1. Greetings from a New Marine,
Port Royal, South Carolina
22nd April, 1917
To the beloved,
Mother, Father and sisters of an individual now known as Private E. West
12th Company G
United States Marine Corps
I hardly believe any of you would be able to recognize either John or myself as we are attired now with our field equipment and uniform on. Since John wrote his letter it seems an age has passed but a busy age so busy I did not find time to write as I wanted to a good long letter of detail that you would enjoy.
Well after 3 days of waiting around eating on the government and earning our meals by carrying heavy boxes etc, etc, we at last were given a little attention. First our finger prints were taken and marks and scars on the [body?] by special Naval Bertillon [identification system] experts (mind this took a whole day and a half at least the standing in line. We were ordered to report after breakfast to the Sick Bay as they call it and to undress and wait for our names to be called. John and I and Giger sat in our undersuit in the blazing Southern sun all of one day and as our names were not called we had to wait till next day. Mind you also they are receiving something like 250 new recruits in here every day. Into a place that in time of peace had merely accommodation purposes for 25 or 30 men a day. Well next morning we again reported and after another wait of two hours we all three were called and then were examined by the doctor and were passed with merit. We were sworn in by then by an officer from Port Royal Barracks (you see this is merely the 10 day quarantine camp) and next morning after an exceptionally long wait we were at last Issued our uniforms and equipment.
The equipment is very adequate and certainly covers all earthly need. A tent half, tent stick, 5 tent pegs A rain poncho that is used to lay on the ground when sleeping in bivouac and also as a rain cloak; 4 pairs of khaki pants, two khaki coats, two khaki flannel shirts 2 towels, a bucket; an aluminum dish, frying pan knife containing a housewife's kit of scissors buttons needles and thread, a shaving outfit, comb brush mirror tooth brush! and powder, shoe brush & polish; two blankets two sheets pillow case, first aid kit, a pair of gym shoes all of which is to be carried of route marches in the haversack and knapsack which contains also a ration box and canteen bottle for water. Plus this is the uniform of very comfortable pair of army shoes, leggings, cartridge belt rifle and bayonet. All of this weighs but 55 pounds and is carried on the person in time of campaigning. We have a company barber whom we pay 15 cents a month for as many haircuts as we need. The food is fairly limited in quantity (reminds us of P.S.C. [Philander Smith College in India]) but it is good and healthy. We are thankful that we were taught to eat anything that is set before us. We never complain. We have among us barbers tailors and in fact everything from cowboys straight from the plains of Texas, or bums from the "Bowery" in New York to the slouching white trash of Georgia and Alabama or the salesman from Detroit or the College men whom your sons are proud to count themselves among.
Well we never have much time to ourselves but I thought if I could just drop you a line before "Lights Out" was blown you would get it sooner than if I waited to finish tomorrow. We had our first drill today. Drilled for 7 hours! and [my brother] John and I were made squad leaders thanks to our volunteer training at P.S.C.
Well I must close now, the first call has gone and I must undress & make my bed. Tomorrow we will probably be vaccinated and inoculated for typhoid before we leave for the manoeuver grounds on Weds or Thursday.
Well goodbye for the present
Love to you all
Your loving son Eugene Pardon the scrawl and spelling. EW