World War II training in Madison, Wisconsin–“Blasting the enemy out of the skies”

Hi Everyone,

This blog has joined ChicagoNow, a compendium of bloggers, all based in Chicago and covering a diversity of topics. You can click HERE to see all future letters. I’ll continue posting the letters on or near 70 years to the date they were written.

I hope you continue to follow along to find out what happens to Frank and the Gartz family during the Second World War. The following letter is the first post on ChicagoNow.

During World War II, soldiers training Radio Operators and Mechanics at Truax Airfield in Madison, Wisconsin had a kind of “Facebook” / “Yearbook” all their own called The Beam. Here’s the introduction at the front of The Beam that my uncle and other young men at Truax would have read before paging through the book, which amounts to a photo essay of life at Truax:

Beam intro


Thousands and thousands of Radio Operators and Mechanics have left this post well founded in the fundamentals of communication systems, and after advanced training, are taking their places with pilots navigators, bombardiers and air mechanics in forming plane crews which are blasting the enemy out of the skies in all parts of the world.

With each letter I post during Frank’s training at Truax, I’ll include photos and copy from The Beam, which presents a vivid overall picture of life at the field.

This is Frank’s first letter to his mother from  Truax Field, describing his inauspicious arrival.

Truax arrival

“New Arrivals have first roll call in their squadron attachment at Truax Field. Allocation to Barracks is next.”

4-27-43 Truax Field


Dear Mom,

That was close but now I’m 15 minutes late for bed check so I ran most of the way back to the barracks and caught the Sgt. Taking the names of the fellows not in their bunks so I was all right after giving him a sob story of how the bus was late and handed him a chicken sandwich which fixed everything swell.I got here with a little trouble but everything will work out OK.

The bus got into Madison at 10:25 and I grabbed a cab and got to camp about 10:40 where my trouble started. I handed the M.P. My pass and started to walk away when he called me back with the familiar, “Hey Soldier.” Right then and there my heart was tangled with my shoe strings. He beefed about being 40 Minutes late and how would I like to be on the front out of ammunition for 40 minutes––and then said, “Pass.”  Phew!

It’s a good thing you gave me too much to eat. Those nuts were good and I haven’t had too many. I had a good night’s sleep and woke up this morning feeling like a millions dollars. The bus I came back on was a barn on wheels, but I had a good time because the driver was quite a comedian and was kidding 2 girls who sat in back of him. 

Well, I’m going to quit now as I’m in class and I had better do a little work—so till I write again I remain, 

Your Loving Son, 


Reminder: This is the last post of “Letters of a World War II Airman” on But you can keep following along with Frank Gartz’s future in the Army Air Corps by going to this blog’s new home at ChicagoNow. Click to be taken there: Letters of a World War II Airman at “ChicagoNow.” 


2013-05-01T02:30:02+00:00 May 1st, 2013|Letters of a WWII Airman, WWII|

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