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Memorandum for General Grunert1
December 5, 1938 [Washington, D.C.]
CCC DISTRICT STAFF
I inherited this Staff, except the Educational Advisor, Donald Mace, from General Parsons. All in all, it was the best Staff with which I have ever worked, because it was a homogeneous group gathered together by the stern process of selection and elimination, and naturally aware of the fact that only high efficiency would permit continuance in office.
If you have not worked with the CCC before, and particularly in recent years, your difficulty will be to realize the vast number of considerations which do not appear on paper or in regulations. Here is where the efficiency of the Staff is most evident. The contacts they must have with officials in other government services, with business men, contractors and so forth, are extremely numerous and highly important. A new Staff officer is lost for about six months, as to this phase of the business, to the great disadvantage of the District.
Like all Staffs, they wish to centralize business and to reduce everything to routine. A good bit of this was anathema to me, and I had to find a compromise. This is particularly apparent when it comes to the judicious expenditure of money. Higher government agencies—the Quartermasters and the Finance people—seldom admit consideration of losses in morale due to delays in approving expenditures, or adopting the recommendations of the man on the ground, the Camp Commander. Of course, a more uniform, and possibly economical, result will come from a strictly supervised procedure. But along with such strict supervision goes serious losses in morale, which are not measured in money, except that it frequently required a tremendous expenditure to recover the situation.
I have this suggestion to make: I found the Post officers so completely ignorant of what was going on in the CCC District, so unaware of the tremendous Staff problems handled with high efficiency, that I had the Staff of the CCC prepare a little lecture-demonstration which involved two meetings of an hour and a half each. Though this came towards the end of my tour I learned a good bit from it. So I would suggest that you have Pomerene or Hall arrange to do this for you personally,2 because it will give you more data and information in two short sessions than you would normally pick up in a year or more.
Mr. Mace is probably about the best District Educational Advisor in the CCC. He is also a splendid Staff officer, though he doesn’t wear uniform. He is an excellent publicity man. He has the courage of his convictions, and is loyal when you have made the decision.
We have found the District with a lot of lame ducks as Educational Advisors —sort of “bread ticket” fellows. We raised the standard by eliminating poor men and built up the morale until I think we had a splendid Educational Service. Measured by the number of boys who secured certificates for higher grades, particularly those from the Southeast, and measured by the number of men who worked up to real efficiency in vocational jobs, I think a splendid thing was done for these boys. However, it will not run by mere regulation, because it is all voluntary and comes at the end of a hard day’s work. Unless the Staff, and particularly the Camp Commanders, feel that there is no eye-wash about this business, and nothing less than a high standard of performance will be accepted by you, the procedure is rather futile. I regard the educational part of the program as the most important, because the other matters are pretty well routinized, you have no control over the project work, and the educational part does prepare a boy for a job in civil life, which is the real purpose of the CCC. The common tendency is to call for reports, but they don’t amount to much and merely divert attention from the real issue, which is performance and results.
I instituted the business of Sub-District Commanders more or less over the protest of the entire Staff and with the reluctant approval of Corps Area Headquarters. To me, the thing was fundamental, the very bedrock of any military organization. Centralized control over a large number of camps, scattered over a wide area, is all right on a fair day, but all wrong in a storm. The Staff would like to saddle various reports on the Sub-District Commanders. I opposed this in every way, though I finally permitted an inspection of funds and books every other month. The diaries of the Sub-District Commanders were helpful, but were growing into lengthy reports which I think the Sub-District Commanders felt they must submit to keep on the good side of the Staff. In all this business the Staff wanted everything done the same way, while I wanted—with the necessary limitations as to ordinary matters of administration—the Sub-Districts and the camps to somewhat express the leadership and personality of their respective commanders.
I have found in the CCC that it is very important in all inspections to have the camp officers feel that your main purpose is to help them. While I was pretty ruthless about getting rid of the poor fish, I felt, on the other hand, that it was highly important to build up confidence and trust on the part of the others whose commissions—or livelihood—are at your mercy. Camp officers live a very isolated life and have an amazing complication of difficulties to meet. The boys as groups differ widely. They require totally different methods of handling. I have found that all respond in remarkably fine fashion to almost any desire, once they have confidence that you are trying to help them and not being merely hard-boiled.
As the CCC has grown older, of course, the regulations and policies have increased in number. Where I found it difficult was in planning matters so as to produce a uniform standard of service. For example, as simple a matter as the use of white paint would be objected to as unnecessary. Yet it is very necessary in the long dull rainy season for boys unaccustomed to that climate. It is not necessary out in the plains east of the Cascades. So it is difficult to meet the demands of a policy which admits only of uniformity in conditions.
Then too, conditions in one camp are very much more difficult than in another. Therefore, I always struggled to give the poor camp the advantage in money and other services, which were not so necessary to other camps. For example, a camp of local boys who practically all week-end at home does not require nearly the recreational facilities as the isolated camps—like that southeast of Bend—where the boys are from distant parts of the country and wholly unaccustomed to the locality.
I found the CCC the most instructive service I have ever had, and the most interesting. The results one could obtain were amazing and highly satisfying— and they have it all over the results one endeavors to obtain here at a desk.
