News from Co. L 5th Reg. N.N.G. (Lapp-9/8/1916)
(Written Expressly for the Echo by LeRoy Lapp)
Camp Llano Grande, Texas.
September 8, 1916.
Speaking of the camp in general, there has been several new and helpful improvements made in our affairs here during the past few days. One thing we mention especially is the completion of the new cook houses which was needed the worst. We can now enjoy eating our meals in our new homes almost as much as we could if we were at home, only the cooking of course is "Slightly" different. Another great imprvement is that we have our tents all floored now which makes it much nicer and more convenient in dressing and undressing than it was when we had to use the ground for such purposes, and of course rugs are scarce and very hard to get hold of down in this country so, naturally, we had to use the ground as did all other animals when they went to bed.
The health conditions in and around camp, generally speaking is in much better condition now than at any other time before, so the medical authorities claim. There are fewer calls at the hospital and less sickness than at any other time since we arrived here, our health is very closely looked after, both our clothing and eating accomodations are looked after and inspected daily, and all concerned are required to report all unsanitary conditions which they might see in or around camp.
We have all kinds of field atheletic sport, which is a great benefit to the boys, as it keeps them in practice so if we get released from duty here in time for school this season we won’t be back numbers in the atheletic sports. We have had General James Parker, our district General here in camp with us for the last three days, reviewing and inspecting his troops here. The General complimented us on our drilling and personal appearance, and said we were doing excellent work, considering the time we had spent in training. He said we had spent so much time away from our drills fixing up our camp and doing many other detail duties since we have been down here that he was much surprised to see us doing so well. He further said if he could keep us here about two more months we would be as well drilled then as the regulars are.
The general wrote a letter to Brigadier General Lews who is in command here after his inspection, in part as follows: "On leaving your station after inspection of the 10,000 troops under your command comprising brigades from Minnesota, Indiana and Nebraska, I desire to congratulate you on their appearance. The improvement they have made in the last few weeks is a revalation to me, as it must be to all who have witnessed it. The intensive course of training which they are undergoing will soon if not interrupted, fit the regiments for active srvice in war." This was greatly appreciated by all, and that fact should act as an incentive to continued effort toward improvement.
A big dance was given in camp last night in honor of the district commander, which was the first entertainment held here of that kind. Many ladies from Mercedes and the nearby towns were loaded into the big government trucks and brought to the dance. Something over 200 ladies attended, and that wasn’t a good starter compared with the number of soldiers present; of course each man had to take his turn, and by so doing, all had at least one chance to dance, and the ladies were not at all slited (sic), even the homeliest had plenty of chances to dance all they cared to.
From all indications and appearances of the high officers, combined with what we can find out, we will be moving northward before many more weeks, we are under the impression that the big inspection here today was for the sole prupose of finding out just what the National Guards here were good for in time of emergency. There has already been a number of train loads of troops from different camps moved north, and we are hoping that our time will not be long until we can see the Pullmans which will convey us back to our home state, and better still, to our original homes which we have so many times thought of and longed for since we have been on this trip.
Cecil Williams has been doing some kitchen detail work for the last few days. We think Cecil will learn the business if he would stay with it, as he has many symptoms of becoming a real cook if he would only practice up a little.
Roy Lapp says he has but little faith in the southern women folks. He had a date the other night with a bunch of them, but none of ’em showed up. They must have a still better opinion of him or they all would have showed up.
Chas. Owen seems to be very well contented with life down here along the Rio Grande, we never hear him say he is anxious to return to Nebraska. Still we never hear him say he is at all anxious to remain here. We believe that Charles will go back with us when we go.