Corporal Earl J. Heckel, 4th Div., 1st Bn., Co. D, 22nd Inf.
Letter from Earl Heckel in museum files:
In the fall of 1943 November & December the 4th Infantry Division was sent from Fort Dix, New Jersey by train to Camp Gordon Johnston, Carrabelle, Florida. The reason the 4th Div. was sent there was for amphibious training. We did not know at t time that it was for getting us ready for the landing on Utah beach in France, June 6th 1944.
At Camp Gordon Johnston the barracks were just a 1 story building with just sand floors and very little lighting. We had double deck bunks to sleep in, and the bottom bunk would sink in the sand almost touching the sand, but we were there only 60 days so it served the purpose to keep us out of the weather.
The training consisted of learning to swim which was on our schedule just about every day. It was required that every one had to learn how to swim. Another part of the training was going out in landing craft boats and come in and land in all kinds of weather. In one particular time the water was so rough that some of our small boats sunk and were lost.
We learned a lot at Camp Gordon Johnson in the 60 days of training we were there. We had to wash our clothes by hand, as we had laundry service in all other camps. After our 60 days of training there we were sent to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey — the port of embarkation to go to Europe and finish our training for the invasion of France — June 6, 1944.