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MIST

 

Have you ever studied mist?
Watched it waver? Watched it rise?

Revealing a hidden view
Right before your eyes?

 

A mist ‘oer a Georgia peach orchard
Clung to the ground that teary day
Not wanting to expose the sad faces
As their Johnny marched away.

 

The same mist phenomena

Was happening in the sooty, misty rain

As an inner city slum boy

Ran to catch the moving train.

 

They picked up bewildered young men

As the train crossed this mighty nation

From big cities and cattle-crossings

­At many mist shrouded stations.

 

The train finally clattered into Portland

But the city was hidden by a river mist.

“Where do we go from here?” the boys wondered

“Across the Pacific?” – surely you guys do jest!

 

“No. boys, we’re headin’ on down south

Through this great Willamette Valley.

But the misty-fog is so thick

You can’t see much but “train-track alley.”

 

Those curious boys couldn’t see the view

That Oregonians hold so dear
The train slowed to a jerky stop.
Someone asked, “Are we here?”

 

Wherever “here” was they couldn’t tell

As a “Camp Adair” was on no map

“When the fog lifts” said one cheerful recruit

“We’ll see the buildings —Ohhh        —CRAP!

 

As the fog rose ever so slightly

A louder chorus of curses gave vent-‑
The expected barracks with clean cots -‑
Was only a city of tiny tents!

 

That night some southern boys sang -‑

“We’re tenting tonight on the old camp grounds”

Then the fog changed to a famous Oregon rain —

Men from the prairies thought it an awesome sound.

 

Those first boys here quickly grew

Into men with a plan of action

To organize an Army training base

With a time limit cut to the barest fraction.

 

But the camp became functional in record time

And was home for four great divisions -‑

The Powder River, Trailblazers, Deadeyes & Timberwolves

With all of their equipment and provisions

 

They sweat a lot— and, got wet a lot
And poison oak made them itch.
But all in all — as Army life goes
Not many would have made a switch.

 

Time double-timed by and the boys changed

Into proud fighting men — and tough
Enough to wade into the battles

Where the facts of war get very rough.

 

So — the trains came once again

Often early on a dark, misty morn.

And carried those trained soldiers away -‑

Somewhere – to a troop ship – and they were gone.

 

Powder River men fought from Africa thru Italy

cross mountains and the Po — the mists were the same

Rising slowly to expose the devastation,

Sprawled bodies and the moaning maimed.

 

The Timberwolves snarled thru a winter

Of clawing mud, frozen bodies and drifting snow

In France, Belgium and the Remagin Bridge ‑

Constant orders were “Move out” & “Up Wolves, Go”.

 

The Trailblazers lived up to their name

Crossing the Saar River, every step bitterly contended

Battling thru the fortified Siegfried line

Until word came – The European War has ENDED!

 

But in the South Seas, Adair Deadeye men fought on

Invading Leyte, Okinawa and more

In dank, misty jungles they dropped

Never again to return home as before.

 

Eventually the lands lay in ruins and silent

Then the exhausted soldiers came home to rest
The world still has ghostly fields of white crosses
Protecting Adair men who will be forever missed.

 

The returnees scattered with the winds

We are proud to have known them all.

Even if only for such a short time

While training here to answer their Country’s Call.

Lou Richards          March 29, 1993

General George Patton: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men

who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

 

From Gary Richards:

A vintage black and white photo of a bride and groom smiling in formal wedding attire.

Ralph Sidney Richards (1919-1972) and Mary Louise “Lou” Powell Richards (1918-1997) wedding photo, 4 May 1940

In 1947, dad broke his back in a farming accident. So, his parents bought the country store in Suver, Oregon on Highway 99 just north of Camp Adair. My grandparents and my parents operated the store until my grandparents retired. My dad died when he was 53, so my mom ran it herself until about 1997. Business grew smaller and smaller over the years as people started going to town for their main shopping, and the gas station was shut down. So, she ended up mainly selling snacks and pop. And the store became a “poor man’s museum”. In her “spare time” between customers, she wrote poems, letters, quickly stories about funny things happening at the store, and anything else that passed through her mind. After she died, my wife found her “manuscript” about the letters back and forth between her, and her folks, to my uncle who ended up in the Battle of the Bulge. I typed it up and had ten copies made at the local copy shop, sending them to family members, including my uncle and his two daughters. My aunt read the book to him as he wasted away from Parkinson’s Disease, if I remember correctly. This also gave his daughters a view of what their father’s life was like as, like so many other Vets, he didn’t talk about it. She was very interested in the history of this area, and donated many items to the local museums, including the bell from the Suver Schoolhouse, and the mail boxes from the Suver Post Office. She would be so proud to see what ALH is doing, and that some of her writings were included. Some of her writings also appear in the Polk County Museums “Camp Adair Memories” books. I also believe that she would approve of what I have found, and preserved. Something about the nut not falling too far from the tree?