Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).

<- PREVIOUS LETTER April 29, 1945
Floridablanca, Luzon, Philippines

April 29, 1945


Hello Ma:

      Received Phus's letter with the Topics of the Tropics and the various excerpts from the different magazines. Also, your letter of April 13th and the newspaper clippings about Roosevelt. [FDR died on April 12th. Topics of the Tropics was described in one eBay listing as a “newsletter for kids by Brown & Bigelow,” each issue included a full-color print showing animals doing human things, such as playing golf or collecting taxes from a street vendor, plus a fictional Topics of the Tropics newspaper page containing silly stories that only a child would find humorous. In his June 28, 1945, letter, Earl would ask that Phyllis not send him these anymore. The same title was also used for several other things around that time - a sports column in a Miami newspaper, a gossip column published in the Marshall Islands, and a musical program that was performed for troops in the Pacific. - Ed.]

      Well, the squadron area is about 95% built. The electrical system, showers, mess hall, mailroom, orderly room, supply section, and the squadron club have been set up. The squadron club serves whiskey, brandy, and crème de menthe over the bar. Our medical officer buys the liquor in town. We, in turn, buy tickets and give them to the bartender. There has been no limit placed on the number of drinks which we can have at a time. The officers would much rather see us get drunk in camp than in town. There is too much of a possibility of the boys getting into trouble in town while drunk. Also, in coming back to camp, they make too much racket. But nevertheless, the club does not keep all of us home at nights. There are a few other things which can be found in town, while not in camp. Various foods and, shall we say, social activities are the attraction in town. Ice cream costs me one peso (50¢) per dip. Fresh bread costs 25 centavos (12½¢). Recently, I ate a turkey dinner with all the extra things with it. It cost me $3.50 [$51.11 in 2020 dollars - Ed.]. After that, I was still hungry. So, you see, eating in town is very expensive - at least for all of the other boys.

      But I have a pretty good set-up in town. Myself and two other boys have made an acquaintance of three pretty local "belles." The meeting was kind of casual like. They were coming down the street. We were going up the street. The next scene shows three boys and three girls all going in the same direction. Since that time, we visited them (at their invitation) and their families and on all occasions have received good meals. Chicken dinners on two occasions. In the roof of one girl's house is a line of machine gun bullets holes. One of our Grumman [F4F] Wildcats was strafing the Japs who used to live in a house a few doors away. The girls here are the same as those of my old base. That is, they practice what we call "The No-Touch Policy." It is a custom handed down from the Spaniards. I never knew that any people could be so shy, bashful, or whatever you call it. It is very daring for a Filipina girl to be seen in town with an American soldier. Right away, the girl receives a very bad name. To sit next to me even in her house is out. Kissing and such stuff is strictly taboo. The courtship among the people of the Philippines goes something like this: First, the boy writes a formal letter requesting that he be invited to her house, say, maybe for supper. This arranged, there follows a conversation of any and all subjects under the moon. The whole family takes part. This sort of thing runs on for five to ten years. Then, maybe if the boy has been a success in his efforts, she may marry him. Filipino people marry only once. There is no such thing as a divorce here.

      Last night, we (I and the two other boys), the three girls, and two other Filipino boys (age 23 and 25) had a little conversation about the American and Filipino customs concerning such things. All of us boys liked the American way, with all of the holding hands, kissing, and such stuff. Every time that the girls would try to show us the good points about their custom, we (including the Filipino boys) would show them about ten or twenty good things about the American system. They (the girls), when we finished, didn't have "two legs to stand on" in the argument for their cause. They finally got so mad, they insisted that we change the subject of the conversation. Well, us boys were all laughing to ourselves. So, to please them, we changed the subject to talking about the war. One of the Filipino boys gave us the "high sign" and the five of us boys very tactfully guided the course of the conversation right back to the original things concerning kissing and stuff. By this time, the girls were pretty well disgusted with all of us. We were inwardly all smiles. So, after they fed us a chicken dinner, we left. They invited us back again, but I don't know why. Probably, it was just a matter of politeness. Anyway, I do not think that we will ever go back to their house again. The reason is this. Every time that we go there, they treat us to a very good dinner. That part is all right; but what can we do to show our appreciation for their hospitality? We invite them out for dinner. But they naturally refuse for fear of the neighbors talking about it. The girls would, it seems, lose their good reputation if seen with us in public. We just cannot keep going there and enjoying their kindness and not doing anything in return for it. We feel guilty, but what can we do? Our hands are tied. So, we have decided to give up the whole thing and not return again to their house. Maybe I'll write them some kind of a letter of explanation or something. Maybe I won't.

      Well, so much for that. You seem to worry about Jap air attacks at my new base. The truth is that we haven't had an air raid here yet. The Japs have no planes and no bases from which to fly from. We only have to worry about the Japs coming down out of the mountains and infiltrating through our lines. Last night, I and two other boys spent 12 hours in a foxhole guarding the little hospital. We were situated between the mountains and the camp. The Japs have to slip past us in order to do any damage. Nothing happened that night, but the night before, they got one of the three Japs that tried to sneak through. The other two ran back up into the mountains. [Also see the first article in the April 28, 1945, issue of The Squadron Pulse newsletter. - Ed. ] Occasionally, they try to slip through us and sabotage our planes. We still have Filipino guerrilla guards out with us. What they miss, we get. The Jap, which they shot through the stomach, looked to be about 18 years old and was plenty healthy. He had a bayonet, but no rifle. A full cup of rice was scattered over the ground where he fell. The next day, our Filipino laborers __________________. All of the Filipinos were happy. And so, a Jap warrior joined his honorable ancestors. I was glad to see a Jap killed. It kind of makes up for one of my buddies who wasn't so lucky one time at my old base. [He seems to be intimating that at least one member of his squadron was killed during the December 1944 paratrooper attack. - Ed.]

      You mentioned about the blue triangle and gold engine of cloth on my right sleeve. Also, the engine with the wreaths around it. They are awarded to certain Air Corps ground personnel for their work. Most of the boys in my squadron received them. It's nothing exceptional - just some stuff to put on. After the war, you will see so much such stuff worn that won't mean much. The only thing that I will be proud of is my overseas stripes.

      Well, ma, this finishes up another letter from the Philippines. I wrote this in longhand - hope that you can read it. [His previous letters were all written with block letters, all capitals. I thought it was perhaps so that his little sister Yvonne, then still in elementary school, could read the letters. But when I asked her about it in 2018, she seemed to think that’s how he normally wrote. He also printed a letter that he wrote to his wife in 1949. - Ed.] So, until next time, this is yours truly signing off -



The Kindle book includes the letters; all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; complete text of the U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia,” which soldiers heading Down Under were given to read; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.


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