Snook’s Army History (Part 4)

While at Camp Robinson, we learned how to load, shoot, and take apart, clean, and put back together, the rifle, machine gun, and BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle). We also learned to crawl around on your belly. I got one of the worst cases of chigger bites in history! I bought some vaseline and sulphur, and made a paste to put on my belly, but the chiggers licked it off, and kept right on biting.

The high point while at Camp Robinson was when Geneva and Mildred (Claude’s wife) came to see me on May 3rd. They stayed at the Marion Hotel. I wasn’t able to get out of camp too much, but we made the most of their visit. They left May 5th.

Snook and Gee during her visit to Camp Robinson.

Towards the end of our training period, they passed around a postcard to everyone that said, “Do you want to volunteer for hazardous duty?”. I thought this meant, did I want to go overseas, so I put down, Yes! That was the reason I wound up where I did in the Army!

The only friends I made at Robinson was, Harold Floyd, a local fellow and a guy by the name of Byerly. After Camp [Robinson], I never saw them again.

Snook’s dates are off by two months for Gee and Mildred’s visit, as they visited over the 4th of July holiday, and, given he had Mildred’s hand-typed account and Gee’s scrapbooks to consult, it’s confusing why he would have that detail wrong. According to the dates on the memoir’s prior page (in Part 1), corroborated by local newspaper articles, Snook was not yet in the Army on May 3rd. He also incorrectly refers to Camp Grant instead of Camp Robinson in his last sentence here.

The Byerly he mentions was also mentioned in Mildred’s account, as Corporal Beierle. I have not yet been able to completely identify who this man is, but my two best candidates are Corporal Frank Beierle, HQ 3rd Bn, 134th Infantry, who I have not been able to verify was at Camp Robinson, and Joseph E Byerly, who was a recruit at Camp Robinson, but only listed as a Private in the records I’ve located. If you can provide more information about either of these men, please contact me.

Anyone who has spent time lying in the grass in the Midwest is familiar with the horrors and pains of chigger bites. Powdered sulfur is a common natural treatment and repellent for chiggers, and remedies using a Vaseline and sulfur mixture appear to be common, though in recipes I found, the ratio of sulfur varies between 5% and 10%. Perhaps Snook just needed a mixture heavier on the sulfur. The problem was widespread enough that even the Arkansas National Guard Museum included a picture of a World War II soldier applying a chigger remedy in their history of Camp Robinson.

A soldier attempts to prevent chiggers at Camp Robinson. Source: Arkansas National Guard Museum.

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