Completes Training in Great Lakes, IL


At Great Lakes Naval Training Center, after getting his shots and a buzz haircut, David discards his civilian attire and possessions and mails them back to Eau Claire.  He is given the uniforms and other gear he would use during his period of enlistment and a Sea Bag to store everything in.  He completes his Navy Boot Camp training on April 29th, 1944.

Here is a longer description of Navy Boot Camp during WWII from a former Navy Lieutenant:

Items issued to an Enlisted Man In Boot Camp On entering Boot Camp during the World War II era, besides getting his shots and a buzz haircut, a Navy recruit discarded his civilian attire and possessions.  He boxed his shirt, underwear, and pegged pants and shipped them home. Then after he stood shivering in the nude in a large room with hundreds of other young men, Navy Supply Clerks tossed at him the uniforms and other gear he would use during his period of enlistment. They piled on his arms uniforms, with little attention to size, that the recruit learned wear, not always the proper way at first. The Navy then gave him his sleeping gear. In the tradition of the old navy they issued him a hammock with a mattress, two mattress covers (sailors called them fart sacks), one pillow, two pillow covers, and two blankets.

The Boot needed a place to store these items, so one of the first items issued to him was his Sea Bag. This cylindrical canvas sack of 26″ x 36″ had grommets on top through which the man wove a line to use as a draw string to close the bag and to hang it from a rack. As with everything else he got, he stenciled his name on the side of the bag. This bag was his and his only. It was his entire and unique identity as an individual among the mass of other men. When traveling, a sailor rolled his mattress and sleeping gear inside the hammock which he then wrapped around and secured to his sea bag. This pack he slung up on a shoulder and marched off with all he owned. Before rolling his mattress, however, a sailor laid out his bedding items on the flattened mattress in a specific order according to regulations.

World War II Navy Boot Camps ground out thousands of sailors well enough trained to go aboard ships and win the war. Boot Camp training lasted about six weeks plus or minus a couple depending on the Navy’s need at the moment for men in the fleet. Graduation From Boot Camp Finally the moment came the graduating companies fell in for a parade and pass in review.

Then some dignitary declared the Boots had finished their training and would get leave to go home and display their uniforms with pride. When a Boot graduated from Boot Camp he became a new sailor. He had his mattress rolled and his sea bag full. Then he formed the rolled mattress around the sea bag and restrained it with a line. Proudly, with a grunt because of its weight, he swung it up and balanced it on his shoulder. At that moment he marched off to his first leave and his next assignment.


Source:  Wm. J. Veigele, Lt, USNR (Ret).  Author of PC Patrol Craft of World War II and Sea Bag of Memories, Images Poems Thoughts and Crafts of the Small Ship Sailors of World War II.

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