So far as the regiment is concerned, I tried to treat it like I was in another county—just as far from it as I was from the Fourth Infantry. If anything, the troops are usually over-trained so far as routine matters go. My concern would have been to give the lieutenants more of a show. We have too much rank. I found I could have little effect on the troops at Wright and Missoula. The last mentioned certainly need your sympathetic interest. Whitley has made a tremendous improvement out there in living conditions and morale,3 and he needs your hearty support towards getting WPA and other money, which none of the higher Army Staffs are enthusiastic about because they all are thinking only of the abandonment of the Post. Politically it can’t be abandoned, though we tried to trade it off the other day—this is confidential.
Sweeney was telling me yesterday that he wanted to fly in bombers the Missoula garrison over to Lewis. I think that would be a fine thing to do and it would give those isolated boys a great kick.
As to Post installations and problems, we had things pretty well fixed up when I left, but I believe you can get much more WPA money if you go after it strong with the State people. Wilson, here in the Budget Section, suggests that we try to put up small buildings, like tool houses and things of that nature, out of WPA funds. Larger buildings, of course, cannot be built as there is not enough money for material. If you can open up a stone quarry out there, then it is possible to do a lot of building. It took me almost a year to get any WPA funds, and then we ran it up to something over $300,000. I thought here I had you a new double barrack, a warehouse, and a couple of quarters, but it got chiseled out before it reached there. However, I have my eye on it.
I was particularly interested in getting the Liberty Theatre organized so that the men had some place to go for amusement in the evenings during the long rainy winter, and I hope that goes forward on that basis and is not entirely committed to basketball. I also hope that they do not try to make it a money-making enterprise but then spend all the profits for lighting up and brightening up the building. You will find this the best recruiting agency that you have.
I had an excellent Chaplain who did tremendously fine work among the married personnel and generally among the soldiers. He worked fourteen hours a day at it, and completely relieved me of those considerations. The maintaining of a room at the hospital where women and children could be treated, I regarded of great importance—because otherwise the people were being overwhelmed with debt for medical services, to the great loss of morale.
From Camp Bonneville and in the North Woods we got a great deal of fire wood for the married soldiers. Whether you can do this again this year I don’t know but, with the slow promotion, you have splendid men as sergeants who have had many years of service and who are without the right to allowances for quarters. I used to find them all Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday during the winter, week in and week out, sawing and chopping wood in the North Woods. Old sergeants with eighteen to twenty years’ service, fine men. Fortunately, with the WPA and the CCC company at Camp Bonneville, I was able to get wood for them. Whether you can manage it or not I don’t know, but out in the Northwest it is pretty important.
Flap Adams has a list, I think, of practically every body with whom I was in contact. I had to build up almost all my contacts in Portland, as there were practically none when I went there.
First, I would suggest that you call on Governor Martin, with your Aide, and have your wife drive down with you and call at the same time on Mrs. Marshall [Martin]. Then I would suggest that you call on Major General George White, at the Adjutant General’s office in Salem. You can waive formalities and call on him first.
Then call on Joe Carson, Mayor of Portland. Joe is a fine fellow and he can be of great help.
Over in Vancouver the Mayor undoubtedly will call on you, and Adams can give you the other names. They are nice plain people in Vancouver who are very responsive, and the contact furnishes a good base of departure for influencing the Washington senators who are only interested in the military activities of the northern part of the State.
In Portland there are about three groups of people to consider: The official ones, the head of the Military Order of the World War, the head of the Reserve Regiments, Judge (Flap will give you his name) who is a retired Reserve officer, and other similar people. Then, the middle-aged group, who are gay and interesting and very pleasant—the Hamilton Corbetts, the Smiths, and about a dozen other couples whose names I can’t remember but who are very agreeable.
Then, there is an older group which I think it is important for you to know— Doctor and Mrs. Fenton, the Peter Kerrs, Mrs. Tom Kerr, Miss Failing (about 75 and will talk your ear off), the Ainsworths, president of the big bank, and others whose names I cannot recall.
I think it highly desirable that Mrs. Grunert accept membership in the Town Club. It is a delightful women’s club which she can use to advantage, and the contacts are valuable.
In this connection, I think it is important to have one of your Post Staff represented in the Chamber of Commerce and another in the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Vancouver. Baumeister and Nave used to be these two representatives.4
This is a very hurried memorandum, but it may be of some help. However, I must ask you not to quote me, even to your wife.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. George Grunert had risen from the rank of private in 1898, to lieutenant colonel in the General Staff Corps (1921-24), to brigadier general in 1936. He had recently been relieved of duty in the Philippines to take Marshall’s former command at Vancouver Barracks, Washington. He wrote to Marshall to ask his advice regarding C.C.C. matters and for “a memorandum touching on important matters that need most attention, and projects which you had in mind for the future, and those which were prominent when you left and had not time to finish. Also, advise me as to the people I should contact in the best interests of the [C.C.C.] District and the Post." (Grunert to Marshall, November 29, 1938, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) This memorandum was inclosed in a brief letter (not printed) from Marshall to Grunert of the same date.
2. Captain Joel D. Pomerene, Seventh Infantry, was the adjutant and public relations officer for the C.C.C. District. Captain Lester H. Hall, Infantry Reserve, was personnel adjutant and welfare officer.
3. Colonel F. Langley Whitley (U.S.M.A., 1908) had been an officer of the Twenty-fourth Infantry at Fort Benning from August, 1932, until May, 1933. He then served as a military attach