Today, the Florida panhandle is a vacation resort paradise. In 1944, times were a little different. One tale of that time relates how Tech 4th. Grade, Eph Hansell, Company B, definitely did not like “Hillbilly” music, especially when it played on and on. Eph ended up losing his temper over it and threw the offending radio across the floor of a Camp Gordon Johnston barracks. The radios owner and his friends then attempted to throw Eph into the Gulf of Mexico. Eph emerged from the fight sore and bruised and is to this day, no lover of hillbilly music. He has apparently quit throwing radios though.
Joe Sullivan, Company C, 594th wrote the following Tall Tale: I was a member of Company C and arrived at Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida from Cape Cod, Massachusetts on 9 September 1943. I was eighteen years old with only two months of service. We trained as combat engineers and then went to manning landing craft. There we trained the 4th Infantry Division in Amphibian warfare. Then the New Year’s holidays arrived.
With nothing to do and nowhere to go, we were restricted to the Camp and the small town of Carrabelle, Florida. It was decided that we would have a New Year’s Eve booze party, and a volunteer was asked to go into Carrabelle, secure liquor, evade detection by the MP’s at the Camp gate and return to the Company area. This sounded to me like more fun than I had in months of boring army training. A challenge to defy authority! I went for it.
Everyone chipped in, and my buddy and I hitched a ride into Carrabelle at sunset. We walked the boardwalk to the nearest liquor store. We bought about twelve bottles of liquor and a large bottle of Champagne for myself. I spotted a large Packard sedan Taxi with the spare tires mounted on each side of the car body. We made a deal with the cabby. First we pulled off the tires, stashed the tubes and stored the bottles in the remounted tires, and off we went, back to Camp.
Arriving at the well-lit front gate of Camp Gordon Johnston, we found that it was manned by two MP’s and their commander, a 2nd Lieutenant. We were ordered “OUT OF THE CAR!”. These guys must have been tipped off because they pulled out all the car seats, opened and searched the trunk, searched under the hood and even crawled under the car. But they did not pull off the two spare tires. Sitting beside the 2nd Lt. was a cluster of confiscated bottles which I’m sure were headed for the “O” club (Officer’s Club) that night. After the exhausting search of the car; off we went to the best all-male party ever at Camp Gordon Johnston. Having no ice to cool my wine, I ended up at the back door of the O club and got myself a bucket of ice. We screwed the system and had a wonderful time.