Aug. 25, '44
Well today, I received what which in all probability will be one of the greatest shocks of my life. Yep, you guessed it, I received a letter at mail call. Oh yeah, exaggerating a little, I actually received two - one from Phus. Phus said that she is renewing a Reader's Digest subscription for another year - free of charge, too! She adds. Can you believe it? All kidding aside, I wouldn't mind seeing some sign of proof that there actually was a "last year's" subscription. Oh well, I certainly hope that you have informed them of my new address (or rather old address, I've been here quite a few months now, you know). Oh well, not meaning to unjustify Phus's present of such a subscription; but there are a few (and I do mean a few) of my colleagues who do receive Reader's Digests. Of course, they come a little late (last year's to be exact), as they, the boys, are, or now were, in the same predicament as I. That is, their old address is to which their said issues are being sent. Of course, the Army postal system - living up to its reputation, is a little slow, as you know what. I wish that the Army authorities would "get on the ball" by giving the "acting privates" of the supposedly efficiently operating post office a rating. Maybe that would remedy the situation somewhat. But - maybe there are other reasons while the postal service "works" (I think) at "turtle-like rapidity." Well, so much for the "mags."
So, Daddy is getting map conscious, is he? I bet that some of the territorial pronunciations vex him to no end. Oh well, I guess that they were named by foreigners. I bet that Daddy also didn't fully realize that there were so many miscellaneous and haphazardly located bits of land which go to make up the universe. While speaking of foreigners a few sentences ago, a few thoughts germinated in my squirrel-operated mind. And so; again speaking of foreigners, how are things back in the "old country"? Is it still there? Or - has it been devastated by the warring nations? Oh yes, incidentally, by the "old country," I mean to imply the "land of the free and the home of the brave," America: Oh beautiful, with spacious skies among the fruits and plains.
Well, so much for the "flag-waving" phraseology.
Phus enclosed an "unself"-addressed envelope to which I am to mail by "carrier pigeon" (if they could make the trip without crashing, which would undoubtedly be due to insufficient fuel or lack of proper "briefing" by the "brass" Army personnel).
So, Yvonne is going to get a pet turtle, is she? Quite a moniker she has decided upon, too, I must admit. I always knew that I would become famous enough to have something real important like named after me. [This was foreshadowed in his letter of April 6, 1944, in which he mentioned that Yvonne had sent him a letter which began “Dear Turtle.” - Ed.] Yep, now that I have some indication that I have become a "success in life," I now think that I should retire. Speaking of retiring, how are Daddy's jeep tires holding out these days? Does the canvas and ply cords completely show, or only part? Of course, you can always use, or have you by now, my Plymouth wheels on your "jalopy." If I remember correctly, they are of the same size.
Well, I guess that lil' Yvonne is about ready to be "sentenced" to another term in school. Oh well, I guess she is ready by this time - tired of doing nothing, I suppose.
Just as soon as I can think of something worth saying, I will fill Mr. Chelton's "unself"-addressed envelope and send it to him. [Frederick Pembroke Chelton, Phyllis's boss - Ed.] There must be something to say that I could properly express and still not indulge in the employment of "obscene" language. All in kidding, of course - yep, all in fun.
Tell Phus to send me four rolls of film if she has, by now, found a tin can in which to send them.
Well, so much for Phus's letter - now, about your letter of August 6th:
So, you had a heat wave in Baltimore, did you? I certainly hope that you are having one when I return to Baltimore again - I hope. Otherwise, I'll probably freeze to a rigid digit; or, I may contract that horrible disease, "goose-pimple-iteises."
I am glad that you have sent me some more stamps. I have a few more Yank magazines to send off. So, you still have that famous recording featuring yours truly giving his rendition (in his own inimitable vocal modulations) of his horrible Army experience. Of course, I wasn't an experienced "old chap" at the game that I now am. I probably wouldn't talk about how horrible the Army life is if I now had a chance to do so - provided I was in the States at the time. Otherwise, if I were to give my overseas version of said Army life as it is now, I would probably and unavoidably have to use such adjectives as: ghastly, tiresome, uninteresting, monotonous, and - quite a selection of popular unmentionable descriptive terminology in the vulgar field of expression, as commonly spoken fluently by U.S. Army bŏhoys [punks - Ed.].
Glad that all of you and Grandpappy were both interested and amused concerning the Yank mags.
You mentioned a colonel and an accompanying party of friends being missing in a bomber over here [discussed earlier in his July 17, 1944, letter - Ed.]. Well, I am happy to announce that the airplane was undamaged and - that none of the gang were hurt. The whole thing was a mix-up from beginning to end. It went like this:
The pilots did not tell the airport control tower just where they were going. Also, they did not go directly to the base of which they told myself and other mechanics present at the time. No, instead, they headed southeast instead of northwest, which was their originally planned route to their distant destination. Some pilots returning to this base from a southerly direction passed them while flying my plane. That is just how we found out that they had actually flown southeast. Now then, when they did reach and land at this said southern base, they forgot to report in at the control tower. However, some wide-awake individuals took notice of their airplane's serial number. So, that was further proof that they had landed there. Now furthermore, they, after staying overnight, took off again and this time headed in the direction of the planned destination. But again, they did not "check out" at the control tower. They eventually bypassed my base in finally heading northward. Well, at last they reached their northern base, but as they did not report in there to the control tower, we and practically no one else but they, knew where they were or if something had really caused disaster on the long flight. After arriving there, they had to change an engine and that, it seems, required a couple of weeks. (They had to wait for an engine, we later found out.) So, they accomplished their mission successfully after the required engine change, and then began the homeward trip (to my base). And, you guessed it, they again either forgot or didn't bother to "check out."
