerk assigned to Battalion Headquarters. In July of 1942 he married his wife Emma and brought her to the area where they enjoyed their extended honeymoon. "It was like living a normal life in Spartanburg," North writes, "Enjoyed every day of it." During his over two years at the camp, he remained in an administrative role and eventually became the Sergeant Major of the battalion. Initially the 40th was a Rifle Battalion but, as North recalled,  by the time he left there was one company of regular [rifle company] trainees, one of Officer Candidate School (OCS) trainees, and two "mixed" companies. The mixed groups consisted of men who were being evaluated to determine fitness for military duty. After Croft, North spent about eight months at Camp Blanding helping to reopen the IRTC there and was later send to Fort Meade and overseas. Having been reclassified as a combat soldier, with no more than one month of training two years before, he was assigned to the 88th Division  and went into combat immediately in northern Italy.   He was in combat only a short period of time when he was captured by the Germans.  He remained in a POW camp near Munich, Germany until  he was  liberated by  Gen. Patton's army  near the end of April, 1945. Arriving back in the States in July 1945, he received a Certificate of Disability for Discharge on November 7, 1945 with the rank of Master Sergeant. He retired as an office manager at an insurance company and was still living in his hometown of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina came through Louisiana. George passed away in 2007. 


John Culler
John Culler 
Interview, October 2000

John Culler graduated from Clemson University in June of 1941. In an addition to a diploma, Culler, an ROTC student, also received his commission as an Army Second Lieutenant and was ordered to report to Camp Jackson for duty within two weeks, six months before the Pearl Harbor attack. He was transferred to Camp Croft in July, 1941 as a member of the training staff of the 30th ITB (Company D, 3rd Platoon). As the officer in charge of a heavy weapons platoon he was responsible for training his men on subjects such as sanitation, first aid, close order drill, calisthenics, and marksmanship and care of various weapons including the M1 rifle, bayonet, grenades, pistol, heavy machine gun, 50 cal machine gun, and mortars. His company was equipped with 3 inch mortars soon to be replaced by 81 mm mortars.  "Company D was outstanding above all others for it's construction of an obstacle course", boasts Culler, "It included items used for football players plus a 7 foot high log wall and a 10 foot jump into a creek bed -- with rifle and full field pack!" He found Spartanburg to be a friendly town while visiting friends in nearby colleges and attending services at the Methodist Church. Upon leaving Croft, John was assigned to the 77th Division cadre at Fort Jackson and participated in training and maneuvers in about a dozen states. As a member of the 85th Division in Italy he was wounded, captured, and sent to a POW camp in Germany.  After being released he was put on inactive duty for six months and later resigned, having risen to the rank of Captain. After his military service John was employed by the US Department of Agriculture and retired in SC.  He passed away in 2001. 

Click here for more on John's wartime experiences.


Howard Drushel
Howard Drushel
Information provided by family

Howard Drushel of Ashland, OH was employed as a truck driver for the Detroit-Pittsburg Motor Freight Company when he was drafted into service on May 5, 1944. During his 17 weeks of training at Croft, Drushel was assigned to the 28th ITB (Antitank) and later sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin before heading overseas on November 22, 1944. Assigned to the 76th Infantry Division, Third Army, he was wounded in Luxembourg on February 2, 1945 but returned to duty before the end of the month only to be mortally wounded on March 30th of the same year. Among his survivors was young sister, Norma Jean Drushel (Wertman) who generously provided her brother's story and photo.

Shouphie Habeeb
Interview, March 2001

Shouphie Habeeb of Vicksburg, MS was the son of Lebanese immigrants and worked in the family grocery business prior to his enlistment for one year. He was sent to Croft for basic training and while stationed there he heard about the December 7th bombing of Pearl Harbor as he was sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Franklin in Spartanburg. Obviously his enlistment period was extended and he remained on active duty for the next five years. He was assigned to the 40th ITB and was soon selected to join the administrative staff along with George North and others. Habeed recalled, "The 40th was a remarkable organization, unreal, since we had four regular rifle companies, one OCS [Officer Candidate School] company we called 'tent city', and we accepted illiterate who we were supposed to bring up to a 4th grade education." Officially the companies of "illiterates" were known as special training companies and was the last chance for some selectees before they were discharged as unfit for duty. Habeeb spent about 19 months at Croft before going on to OCS at Fort Benning in 1943, afterwards being assigned to a Heavy Weapons training company at another IRTC, Fort Wolters, TX for just one month. He then attended Military Intelligence school and was sent to Washington, DC for the remainder of the war. Staying in the Army Reserve, Habeeb attained the rank of LTC before his retirement after 28-1/2 years of duty and later retired from a 40 year civilian career in banking, having founded the First National Bank at Vicksburg.  Shouphie passed away in December 2003 in his hometown of Vicksburg.

Joseph Jones, Jr.
Joseph Jones, Jr.
From letters and family recollections

When the war began, Joe Jones was a 19 year-old working for RCA. Because he was an employee of a wartime industry, Joe was entitled to an exemption from the draft. However, he saw all his friends being drafted and didn't feel it would be fair for him to stay home while others had to serve. In May 1944 Joe entered the Army and began a path that would lead him into the thick of battle. After a stop at Camp Upton (NY), his next assignment was with the 26th ITB at Croft in August of 1944. In one of many letters home, Joe recounted sleeping conditions in his tent quarters. "In our tent we have six blankets (3 each), so we put two on the ground under us and three over us. We use one to cover up the front of the tent to keep the wind out. That really makes it nice and warm inside."  Serving in the 10th Infantry Regiment, Joe saw action at the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded during a river crossing on February 8, 1945, hospitalized for two months at Nancy, France, and eventually reassigned to the 816th Signal Service company. One of Joe's children has created an excellent genealogical home page dedicated to the family which includes several of Joe's letters home while at Croft and overseas.  It can be viewed at: .

Thomas Street
Excerpted from "How to Survive Combat as Point Man If You're Lucky…" 

Thomas Street relates his Croft experience in a book called "How to Survive Combat as Point Man If You're Lucky…" available from Merriam Press.  An excerpt from the book, containing his Croft recollections, is available at the web site below.

Joe Hudock
Joseph P. Hudock
Interview, October 2001

Joseph Hudock was an eager 20-year-old when he enlisted in the Army in July 7, 1939 in Buffalo, NY.  Originally from Warren, PA, he joined a group of men from upstate NY at Fort Niagara as members of the famed 1st Division. The group was transferred to the 8th Division and Camp Jackson, SC and eventually were assigned to Camp Croft in early 1941 as part of the first cadre at the new post. "We were there before there were any trainees so they put us to work building duck boards (wooden walkways) because everything was mud," said Hudock. To make matters worse, the men arrived in spring which meant it was cold and wet ... and muddy!  His initial assignment was as a Platoon Sergeant in the 32nd ITB, a rifle company. A new group of trainees came through every three or four months and received instruction in light arms (M1 rifle, grenades, bayonet, and bazooka).  As they completed their training, some of the better selectees were retained as cadre men and staff. Food was one of the more pleasant experiences, "We had one of the best mess sergeant's in the service, Isra Stout from West Virginia. We also had a bunch of good cooks." In their free time, the cadre of the 32nd would cross the highway and head to a local bar located across the parade field which may have been named "Jungle Jim's" and owned by a fellow named Murphy. Dropping in for a few beers or taking an occasional trip into Spartanburg were the main diversions. On leaving Croft, Hudock found himself with the 90th Division during their assault on Normandy during the D-Day invasion.  He returned to Croft in the middle of 1945 again as an instructor, this time a Company First Sergeant in the 34th ITB. While in Spartanburg he married his finance from Warren, PA, on the eighth of August and became the first serviceman discharged from the new Separation Center at Croft on September 18, 1945. As a result of that distinction, Hudock was featured in a local newspaper article and his name has since appeared in the 50th Anniversary Celebration program, the SCPRT report "Comprehensive Park Perspective for Croft State Natural Area", and the 60th Anniversary display at the Spartanburg County Regional Museum of History. After briefly owning and operating an 8 room hotel in PA and a grocery store in NY, Hudock attended school and became an X-Ray technician, eventually retiring from that profession while employed at a small hospital in Westfield, NY.  Joe passed away in May 2003 in Irvine, PA.

Edward L. Slayman
Edward L. Slayman
Interview, September 2001

Edward Slayman was 20 years old and employed in his hometown of Hagerstown, MD at Fairchild Industries assembling aircraft when, like so many other men, he felt compelled to enlist. Working in a wartime priority industry meant he was exempt from the draft but on February 4, 1944 Edward went to the local draft board and had himself voluntarily inducted.  He want to be in the Air Corps but was rejected because his teeth were not good enough! Shortly afterwards he found himself at Croft for basic training but after six or seven weeks he was injured on the obstacle course. The knee injury was not serious but required a three week stay in the station hospital and necessitated that he be "recycled" and sent back for training with the 35th ITB at the beginning of the next 13 week cycle. Slayman demonstrated a previously unknown skill on the rifle range. "I always had good eyes, until now," he joked. After perfect scores at 100 and 200 yards, incorrectly set sites proved his undoing at 500 yards. "I saw the first three rounds go over the target. After fixing the sites, the rest of them were all bull's-eyes." The barracks were two stories with two sergeant's rooms on top, latrines on the bottom, and 48 men to a barracks. Four barracks made up a company and each company had it's own mess hall. Slayman was appointed as a squad leader so, although his squad did their share of table waiting, he was exempt from detail. He recalled an event that taught the whole company a lesson when the drill sergeant found a man smoking at a retreat formation. The offender was made to dig a hole to bury the cigarette butt with the entire company participating in the "burial service." From then on no one dared to smoke in ranks! A proud moment came when Slayman's platoon won a drill competition among the other regiments and were selected to perform at the 1944 Infantry Day celebration at Croft. To escape the routine of camp life, Slayman occasionally joined other soldiers in an overnight stay at a local hotel, with six or seven guys to a room sleeping wherever they could find space. After graduation, Edward Slayman was assigned to 35th Division (Sante Fe Division) and was captured after only a couple of weeks with the unit. Interned at two different POW camps in Germany, he was liberated by Russian soldiers and was sent to Camp Beale, CA for discharge on November 25, 1945. He returned to employment at Fairchild where he retired in 1982 as a Manager of Fiberglass Bonding and lived in Florida until he passed away in March 2003 at the age of 80. 

