Sampson Naval Training Center
I was at Sampson from June through August 1944, it was a massive facility with several units each which had a ships store, a huge field house that included a swimming pool, gymnasium, and movie theatre, also a drill field and an obstacle course. Here were also service school units to train quartermasters, signalmen, radiomen, storekeepers, and yeomen.
Boot camp was mainly introduction to Navy discipline and basic Navy procedures. We also learned aircraft recognition, abandon ship skills and how to tie knots, along with marching and the manual of arms.
Bill's Boot camp class - to see the back of this picture, showing all names, click here.
We had movies about twice a week and boxing matches once a week. There were several professional fighters stationed there who put on exhibitions. The most famous was Willie Pep who reigned as world featherweight champ for many years. Sampson also had a great baseball team composed of major leaguers. I can't remember the names of all the players but the ace of the pitching staff was Johnny Vandermeer.
After basic training I went to quartermaster school, also at Sampson. This was a three month training in basic seamanship, navigation, and signaling. I eventually became a good helmsman and celestial navigator.
Bill's Quartermaster class - to see the back of this picture, showing all names, click here
We had every other weekend off (Saturday and Sunday) and could leave the base but be back by 6 AM Monday morning. The ride back and forth to New York on the Lehigh Valley RR was not pleasant. The other cities in upper New York were crowded with sailors (Syracuse, Rochester) on liberty. I found the best place for liberty Niagara Falls. We took the train to Buffalo and then hitchhiked to the Falls. There were very few servicemen there and loads of girls.