Segment 1

Annotation

Richard Duchossois was born in October of 1921 in Chicago. His whole family lived, and still lives, in Chicago. Duchossois went to high school at Morgan Park Military Academy, then went to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He was only there for 18 months before being called up for active duty in the US Army midway through his sophomore year. Duchossois had a certificate of eligibility since he had attended a military academy and had been in ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] and had done summer training with the regular army. The certificate made him eligible for a commission as a Second Lieutenant. He was 19 years old when he was commissioned in the infantry. After being called up, Duchossois was sent to the replacement center at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was only there for two days before being sent to the new tank destroyer school at Camp Hood, Texas. The tank destroyer units were relatively new at the time. Camp Hood was the headquarters for the tank destroyers and that is where most of the tank destroyer units trained during the war. Duchossois was sent to Camp Hood in 1942. Duchossois was at Washington and Lee University when he learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was on his way to the library to study for mid-semester exams when another student told him about it. Duchossois did not even know where Pearl Harbor was at the time but learned about it fast that afternoon. While he was in college he did not think much about the war and foreign policy. When Duchossois was sent to Camp Hood nobody there really knew what tank destroyers were at first or what was expected of them. They had a cadre of men in the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion responsible for building the battalion. At the time tank destroyers ranged from half tracks with 75 millimeter guns mounted on them to the 57 millimeter gun. It took some time to get the unit filled out. Many of the troops came from the 90th Infantry Division and there were a lot of draftees in the unit. Since there was no clear picture of what the unit was they conducted various types of training. They conducted physical training, basic infantry training, reconnaissance training, and cavalry training. They did not have a complete set of rules or a training schedule. They just had to get ready to go to war. Duchossois trained with half-tracks with 75 millimeter guns mounted on them but there were only a few of them so only a few groups could train on them at a time. At the time there was no defined table of organization. The group was notified that a captain was going to be the new communications officer and asked for a volunteer to go to communication school at Fort Knox. Duchossois volunteered and was sent to Kentucky. Training was a challenge. Duchossois was a 19-year-old and new to the army and he was trying to train civilians who had never been in the army. Duchossois and the other men in the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion were in the US for a while before shipping out. They spent time at Camp Hood and Camp Bowie in Texas then at Camp Atterbury, Indiana and several other places. They moved around some and every time they moved they picked up more people. At Camp Bowie the battalion received a full complement of draftees who were mostly from New York and New Jersey. The new men were turned into soldiers. To Duchossois it was easy because everyone knew that there was a war on and knew that they had to do their duty. Duchossois also credits his battalion commander with turning the men into soldiers. A lot of the draftees were not happy about being in the army but Duchossois and the other officers and men got them going good.

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