Click here Read Ed's "Ex-POW Biography"

Rolland Despres Rolland Despres
From family recollections

Rolland  Despres was born in Princeville, Canada on April 13, 1917 French Canadian by birth he moved to the United States in 1924 with his parents and his brothers and sister. The family settled in the Philadelphia area, they bought a house on York Street and lived there for many years. In the early 1940s Rolland found factory work as a Metal-Hardener. He would heat treat metal bars in a special oven for use in manufacturing gears and automotive shafts. He worked for the Electric Truck Company in Philadelphia making $39.00 a week as a laborer. While there he met and married the former Miss Angeline Tucci in November of 1942. Rolland was drafted as were thousands of young men his age in the spring of 1943. He received his notice from his selective service board to report for duty. Rolland was inducted into the army on August 13, 1943, he reported to the army processing center in New Cumberland, Pa. and he stayed there for a few weeks. Once he was processed, he was sent to basic training and then heavy weapons training at Camp Croft near Spartanburg, South Carolina. He learned infantry tactics and how to fire and take care of the Browning 30 and 50 caliber machine guns. The most significant thing that happened to him while he was there is that he was Naturalized and became a US Citizen. He remained there for a few months until he along with many soldiers at Camp Croft received orders to transfer to England as a replacement  By now the Invasion had begun in Europe and replacements were desperately needed. Rolland Arrived in England and then immediately was sent to France. Assigned to the 83rd Infantry Division 4th platoon (Heavy Weapons Platoon) of B Company in the 331st Infantry Regiment as a Machine gunner. He was assigned to a squad of three men. The 83rd had just arrived in Normandy two weeks after the landings and was caught up in the battles in the hedgerows. Rolland fought with great distinction in Normandy earning the Bronze Star and a promotion to Sergeant. During the seesaw battle in Normandy, Rolland was captured along with a medic. "The lines were so confusing" he later said "that you couldn't tell which line was which" He went on "The enemy was in front of you, behind you, they were everywhere." Rolland soon evaded his captors by jumping off a truck heading back towards the German rear area and ran back to his own lines. The 83rd Infantry fought in the hedgerows of Normandy and the cities of Brittany.  They guarded General Patton's exposed right flank in the Loire Valley as he raced across France and later they liberated Luxembourg. The 83rd fought in the Ardennes, facing the very point of the bulge stopping the massive German offensive. This is where Rolland left the 83rd never to return. He had fallen asleep in a ditch after 72 hours of straight fighting around Bouviny. During the night the temperatures dropped below zero. When he awoke the next morning he was frozen from the waist down. He continued to fight until the battle was over. On January 22, 1945 two days after the divisions role in the Battle of the Bulge was over. Rolland checked into the Evac hospital complaining that his feet hurt. They transferred him to England and then back to a convalescent hospital in the States. There he recuperated from his injuries and was discharged from the Service in July 1945. He returned to York Street and his wife Angie and spent the rest of his life in Peace. For more on Rolland visit:

Charlie Harrison
Charlie Harrison
Interview 2001

Charlie Harrison, a 26 year-old route salesman from Lake Wales, FL, was inducted into the Army at Fort McPherson, GA on March 1, 1944 and was sent immediately to Camp Croft to receive basic training as a radio operator. At the beginning of the 13 week training, he and the other trainees were assembled by the barracks for an orientation from a Sergeant who said "90% of men who train here go overseas," a claim Harrison later found to be pretty accurate. Unfortunately, health problems caused him to be re-cycled twice, once after a bout with the flu that required hospitalization and a second time for surgery. He eventually was assigned as a 745 Rifleman where he found the training to be a sometimes unpleasant necessity. He recalls: "It began with an early rise, an NCO walked in the barracks slamming things around and yelling 'Get up,' then after turning on the lights, 'Get outside.' Sometimes he would say 'Get back in. You're too slow' and we were sent back inside to do it over again.  He let us know right away we weren't gonna be babied too much. Following that, we had breakfast, calestetics, classes, and field exercises. Field training included marching as skirmishers, house to house and hand to hand combat, forced marches, manual of arms, and close order drill. It was all business." After completion of training and a brief furlough, Harrison was sent to Fort Meade to be equipped with clothing, then to Miles Standish in Boston for 2 or 3 days.  He boarded the USS Wakefield and disembarked in Liverpool, England.  Upon arrival he was assigned to the 9th Armored Division, 60th Armored Infantry Battalion and the unit headed toward Bastongne. The battle there had just finished so they moved north through France and Belgium where they continued training. Harrison was wounded on April 1, 1945 near the German/Belgium border, sent to a  hospital in England for 2 or 3 weeks before being sent back to the states at Camp Shanks, NJ for 2 or 3 months. He was discharged from Daytona Beach, FL having received a "battlefield commission as a PFC," he joked. Returning to civilian life, Harrison took another sales position, this time with a larger company, and he eventually retired after 16 years as Brevard County, FL employee in 1982. Charlie passed away in October 2004 and is survived by his wife and family in Titusville, FL.

Harold Holt Harold Holt
Information provided by the family October 2007

Harold was born in 1926, in Marion Center, PA, the son of Verner and Eva Jane Holt. He was a 1944 graduate of Marion Center High School, Marion Center, PA. On September 11, 1944 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania he was inducted into the Army. He and the other inductees then traveled by train to New Cumberland, Pennsylvania where processing took place and he was assigned to Camp Croft for Basic Training Writing about his experience at Camp Croft, Harold shares: “Infantry Basic Training normally consisted of 17 weeks. However, we received only 13 weeks of training because men were needed so badly on the front lines. The training got us in physical shape and taught us how to use small arms and how to follow commands and orders. “The physical training included a lot of exercise, push-ups, and walking everywhere we went. We trained on the M-1 rifle, 30-50 caliber machine guns, and small mortar and hand grenades. I felt I could take the M-1 rifle apart and put it back together again in my sleep. We learned how to read maps, follow commands and give orders. I didn’t realize how important this training was until I got in combat. “When we arrived for Basic Training, the Sergeant said we were the worst looking bunch of fellows he had ever seen. When we left he was crying, saluted us, and said we were the best bunch of fellows he ever had to train.” Beginning in January 1945 until he was wounded, Harold served with the BIG RED 1,1st division, 18th Infantry, 3rd Battalion, I Company. While advancing into Germany on April 18, 1945 at about 1:30 p.m., he was seriously wounded by a German burp gun. It April 19th [his 19th birthday] before he got to surgery. Recovery took quite a while but on August 19, 1946, he finally received a medical discharge. Harold had enrolled at Pennsylvania State University and following discharge began classes in September 1946. While still attending school in August 1947 he married Sarah Vida [Hill]. They eventually had six children. Harold graduated from Penn State in 1950 with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics. Following college, Harold worked briefly as a dairy farmer in Marion Center, PA and then in the milling business for several years in Vandergrift and North Apollo, PA and a year in Harrisonburg, VA. His 27 years with the Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension Service were from 1959-1969 as Assistant County Agent in Huntingdon County, PA and from 1969-1986 as County Agent in Snyder County, PA. He was active in the local 4-H and FFA programs. Following retirement, he served with the Northeastern Farm Credit Board. He belonged to American Legion Post52. He was a committed father, proud grandfather to his 31 grandchildren who live in Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Oregon. Harold Holt, 80, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006, at his home surrounded by his loving family, following a battle with cancer.

Click here for more on Harold’s wartime experiences.

Philip Plotkin
Philip Plotkin
Information provided by family

Russian born Philip Plotkin came to America in 1930, settling in New York City (Brooklyn) and worked as a commercial artist and illustrator. He was drafted into service on 9 July 1941 and inducted at Camp Upton, NY before being sent to Camp Croft for basic training where he remained as part of the 32nd ITB headquarters detachment until late 1943. While at Croft, Philip was an "entertainment specialist" which included editing two of the camp newspapers, "The 26th Div. Daily," and "The 32nd Informer," as well as running the 32nd's recreation hall.  He also painted murals for the rec hall and officer's quarters.  After Croft, he was sent overseas with the 116th Infantry Division where,  according to his discharge papers,  he fought in Normandy, North France, and the Rhineland. He was discharged at Fort Dix, NJ on 28 September 1945.  After service Philip resumed his career in graphic arts and passed away in April 1990.

Click here to visit a special page which contains two of Plotkin's murals at Croft and more information about him. 

