JANUARY 9, 1959
NEW YORK—On Monday in the late afternoon I left New York by air for Fayetteville, N.C., and on to Fort Bragg. I had not been to Fort Bragg, as far as I could remember, since the early days of the war, and changes that have occurred there are certainly very great. It is now the headquarters of the 18th Airborne Corps as well as the Army installation.
I was rather late in arriving, which must have upset the general and his staff because they are so remarkably prompt in the Army. But they were very kind and took me at once to Holland House, which is one of the guest houses on the post. Lt. Col. Helen H. Bouffier was my hostess during my stay and no one could have been more thoughtful and kind.
Quite naturally, they wanted to show me some of the work that went on there, so we started quite early with a press conference at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. At 9:30 the tour of the post began and I went to the Jump School where the paratroopers are trained.
The training of these soldiers is certainly tough—physically, mentally, and emotionally. These people have to control their bodies, their minds and their emotions. Seeing the way they go about this training was very interesting to me. Later I saw barracks, mess halls and hospitals.
Curiously enough, you would expect the hospital to have many accidents cases from jumping. They do have some, but there are far more hospitalized soldiers because of motor accidents than there are because of their jump training.
I was given a book which shows some of the history of the paratroopers as well as the training, and I wish that I had had more time to see more of what is done by this airborne group. By 11:30, however, I had to be prepared to meet with some of the ladies of the women's club who invited me to come to Fort Bragg. After a brief reception we went to lunch and at 1:15 the lecture in the theatre began, which was followed by a tea during which time many of the ladies came up to ask me questions. At three o'clock I was back to the guest house where I picked up my bags, said goodbye to the commanding officer and was taken to the airport.
The Army takes good care of its guests, even after they leave for a plane for it found one of its officers who was going to Charlotte also and whose plane for Atlanta was scheduled to leave after mine had departed for New York. So, he put me on and saw me safely installed, and I was most grateful.
It did not seem to me that North Carolina was much warmer than New York, and I was told that earlier in the year they had had a 20-inch snow which had been such a surprise that practically no one could get about and they had been almost immobilized.
The Republican liberals seem to have won a victory in Congress in the election of Rep. Charles A. Halleck as minority leader to supplant Rep. Joseph W. Martin. Of course, some of the people who supported Mr. Halleck would seem to belong to the conservatives, so it is a little difficult to decide whether this will really change the Republican attitude in the House.
The Democrats unanimously reelected in the House their old leaders, Sam Rayburn and John W. McCormack. Whether this indicates that they are considered as liberals or that the liberals are not trying to put over any new candidates is difficult to ascertain. On the whole, these two Democratic leaders have been pretty close to the Democratic members of Congress of every age and of every type of thinking.