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The 322nd Army Service Forces Band



The 322nd Army Service Forces Band was stationed at Tilton General Army Hospital Ft. Dix New Jersey at the end of WWII.

Tilton General Hospital was the base hospital for Fort Dix, NJ.

The 322nd Army Service Forces Band broadcasted a weekly radio show from the hospital titled A Package From The Patients. The band was commanded by Colonel S.J. Kearn and directed by CWO Frank Esposito.

The announcer was a civilian – Ernie Kovacs, a prominent 1940’s radio star and later an early TV variety show pioneer. Kovacs was known later for his roles in NBC TV comedies and passed away in 1962.

As for my obtaining the following segments of A Package From The Patients, I have to thank Joseph Hughes.

In early 2013, Joseph sent me an email saying he had met a veteran Army musician who had some ‘music’ he’d like to share.

Joseph explained he was shopping in a local retail store, and an elderly gentleman came into the music/video department holding a CD of Army Band recordings.

Joseph overheard the guy asking the sales clerk if he can get copies made. The clerk told him that they couldn’t do that.

Joseph approached the gentleman and introduced himself and they talked for a while. The elderly gentleman said he was Gene La Rocca, and said he was a trumpet player in ‘an Army swing band’ and had a CD of music he recorded in 1945.

Joseph was ecstatic, because he loves swing music. He offered to make the copies for Gene.

So Joseph made him copies and took them over to Gene’s and they sat and talked for a while and quickly became friends.

Gene’s 92 years young, and Joseph says he’s still ‘got a twinkle in his eye and a love for life’ and is just a great guy, simple and down to earth.

That’s the story that has lead to you enjoying this great music!

Joseph and Gene see each other every week or so, and enjoy each others company. They’ve even gone to a few swing events together and the West Coast Swing Dance (Joseph and his wife swing dance). Gene really enjoyed that!

I’ve edited the pictures and CD’s and created ‘picture videos’ – the music set to a picture.

The show I’m presenting, ‘A Package From The Patients’ recorded live in 1945 at Red Cross Recreation Hall, Tilton General Army Hospital Ft. Dix NJ, is divided into 4 segments.

I’ve listed as many of the veteran bandsmen I could decipher from the audio CD on this website – 322nd Army Service Forces Band  – and have given Joseph’s email address so he can forward any correspondences to Gene.

Gene would LOVE to hear from any and all veteran musicians from all branches of the services!

Update February 22, 2014: Joseph Hughes has informed me that sadly, Gene has recently passed away. Let’s be grateful for the recordings he’s given us to enjoy forever!

Please enjoy all four segments of A Package From The Patients!



                1.  A Package From The Patients – Segment One       

            2. A Package From The Patients – Segment Two       

            3. A Package From The Patients – Segment Three    

            4. A Package From The Patients – Segment Four      
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