Fred Lafone Fred LaFone
Interview August 2002

At the age of eighteen, Fred LaFone of Hickory, NC was selected for service in the Army and arrived at the Camp Croft induction center on 27 May 1943.  During in-processing he was selected to join one of the first groups of draftees from his area  for duty in the US Navy and was taken into the city of Spartanburg to be sworn in. His memories of Croft included the stereotypically profane sergeant in charge of his group, Clayton Heafner, a Charlotte golf pro said to be known as much for his temper as his flawless Ryder Cup record and three US Open near misses. "I think he had only been in the Army about 3 months but he really looked like a sergeant so they must have promoted him," says LaFone. He also recalled efforts to keep the new inductees busy.  An announcement over the loudspeakers declaring "duck hunting time" meant the men were to police the grounds looking for cigarette butts!  Leaving Croft on 31 May after his weekend stay, Fred was sent for 7 weeks of Navy basic training at Camp Bradford near Little Creek, VA after which he was assigned to LST duty.  His first ship, LST-282 , was the only casualty of the invasion of Southern France, having been sunk by a German radio controlled bomb on 15 August 1944. Before the ship was sent to the European Theater, LaFone was injured during the ship's shakedown on the Ohio River in October '43 and was sent to a hospital in Wheeling, WV for the removal of a kidney. After a brief recovery period, he was sent out in June '44 on LST-696 for duty during the invasion of the Philippines. After coming back to the states for a medical discharge, which he initially refused in order to remain in service for the duration of the war,  Fred received an Honorable Discharge for Medical Disability on 25 September 1945. Instead of returning to his old job as a  furniture factory employee, he started a career in the local hosiery industry. He currently resides in Clermont, NC.

George P. Kreger
Interview August 2002

George Kreger may be the only person who ever bought his way into Camp Croft. Fresh out of a JROTC high school in his home of Washington DC, Kreger was inducted in September '44 at Fort Mead, MD and learned his name was on a list to go to Camp Hood, TX. He paid someone $10 to move his name to the list for Croft, a post he later heard referred to as "the country club" by other soldiers. "The Army was what you made of it," says Kreger. He found himself assigned as a squad leader in the 40th ITB, Co D, during his cycle at Croft which was shortened from the usual 17 weeks to 15 because "they needed targets!" During training on the infiltration course, he learned of an incident during an earlier cycle when the improvised sandbag mount for a Browing machine gun collapsed during firing and several trainees were shot. Cement mounts replaced the sand bags by the time Kreger came through the course. Riding the "cattle car" into town (a large cargo truck which held as many soldiers as could be piled in), he found the Spartanburg natives more interested in what soldiers carried in their hip pockets than making friends. Kreger preferred spending time in nearby Shelby, NC. Passes were only good for 50 miles so the bus driver would stop on the side of the rode at the 49-1/2 mile mark and jokingly ask if any of the soldiers wanted to get out. "It was in the middle of nowhere and no one took him up on it," laughs Kreger. He recalls some of the German PWs interned at Croft who working for the Quartermaster handing out clothing to arriving trainees.  Some of the same clothing was being sold off post by an unscrupulous Supply Sergeant in the 40th ITB and, in perhaps a worse offense, the mess sergeant in Kreger's company was caught in the act of stealing food from the mess hall to use at his restaurant in town leaving the soldiers on half rations. Leaving Croft in January '45, he soon boarded the USS West Point and arrived in Scotland before moving overland to Southampton and across the channel to a tent city in France.  There he was assigned to the 8th Armored Div, 50th Infantry, Co A as a scout and eventually was promoted to CPL. After receiving an honorable discharge in 1946, Kreger attended college (American University, DC) and became successful in the retail liquor business.  George and his wife resided in Greenville, SC about 40 miles from Camp Croft, until his death in 2006.

Valentine Val DePace

Valentine "Val" DePace
Interview September 2002

Valentine “Val” Depace resided in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania and graduated from high school in June 1942. Soon after, he received a draft notice but managed to get a six-month deferment due to his father's recent death. Taking a job at the Dravo Corporation as a welder helping to build LSTs, he was 19 years old and ready for service by the next year. Coincidentally, his brother had also received his draft notice and the two were inducted on the same day, 3 June 43, in Pittsburgh. Both men were given the opportunity to choose their desired branch of service and they selected the Army since they offered more time off (three weeks) before reporting for duty. The pair were sent to Fort Meade, Maryland on 17 June 1943 for in-processing. Val’s brother, because he was 12 years older, was sent to a Special Services assignment while Val was sent to join the 33rd ITB at Camp Croft for Infantry Basic along with a few classmates from high school (click here to see a group photo of his unit). “I had a good time at Croft ... enjoyed it, especially the peaches,” he said. Val recalls trips to the town of Spartanburg and one particularly pleasant overnight visit to a farm home in Hendersonville, North Carolina. The final weeks of basic training were dedicated to maneuvers in the field and it was on a late return from one of these exercises when the men were fed a huge meal of pork chops. The combination of room temperature, greasy food and the heat of the day caused Val to contract food poisoning, a malady which landed him in the Station Hospital for two weeks. Upon returning to his training unit, he found all but one of his fellow trainees had completed the course and were shipped out. Because of their high test scores and demonstrated ability, he and the other soldier, one of his school mates, had been selected for the Army Specialized Training Program. The two remained at the camp for some weeks when the news was given to them that the Army had scrapped the ASTP programs since all available manpower was needed for the Operation Overlord buildup in England. After a nine day voyage to Glasgow, Scotland aboard the Ile de France, and an 18 hour train ride to Plymouth, England, Val was assigned to Co. L 116th Regiment 3rd Battalion of the 29th Division and started training. Val has a great story to tell about his participation at Omaha beach with the 29th that will only briefly be relayed here. After swimming part of the 35 yards from his LST to the shore, he found his rifle inoperable and had to field strip and clean the weapon under fire. “I was pretty nervous until I was able to start shooting,” admits DePace, more than once saying “It was a day I will never forget, that's for sure.” He made if off the beach alive and unwounded and later related his experience to Cornelius Ryan who authored “The Longest Day” where Val is listed as a contributor. While he and his unit made their way across Belgium, Val was about 12 miles from Cologne, Germany when he was shot by a sniper in the jaw and found himself sent back stateside via a Belgian Evac hospital, an English hospital, and a hospital ship that ran aground near Bermuda. Initially sent to a Staunton, Virginia hospital (home of his unit Company L of the 116th), he was transferred to Camp Atterbury and the Wakeman Hospital for plastic surgery, eventually receiving one of the first bone grafts attempted in the US. PFC DePace received a disability discharge on 12 Jan 1946 and took a job with the US Treasury where he eventually became the IRS Supervisor of Excise Tax for the Western District of PA and fulfilled the dream of many by retiring at the age of 55. He and his wife spend winters in Jacksonville, Florida but he still resides in Coraopolis in an apartment complex which was converted from his old high school building.

A group photo of Val and his 33rd ITB at Croft can be viewed by clicking here
And here is a 2009 story about Val:

Rudolph Barnett
Interview September 2002 in Spartanburg

Rudolph Barnett, a textile worker living in nearby Greer, SC was excited to learn of his assignment to Camp Croft for basic training.  The 18 year old young man was inducted at Fort Jackson (SC) on 21OCT44 and was sent to Fort Bragg (NC) to be issued equipment prior to arriving at Croft that same month.  His initial thoughts were that the camp was very neat and well cared for, and that the food was good and plentiful.  Perhaps the best part was that he could catch a 30 minute bus ride home on a one day pass, a luxury few other soldiers shared. After having been assigned to the 37th ITB (Rifle), Barnett was 2 weeks short of completing the 13 week training cycle when he experienced a tragic loss.  His mother passed away suddenly and he was granted an emergency leave to rejoin his family.  Arriving back at Croft, he found that his training company had already graduated and been shipped out so he was reassigned (and partially "recycled") to a company in the 38th ITB. He believes the final two weeks to be the most important part of his training, which emphasized live fire simulations, especially the infiltration courses. Crawling under the barbed wire for 200 yards with machine gun fire overhead was more than some could stand; Barnett recalls one young trainee who was seriously injured when he stood up in the middle of the course. Another recollection was of a man who went home on leave, got married, and shot himself in the foot after returning to Croft in an effort to keep from shipping overseas. Apparently the tactic did not work. Barnett also remembers the German POWs on post who were assigned to police the grounds and worked in the laundry and kitchens. They were always under guard but shared similar meals and facilities as the US personnel. At some point prior to embarking for England in March 1945, Barnett left Croft and SC and eventually found himself assigned to the 106th Division which was preparing to reinforce and replace units that had been engaged in the Battle of the Bulge. Moving through St. Lo and parts of Germany, the unit was assigned at times to guard German prisoners and performed other duties as part of the occupation force. In August of 1946, after a 5 day trip home, Barnett was discharged as a Tech 5 at Fort Bragg on 7AUG46. He returned to his pre-war occupation in the Greer textile mill where he eventually met his wife to be.  Settling in Wellford, SC, the couple retired from the Jackson Mill and still reside in the area. They remain good friends with another couple, the husband of which (Ernest Christmas) was part of the original cadre at Camp Croft.

Milton Delair William Delair
Information provided by family

William Delair was married with two children when he entered service 7APR44 at Fort Dix, NJ.  Two more children were born later, one while Delair was stationed at Croft. At 36 years of age, he was not a young man when he enlisted in the Army and had two other brothers much younger that also served. Upon completion of basic training in Company C 31st ITB (click here for a group photo of this unit), the Army gave him an opportunity to be discharged because of his age, but he decided that he wanted to serve his country and was immediately promoted to the rank of staff sergeant. As his son Milton recalls, Delair said he did his best, as an instructor in Company D of the 41st ITB, to train the men so they became as prepared as possible for the fate that was ahead of them. Delair was very compassionate, and mentioned his concerns about their well being. He had responsibility at times for escorting some prisoners, probably German POWs, and was always prepared to "shoot them in the butt" if they attempted to escape. This was the farthest and first time he had been away from home and his family so the experience made quite an impression on him and he always talked about the friends he made at Camp Croft, at times saying " I could have made a career of the Army." After his discharge on 21OCT45 (at the separation center at Camp Croft) Delair returned to Troy, New York and raised his children. As his son says, "He was a simple man with a big heart, very dynamic person that could make anyone feel important. Dad, died in 1979 and mom in 1996. They don't make them like that anymore; strong, compassionate, roll model, with integrity and strong love for our country and what it stands for."

