D Company's PFC Charles "Charlie" Jones stands in his new dress uniform among the tall South Caroline pines outside Camp Mackall.
While at Mackall, after a Saturday morning of training, Charlie was cleaning his rifle when some gun oil spilled on his coveralls. Knowing that Italy-born 1SGT Louis E. Filippelli was on his way to inspect the barracks, and not wanting to get gigged, Charlie’s buddies urged him to clean up (it was not uncommon for the sergeants to deny a squad or platoon their passes because of one member’s infractions).
Sufficiently motivated, Charlie took a cotton ball and some lighter fluid and tried to scrub off the offending oil. When another trooper asked what he was doing, Jones explained the dilemma and said the spot would evaporate since all that remained was the lighter fluid.
"Let me see," the joker implored before lighting a match. Charlie’s uniform lit up like a torch and he raced around the quarters until his friends tackled him to smother the flames while SGT Filippelli watched the whole scene from the door with mouth wide open.
The boys of the 511th PIR enjoyed Camp Mackall's superior facilities when not out on several-day bivouacs or long marches. Out of 12,000 volunteers, only 2,176 remained, having passed (i.e. survived) Colonel Orin Haugen's strict acceptance guidelines. At Mackall the soldiers practiced field problems and got to know the other units in their mother organization, the 11th Airborne Division under Major-General Joseph May Swing.