Segment 1

Annotation

Charles Coolidge was born August 4 1921 on Signal Mountain Tennessee. His family spent winters in North Chattanooga and spent the summer on Signal Mountain. The family did not build a house there until 1928.Coolidge recalled that prior to Pearl Harbor being attacked on December Seventh of 1941 but in 1939 he graduated from Chattanooga High School and was learning to be a book binder. The foreman of Chattanooga Printing came to him one night after work and asked Coolidge why he did not go to school in September of 1939. Coolidge told him that he figured that it did not take much education to go and shoot people. The foreman asked him what he meant and Coolidge explained with the events going on in Europe that America was not going to let that war go on without it getting a chance to show its skill. The foreman was shocked and told Coolidge that America would not be going to war. Coolidge said they would be and it was just a matter of time.Coolidge had not even registered for the draft. On February sixteenth [Annotators note: uncertain of year] he did so. They had never had the draft down in the twenty year olds until then. Four months to the day he registered he was sworn into the Army. That was on June the sixteenth. Coolidge felt it was remarkable that it happened that quickly and did not realize until after the war when he met the man who headed up his draft board. He surprised the man and told him that he was the one that drafted Coolidge illegally and that he was supposed to exhaust drafting all of the twentyone to twentyfour year olds before drafting those in their twenties. The man shut up then. Coolidge states that people often ask if he volunteered and he responds that he did not volunteer and was a handcuff volunteer.For his basic training, Coolidge went to Fort McClellan Alabama and then on to Camp Butner North Carolina and stayed a week. Coolidge thinks they were getting ready to ship out the 36th Infantry Division which is the Oklahoma Texas National Guard. He was put on a train and took him onto the base at Camp Edwards. When he got off the train he was put in Company M of the 141st Infantry Regiment. They dealt with machine guns and 81 millimeter mortars. Coolidge recalled that the 81 millimeter is about a half a mile behind the lines or more. The machine gunners are attached to a rifle company as a normal procedure. Most of the time when he was Platoon Sergeant then he was attached to K Company. It was not always K Company but most of his fighting was with K Company. Coolidge recalled the rifle companies back then had 60 millimeter mortars.Coolidge had very little training on the weapons until he got to Camp Edwards. When he arrived there he was trained on the 30 caliber watercooled machine guns and the 81 millimeter mortar.When assigned to a rifle company Coolidge recalled that he and his men were at the back of it. Most of the time you would have two regiments or two companies in the attack and one would be in reserve. He recalls they were usually the ones in the attack because there was little use for them in reserve.Coolidge recalled when he arrived at Camp Edwards they discovered he had not been home since entering the Army. They sent him home to Signal Mountain in order to give him a chance to see his family before shipping to New York and then overseas. He stayed home for eight days and recalled most of his friends had already been drafted so it was a disappointing trip home. He was not really able to go out with his friends and have fun. He went back to camp a day or two early.

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