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Colonel

55 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2017 :  11:41:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Like so much else circulating in print and online about Shep, much published about his military service in the U.S. Army is incorrect or incomplete. For example, Shep actually spent only 20 months on active duty during WWII (from April 1943 -- not July 1942 -- through December 1944). He was discharged "for the convenience of the government" on December 16, 1944, only days before the siege of Bastogne, at a time when the Army was actively seeking enlistments for the expected offensives in the European and Pacific Theaters (brother Randy having served in the latter). This early discharge may have been due, at least in part, to a service-connected knee injury, for which Shep later received disability compensation from the Veterans Administration.

And although Shep indeed served in the Signal Corps, his official Military Occupational Specialty ("MOS") at the time of discharge was Personnel Consultant Assistant (aka "Psychological Assistant"), helping with the adjustment of enlisted men having mental or service difficulties. This MOS assignment would have been consistent with Shep's brief studies in psychology back home at Indiana University's extension division in East Chicago under Professor Levi Krueger (from whom Shep received an A-, the highest grade of his truncated college career).

On the other hand, many of the GIs who populated Shep's Army stories really did serve with him. Pictures exist of the real Goldberg, Gasser, Zinsmeister, Nash and Goldworm -- all in their Army uniforms from the time they served with Shep, often in training at Camp Crowder or in Maryland. Of course, just like the real Schwartz and Flick, the actual GIs became literary archetypes, usually for hapless men trapped in the pointless or monotonous rituals of the stateside Army.

Edited by - Colonel on 03/13/2017 14:04:08
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