Interview With Russell C. Weber

From the interview with Russell C. Weber of Sequim, WA conducted by Oran De Bois at the Fort Worden History Center on June 1, 2004. Mr. Weber served in the U.S. Army from the time he enlisted in the National Guard in 1938 until he retired from the active Reserve in 1961. In World War II, he was a member of the 94th Field Artillery Brigade and the 4th Armored Division. He attained the rank of Major and received five battle stars and two unit citations. Here he described his time at Fort Worden:
“In 1938, I joined the Washington National Guard in Tacoma. In October 1940, we were federalized and sent to Fort Worden as an anti-aircraft unit, the 248th Coast Artillery. I stayed here until March 1942 and was sent to Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
When we first moved here, we were in pyramid tents at the south end of the parade ground, right next to the bowling alley. We had a good time listening to the pins crash when we were trying to sleep. We were here all that winter in the pyramid tents and we were assigned to the three-inch anti-aircraft guns up on the hill. Our practice involved running up the hill to the guns and preparing and running through a program of testing.
In 1941 came Pearl Harbor. I was in Tacoma on vacation and immediately returned to the Fort. I was given a platoon of four men and put in a truck with tents and food and sent out to a place called Middle Point out on the coast where we were supposed to keep an eye out and watch closely for Japanese aircraft. Never did see any. About three weeks later we were relieved of that and brought back to the Fort. At that time, they had built the barracks on the hill, which we moved into.
The commanding officer of the Fort was Colonel James H. Cunningham. He was a very British gentleman who wanted very much to be a General. About once every three days, Colonel Cunningham would walk down the street, about 15 or 20 feet behind him were his two dogs, about 20 feet behind the dogs was his wife, and that was standard procedure.”

After Fort Worden:
“We were very busy training and being on the alert after Pearl Harbor.In March I left Fort Worden as a Sergeant and went to OCS at Fort Sill. After completion of the school, I became a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to Pine Camp, New York. I was with a field artillery unit, we stayed there about three months and went on maneuvers in Tennessee. From there we went to the desert in California, where we prepared to go fight Rommel in the African desert. About that time (May 1943) General Rommel decided to give up and leave Africa. So we had nothing to do but stick around California for another six months, at which time we were sent to Camp Bowie, Texas. We stayed there until December 1943 and were then sent to Boston to board ships and go to South Wales (in Great Britain).”

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