Biography of Richard F. Knox
CCCMan, Company 956, Camp Taft, Camp F-9-MT, Haugan, Montana
Group Communications Officer, 95th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, WWII, USAAF
Company 956, F-9 at Camp Taft, Haugan, MT, was a CCC camp for Montana boys. Having been born Feb. 4, 1920, on a cattle ranch in Rosebud County, I qualified. Afte graduation from Rosebud High School in May, I joined the CCC on July 1, 1937.
Since Co. 956 was attached to Forest Service Savenac Tree Nursery, our primary task was growing trees for reforestation. During the fire season, we were "on call", and in my first six weeks I was sent out on three fires. On the third fire I was given a five-gallon Lister bag on a Trapper Nelson backpack to carry drinking water to the crew on the fire line -- a strenuous task for a 17-year old, 97-pound weakling! Upon return to camp I applied for permanent kitchen duty (KP) and spent the next six weeks on a kitchen crew. During that time I gained 15 pounds.
In October, 1937 I was selected to fill the position of Assistant Educational Advisor, serving as office clerk and editor of the camp's bi-weekly mimeographed newsletter, Mountain Chieftan. It was good enough to earn a 4-star rating from Happy Days, the national paper. In cooperation with the local school district our education department provided night classes for 8th grade and nine from high school. Other enrollees learned such skills as typing, leatherwork, first aid and photography. Education was an important aspect of CCC life.
My second summer was spent on a blister rust crew, working to eradicate the goosberry plant from the white pine forest. That job caused me to decide to begin my college education. Somehow I arranged a large of adsence for nine months to attend Central Washington College in Ellensburg, WA. Upon return to Camp Taft in June, 1939, I worked as a tool checker and helped a roving blacksmith who repaired, sharpened, and re-tempered the dull and broken tools. I completed 18 months in CCC service in September, 1939, and returned to college for two more years.
W.W.II called me away to cadet school in January 1942 and duty as Group Communications Officer in the 95th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force in England. After four years of active duty I resumed my education, graduating in May, 1948, with a BSEE from the State College of Washington in Pullman, WA. I then accepted a full time instructorship in the Electrical Engineering Department, earned my MSEE. Was promoted to Assistant Professor, and taught there for 37 years. I retired from WSU as an Associate Professor in December, 1984.
I am a member of the NACCCA, the CCC Alumni Group, and the President of its Local Chapter, Lilac Chapter #41.
My training and experiences in the CCC were most helpful in later years --- in college, on active duty, in my chosen career, and outdoorsmanship. I shall always cherish the memories of the time I spent at Camp Taft and the people I met there.
----- Richard F. Knox
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