The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Veteran Ernest Kahrs

Corporal · U.S. Army · Korea

 


Ernest Kahrs graduated from high school in Lodgepole in 1949. By that time, there were several branches of the military he could have joined. The U.S. Air Force had become an entity of its own; the U.S. Navy was hiring young folks; the Marines were always interested. Ernest just waited for the draft to come get him. The government did just that.

The action that drove his being drafted was the conflict in Korea. (Note: if one was in the fight there, it was the Korean War. If one wasn’t there, it was called a “conflict”). Ernest rode a train to the U.S. military in-processing station in Omaha. It was his first train ride. He passed the physical exam and completed other paperwork. The train ride home and time spent there was valuable but, ultimately, he would be off to the Army!

Soon, it was time. The first delivery of men was to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. There, Ernest and a train-car full of other young men were delayed in route for a couple of weeks, then sent on to colorful Fort Riley, Kansas. The time of year was late fall, heading to winter. Fort Riley is not real conducive to training in the winter months! Here they invented the expression “if it doesn’t kill ya, it’ll make ya stronger!”

Ernest got along just fine with the training. The housing in the older wooden barracks was tolerable, kinda. He learned the ways and rules of being a soldier. He excelled on the rifle range, earning the “expert” badge in rifle marksmanship. On graduation, he remained at Fort Riley for his follow-on training in food service.

After taking the entry tests, Ernest was pretty sure he was going to be a truck driver or a lineman, but, he cooperated when they told him he was going to be a cook. At such training, it is as imagined. How and what foods to order, store, and prepare were on the main list of classes and future work. Ernest said it was alright. There was always something for him to eat. Cook school lasted eight weeks.

The next stop for this trained soldier was to the northwest area, most likely Fort Lewis, near Seattle. Here the men just waited for the troop ship to fill so it could take them to Korea. In a short couple of weeks, the USS General M.C.Meigs A116, a fast-transport troop ship was loaded and ready to ship out. Ernest slept in the middle hammock of a stack of three high.

Just west of the port, the weather stirred and caused the ship to rock and sway too much. There was seldom found, a man who did not become sea sick. The arrival into the correct port finally came about. The ship stayed out in the bay while the men were delivered to land by smaller boats.

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