Interview With Richard Konig

From the interview with Richar Konig of Woodside, NY conducted by John Clise by phone from the Fort Worden History Center on April 6, 2004. Mr. Konig served in the Shore Battalion, 369th EASR from 1951 to 1953. Here he describes how he reached Fort Worden as a new draftee:

“I was drafted on the first of February, and we left the induction station, 39 Whitehall Street in New York, by bus in the afternoon. We proceeded up to Fort Devens, MA, which was our first destination. We got involved in a storm and it got down to a crawl to the point where we arrived up there quite late, much to the ire of the barracks Sergeant who was charged with teaching us how to make hospital corners in beds. My first day in the Army was spent at KP. The first meal that was served was the famous SOS. I spent from 6:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night on KP, which put me a day behind all of my other friends.

From Fort Devens we entrained and took a long five or six days out to Seattle. We were shuntted to the side for everything else on the way out. Got to Union Station in the late afternoon and we were all marched out. There were three Pullman carloads of us. I thought it was wonderful with Pullman service all the way out. In Seattle we all marched out through Union Station to the street, and lo and behold, there was a fleet of taxi cabs. It amazed me, I thought of the taxi cab army in France for some reason.

We got into the taxis, not knowing exactly where we were going, we just let the cabs take us. Being from new York City, I knew what the waterfront smells like. All of a sudden we were on a pier at the waterfront. I thoght that they couldn’t be taking us to Korea right away. I looked out and, sure enough, there was a big loading port and a ship named Chinook.

The Sergeant told us, ‘Look, we’re going to our Fort Worden.’ That passed right over my head, I didn’t know where Fort Worden was. I had no idea where Port Townsend was. Washington State was something so alien to a New Yorker that you never even thought about it. You thought about six feet of snow. But we got on and he said, ‘They have a bar and I’ll allow you one drink and that’s all. Anybody gets drunk and they’ll have to answer to me.’ So, we had one drink and we sat up until the vessel eventually pulled into the Port Townsend ferry pier.

We unloaded and they had trucks to take us to Fort Worden. By this time it was late at night and here was another irate barracks Sergeant who was teaching us to make hospital corners Fort Worden style. I was fiited out with some parts and pieces of uniform that they had forgotten at Fort Devens. They taught us how to march on the parade field and several other things. Ten days later the Shore Battalion was shipped to Fort Flagler across the bay.”

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