Trench Mouth. The word conjures up images of soldiers languishing in World War I rat-infested trenches. But this disease, an extreme form of gingivitis, also affected trainees at the Army Technical School, including my uncle, Frank Gartz. In fact the medical care appears to be less than stellar as revealed in this letter. Click on Trench Mouth to learn more about the causes and symptoms of this unpleasant disease.
ARMY TECHNICAL SCHOOL
SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA
I’m still spitting blood and haven’t been treated for T.M. [trench mouth] but I hope that it will be different tomorrow. A fellow died in our barracks of spinal meningitis and when they took him to the hospital before he died they treated him for pneumonia.
This will give you an idea of the medical treatment we are initiated to. An inspecting general came to camp today and all those soldiers who had some complaint were to go to him and tell him about it with no strings attached. By the time I got to him he had seen over 3,000 soldiers.
He is staying an extra day to get in all those with complaints. The weather has changed for the better today and yesterday in fact it [was] beautiful. The boxing is coming along fine and I like it very much. Send me my gym shoes and blue trunks; also several pair of sweat sox. The food arrived in excellent condition yesterday and I had some for supper today. We are going to start on the cake tonight. Those bananas were swell. I had two of them.
Tomorrow is payday and I’m going to get some things I need and send home about $50.00. I just saw some fellows from Keesler Field and didn’t recognize them; one of them approached me and said, “Hello, aren’t’ you the Flight Sgt. from Keesler Field who took us to chow the first time?” This made me very happy.
Speaking of meeting people, I met one of the 3 fellows left in Chicago when we passed through on the way up here. I showed him your picture and he recognized you right away. He wasn’t punished bad at all.
I now wish I had missed the train myself. How are you and everybody back home? I’m going to quit now. It’s 9:20 and I want to get a good night’s sleep so love and kisses,
Time to write is very precious; in 1959 when my husband was in Marine Corps reserves, they had about an hour to get ready for the next day, clean their gear, etc., and write home..maybe 10 minutes at best. Now the troops can email or Facebook but they’re still missing home.