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6 Nest of Black Eagles┬╗ April 1942-April 1943 Arriving at Chehaw at about noon the day after leaving Penn Station, I was really anxious to get started with my new life. During the overnight train ride I had plenty of time to ponder a raft of questions about what the new life would be like. Questions about my new duties: What would they be? How many? I had heard that new "Second Looies" are always loaded down with every imaginable extra duty, every undesirable task that higher ranking officers avoid. Would I be able to handle them? About my new responsibilities: Would I have staff or command responsibilities? Deal mainly with men, money, or materiel? Would I be in charge of some activity? So many slots had to be filled at the almost-brand-new Tuskegee Army Air Field. Or would I be an assistant to some other officer in charge? What about new relationships? With other officers-of higher rank? Of equal rank-especially our former upperclassmen? With cadets? With NCOs and enlisted men? With an orderly? The most burning questions, of course, were: Where on the post will I be assigned? What will be my outfit? The answer to those questions was awaiting me at post headquarters when I signed in, reporting for duty. The post adjutant handed me a large brown envelope containing several papers. Riffling rapidly through the stack I found the most important of allmy assignment orders: 68 Special Orders No. 68, dated 5 May, 1942, issued by HEADQUARTERS, TUSKEGEE ARMY FLYING SCHOOL, Tuskegee, Alabama 7. The following named Officers having reported this station per par. I, S.O. #64, this Headquarters, dated 29 April 1942, are assigned to the 99th Pursuit Squadron, effective this date: 2nd Lieutenant Sidney P. Brooks (0-789II8) A.C. 2nd Lieutenant Charles W. Dryden (0-789II9) A.C. 2nd Lieutenant Clarence C. Jamison (0-789120) A.C. "Good! All three of us are in the 99th. That's great!" I thought. My next thought was, "Where will I be billeted?" Another document in the envelope was a post clearance form. It directed me to visit several offices on the post and check in. First was the billeting office where I was assigned a room in the B 0 Q (bachelor officers quarters). My room was on the second floor of the two-story wooden barracks . At the far end of the hall, it was the inner room of a tworoom suite, not at all plush as the term suite might imply. My room, was at a corner of the building, so I had two windows giving me cross ventilation. However, because the only door to the suite was in the other room, I had to go through my roommate's room to get to mine. Fortunately my roommate was an amiable man, a veteran of over twenty years of army service: Major Fleetwood McCoy, an attorney by profession, TJA (trial judge advocate) by military assignment . He didn't appear until late in the afternoon. He came into his room, heard me stirring around in my room, stowing my gear and settling in, and knocked at the connecting door. "Hi, Roomie!" he greeted me brightly. "I'm Major McCoy. Fleetwood McCoy, from Chicago." "Pleased to meet you, Sir. I'm Lieutenant Charles Dryden from New York City. I just returned from ten days' leave there. Signed in at post headquarters a couple of hours ago, Sir." Nest of Black Eagles ┬╗ 69 70 "Have you gotten your assignment yet?" "Yes, Sir. The 99th." "Fine, Roomie. I'm glad to have one of you young shavetail pilots as a roommate. Maybe we can go on a flight sometime." "Sure thing, Major." And so a new friendship was born. Major McCoy became my mentor as well as my roommate. At dinner at the officers mess that evening I admitted to him that the prospect of being an officer was somewhat overwhelming to me and that the need I felt to know everything about everything in a number of sources and references was mind boggling: "Everything" meaning army regulations, the Manual for Courts-Martial, the officers guide, aircraft tech orders, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The major tried to put me at ease with the advice to just "Be yourself, keep your eyes and ears open, and, when you don't know something, ask somebody who does." Good advice, I thought, as I remembered how, when I was an aviation cadet in...


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