CENTER FOR U.S. WAR
VETERANS' ORAL HISTORIES
Cold War Oral History Interview
US Army, NJ Army National Guard
Date: September 9, 2015
Interviewer: Carol Fowler
Summarizer: Kali Logel
Donald Sherman of Manasquan served in the New Jersey Army National Guard from 1951 to 1957. During his time of service, he was attached to the Headquarters Company of the 50th Armored Division. In 1951, prior to joining the National Guard, Sherman graduated from Manasquan High School and went to work for his family business, W.F. Sherman & Sons, a mill working shop.
Sherman was the first member of his family to serve in the United States military. Before enlisting in the National Guard, he had tried to enlist in the naval reserves at Lakehurst. Unfortunately, the Navy was not taking reservists at the time, and Sherman turned to the National Guard instead. He believed it was his duty to enlist, due to the reinstatement of the draft for the Korean conflict. Sherman also felt that he wanted to have some control in his fate, and he felt that he would rather enlist than be conscripted. During that era, a number of National Guard units in other states were called up for service in Korea.
Unlike today’s active army and National Guard soldiers, Sherman received no formal active duty basic training. As a National Guardsman, he trained one night a week for two hours, one weekend a month, and three weeks each summer. Sherman’s night and weekend sessions were conducted at the Sea Girt National Guard Training Center, and his three week summer stint was served at Camp Drum, in upstate New York. Sherman recalled that the barracks and accommodations provided by the National Guard in Sea Girt and at Camp Drum, mostly of then-recent World War II vintage, were adequate, and that when his unit was in the field that the men lived in pup tents.
While assigned to the division headquarters detachment, Sherman was detailed to keep track of the amount of rations per 100 man units were allocated. After taking into account how many men were in each unit, he would then provide the ration quota to the sergeant in charge of dispersing the food to the men.
While most of the men in Sherman’s company were too young to serve in World War II, there were a number of veterans of that war in the outfit as well, including one in particular who Sherman fondly recalled. That soldier’s name was Russell Triber, and he was a battle-tested Marine who had served courageously in the Pacific Theater of the war. Sherman recalled that Sergeant Triber was particularly interested in having his men march properly.
Since Sherman was in an administrative job in a division headquarters detachment, he and his fellow soldiers were issued .30 caliber M-1 carbines, rather than the more powerful .30-06 caliber M-1 Garand rifle used by infantrymen. There was also a rifle club in the National Guard that held .22 caliber rifle competitions between units on a fifty-foot indoor range. Sherman was on his outfit’s team, which would travel to Fort Monmouth and various armories to compete in matches.
Following the end of his initial three year enlistment, Sherman re-enlisted and served for another three years. He was honorably discharged from the New Jersey Army National Guard on December 16, 1957. Following his discharge, Sherman did not use any of the benefits allowed him and did not join any veterans’ groups. He has, however, participated in several informal reunions with some of his friends from the unit. Today Sherman, who is retired, enjoys going target shooting with his grandchildren.