John Phelan
John Phelan
Information provided by family

John "Jack" Phelan was raised on Taylor Avenue in Utica, New York, the third of six children. After graduating from high school, he worked at a few jobs before joining the Utica Police Department as a patrolman in 1939. He had been one of the first officers assigned to a new accident investigation unit. On April 14, 1941, he married Mary E. Leddy, who he had met while in high school.  Jack’s induction notice arrived in December of 1943, and at 27 years old he was inducted into the Army on January 18, 1944. He boarded a train in Utica with several other inductees that took them to Camp Upton on Long Island, New York, for processing. After several days at Camp Upton, he boarded another train, this time a troop train. The train headed south, destination unknown to the troops. After what seemed like a long journey, the train pulled into Camp Croft, which was to be "home" for 17 weeks of basic and advanced training. Jack was assigned to Company A, 40th Infantry Training Battalion. Life at Croft was busy, with rigorous physical conditioning and training in the use of various weapons. His recollections come from the letters that he sent home while at Croft. There were the “popular” Friday night "GI parties," which called for scrubbing the barracks for Saturday's inspection. During shooting practice, he was on more than one occasion the recipient of "Maggie's drawers," an award signaled by the waving of a red flag when a soldier missed the target completely. Evidently, he didn't miss the target too many times because he was awarded the Expert Marksman Medal. He speaks of the scary experience the first time they had to crawl on their stomachs under live machine gun fire, with the tracer bullets flying overhead. There were relaxing moments as well. The troops usually had Saturday night and Sunday off, unless someone was unlucky enough to draw KP duty. A highlight of the week was going into Spartanburg with friends on Saturday night for a steak dinner, and enjoying breakfast on Sunday morning at the post Service Club. He said soldiers would "wander around the post looking for a replacement for home and loved ones, but never really find it." One fellow in his barracks had a radio and they enjoyed relaxing and listening to music on rainy Sunday afternoons. Jack wrote many letters home, often several a day. This sometimes required writing at odd times, such as while on the rifle range or in the latrine after lights out. The latrine was a popular place after lights out, with soldiers sitting on toilets busily writing letters while others shaved or showered or cleaned rifles. Mail call was a much anticipated event, often accompanied by "nail chewing." A letter from home or a package with goodies such as candy and nuts could have a significant effect in boosting a soldier's morale. Not receiving any communication could have the opposite effect. Many soldiers from the North enjoyed the mild South Carolina winter. However, with spring's climbing temperature's, sleeping in the barracks became a sweaty affair. With his background in investigative work, Jack had hoped to be assigned after basic training to military intelligence or to the Military Police. He was advised by interviewing officers to begin lining up his political connections, which, of course, he had none. He pursued assignment to intelligence but was destined for the infantry. At the completion of training at Croft, Jack spent a few weeks at Fort Mead, MD, and then returned to Camp Upton. In early July, he boarded a troop ship and sailed for England. After a short stay in England, he landed in France on July 16 and was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division in Gen. George Patton's 3rd Army. Little did the Germans know that Patton had planned a little "blitzkrieg" of his own. The 3rd Army moved swiftly across France, slowing down near Metz only after running short of fuel. Jack served in a mortar gun crew and after a few months was promoted to Private First Class and awarded the Expert Combat Infantryman's badge. While in France he anxiously awaited the birth of his first child. The news of his son’s birth took a full month to reach him. On November 10, near the village of Vigny during the encirclement of Metz, his platoon had stopped to regroup. He and three other soldiers were standing near their commanding lieutenant when a shell landed and exploded nearby, killing Jack and the other three soldiers and wounding the lieutenant. He was buried initially in the U.S. military cemetery in Limey, France, but later his remains were returned and buried with other family members in a cemetery near his hometown.  Jack's story can also be found on the American W.W.II Orphans Network at:

Robert Taitt
Interview November 2002

Shortly after he married in August 1941, Robert Taitt obtained a deferral from his October draft reporting date, but soon after the Pearl Harbor attack he found himself inducted on January 20, 1942.  The 26 year old railroad trackman and, most recently, dock worker from the Bronx in New York City found himself at Camp Croft just three weeks later and his training began. Within a week, Army placement tests and previous experience revealed an aptitude for administrative work and he was assigned to the headquarters staff of the 50th ITB as a clerk typist. As a member of the cadre, Taitt avoided the usual rigors of basic training and was able to spend a good deal of free time outside of the camp.  A favorite spot was the town of Tryon, NC where he became friends with a family whom he still is in contact today. Three or four times a week he was able to visit his friends in Tryon or go into the town of Spartanburg.  Segregated from the white troops, men of the 50th Battalion had a separate band, Military Police, and quartermaster companies.  Taitt also had friends who worked in the Station Hospital. Duke Ellington's son and Johnny Collins, famed guitarist later to become part of the Nat "King" Cole Trio, were among the notables in the battalion. On detached service as a clerk with one of his Battalion's companies, his aptitude and high IQ caught the attention of a company commander who recommended him for Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Fort Benning, GA. Taitt did not like the idea of a commission because he was concerned about his hearing problem which had been with him since birth.  He was able to persuade his Headquarters' commander to get the OCS order rescinded. Early in 1944, the 50th Battalion was deactivated and the cadremen who had not completed basic were sent through an abbreviated cycle of training.  During this time Taitt received basic rifle training and he recalls his experience on the firing ranges and infiltration course. Leaving Croft in February 1944, he was assigned to the 3694th quartermaster truck regiment and sent to Camp Livingston, LA.  Just weeks before the unit left for Europe, he injured a knee and was sent to the camp hospital and the unit left without him.  Receiving a discharge as a Corporal on Thanksgiving Day, 1945, Taitt returned to New York City and became a letter carrier for the US Postal Service, retiring in 1971. He now resides in Queens, NY.

Andrew Daley
Andrew J. Daley
Information provided by family

On June 1, 1941 Andrew Joseph Daley was among the first Americans to be drafted, even though America's entry into World War II was still many months away. He went directly into the U. S. Army at Camp Croft where he received his basic training. An Army inventory of his civilian skills produced a professional movie projectionist license for the state of Pennsylvania. The Army needed this skill badly at the new post at Camp Croft. Daley quickly received the rank of Sergeant and responsibility of chief movie projectionist of the camp's four movie theaters and reported directly to a Major assigned to the Headquarters Detachment. The theaters showed training films during the day and entertainment films at night. The Major and his assistant, Sergeant Travis Taylor were in charge downstairs of the theaters and Sergeant Daley was in charge of the upstairs. As chief projectionist, Daley always had a jeep assigned to him so he could quickly commute between movie theaters. While off duty, a favorite place to get away from the camp for a little while was at a local establishment called the "Tick-Tock", located about half-way between the camp and the city of Spartanburg. Daley was stationed at Croft from 1941 to 1944 when he left for Dutch New Guinea and the Philippines, where he was also a chief projectionist. He was honorably discharged at the end of the war. Back in civilian life, he moved briefly to Oregon where he met and married his wife. The couple moved to Bellflower, CA in 1952 and Andrew retired from National Cylinder Gas Company in Los Angles in 1984.

Ronald Llyod Croft Ronald "Ron" Croft
Information provided by Ron Croft

Ronald Lloyd Croft, Jr., at age 17, while attending Technical High School in Springfield, MA, enlisted in the US Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet.  Because he had not yet reached 18 years of age at graduation from high school in June 1944, he, and about 200 other 17 year olds were sent to Massachusetts State College for Pre Cadet Training as Reservists.  In late 1944, it appeared that the "Air War" was under control, and a greater need existed for ground troops - especially Infantrymen.  In December 1944, having reached age eighteen, Pvt. Croft volunteered for transfer from the Army Air Corps to the Army Ground Forces.  He was inducted into active duty at Fort Devens, Massachusetts and was promptly transported via troop train to the Infantry Replacement Training Center at Camp Croft.  South Carolina. Croft was assigned to the 1st Platoon of Company C, 32nd ITB, 6th Training Regiment.  Primarily because of his prior experience in the Army Air Corps cadet training he was assigned as a Squad Leader. The cadre included: Company Commander Captain "Woody" Witherow, Platoon Leader Lt. Lewis, First Sgt. Jack Burch, and Platoon Sergeant Lipscomb. The Company Cadre were highly dedicated leaders who well understood the importance of their mission in training a widely diverse group of primarily young recruits into Infantrymen who most likely would soon be thrown into combat in either Europe or the Pacific Theater. It goes without saying that a trainee's name "Croft" had had no meaning nor significance whatever at Camp Croft, except that the occurrence was merely noted in a two or three line tidbit of information in the IRTC monthly newsletter.  Beyond that, for all concerned it was work, train, learn, and do all possible to prepare themselves and each other for the unknown future.  During Croft's tenure as a trainee at Camp Croft, he applied for acceptance to the Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He underwent the several Review Boards (Company, Battalion, Regiment, and HQ.  Camp Croft), was accepted, and was assigned to OC Class-502 at Fort Banning.  About 60 days prior to his graduation the war ended. and he was commissioned as an Infantry  2nd Lieutenant in October 1945. Lt. Croft was assigned as a Platoon Leader at the IRTC at Camp Joseph T. Robinson near Little Rock, Arkansas.  Since the war had just ended, and there was very little requirement for Infantrymen and Infantry Officers, the IRTC's were rapidly being deactivated.  In November of 1945 Lt. Croft volunteered to serve as a Graves Registration and Repatriation Officer in Europe with the US Army Quartermaster (QM) Corps. After attending a short training course at the QM School at Camp Lee, Virginia, he boarded a troopship in New York for Le Havre, and deployed to the American Graves Registration Command in Versailles, outside of Paris.  He was further assigned to the AGRC Second Field Command in Brussels, Belgium and thence to a field detachment of the 531st QM Group.  He spent the next year and a half doing Search, Recovery and Identification work in Belgium, France and Holland. His first assignment was in the Ardennes Forest area of Belgium. The primary mission was to locate isolated burials, disinter and identify the remains, and start the procedure for repatriation to the United States or burial in a permanent US Cemetery in Europe.   Capt. Croft remained in the US Army reserve for several years, and ultimately settled in Northern Virginia.

