TENTS AT CAMP FORREST WW2

From Jack Jennings:

A Boy and a Bridge
Once upon a time in Tullahoma, in the late 1930's, the area was full of soldiers. As many as 250,000 at one time, they say. They were being trained to go to battle for America and its Allies in World War II. In fact, all of Middle Tennessee was full of soldiers being trained to go to Europe later, 21 counties being used by 890,000 soldiers of General Patton's Second Army Division for manuevers, the simulation of battle as they expected in might go in Europe.

At the same time, Tullahoma had a small lake and swimming and picnic area near where the country club is today, called Lake Tullahoma. It was a creation ofthe state of Tennessee and Governor Browning, the first version of a Tennessee State Park. The stated goal was to have such swimming areas available within 20 or 30 miles of every city in Tennessee.

Well, to someone in the Army, that Lake Tullahoma looked like an ideal place to construct a pontoon bridge, and the engineers and soldiers would surely be building such bridges in Europe. And so the engineers had one built one day, but did not know that a 15 year-old from Tullahoma had watched, and been fascinated. And that 15 year-old continued to see that pontoon llnage in his mind over the next several hours. And what an adventure in would be to drive over that bridge in his father's truck! Wow, I can do that! But no one else can know what I mean to do!

That youth was up very early the next day, still dark outside, parents still asleep in their bedroom. And the youth stole quietly into their room, found the keys to the truck and left quickly and quietly. Boy, this is going to be fun! It was a quick trip to Lake Tullahoma, certainly no other motorists encountered. And now the truck is at the entry to the bridge, ready to go to the other side. Looks pretty dicey, and it is so quiet out here in the soft gray light of dawn. Not even a bird singing. Such quiet and calm. No one else about. So here we go!
The youth and the truck were about half-way across, when what looked like 5000 soldiers swarmed out of the trees and bushes on the side ofthe lake that was the boy's destination. The truck was immediately surrounded by soldiers and stopped. The boy's heart was surely in his throat now.

"What in the hell are you doing here?" A few tense minutes, and the boy was paying the price for his daring. At the end, the boy said "If you fellers will let me go ahead to the end, I can turn around and be gone and not come back" Sounded reasonable, but was not what the soldiers had in mind. "No, you just back this thing up to where you came from! And now!"

Gulping, the boy carefully backs the truck up on the narrow, moving bridge. Ah, land at last. But the boy had been mightily impressed by the experience. So went all the way to town in reverse, never thinking to turn around to skeedadle! All the way to town!! Now that is a sight to imagine!
Well, the boy was none other than a young Bob Couch, now operating Tullahoma's oldest family business that has never changed its location!

Submitted by Jack Jennings to The book "Heritage of Coffee County Tennessee 1836 - 2004,"

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