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Basic Training: 1943

February 1943. "Soldier and his girl waiting for a train at Chicago Union Station." Photo by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.

February 1943. "Soldier and his girl waiting for a train at Chicago Union Station." Photo by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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His shoes??

His shoes?!? Forget about his shoes, what about her little fur booties with the half-wedge heels? Those babies are FIRE.


The corporal is wearing "monk strap" oxfords, an optional purchase for officers, who have always had to procure their own uniforms privately rather than their being issued by the various services.

Such uniform embellishments and upgrades on the part of enlisted men were fairly common in the "glamor" branches like the Army Air Force. He'd have gotten away with these shoes off-post, but they'd mark him for unfavorable attention at a formal inspection. In between those two conditions of scrutiny, a crap shoot.

[My mother had an airman officer friend from Texas during WW2 who always wore cowboy boots. - Dave]

Wonder if Granddad knew him

My grandfather was undergoing training with the AAFTTC in Chicago in February 1943. The odds are low because there were likely thousands of men training in Chicago at that time, but perhaps they knew each other.

I guess I'll never know.

Ain't no hurry

She won't mind if the train's late. Neither will he.

AAFTTC Instructor Badge

At the time, both Chanute Airfield and Scott Airfield were technical training bases, and both are located in Illinois. The corporal is probably from the Chicago area and was home on leave. Now he's headed back to one of these bases to resume his instructor duties.

The Pin

Seems to be an ID badge with the corporal's photo.

Corporal Flyboy

I had to zoom in to confirm he was actually wearing socks, and noticed that he wears the insignia of the Army Air Force Technical Training Command - which, according to Wikipedia, merged with another Command later that year.

(I also like the two women in the background ogling them.)


low quarter shoes. I doubt those are government issue.


I believe he's wearing insignia for the US Army Air Force Technical Training Command. Its an AAF patch on his coat and the pin on his lapel I believe is similar to this one, "Sustineo Alas," Latin for "I Sustain the Wings", or "Keep 'Em Flying", their motto.

His own shoes?

I could be wrong here, but I'd been under the impression that shoes for Army dress have been lace up oxfords as long as anyone can remember. Perhaps the corporal is wearing his own shoes until he needs to put on his issue shoes?

Also, they're still using those benches at Union Station. Somebody knows how to refinish that wood or make matching copies.

Built to last

The same benches are still in use in the great hall. Not tremendously comfortable but somehow soothing in the midst of the hustle and bustle.

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