Random Recollections
by FQC Gardner

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At that time the Advanced Course at the Coast Artillery School was simply a Preparatory School for the C&GS School at Ft. Leavenworth. I was on the Initial General Staff Eligible List, and was a graduate of the War College, and I had felt that no material advantage would accrue to me from my going to Leavenworth. However, on the advice of General Callan, I decided that it would be a good thing for me to have it on my record that I had taken the Course at Leavenworth, since apparently most graduates of that Course seemed to think that no officer who had not taken that Course was qualified to be a general officer. So I applied for the Advanced Course and was graduated from it July 15th, 1927.

I recall with some amusement one incident which occurred during my stay at Fort Monroe. A Colonel Brady Mitchell was in charge of training in the office of Chief of Coast Artillery. His duties included the supervision of the preparation of manuals, texts, correspondence courses, etc. by the Department of Extension Courses at the Coast Artillery School. He was not a very brilliant officer, and was liable, once having gotten an idea, to carry it to extremes.

The School at Leavenworth had been emphasizing for some time the importance of a message center as part of the G-2 set up of larger units in the field, and Colonel Mitchell had apparently decided that the Coast Artillery should not be outdone by any body and that it should have message centers too. Personally I felt that there was no possible use for a Message Center of the type used in a Division in a Coast Artillery Fire Control station.

Colonel Mitchell was scheduled to make an inspection of the Post of Fort Monroe on a certain date, and some of the Post officers, knowing of his obsession about Message Centers, came to me for advice as there was no Message Center in their setup. As the result of our conference we had a large sign painted "TO MESSAGE CENTER", in red letters, with a large arrow pointing in that direction. At every turn along the path to one of the old casemates in the old fort similar signs were posted and in the casemate an experienced Sergeant, in full uniform, was seated behind a table on which there was a telephone. Colonel Mitchell duly followed the signs to the "Message Center", looked at it and complimented the Sergeant in charge. Perhaps it was just as well that he did not observe that the telephone was not connected to any one.

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