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Earnest was born in Richmond, Virginia. He was born on April 1st, 1917. HIs father was in the Light Infantry Blue, which was a guard unit in Richmond. Shortly after he was born he moved to Alabama for six months but he grew up and went to high school in Richmond. One of the high schools had a cadet corps but he went to the school that did not have a cadet corps.Earnest's father eventually joined the regular Army. His father was a calvary officer. He would see his uncle and his children and he envied their life because they traveled since his uncle was in the military. Earnest's father was a good calvary officer but it did not matter because the calvary was obsolete.Earnest's older brother went to VMI [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: Virginia Military Institute]. Earnest went to his graduation; he was about twelve years old. He went by his brotherÂ’s room after the graduation and there were a bunch of guys in there crying. He wondered why they were crying. The boys were crying because they were leaving VMI. When Earnest graduated from high school he wanted to go to VMI but things were tough financially. Instead he wanted to go to the University of Richmond.That summer, Earnest decided to go to the CMTC. The CMTC was a military training organization. He wanted to earn his commission that way. He came back to Richmond after the first year. He went to Ft. Meade. Earnest's dad had saved enough money and he then went to VMI, class of 1938. He had a good life at VMI; he was in the field artillery there. He had been riding horses and that benefited him. He also belonged to the Deep Run Hunting club. Earnest was familiar with riding.When he graduated he received a commission in the field artillery. The biggest job he had was with the Virginia Insurance Rating Bureau. It was not the most interesting job in the world. The war was coming on however. During his last year at VMI, the Army Air Corps came through and gave physicals to men who wanted to join the Air Corps. Earnest was not able to pass the physical. The Navy came through at one point and was giving physicals for guys who wanted to join the Navy Air Corps. One of his buddies convinced him to come down to take the physical. The doctor told him his lazy eye was easy to fix, so he gave Earnest some eye exercises. Three weeks later, he took the eye exam and passed it.
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