Click here for more of Ron Croft's story (and a group photo of Company C, 32nd ITB)

William J. Miller
Interview November 2002

William J. Miller of Warren County, OH had just turned 18 years-old when he was drafted into the Army in 1945.  After reporting to a reception center, he was sent to Camp Atterbury where he and other new selectees remained for almost two months while the Army “was trying to figure out what to do with us.”  Fortunately, through railway connections and 50-mile weekend passes, Miller was able to return home once a week until he arrived at Camp Croft in September 1945 and started 18 weeks of Infantry Basic training as a rifleman and BAR gunner (click here to see a group photo of his unit).  “I had a good time while I was there,” says Miller.  While he never really got in any trouble, he recalls often serving Guard Duty and Kitchen Police.  KP was a preferred duty since it was winter and guard duty meant being outdoors in the cold.  Before winter arrived, Miller and others in his training company were able to enjoy the enlisted men’s swimming pool which was located within easy walking distance of his company area.  He immediately recalls two things about the city of Spartanburg - it was dry (no alcohol) and dirty.  Although Miller did not drink at the time, the lack of beer and liquor was a constant subject of complaints among other soldiers.  The town no doubt appeared “dirty” by late 1945 considering cycle after cycle of trainees had taken their toll.  Most of the training was routine which Miller performed satisfactorily, but the subject of food elicits this story.  When he first arrived, Miller recalls the food being poor in quality, but a new officer arrived, recently transferred from overseas duty, and disposed of all the food stores and had the cooks start with fresh meats and other foods.  The new commander said the men should eat like kings and, from that point on, they did.  After basic training completed 26 DEC 45, Miller was sent on a 10-day furlough, then overseas via New York, and sent to various posts in France, Germany, and Belgium, eventually being assigned to the 522nd MP and stationed at an ordnance depot located at the race track in Paris, France.  He attained the rank of T4 before being discharged at Fort Mead, MD in 1947.  Prior to service, Miller spent summers and vacations from school working on the New York Central Railroad, where he returned to work after being discharged.  He retired after 48 years with the railroad in 1991, having been a General Car Foreman for the latter part of his career.  He currently resides in Cincinnati, OH and is a lifetime member of VFW Post 1069.

Noah Gordon
Interview August 2002

Noah Gordon and just finished high school when he volunteered for service in February 1945 in an attempt to get into the Navy but his eyesight caused him to be sent to the Infantry and Camp Croft. The 18 year old was inducted at Ft Banks, MA and sent to Ft Devens, MA where he and other new recruits were kept busy shoveling snow and slush from the post streets which was partially responsible for a brief stay in the station hospital. Arriving at Croft within a couple of weeks in the middle of a cool and rainy winter, Gordon entered a 17 week training cycle as a rifle company trainee in the 26th ITB, A Company. "It was a great adventure to an 18 year old kid," he recalls, although he disliked not being able to ask the question "Why?" One of his earliest recollection at the camp was of the men being issued new army shoes and then made to walk in several inches of water to make them shrink to their feet.  Two unhappy reminiscences were of the day President Roosevelt died (many soldiers were openly weeping in the company areas) and of a trainee who was killed when a rifle loaded with a blank round was fired close to the man's head.  In rare moments of free time, Gordon was able to visit Spartanburg and he found the town to be pretty and the surrounding countryside to be inviting as well. "The poor people of Spartanburg had been exposed to several cycles of trainees and had become [somewhat] hardened to soldiers," he says, which made it hard to meet nice girls among other things. While he made some lasting friendships among soldiers at Croft, he was also able to continue one when his best friend from Wooster arrived in camp some time after Gordon.  An anecdote still recalled by the two was that Noah, being the "veteran" soldier by this time, volunteered to clean his friend's weapon for inspection, causing his friend to get "gigged" for a dirty rifle! Following Jewish tradition during Yom Kippur, Gordon and two friends spent the day on a quiet walk which soon found them at the German PW camp. This was their first glimpse of the enemy, yet it was hard for them to believe the pleasant, smiling faces of these men, most of whom were older than the typical American trainee, were indeed the "enemy." Rumors of Nazi atrocities had only just begun to surface at the time. Later, while waiting to be shipped out of the camp, Gordon was able to spend some time in the company of returning US soldiers who had been Prisoners of War in Germany. After several weeks in clerk's school, he was put on a troop train headed west where the men understood they were intended as replacements in the Pacific theater. Instead, Gordon was assigned to the 6th Army Headquarters at the Presidio in San Francisco. He was discharged on 4OCT46 at Fort Dix, NJ and he returned to civilian life as a writer, first for a newspaper in his hometown and later with the old Boston Globe. In 1965 he released his first novel and has since written 6 other critically acclaimed books and he resides with his wife in Brookline, MA. For more on Noah and his work you can visit:

Henry A. Kissinger Henry A. Kissinger
from published Biographies*

Young Heinz Kissinger came of age in Nazi Germany, having been born in 1923, the first child of a Jewish couple in Fürth, Germany.  In 1938, the family immigrated to American and settled in New York City.  Kissinger was a student at City College when he received his draft notice shortly after his nineteenth birthday and, by February of 1943, he left for Infantry basic at Camp Croft. He became a naturalized citizen in Spartanburg on March 19, 1943, along with 348 other Camp Croft soldiers, 131 of whom were also Germans. Despite being away from his family, and outside of a German-Jewish community for the first time in his life, young Kissinger found South Carolina to be more of a "new world" than New York had ever been, and he wrote that the experience was "exhilarating." He was said to have been a solitary figure but performed well during basic training and, at some point after completing basic around June 1943, he was sent to nearby Clemson University where he qualified for the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) and was sent to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. When the program was canceled in April of 1944, Kissinger found himself sent, along with 2,800 other ASTP candidates, to Camp Claiborne, LA to join the 84th Infantry Division. Assigned to Company G, 335th Infantry Regiment, Kissinger departed for Germany in November 1944 and, as part of the Ninth Army, quickly pushed into Germany only to be driven back into Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. By March, the company was back in Germany, arriving at Krefled where Kissinger, a Private soldier with no security clearance but displaying other obvious qualities, became the administrator of the city.  Shortly afterwards, he was transferred to the Counter-Intellegence branch, promoted to the rank of Sergeant, and served with distinction in other important occupational duties. Demobilized in May 1946, Kissinger worked for a time in Europe as an instructor at the European Command Counter Intelligence School in Oberhammergau before returning to the US, entering Harvard University under the G.I. bill, and entering a long lasting career as an educator and statesman. 

* Kissinger, a Biography by Isaacson and Kissinger, Portrait of a Mind by Graubard

Joseph Katalinas Joseph A. Katalinas
Information provided by family

Joseph Anton Katalinas, the first football coach at Camp Croft was the son of Lithuanian immigrants.  After graduation in 1934 Joe worked for the Agricultural Department and  played on the Dixie Professional Football league with  three pro football teams; the Maryland Athletic Club, Washington Presidents and the Washington Pros.  In 1936 he attended extensive military reserve training with the 317th Infantry Division at Ft. Mead in Maryland. On July 10, 1940 Joe was called from reserve status.  He was assigned to Ft. Benning, Georgia for more training in the fall of 1940 and in 1941 to Camp Croft, South Carolina where he served in the Company C 31st ITB.  He was at Camp Croft on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl  Harbor. After this  horrendous event he spoke to his football team and told them, “Men, we are winners, we're fighters, we need to be over there and we need to help this Country win the war and we  must all take the courage and determination we have shown playing football and now we  must use that ability and defend our Country”.  Joe served with distinction in the 77th Division, 306th Infantry, and continued his military service after the war.  May 31, 1960, he retired from active service and was transferred to XV US Army Corps (Reserve) with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He had a true love for fellow man and his final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery, in March of 1998 at the age of 84 1/2, is befitting to his worldly accomplishments. 

Click here for more of Joe Katalinas' story

Howard W. "Mutt" McCord
Correspondence from Mutt
I was drafted into the army from my home town of Sheffield, Alabama on August 6, 1942 at the age of twenty one. I was inducted into the army at Fort McClellan Alabama. Shipped to Fort McPhearson GA. for processing and classification and a week of orientation, shots, and clothing issuing. Here the Articles of War were read to us. We boarded a troop train headed to an unknown army camp for our basic training. I received my first six weeks of basic training in Company D, 34th ITB, 9th Reg. Camp Croft SC. I was made an acting corporal and squad leader. Most of this training was as it is called, basic soldier training. At the end of our first six weeks we were transferred to Company B, 30th ITB. 9th Reg. for seven more weeks of advance weapons training. Company B was a heavy weapons company. We received training on the M-1 rifle, 60 mm and 81mm mortars. Also the 30 cal. Light machine gun, the heavy 30 cal (water-cooled) machine-gun and the 50 cal machine gun. We had training on the towed 37 mm anti-tank gun. We had many hours on map and compass reading and night training. Many miles of conditioning hiking with full field packs. We were taught hand to hand combat, Bayonet fighting and at that time a new version of training was the Commando training. Commando training during world war two is sort of like what our Special Forces are today. We had many hours of running the obstacle course. We trained six days a week. We had many hours of night training Sunday was an off day for church and free time. Saturday nights most every one went into town or the Service Club or the USO and some went across the highway near the main gate to Jungle Jim's beer joint. At the end of our training cycle I was selected out of a company of two hundred men to be promoted to Corporal and assigned as cadre in the second platoon. This was my platoon were I took my training. I was assigned to assist the same platoon sergeant that was over me during my training, Sergeant Mason. I was lucky enough to stay in the same platoon. I made platoon Sergeant and stayed nearly two years in the same barracks.  Camp Croft was known for its caliber of soldiers they turned out at the end of each training cycle. It was an Infantry Replacement Training Center. General George Patton was quoted as saying that Camp Croft turned out class “A” fighting men. Croft had one of the largest rifle ranges of any Army Replacement Training Center. 

