Feb. 10, 1945
Yesterday, I received the package with the photographic equipment. Also, another containing the peanuts and cashew nuts. Thanks. Also, a Christmas card from Phus. Another from F.P. Chelton [Frederick Pembroke Chelton - Ed.].
Nothing much doing here. The place is practically out of the combat zone. Occasionally, an air-raid alert. But that's all. Time is again beginning to drag. Yesterday, I saw my first helicopter. Looked like a flying windmill. Sure is a queer looking contraption.
You probably remember reading recently about some of our Bataan prisoners being rescued from a Jap concentration camp. About 80 of them were flown to my base yesterday. They sure looked "beat up." Most of them didn't seem to care about anything, anybody, or about the future. One boy's main ambition is to be put in charge of one of our Jap prison camps. They were forced by the Japs to build seven new airstrips at Clark Field by using picks and shovels. The first six months, an average of fifty men per week died. The Japs must have made life really rough for those who did live throughout their imprisonment. Well, so much for that. (It's good to have first-hand information like that before the newspaper reporters get a chance to fill their written articles with a lot of propaganda.)
In one of your next few letters, I would like you to send me some 3¢ stamps. I need them occasionally to mail Yank magazines to you.
Well, now about coming home again. Of the original men in my outfit who came overseas, there are only a little of [over?] half still here with me. Of those, none have been offered 30-day leave to the States. None are yet eligible for the rotation plan. A few men who have transferred to my squadron have a year overseas longer than I. They, believe it or not, were offered a 30-day leave. That, they promptly turned down - as anyone with common sense would do - if in such a position as theirs. They, believe it or not, have not had enough time overseas to qualify as yet for said rotation plan. One general over here went so far as to post a notice stating that as the rotation plan now operates, it would take 8¼ years for all of those who qualify to get home again. I am not yet qualified. What a big joke. But I guess it consoles the public somewhat, knowing that their soldier friends and relatives do have a chance to get home before the war ends. But, boy! What a chance. If you expect to keep the home fires burning for me, you had better buy an oil well to keep that oil burner running. Well, I guess it won't be too bad though. I mean, collecting an old age pension upon immediately becoming a civilian again - if and when, that is. Well, so much for the nicer things of Army life.
"I have returned" [quoting General MacArthur - Ed.] - I am staying - I will continue to remain.
Marine pilots get home in ten months. Marine airplane mechanics get home every 14 months of overseas duty - and for each two months overseas, they are guaranteed one in the States. The Navy gets home about every 6 months. The U.S. Army air forces ground men "get home" under the rotation plan. Oh well, it's harder on the married men than on us who are single. One fellow would certainly like to see his first baby, which was born to his wife while he was on the boat coming over. So, all in all, it's not bad for me. Well, so much for the immediate future.
I guess that the rainy season is about over. Here, it now only rains on an average of about once a day. I just completed my second Army correspondence course. I wrote them a letter asking about the card which I am supposed to receive at the completion of each course. I am now awaiting my third course to come. I received the letter from Uncle Ben concerning the new Martin fighter. Maybe I'll get to his old stomping grounds sometime. Not just yet though.
Received Phus's letter of January 15th. I received the December issue of Reader's Digest. No Coronet yet. Haven't received Air Pilot Technician yet. Your Jan. 17th letter reached me today. Read clippings about the Luzon invasion. Tell Ben thanks for his letter.
You asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Well, to tell you the truth, I cannot think of a single thing that I would like to have. Maybe sometime later in the year I will think of something. So, for the present, just forget about birthday presents for me.
Well, in conclusion, I would like to say that parts of this letter concerning the Army rotation plan may sound a bit on the gloomy side. Maybe so. But I cannot see any good reason for building up false hopes on your part as to my coming home soon. Some of the boys still continue to write their parents that they will be home by June. The whole time, they are only kidding themselves by their wishful thinking. So, you see, I don't want to disappoint you if I can help it. The Army rotation plan sounded like a good thing when it was first announced. But as the real truth was gradually realized by us, our morale accordingly sunk. Our opinion of some of the Army officials (those in the very high brackets) is that their characters must have sunk to the very depths of degradation.
Well, this about terminates a most uninteresting letter. So, until next time -