AIR CORPS, U. S. ARMY
1884 - 1927
Clifford A. Presley
Our early military pilots were true pioneers who grew their wings the hard way. They were men who had the courage of their convictions and who persevered in their efforts, undaunted by the conservatism of some higher authorities, by the lack of financial and moral support, and by the high casualty rate often demanded in the development of a new weapon.
On June 16, 1904 a total of 153 cadets reported for duty to the United States Military Academy as "Plebes." The first two weeks were spent in "Beast Barracks," learning mainly to "double-time," and all the intricacies of the "School of the Squad." Upon the completion of two weeks in "Beast Barracks," the new class moved into "Yearling Camp," and the "twenty-four-hour day" started in earnest in one continuous double-time.
On the last day of August the Corps of Cadets broke camp, moved into barracks, and classes started on September 1, 1904. This first year which they had to face would be the hardest one in a "hard four."
Plebes did not get a Christmas leave; so it was a steady grind of classes till the following June, when they had to move and the new Plebe class entered "Yearling Camp." Upon completion of "Yearling Year" the class received a ten week furlough.
Cadet Harold Geiger was familiarly known as "Spike," by his classmates and intimate friends. Nice looking and athletic, he enjoyed playing baseball and spending weekends at Vassar. He had the knack of saying the right thing to gain the cooperation of others and his overwhelming good nature inspired trust. He was a natural leader, who could organize efforts toward a common goal and was a good, if not spectacular, cadet. He was in the top quarter of his class ranking 23rd out of the 108 cadets to graduate on February 14, 1908. After graduating he received a six week leave, most of which was spent at home with his family in East Orange, New Jersey.
As a new Coast Artillery second lieutenant in the regular Army his first assignment was at Fort Monroe, Virginia where he was soon promoted to first lieutenant on November 8, 1908. In August, 1909 he was transferred to Fort Barrancas, Pensacola, Florida and later to Key West, Florida, and then to Galveston, Texas, where he served a period of about six months during the latter part of 1911. In November 1911 he was reassigned to General Recruiting duty at Columbus, Ohio.