Click here to go to more of Mutt's story

Wilfrid "Lefty" Lefebvre
Interview November 2002

Wilfrid Henry "Lefty" Lefebvre, born November 11, 1915 in Natick, Rhode Island, graduated from Holy Cross in 1938 and quickly found himself in the starting lineup of the Boston Red Sox late in the season, hitting a home run his first time at bat against the Chicago White Sox. Sent to the minor leagues, Lefty played in San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Louisville until he returned to the Red Sox and later the Washington Senators. Although a pitcher, he developed an unusual batting eye and became one of the mainstays of the Senators club, playing in over 60 games with a batting average over .300. In 1944, as a first baseman, he led the American League in pinch hitting. He was drafted into the US Army in 1945. Inducted in Massachusetts, he was sent to Camp Croft for basic training with the 27th ITB and wound up staying for almost a year. While at Croft, his two young sons were involved in a bus accident (both recovered) and he returned home, only to be re-cycled upon returning to Croft since his training unit had already shipped out. During his second training cycle, his wife suffered a miscarriage and he again returned home and was re-cycled by order of his commanding officer, also a ball player (White Sox catcher). His training unit had once again been shipped out, and some of the men were sent to the Pacific where they performed mine removals. Lefebrve recalls their battalion had a great ball club, with Lefty on the mound, Jim Tabor, and other professional playing against less experienced opponents. As former baseball stars, the men received no special treatment or exemption from basic training, playing in the late afternoon after training had completed. Unfortunately, the officer in charge of the club knew little about baseball and had the men playing three games a week as well as practice, and "by the end of the season my arm was hanging," says Lefebrve. "They didn't even know what a rotated cuff was back then," he says, but the injury later proved to be the end of his playing career. When the war was over, Lefebvre was still at Croft and his commander suggested he try to obtain a discharge based on his family hardships. He followed the advice and was soon out of the Army and headed back to baseball full time. Too late the join the Majors for the rest of the season, he entered spring training but the injury from Croft left him without much of an arm and his playing career ended after two full seasons with the Red Sox and 1-1/2 years with the Senators. Dusting off his college degree (BA - Education), Lefebrve taught Physical Education at an elementary school in Pawtuckett and eventually coached the Brown University baseball team for 20 years. He also scouted for the Red Sox. He retired to Largo, Florida where he was known to get out and watch a game once in a while. Despite some mobility problems, he remained in good health and enjoyed time with his son and granddaughter until his death in January 2007.
For more on Lefty's baseball stats visit:

Joe Geczi
Joseph Geczi
Information provide by family and from diaries

Joe Geczi was inducted from Local Board 11 (Trenton, New Jersey) on April 18, 1941 at the age of 21.  After being sworn in, he and two friends joined the ranks of the United States Army and were sent via rail to the Fort Dix, 1229th Reception Center and then on to Camp Croft.  After basic training with Company A, 39th ITB, Joe was assigned to cadre duty and remained at Croft until May-June 1944. He was a talented violinist and enjoyed playing for the entertainment of his fellow soldiers.  He married while stationed at the camp and his wife joined him in South Carolina where they resided in nearby Spartanburg.  Shipped overseas too late for the D-Day invasion of Europe, Joe was assigned as a replacement squad leader for the 2nd Infantry Division, 9th Regiment, 2nd Battalion, “E” (Rifle) Company. When he reached the battlefield in France, he was a squad leader of 3rd squad, 3rd platoon, E Company. He was wounded on Aug. 3, 1944 and was taken to England. By Sept. 1, he was performing with "Laughs, Inc", a unit of the 7th Special Services. He did not return from Europe until Oct. 1945. 

Click here to read a great story, in his own words, of Joe's time at Camp Croft and in Europe.

Al Prendergast 1945
Albert J Prendergast
Interview August 2002

Young Al Prendergast tried desperately to enter service, but was turned down by every branch of service, including the Canadian Air Corps, because of his age and alien status.  Born in Ireland, Prendergast was only 17 years old and living in Everett, Massachusetts.  One month after his 18th birthday, he proudly enlisted and was inducted in the US Army on January 3, 1945 and was sent to Camp Croft for 17 weeks of basic training with Company B, 31st ITB.  "The experience at Camp Croft changed my life forever" says Prendergast.  The winter of 1945 was more harsh than normal and there was considerable sickness, complicated by the cold weather and overcrowded barracks.  Men slept "head to foot" under makeshift screens called cubicles, constructed using shelter halves, in order to lessen the spread of disease.  Like most of his fellow soldiers, Prendergast wanted to stay out of the hospital for fear he would be recycled (sent back through training a second time) so his mother in Boston supplied him cough syrup and other medicines which managed to keep him out of the dispensary. Unfortunately, this untreated sickness lead to lingering liver and kidney problems that plagued him throughout his military career.  A memorable cadreman  in Prendergast's unit was Sergeant Diehl, who would frequently carry the pack and rifle of a soldier who was falling out of a forced march. The act is more interesting considering the fact Diehl had returned from service the Pacific, he was at Guadalcanal, and still suffered from the effects of malaria. The men had seen him shivering in a cold sweat at night during field exercises. Another recollection is the march to the rifle range which proceeded through peach orchards.  As the men watched the fruit grow more and more ripe, they anticipated the day when they could pluck one or two from the trees, but were disappointed when the wise cadre changes the route of the march just before the peaches were ripe for picking!  A less pleasant memory is of a fellow trainee named Quilty, a product of a military school and son of a career Army man. Sadly, he lost his life at Croft due to spinal meningitis, a not always fatal disease that made frequent small outbreaks at the camp.  By a special Act of Congress, immigrants were granted citizenship if they volunteered for military service, a process which normally required five years of residency during which time they were exempt from military service.  On March 17th, 52 Croft soldiers were sent to the Federal courthouse in downtown Spartanburg and the judge called for Private Prendergast, the only Irishman in the group, to approach the bench.  He asked "Son, do you know what day this is?" and Prendergast answered, "It's Saint Patrick's Day." The judge replied, "That's right.  I wouldn't let a good Irishman become an American unless he knew what day it was." Aside from this trip, Prendergast seldom frequented the town of Spartanburg.  According to his recollections, the town was overrun with soldiers and, since he did not smoke, drink, or fraternize with prostitutes, there was not much of interest to him.  He felt sorry for the people of Spartanburg, having to endure the negative aspects of becoming a town frequented by soldiers, and he was impressed with the people of the South and their tolerance and politeness.  After his training was completed, Prendergast was sent to Fort Mead for eventual shipment to the European Theater, however, a law had recently been enacted which required 18 year-old solders (like Al) to have 6 months experience in the Army before they could be sent outside the US. Prendergast was now sent to Camp Maxey, Texas for advanced infantry training  including jungle warfare.  He was stationed for a period of time in the Philippines guarding Japanese POWs, and then sent back home to join the 5th Infantry Division at Camp Campbell.  He was discharged from the Army as a T5 (Corporal) at Fort Devens. Afterwards, he graduated college and received an ROTC commission in the US Air Force and, after 5 years of service during which time he received his Master's degree, he was medically discharged (for the same ailment contracted while at Croft) at the rank of Captain.  He worked for a period with IBM, received a doctorate degree, taught college in the Virgin Islands, was appointed Commissioner of Commerce for the islands, returned to the US to head the Small Business Administration in Washington, DC, and eventually retired to Fort Myers, Florida. He passed away in March 2007.

Don Koos 1945
Don Koos 
Interview August 2002

Don Koos was working as a truck driver and living in Long Island, NY when he was drafted into service on December 14, 1942. He tried to enlist in the US Marine Corps but, when they found out the 21 year old had been drafted and was due to report in just one week to the induction center, they turned him down. After two days at the Camp Upton reception center, he was sent to Camp Croft just before Christmas. As Koos recalls, he was issued light weight khaki uniforms as well as wool and his fellow selectees "thought I was crazy" when he put them on in the winter. Being from New York he was not necessarily crazy but he was better accustomed to the cold than some of the other men. He jokingly boasts that on the first day at camp he was made a sergeant, a "promotion" based solely on the fact that he had the first bunk in the barracks. Koos was only at Croft two weeks before he received word his mother's was to undergo surgery and he obtained an emergency leave to return home. When he got back to camp, he was recycled and began basic training again with a new group of selectees. Due to equipment shortages, the men initially drilled with wooden guns and were later issued the M1917 "Enfield" rifle, a weapon from the first World War. "I didn't get an M-1 until I went overseas," he says. Some of the activities included alternating between firing and operating targets on the rifle range, gas training, and running an infiltration course. Another part of his training included driving jeeps, 6x6 trucks, and other vehicles down the "power line trail" in the Croft maneuver area. Truck convoys were also sent off the post and occasionally through the town of Spartanburg. At one point, a DUKW was brought to the camp and Koos answered the call for a volunteer to pilot the amphibious vehicle across a lake (possibly nearby Duncan Park Lake). During occasion free time, Koos and others went to Spartanburg or attended functions on the post such as movies, stage shows, or dances. He made a few trips to Tryon, North Carolina after an elderly woman posted an open initiation for service men to come to her house for a home-style dinner. Unlike many soldiers, Koos had no complaints about the food in camp, having grown up during the depression and more than once having gone to bed hungry. While he was appreciative of the meals, he is quick to point out that he, like many trainees, did not like the red clay of the South which was dusty in dry weather and slippery in wet weather. Around April 1943, he was sent overseas aboard the Queen Elizabeth and joined the 29th Division in England as they began training for the pending invasion of the European continent. At some point after D-Day in June 1944, Koos was wounded, after which he was sent back to the states and stationed at Camp Kilmer. He turned down an offer to become a Warrant Officer and was discharged as a Sergeant on October 19, 1945. Returning to New York, he married, divorced, and married again before moving to Florida, eventually settling in New Jersey where he operated a heavy equipment business until retiring. He now reside in Whiting, New Jersey and is an active member of the 29th Division Association.

