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FRED BAZZANI - my poppa :)
My father, Fred Bazzani (just Fred - no lengthier name - well, can't discuss that and no middle), received his training for the service at CCC Camp, Company 2579, Waveland, Indiana located at Shades State Park where he received Medical Training. In the Medical Corps there, he received $30 a month, although between his phone calls home, and extras, his pay was usually $21. It was the CCC that brought my parents together. She was the Sunday afternoon telephone operator in Waveland where the calls from the CCC came through. She indeed had a beautiful voice and he jokingly told her he was marrying that voice some day. Of course, she poofed him off.
One day, mom went with another guy to a CCC dance. Dad was just sitting around but as she and the guy waltzed by, he heard her talking. Walked right up to the fella', tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, sir, but this is the voice I'm going to marry!" I've always loved that story.
When he got out of CCC, he went to Chicago where he lived at 4950 South Wentworth Avenue, just a few blocks from his beloved Cominsky Park. The last of May 1940, he went to work at the LaSalle Hotel where he only made a $1 a day, but with tips, uniforms, he usually made an average of $10 for each of the two meals he worked. So, about the same pay as in the CCC.
In December 1940, he went home and registered for the draft. He told them right then and there that he was ready to go, but he was not called until eight months later. In the meantime, he worked at Duponts at Newport. One of my favorite stories of his life was that some of the guys he worked with (about 150 of them) held a big party in Clinton across from the hospital on the river. "Every time I turned around, someone was putting a different kind of drink in my hand." Now, you'd think an Italian used to drinking beer and wine would do okay with that but he was sick all night and bordered the bus at 6:00 a.m. heading to Indianapolis. He slept all the way to Ft. Ben with 72 other guys in the bus. Dad knew all but four of them, but he never saw any of them again. Didn't know if they were killed during the war, went elsewhere when they returned or ...???
Dad stayed one evening at Ft. Ben and was assigned the paint crew all night. Then, it was to Camp Grant in Joplin, Illinois where he was supposed to have basic, but since he was in such good shape from waiting tables, working and just generally fit he didn't do much but wait on a new class in Denver, Colorado for more medic training and since that one class started in five weeks, he just laid over in Joplin. Oddly, the Denver Colorado camp was also basically a layover as he only had the one class in the morning (could have taught the rest) and the rest of the day was his. He met a couple named McClelland from Vincennes, who adopted him basically - come to get him, feed him, take him skiing. They were "wonderful people."
While in Denver, he had one assignment, that was taking care of a boy named Will Davis from Georgia. He had t.b., and for weeks Dad and two others gave him 24 hour care. He was in a coma, but after such amazing care, he woke up one day as well as anyone. Did get a medical discharge though.
So, after all the medical training, he went with 18 of them to Seattle, Washington where they were in an evac hospital with 318 enlisted sick men. They gave out the orders in alphabetical order. Dad was the clerk. Dad didn't have a clue how to type, file or anything but gave him a book he studied and he became quite sufficient.
In January, 1943, his unit was sent to the Mojave Dessert in Goff's California for bivouacs. However, a huge windstorm blew the whole of the set up away and they were then sent to Banning, California to try again. This didn't work much better, so on the 21st of April they spent one night at Camp Cook near L.A. and were told the next morning to, "Get up. We're going to hike."
Hiked the day, 200 yards to the train and headed straight to Newport News, Virginia. The next day overseas shots. They "practiced" getting on a ship, but it was the real thing - they docked at Oran, Africa.
On the ship, dad and Felix Rose from Chicago switched jobs and status. Dad became the Sgt Medic and Felix the Corporal Clerk. By August, dad was in Southern France and was driving his medic jeep when he hit a landmine. Nothing, absolutely nothing was left of that jeep but dad ("Someone was looking out for me") only had a small scratch on his toe.
"I never saw any of the boys I helped off the fields, but Alfred David from Michigan got both legs shot off. I encourage him near Stutgart and mentally nursed him. He said he'd never marry or work or anything, but later, I got a letter from him and he said he was getting married and had even learned to dance again ... with artifical legs!"
At Dad's discharge at Camp Arterbury that December he was quite happy to have a name at the beginning of the alphabet as A-D were the first to go, sent off with a very hardy breakfast, bacon, eggs, fresh hashbrown potatoes, orange juice and a steak. Also fruit on the table along with toast, grape jelly and milk or coffee. He was always a big milk drinker so he was in Heaven. He even said they had home made rolls and bread pudding.
Dad took the place of a 2nd Lt. who had an emergency appendectormy who was just heading home or dad might have been there longer. He got to take a shower every day for those 18 days and ate well. "I also learned to bark orders pretty good."
Dad was in Camp Cook again and slept on the same bed. From Camp ATterbury on the 24th dad saw the CLinton Bus with "Giovannini driving." He said hop in, Fred, I'll take ya home. "Mom was still sewing at about 11 p.m. and when I went in the dog made no noise at all it was very unusual as she was super protective but she knew something was up. Mom turned around, stood up and baweled and bawled. The odds for a medic to return are nil. He was one of six out of 366 to return.
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