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Old 07-21-2014, 06:37 PM
Joe21 Joe21 is offline
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Default Ernie T.

During WW2, our company, like most other Army companies was divided into teams based on their specific responsibilities. Depending on the size of the team and equipment requirements, one or more truck drivers were assigned to the team. My team consisted of eight men, plus our driver, Ernie T. Ernie was not a big fellow and looked somewhat strange sitting behind the steering wheel of that huge truck. He was a likable chap, always wearing a big smile.

Ernie must have learned to drive in a demolition derby and attending the Army truck driving school appeared to have made no change in his previously learned driving habits. A trip with Ernie at the wheel was an adventure. Ernie probably caused more people to resort to prayer than any evangelist on the sawdust trail. On departure there was a prayer for a safe trip and at the end of the ride, a prayer for a safe delivery. There was never a pothole, bomb hole or any type of obstruction that escaped his challenge. He was, indeed, a master at avoiding a smooth ride.

If there was anything more important to Ernie than driving a truck, it was his passion for poker. The penny-ante friendly game was not his cup of tea, he loved the bigger stakes and he had the nose to always ferret out a game to his liking. Ernie never played poker with our company members, preferring to win or lost to those in other companies.

In late 1944, our company, along with about 4,000 other men, boarded the former luxury liner. the SS George Washington, now converted to a troop ship. Our destination was the European Theater of Operations. The George Washington was capable of speeds in excess of the German U-Boat so we had no naval escort nor did we go with a convoy. We zig-zagged across the Atlantic to avoid any lurking U-Boat.

Upon boarding the ship, we went to our assigned area, dropped our gear and selected our bunk. I don't recall for certain but believe the bunks were four high. Our team members were together, along with Ernie. Soon after getting settled, Ernie disappeared. We knew immediately Ernie was already in search of a game. He could smell one out like a blood hound. When the next meal time rolled around , Ernie was nowhere in sight. That erased any doubt about Ernie's success in finding a game.

Most of our team members had just climbed into our bunks when Ernie appeared and came to my bunk and whispered, "Joe, are you awake"? I assured him I was and then he responded, "I want you to hold this for me". Ernie handed me the biggest roll of money I had ever seen. I asked Eernie how much money was there and he said, "about $5,000". I then said to Ernie, "there are a lot of fellows on this ship who would kill me if they knew I had that much money on me". Anyway, I took the money and stuffed it down in my olive drab undershirt. I didn't know where else to put it for safe keeping.

Five thousand dollars!!!!! That would have bought a house in 1944 and , had they been available, a fleet of automobiles. After Ernie left, I thought about all the possibilities that could occur if others knew I had that much money on me. Many banks have been robbed of less money than I had stuffed in my undershirt. Ernie may have slept well that night but I didn't.

The next day, Ernie came to me and said he needed some money so I pulled out the bankroll and he peeled off what he wanted. The rest went back into the bank--- in my undershirt. The next day Ernie came back and said he needed more money. So out came the wad of money and again he peeled off what he wanted. At least the wad was getting smaller and I was beginning to feel like the present day ATM. Ernie's first day luck aboard ship had now deserted him and by the time we arrived at Bootle, England, Ernie had lost all of the $5,000. But not to worry, Ernie would find another game on another day and once again be financially solvent ----- at least for a few hours or days.

I doubt if Ernie is still living but where ever he is, he's probably holding a hand with four aces.

Never during the time I held Ernie's money did I count it and never did Ernie question my honesty. When people are bound close together one soon learns the true character of those around you.
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  #2  
Old 07-22-2014, 12:03 AM
Lee Lance Lee Lance is offline
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Default Re: Ernie T.

Good stuff, Mr Joe! Keep 'em coming! One question though, what makes you doubt Ernie still living?
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  #3  
Old 07-22-2014, 10:54 AM
Joe21 Joe21 is offline
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Default Re: Ernie T.

Lee ---- All of those on my team would be in the 92 to 96 age range if still living. I am aware that one died in 1979, one in 2002 and one in 2007. Based on longevity odds, only one would still be living and ----- I'm still here.
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Old 07-22-2014, 05:57 PM
drinkoj drinkoj is offline
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Default Re: Ernie T.

Good stuf Mr. Joe! I actually visualized Erinie driving the truck with me in it.
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