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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • HIS MASK KEEPS HIM ON THE JOB
 

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High & Tight: 1941

High & Tight: 1941

June 1941. "Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Getting a haircut at Camp Shelby." Medium format acetate negative by William Perlitch. View full size.

 

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Master Sergeant

Pre-Korean War the enlisted pay grades were flipped, so E-7 was a private and E-1 was Master Sergeant and 1st Sergeant. The Master Sergeant was at HQ level and was primarily a staff position where the 1st Sergeant was in a company and led troops.

Prior to 1942 1st Sergeant was five chevrons with a diamond in the center, and was equal to Technical Sergeant at the E-2 level. This was changed when the war started so as to erase any conflicts that arose between the companies and HQ, with 1st Sergeant eventually having greater authority over Master Sergeants, which still continues to this day.

When this photo was taken, that man was at the top of the enlisted food chain, though in those days there didn't seem to be much fear of them.

A grunt's choice

As late as 1975 a barbering kit was part of the equipment of an infantry company. The clippers were manually operated and I preferred spending a dollar at the PX barbershop.

The Barber

That must be NICK, famous for his unsteady hand and bad eyesight.

37th Infantry Division

Though the two men in khaki shirts are not showing their unit patch (left shoulder), these men are almost certainly part of the 37th Infantry Division, Ohio National Guard, undergoing advanced unit training at Camp Shelby. The unit shipped out for the Southwest Pacific Theater in 1942, first for Fiji, then later for garden spots like New Georgia, where doughboy Rodger Young earned the Medal of Honor.

Successive waves of reorganization have removed the 37th Division from the Army's rolls, but it had enjoyed distinction of having its National Guard major general retained in command throughout the war, when every other NG division commander had been replaced by a Regular Army general because of the incumbent's advanced age, poor health, or lack of tactical competence.

Two-Barbers Riddle

I am reminded of the old riddle:

There are only two barbers in town. One has a neatly trimmed head of hair. The other's hair is a complete mess.

Which of the two barbers should you ask to cut your hair?

Just for grins

The Master Sergeant (3 up and 3 down) is using every muscle in his face to force a grin. These muscles aren't used much in his profession.

I see what you did there —

Nice M*A*S*H watermark!

The Barber

The barber's haircut reminds me of an old riddle: There are only two barbers in town. One has a wonderful haircut, the other looks like it was done by the town drunk. Which one should you go to?

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