John B Isom
Rev. John B. Isom
From his web site with photos from family

John Isom was born December 2, 1909 on Sand Mountain in northern Alabama.  In 1939 he graduated with a masters in theology from the Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His service as a US Army chaplain began at Camp Sibert, AL. In 1943, he was assigned to the 6th Regiment at Camp Croft. He passed away in April of 2004.

Click here to go to more of Rev. Isom's story

Marion Jereb Marion Jereb
From his personal email recollections, October 2004

I was drafted along with many young men from the Irwin, Penna. area (about 20 miles east of Pittsburgh) in June 1943.  We took our physical in the armory in Greensburg, PA, were given a 2 week leave and left by train from Irwin on July 8, 1943 to Fort Meade, MD.  At Meade (reception center) we were further tested, given shots and I was selected for assignment to Camp Croft.  At Camp Croft I was assigned to "A" Co 2nd Platoon 38th ITB near the inner circle road.  There was an empty field between the 37th and 38th Battalions which had a baseball field and an outdoor beer garden with 3.2 beer.  We were told we were one of the first groups to have the training period increased to 17 weeks.  Because the schedule was not complete, every day for the last week we marched 20 miles with full field pack and gear.  I remember getting up very early and hiking through the peach orchards to the firing ranges to fire the M1.  I only got to Spartanburg for a couple of times on a Saturday night.  Since the USO was packed, we were invited to a church for cookies and punch.

After completing basic training, I qualified for the ASTP program and was sent to the STAR unit at Georgia State Teacher's College (now Georgia Southern???) for further testing and interviews. Most of the other fellows were given a 10 day leave to report to Ft Meade and probably were sent as replacements in the Italian campaign. I was sent with a small group to the University of Mississippi at Oxford, MI where I took the Basic Engineering course. After completing one semester (3 mos.) the ASTP was dissolved and 400 of us were bussed to the 94th Division training at Camp McCain near Grenada, MS. We were replacements for men who were pulled out after the 94th completed Tennessee maneuvers in December 1943 and sent to the Italian campaign. I, with six others were assigned to Company C 301st Infantry Regiment. I was placed in the 60mm Mortar Section as an Ammo bearer. In July 1944 the 94th was sent to Camp Shanks, a POE in New York. On August 5th we sailed on the Queen Elizabeth and landed in Scotland on August 11th. We went by train to the Southampton area and crossed the Channel the first week of September and went to relieve the 6th Armored and 83rd division encircling to and containing the German troops guarding the submarine bases at Lorient and St. Nazaire. In December of 1944 we were relieved by the 66th Infantry Div and sent to the Battle of the Bulge at the Seigfried Switch line between the Saar and Moselle rivers. We were in the 3rd Army and made the drive to the Rhine River at Ludwigshaven. Then we were transferred to the 15th Army and helped to reduce the Ruhr pocket. In June 1945 we were sent to Czechoslovakia for occupation duty. In November 1945 we were some of the last troops to leave Czechoslovakia and returned to Nuremburg, Germany. At this time I had enough points to go home and was transferred to the 80th Division at Augsburg and then to LeHavre, France. We departed from LeHavre on January 1, 1946 on the Italian liner Vulcania arriving at Staten Island on January 8,1946 and I was discharged with the rank of sergeant from Indiantown Gap, PA on January 12, 1946.

Donald Chase
From his personal recollections posted on line

Donald Chase was born on 11 January 1926 in Framingham, Massachusetts, the son of Ralph L. and Mary Carroll Chase. He became the only member of his family to serve in the military during World War II when he joined the US Army Reserves on May 20, 1944.  He was sworn in the 20th of May 1944 at Fort Devens, Massachusetts and then sent to Camp Croft for 17 weeks of basic training. "Summing up basic training, although I was rather shy and timid, I got along with everyone, met some great fellows, and do not remember any fights or nastiness involving me. I gained about twenty pounds and took great pride in my ability to handle everything that basic training entailed. I found it to be a very positive experience and enjoyed it because I was someone who truly liked being in the Army. Being able to wear a cap with the pale blue piping, showing you were infantry, meant something special to me. There was no aspect of it that I found particularly difficult, and at its completion I really felt I was a soldier. I never gave it a thought as to whether or not it realistically prepared me for combat.”

Click here to go to more of Donald Chase's story

Louis DeFrancesco
Louis A DeFrancesco
Submitted by his son Louis DeFrancesco, Jr.

Louis A. DeFrancesco of Elkmont, NY graduated high school in June of 1941 and was in the Army two months after Pearl Harbor.  Beginning with his basic training at Camp Croft on February 23, 1942, he was assigned to the 8th Infantry Training Regiment, 28th Battalion, Company A.  In his photos, some taken with his Sergeant Thomas Logan or his buddies Walter Anderson and Thomas Lewis, he is always smiling and appears to have been proud and happy to be in Camp Croft.  Completing basic training May 23, 1942 he was assigned to the 45th Infantry Division, "The Thunderbirds", then gathering at Pine Camp, NY under Troy Middleton for winter training 1942-1943. The Division then moved on to Fort Pickett, VA for beach landing exercises, then to Fort Patrick Henry, VA for mountain training and shipped out for the Mediterranean from Hampton Cross Roads Naval Station June 8, 1943.  The fleet carrying "The Thunderbirds" sailed as far south as Brazil during the ocean crossing to evade German submarines.  Landing in North Africa June 22, 1943 they were greeted by General Patton.  Louis DeFrancesco's unit, the 179th Infantry Regiment, would be the first to land at Sicily, at Salerno, and at Anzio.  A week after the liberation of Rome, Louis was finally sent home.  Among his awards were a Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf cluster, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and Campaign Medal with three service stars.   In 1949, Louis became an original homeowner in Levittown, Long Island, a housing development for World War II veterans, where he lived with his wife Susan and their two sons Louis Jr. and Robert.  A member of the Nassau County Police Department, he was killed in the line of duty November 1957.  He was only 34 years old and the year 2007 will mark the 50th Anniversary of his death.

Click here to view a special page containing photos of Louis at Camp Croft

Malcolm Hersey Prouty
Provided by his wife, Linda

Malcolm Prouty was born and raised in Charleston, SC on the campus of the Citadel where his father, Col Leonard A. Prouty was Professor of Psychology, Dean of Finance and Academic Dean. Malcolm served in the US Army, 8th Infantry Division, Headquarters, 121st Infantry "Old Gray Bonnet" Regiment - HQ during WWII from August 1941 until October 1945. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, Bronze Star Medal, four Bronze Service Stars (Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and Central Europe), American Defense Service ribbon, American Campaign ribbon, Army of Occupation ribbon, Expect and Combat Infantryman Badges, three Overseas Service Bars, Honorable Service lapel button, WWII Victory medal, Presidential Until Citation ribbon, and the Meritorious Unit Citation ribbon. Malcolm graduated from the College of Charleston and Bexley Hall Episcopal Seminary after the war and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954. He retired from the Diocese of Texas in 1990. Malcolm past away December 10, 2005.

Click here to visit a site containing interesting photos of Malcom, several taken while he was at Camp Croft

Frank Kreisel
Interview August 2007

Frank Kreisel had just completed high school in Woodbridge, NJ when he was inducted into the US Army in June 1943. After reception at  Fort Dix, he was put on a train without any knowledge of what his assignment would be or where he was going. He and the other men exchanged information, trying to narrow down the possibilities, but all were surprised when the train stopped near the sign that read "Welcome to Camp Croft, IRTC". For the next 16 or 17 weeks he found himself training in Company A of the 29th ITB (Heavy Weapons). In retrospect, he feels the training was good preparation for combat but nowhere near as realistic, the one possible exception being an injury on the Infiltration Course when another trainee did not remain low and was wounded. Of the cadre, one man he recalls was Tex Fletcher, a country-western singer also from New Jersey who more or less "ordered" Frank to play accordion in band at engagements in and around Spartanburg. Although having organized and played with several jazz bands in high school, country was new to Frank but not difficult to master as an accompanist. Towards the end of training, Fletcher offered to get Frank a permanent assignment at Croft, but Frank refused the offer. "Many times I was in the jungle cussing myself for that one ," he says. In less than three month after leaving Croft, he found himself on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands "dodging everything that could hurt you." Incredibly, during this time he and other soldiers of the 132nd Infantry Regiment were able to form a musical group called the Jungle Cats and performed for their unit between duties on the front line. After the war, he continued to pursue a very successful career in music. In November 2007, Frank returned with his wife Verne to Spartanburg to serve on the panel of the Croft Roundtable event at which time his comments were featured in a Spartanburg Herald Journal story about the event. He still resides in Woodbridge, NJ.


