The memory is somewhat hazy about my early days in the 16th squadron of the 64th Troop Carrier Group. However, I do remember that I was assigned to a tent with 1st Lt Newman, a pilot, and a glider pilot on DS with us. His first name was George. Again, I forget his last name and Newman's first name. I never saw glider pilot George after the unit moved to Sicily, nor later on when we were in Sicily. And, I don't remember seeing Newman around. Perhaps he rotated home, or was transferred.
The first few days were spent undoubtedly getting acquainted. Hutto was in a tent nearby and I visited with him. He was already making things more conveninet. In an olive tree, he had installed a shelf in a fork of the limbs which held his helmet, being used for a wash bowl. And, he had tacked on a small mirror for combing his hair and shaving. Bud had the knack of making conditions more comfortable. Later, in Sicily, he devised a stove for us to use in the winter. He used a gas barrel that dripped 100 octane gasoline into it for heating purposes. Neither fires nor explosions occurred.
A shortage of water required us to take a jeep, with a 250-gallon trailer capacity, to some village on the Mediterranean Sea. We would wait in line to fill the trailer and then return the forty miles back to the base. As I recall, we were rationed one gallon of water per person per day for all purposes--such as drinking or shaving. Also, we were allowed a one minute shower of dribbles once per week from a water barrel attached to an olive tree. When we could we'd get to the sea for a real bath with soap!
Once when at the sea to bathe, an Arab fishing nearby was bringing in his nets filled with fish and shrimp. There were also small octopi in his net. He'd grab one out of the net, turn it over to its underside, bite its heart, and the octopus would collapse, lifeless. He'd also eat a live shrimp while it was still wiggling. I forget whether or not he bothered to remove the shell.
We had joined the 64th after they had finished the para drops, but we participated in the rest of the campaign, providing supplies, flying wounded to North Africa based hospitals, and completing various training missions.
One privilege was getting to know John Cerny. He liked to play cards for moola, and I went along with his pastime for a while. Starting with $250, I ran it up to about $1,000 in three months, and quit after sending $750 home and losing much of the remaining stash. I didn't like losing, and didn't like taking money from my buddies, especially Bud Hutto, who was not the most successful poker player in the Air Corps.
While at El Djem, Tunisia, I contracted a desert fever and was in a coma like condition for four days, in a tent dispensary. Upon release, I was placed on a diet of sulpha drugs. Once, after I was released from the dispensary, there was a "bombers moon" night and it was very light. I was in my own tent, on sulpha drugs, and I just couldn't sleep. Suddenly, I saw a large snake side-winding towards the tent in the direction of George's cot. Newman was still out at the recreation tent. Softly, I asked George if he was awake. He was. I told him that a snake was in the tent and near him.
All of our cots had mosquito nets. He reached out to the center pole and flipped on a light powered by a generator. Both of us were humped over looking for the snake, and I'd pulled my .45 from the footlocker ready to shoot, when Newman entered the tent. He thought that George and I were in an argument. We warned him about the snake. Newman plunged down to to grab the back of the snake, whipped him around, and cracked the snake's head on a pile of K-ration boxes, killing it. Newman should have received the Soldier's Medal.
Then, I got sick and threw up due to all of the sulpha drugs and physical activity. We decided to prop the snake up in the entry of an adjacent tent. The three occupants, as I recall, Locke, Lowery, and Nett were still out. Later on, we heard them returning to their tent and we began to chuckle to ourselves. First, there was alarm in their voices as they discovered the snake. Then, when they found that it was trick, there was some unkindly cursing for the unknown culprits! We never let them know. We didn't know the kind of snake. But, it was five to six feet long.