As 850,000 bomber pilots, infantrymen, engineers, medics, nurses, chaplains, USO and Red Cross workers gathered at the 2nd Army Headquarters in Lebanon, Tennessee, 32 miles east of Nashville.
These soldiers had come to the mid South to experience dealing with civilians who insisted on, “…getting’ those boys in out of all that sleet, snow and mud an’ givin’ ‘em some hot coffee, corn bread, ‘an fried chicken. My boy is in The Philippines right now. Maybe some ole Mama will help him too,” Emma exclaimed as she added a few more pieces of chicken to the crackling, spewing bacon grease in her family-sized iron skillet. Meals are sacred gatherings to a dyed-in-the-wool Southerner.
Some people opened the equivalent of a bed and breakfast just for soldiers. Methodist ladies cooked and delivered chess pies, coconut cakes, sandwiches, fudge to the church where soldiers slept on pews or floors.
The government had adamantly insisted that civilians could NOT give the troops food or let them sleep in barns or sheds. Furthermore, they could NOT give directions, short cuts or any other information. The Tennessee Military Historian allows that those rules were honored maybe five minutes from the time the boys arrived.