Click here for more photos, including the Jungle Cats


 . Norman Gautreau
Interview 2005

Norman Gautreau, a lithographer and artist from Revere, MA, was stationed at Camp Croft on 1945 for basic training. During his stay he was encouraged to keep up his artistic endeavors and found time to paint this detailed watercolor of the 40th Infantry Training Battalion area. The first public showing of his work occurred while he was at Croft and was held at the Carolina Theater in Spartanburg

Click here to see more of Norman's story and some of his work


Philip Christner

Information provided by family, February 2010

Philip L Christner entered the Army on March 3, 1942 in Fort Niagara. He was sent to Camp Croft for basic training. On March 15, 1943, he was shipped from Baltimore to Trinidad to receive jungle training. On September 9, 1943, the men were flown from Trinidad to Miami and instructed not to contact anyone, including parents. They then traveled by train to Fort Ord, in San Francisco where they boarded a troop ship (actually a “borrowed” liner, named the Lurline) bound for India. They arrived in India on October 28 (or 29), 1943. Phil and the other men who came from Trinidad met up with two other groups of soldiers; veterans from Pacific fighting (Guadalcanal, etc.) and “fresh” recruits from the States. They then further trained in Deogarh, Orissa, India. This is the first time that all the men who where to become the Merrill’s Marauders were assembled. After their training was complete, the men took a train to Ledo in Upper Assam, arriving in February 1944. From Ledo, they walked the 125 miles into Burma along the famous Ledo Road, constructed by Army engineers in only months but at a cost of over 1,100 American non-combat lives (it should be noted that 60 percent of the Americans who participated in the construction of the Ledo Road were African-American. An engineering feat and sacrifice that deserves more recognition than has been given). The Burma campaign for the original Marauders ended with the capture of the Myitkyina air field on May 17, 1994. Phil Christner made it as far as Myitkyina but was no longer fit to fight and was sent out June 3, 1944. Due to the lack of adequate diet (K rations only) and the jungle conditions, many of the Marauders contracted malaria, amoebic dysentery, and towards the end of the campaign scrub typhus.

Click here to view a collection of photos Philip Christner took while at Camp Croft

Joseph Kudlick

Information provided by family, April 2010

PFC Joseph Kudlick was born July 31st 1918 in Syracuse NY. He entered into active service Feb 24th 1942 at Fort Niagara NY. From March to June 1942 he was at Camp Croft SC , Co A 36th Battalion. June 6th 1944 he was on Utah Beach with the 4th Infantry Division, 12th Infantry Regiment Co F. He was injured twice in combat and was discharged in July of 1945. Joe received a combat infantryman’s badge, European Theater Ribbon along with 2 Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart with Leaf Cluster. He was a BAR Marksman & Expert and a Rifle Marksman & Sharpshooter. He married Amelia Hujar in 1946 and worked as a mechanical engineer living in Syracuse NY where he raised his family. Joe died in May of 1991, he always valued his military service and considered himself fortunate.

Click here to view a collection of photos Joe took while at Camp Croft

Paul Grubb

Interviews 2005 - 2010

Paul Grubb was a 22 year old resident of State College, Pennsylvania a 1940 graduate of Penn State. He was drafted in June of 1941, sent to Camp Wheeler for basic training, received an Officer Candidate School assignment, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1942. He served as a company commander as part of the staff at Camp Croft and was part of the occupational forces in Japan.  Paul was called back into service for two years during the Korean War and afterwards returned to Pennsylvania with Emily, remaining in the US Army Reserves before retiring from service with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He retired in 1980 and moved to Inman, SC (within 4 miles of the webmaster of this site!). 

Click here for more of Paul's story


Nelson Riddle

From his autobiography

I was inducted into the army on April 9, 1945, and sent to Fort Dix for processing, where my only contact with music centered around a recorded Bing Crosby singing "The Anniversary Waltz" each morning at six, as we were told to fall out of bed and get moving.  That highly inappropriate selection, coupled with the glare of a naked light bulb swinging above my bunk, got things started each day on the "leftest" of feet, psychologically speaking.  I'll never forgive Bing or the Waltz. -- After a few days at Fort Dix we were piled into Civil War era railroad cars, and puffed down to Camp Croft South Carolina, where after detraining, we were marched to a wide, flat area carpeted by warm green grass and told to sit down.  We hardly had time to contemplate our new found verdant comfort when a young second lieutenant stepped out on the balcony of a nearby building and instructed us to file away whatever skills we had acquired in civilian life and that, from this day on, we were all foot soldiers! -- The man next to me began to cry very softly.  Later he told me that he had been a civil engineer and that, up 'til the moment the "shavetail" made his fateful announcement, he had been certain the army would use him  in some engineering capacity.  I told him that I was a music arranger and trombone player.  I couldn't tell if he felt better or worse after that. -- My army stint was over after fifteen fun-packed months. Contrary to the young officer's pronunciamento, I was transferred to a band as soon as hostilities ceased.  I heard later that the civil engineer spent the balance of his army time in the relative safety of the post mail room.  The rest of the battalion, totaling some eight hundred men, went to Nagasaki as occupation troops. --  I was discharged at Camp Atterbury, on June 26, 1946.

Note: Riddle was also married while in Spartanburg, click here for his wedding photo.

Also, click here for more information about Nelson Riddle

Frank Burwell

Information provided by family in 2010

Frank O. Burwell was stationed at Camp Croft after graduating from Wofford College in 1940 as a 2nd Lt. He was sent to the Pacific in mid 1941, was captured on Bataan, survived the death march, and spent the remainder of the war in a Japanese prison camp. He remained in inactive reserve status but was recalled to the US Army in 1948 and sent to Korea in 1952 with the 2d Infantry Division. He was killed, along with a group of other officers, when an artillery shell landed in their tent in early morning during a briefing.

Click here for more information on Frank and his family


Stanley Swegle

Information provided by family in 2010

Stanley Chandler Swegle was born September 15, 1916 to Charles & Sophia Swegle the third of seven children raised by them in rural Lee County, Illinois. After his eighth grade graduation, he worked for farmers near home. Between 1933 and 1935, he worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps at Galva, Illinois. Stan was 25 and single, working in Sterling Illinois for Northwestern Steel and Wire Company when he joined the army. On November 27, 1941, he was inducted and went for his Basic Training at Camp Croft, South Carolina. Stan served with the Red Bull Division. When the U.S. entered the war, his division was sent to Ireland. Stan saw his life spared when during a voyage to Africa, the group of troop-carrying destroyers were attached but the one he was on was not sunk. From Africa, they traveled through Sicily to Italy, landing on the Anzio Beach head just south of Rome. During that battle, a shell landed close to him. He rolled into the hole it had made and, where he had been, another shell exploded. Stan was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous bravery in action and the Bronze Star for outstanding service against the enemy. After the war, Stan worked for Northern Illinois Utility (later Public Service Company and then Commonwealth Edison) until retirement. He was a member of VFW Post 540, American Legion Post 12, and an active member of the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge No. 727. He often took items collected by the Lodge for orphans to Mooseheart Child City & School, Illinois, for distribution. His hobbies included bowling, fishing, hunting, and cards. Stan was a man of few words. He did share some of his war years but only with a couple of his brothers. Stan remained single all his life. He died August 13, 1988 in Dixon, Illinois, where he is buried at Chapel Hill Cemetery.

Richmond S Frederick

Information provided by family in 2011

At the time of his selection for the United States Army, Richmond Stanfield Frederick was living in Baltimore, Maryland, and employed at the Glen L. Martin Aircraft Company plant (where he had worked since the early days of the war). He was inducted for service 25 May 1944 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Basic training was at the Fort Croft, South Carolina US Army Infantry Replacement Training Center. He was assigned to RTC Rifle Company B, 36th Battalion, 7th Infantry Training Regiment, United States Army. No record of his early days in the Army has been found. However, as basic training was seventeen weeks, he presumably was stationed at Fort Croft until near the end of September 1944 (thus being in basic training on 6 June 1944, the D-Day Invasion of Europe). And, he may have been at Camp Croft when word was received that his older brother, Army Air Force Lieutenant William Ransome Frederick, had died 9 September 1944 in England, when the B-24 Liberator Bomber he was piloting crashed during a night training exercise. Private First Class Frederick then was deployed to the European Theatre. Private Frederick was wounded in action in Germany on December 1, 1944, being shot in neck. The family owns the actual bullet that caused the near-mortal wound. While he probably spent some time in a field hospital on the continent, he was in a hospital in England (115th US Station Hospital) when awarded the Purple Heart on 28 December 1944. The Purple Heart Certificate documents that his combat injury was sustained December 1, 1944, in Germany. Fighting on German soil during the fall of 1944 included the Battle of Hurtgen Forest (September 1944 - February 1945) (first Army). This engagement generated at least 33,000 U.S. casualties. However, where in Germany Private Frederick was wounded may never be known. Private Frederick eventually returned to the United States aboard U.S. Army Hospital Ship Wisteria. By February 5, 1945, he was receiving care at Kennedy General Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where he remained until being released September 10, 1945. As his wound involved the spinal cord, paralysis always was a fear, and did manifest itself in some loss of the left-side (arm and, especially, hand). For purposes of his military pension, Frederick was deemed 100% disabled. However, he managed to lead an active and productive life, with few realizing he was disabled. During his service and convalescence, the Frederick family (wife and young daughter) lived with the parents of Mrs. Sally Moorefield Frederick just south of Yanceyville in Caswell County, North Carolina. And, it was on this farm that the veteran Frederick lived until the early 1950s.

Click here to see a Group Photo of Frederick and the B-36 Company