Well, they eventually got back. At the time, I and a few others were engaged in changing an airplane wheel. Well, you can probably realize our surprise when they casually taxied their plane into our revetment. It was then, for the first time, that they learned that they were "missing in action and assumed killed." Of course, it all turned out to end in a big joke for all concerned. The higher Army officials were, I guess, so glad that they forgot to reprimand the "dead" flyers. An Army ambulance screeched to a sudden stop shortly, close to the bomber. They naturally expected "business." After all, no airplane has yet been designed to stay aloft continually for three weeks at one flight. They must have been forced down somewhere during their absence from this base, all thought anyway. Gradually, the complete story was "pieced" together; and, all in all, everything ended happily for all concerned. Oh heck, and to think that I almost went along, too. Well, so much for that little episode.
It all goes to prove the statement that, "The Army is one big combination of unorganized confusion." Oh yes, the lt. col. in command of the bomber was, it appeared, every bit of 22 years of age. You won't find many "old" combat pilots around over here; they don't usually last that long - war, you know, not just pleasure flying. The law of averages means something to the boys, you see. It's either now or eventually, it seems - in the Air Corps anyway. Well, so much for that.
The Dayhoff boy moved out with this outfit, somewhere north, I believe. [Likely referring to Stuart (“Stu”) Dayhoff (1922-1972), son of James (“Jimmy”) Dayhoff (1894-1945), who operated The Dayhoff Company motorcycle dealership in Baltimore. Previously mentioned in his July 17, 1944, letter. - Ed.] I guess that Jerry Simon and Philip Dimario are living a grand and glorious life while their buddies who really deserve credit die at Tawara and probably now at other Jap strongholds. But their luck cannot last, mark my words; they'll see action overseas - if the war lasts long enough. You will see; sad to say it; but true indeed. I am having my turn now, and the worst part is passed, I am glad to say. I am in the Air Corps - glad that I enlisted [rather than waiting to be drafted - Ed.] that I might be so situated. I think that as the war continues, you will realize more and more, my reasons for enlisting directly and - when I did. I am proud to say that I had foresight enough to see the "handwriting on the wall." And, so much for that.
Well, "beer day" has come to pass, and it was on schedule. Of course, as in all good things, there was one drawback. That is, the officers would only allow us three bottles at one time, and that has to last for four days. And, too, at the end of those four days, we can draw three more such bottles. But there is the "fly in the ointment." We have to return the three empty bottles of the previous issue. By plain ordinary logic, it makes it impossible for any of the "guys," myself included, to accumulate a barracks bag full of spirits in order that we might go extravagant one night; and, by there doing, get the pleasure of getting a "jag" on. As it is now, you can see, the best "feeling" that we can get is by quickly "gulping" down the complete issue, three bottles, in several mighty big swallows - on an empty stomach. The alcoholic content, incidentally, is less than that of "civilian" type beer [typically 4% to 6% - Ed.]. I believe that it is 2.3%. So, since we cannot really even begin to feel happy at one "drinking," we are, or have to be, content to get along as we do now. Most boys, me too, stretch out the issue to one bottle per day - sort of making a good thing last. Some of the "wiser" boys are still trying to figure a way by which they can obtain any accumulation of "bottled joy." Maybe they'll find a solution to the problem before long. We have solved even more difficult problems where they would be an aid to our benefit. Well, so much for that.
You know how long that it has been since I passed under the Golden Gate. Does it seem that long? you ask. Well, as I think back over the months, this is what I see in my "mind's eye." The last few months just seem to have "dragged" by. But probably because I have forgotten about them, the first large amount of months seem to have passed into my "history of life" quickly. They, it seems, did not leave any great impression on my mind; and will not affect my life to any appreciable degree in the future.
Steve has it "rougher" than anyone that I know of, so far. He has a plenty dangerous job, and I mean dangerous. I hope he doesn't get finished off by an enemy flamethrower or trench mortar. Enemy machine gun nests and pillbox emplacements usually have these on hand, you know. [Apparently Steve is part of a tank crew. - Ed.] The infantry is the only worse branch of the service which I can think of. Speaking of the infantry, I wonder if Gus [Fetting] has seen any action in Italy; and, I wonder if Clarence [Angle? - Ed.] has met the army in France? Do you know? Yes, Ma, I believe that you were right when you said, "I think the Air Corps is the most adventurous." Yep, you are right.
Well, this letter is beginning to weigh too much to go by airmail service. So, therefore, I'll sign off for now; and - so long for now -