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 Some facts about Shep's Army service
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Posted - 02/06/2019 :  09:28:01  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Like so much else circulating in print and online about Shep, most everything 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.

Shep was inducted into the Enlisted Reserve Corps on July 20, 1942, at Chicago's Army induction center located in the old Lesher building at 515 South Franklin Street, which was razed in 1947 to make way for the Congress Street superhighway. However, Shep didn't actually put on a uniform until April 14, 1943, when he was sent to the Army's Central Signal Corps Replacement Training Center at Camp Crowder, near Neosho, Missouri, for basic training and signal instruction.

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 military was actively seeking enlistments for the expected offensives in the European and Pacific Theaters (brother Randy served in the latter, having risen to sergeant). Such discharges were sanctioned just three months prior to Shep's release. They were granted if two criteria were met: the soldier did not meet the minimum physical standards for induction AND there were no appropriate positions reasonably available within the major commands or defense commands in which the soldier was serving.

As to the first criterion, the 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. As to the second criterion . . .

Although Shep indeed served in the Signal Corps -- often a source of technical expertise sorely needed in time of war within all commands -- his official Military Occupational Specialty ("MOS") at the time of discharge was Personnel Consultant Assistant (aka "Psychological Assistant"), helping with the adjustment and reassignment of enlisted men having difficulties in the service. This MOS assignment would have been consistent with Shep's brief psychology studies once back home at Indiana University's Calumet extension division in East Chicago.

Shep served in the foregoing MOS at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, in the summer/fall of 1944 (prior to his out processing at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and subsequent discharge at Fort Atterbury, Indiana). At Fort Monmouth, Shep served in the 25th Headquarters Training Company of the 848th Signal Training Battalion of the US Army Air Forces, whose mission was to evaluate, retrain and reassign men who had washed out of flight school. The patch worn by members of Shep's unit -- a pair of scissors clipping a set of gold flight wings, emblazoned over the motto, "Thou Shalt Not Fly" -- was doubtlessly a cruel reminder of the men's fate and perhaps a harbinger of Shep's unique sense of humor.

Shep also served at Camp Murphy, Florida, in the summer of 1943, when he wrote to friend Schwartz (aka Paul LeRoy Schwartz), telling him of his service there. Later that same summer, Shep became a cadet in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) and sent to Rollins College, Florida, and then to the University of Maryland in College Park, in time for the fall semester, where he was enrolled in the Basic Engineering curriculum until spring 1944, when the Army's ASTP program was entirely abolished.
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