The Pittsburgh Press (August 24, 1943)
By Ernie Pyle
Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
Gen. Bradley has around him at the front, in addition to his military staff of more than a hundred officers, a little official “family” and it really is like a little family.
It consists of his two young captain aides, his sergeant driver, his corporal orderly, and his brigadier general chief of staff, whom I’m not permitted to name.
The two aides are Capt. Chester Hansen of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Capt. Lewis Bridge of Lodi, California. Both are 25, both graduated from college in 1939, Hansen from Syracuse University and Bridge from California Aggies. Their nicknames are Chet and Lew and that’s what the general calls them.
Both captains went through Officers’ Training School at Fort Benning when Gen. Bradley was commanding there and both came right out of the officers’ school into his family. They’ve been with him for 16 months and consider themselves the two most fortunate young officers in the American Army. They sleep in cots under a tree about 50 yards from the general’s truck, which is also parked under a tree since the general has an aversion to occupying buildings and usually keeps a command post in tents out in the open.
He drives just right
Around headquarters the two aides are on call constantly, but for jeep traveling with the general they take alternate days. Both are bright, understanding, likable fellows who worship at the general’s feet and do a good job representing him, in the same thoughtful manner he uses.
The general’s driver is Sgt. Alex Stout, of Port Barre, Louisiana, below Baton Rouge. Although he is only 23, he has been in the Army six years. He doesn’t, however, intend to make it a career. Recently, his grandmothers died and left him a fertile 275-acre farm and when the war is over, he is going back to farm it himself.
Sgt. Stout was married last Christmas Day. His wife is waiting back in Louisiana. He has a brother Noah who is a captain in the Army in Australia. Sgt. Stout has been driving for Gen. Bradley for two and a half years. He is so good that when the general reached North Africa, he sent back to the States for him.
Sgt. Stout takes meticulous pride in the general’s jeep. He has it fixed up with sponge-rubber cushions, and a built-in ration box under the back seat, and keeps it neat as a pin.
Gen. Bradley says having a good driver is important, for he relaxes while he’s riding and he can’t have a driver who annoys him by going too slow or one who keeps him tense by reckless driving. One night last winter, the general had a blackout driver who was so cautious and creepy he had to take the wheel himself and drive half the night.
An orderly orderly
Sgt. Stout is another devoted fan of the general’s. The sergeant says:
He does everything for you. I go to him with my headaches, go to him for advice, go to him for money. He treats me just like my own father does.
The general’s orderly is Cpl. Frank Cekada of Calumet, Michigan. Frank is the newest one of the general’s family, having been with him only since last March.
Frank says a colonel in Oran picked him for the job because he always kept himself looking neat and clean. He was driving a truck before he got this assignment. He had never been an orderly before but soon caught on. Frank’s duties are, as he puts it, “to keep the general happy.” He cleans the quarters, looks after the luggage while moving, and whenever he can’t find Sicilian women to do the general’s washing, Frank does it himself.
Frank is 24, and before the war was, of all things, a bartender. He says the general treats him like a personal friend and he hopes nothing happens to this job.
Gen. Bradley lives in an Army truck which has been fixed up like a tourist trailer. In the front end is a nice wide bed running crosswise of the truck, with a blanket bearing the initials of the U.S. Military Academy. Along one side is a desk with drawers under it. On the other side were a closet and washbasin. A field telephone in a leather case hangs on the end of the desk. There is a big calendar on the wall and each day is marked off with an x. There is a bookrack with four or five columns of military textbooks, one called Our Enemy, Japan, and a French grammar which the general never finds time to study.
On the front wall over the bed are painted the dates of the campaigns in North Africa, with the beginning and ending dates, and the Sicily with the invasion date.
He studies his map
We conjectured on what date the Sicilian campaign would end, and oddly enough the general’s date was a little farther off than mine. There are no pictures in the truck, no gadgets on the tables. The general has not sent home any souvenirs, in fact he has acquired only two for himself. One was a German Luger from Tunisia and the other a lovely Sicilian dagger with the Fascist emblem on the handle. On the wall opposite the table is a big map of this area of Sicily. It probably is the most important piece of equipment in the place.
The general sat there alone at night studying the map for hours, thinking and planning moves for the morrow over the frightful country ahead. There alone before his map many of the most important decisions were made.