Of The 347th Ordnance Depot Company
Chapter 1: A Company Is Born
On a hot mid-July day a train pulled into Braggs, Oklahoma and two soldiers descended to the station platform. The first contingent had arrived and were anxious to see their new home. One look was sufficient for Braggs consisted of little more than the station and the drug store across the street surrounded by a few shacks. The two men sank dejectedly to the platform alongside their gear and sat with head in hands. T/Sgt. Fred J. Schmidt and Cpl. Peter Masica had reason to be sad for they had just come from Ponoma, California. Now they were in the wasteland section of Oklahoma, part of cadre from the 55th Quartermaster Regiment activating Company I of the 521st Quartermaster Regiment.
After a period of deep reflection they finally gathered their spirits and equipment and headed for Camp Gruber. This was much better. The new company was starting in a new camp. The top had been lopped off of one of the Cookston Hills and a modern military installation had been put in its place. The company area, pointed out to the two men by a post headquarters clerk, consisted of four two-storied air conditioned barracks - a combination orderly room, supply room and day room - an excellently equipped mess hall and a large drill field. They also found that there was bus service to Muskogee, Oklahoma, 16 miles away. The dejected spirits disappeared. The men dropped their gear and headed for the bus stop.
During the next three days the other members of the cadre arrived individually and on the morning of July 25, 1942 the order was published activating Company I of the 521st Quartermaster Regiment with Captain Oliver J. Guseman assuming command. The following days were spent getting company supplies, beautifying the company area and preparing for the arrival of the expected fillers. They came in small groups from Fort Warren, Wyoming, having received their basic training there. The last of these groups arrived August 18, 1942 with the company strength at three officers and forty-one enlisted men. Still too small to organize an operating depot, and not knowing what the future held, the young company occupied itself in athletics and road marches.
On August 31, 1942, with the change of Motor Transport from the Quartermaster to the Ordnance Department, the company was redesignated Company I, 521st Ordnance Regiment (HM) (Q), which was again changed on the 15th of October to the 347th Ordnance Motor Transport Company (Q). On September the 18th, Captain Guseman was appointed Commanding Officer of the 76th Ordnance Battalion (HM) (Q) and Lt. Raymond G. Roy assumed command of the new company.
On October 12, 1942 one hundred and sixty-five limited service men arrived direct from the reception center at Camp Grant, Illinois. These men had been in the army less than two weeks and many were in poor physical shape. At that time the doctors must have been feeling them -- if they were warm, they were in. The following months were spent on a physical conditioning program, basic training and weedcutting those "hopeless cripples" that should never have been accepted for service. On December 21, 1942 the company first started functioning as a depot, supplying all units stationed at Camp Gruber. The training program was far from completed but the need for a supply agency at the post was urgent. The base load was requisitioned at this time and until its arrival a strictly backorder system was carried on. Unit requisitions were consolidated and taken to the Motor Transport District at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. The parts were brought back and broken down to the maintenance shops. During this period the company was divided into shifts so that the men spent half of their time taking military training, the other half operating the depot. On February 3, the first shipment of the original base load was received and a normal depot operation was instituted.
On February 9, 1942 Captain Jack P. Clark was transferred to the company and assumed command. The Physical Fitness Test was taken March 12, 1943 and the MTP test on March 23, both with excellent rating, and so the unit was ready for maneuvers. On April 5, 1943, Lt. Roy and eighteen men departed for Camp Chaffee to cadre the 177th Ordnance Depot Company.