Army Life – Dave in Okinawa (2) – June, 1945



The people are short, not very modest, and go around barefooted. Although I haven’t seen it myself, I’ve been told that the girls take baths while all the American boys stand around and gape (naturally). Much to my surprise somebody told me they had seen an outhouse on the island. I still haven’t seen one. Don’t ask me how they do it. I haven’t seen any traces of human dung. I understand they use it for fertilizer in their fields.

Of course, true to oriental style, every square foot of land that is cultivatable has something of worth growing on it.

I saw Kadona (?) in shambles. It sort of hurt to see machines standing in a pile of rock and rubble. I kept thinking how I would feel if I went back home and saw where your office used to be, parts of our automatic feed and maybe a multi-graph head standing in a heap of broken wood. Now Kadona (?) is just a flat hunk of bull-dozed land. You wouldn’t even know that there had once been a good-sized town standing there. Some of the villages are still standing although the houses have been ransacked.

Our group was the first to set up a bivouac area in the spot assigned to us. There were no other outfits around. We were told that snipers were not scarce and that air raids were frequent. We were a small group and had to supply our own guards. It was all now   to us – this business of guarding a bivouac area for a real enemy who might be armed with grenades, a knife and a rifle. It wasn’t like that old fire ground at Crowder where you walked around with an empty carbine on your shoulder. Here you sat as still as the mosquitoes would let you and every leaf that rustled or every domestic animal (there were a lot of pigs, goats and horses left by the fleeing natives) that moved had a carbine pointed in its direction. But I never did see a live sniper.

The first day after we got to our bivouac area a couple of the boys went out to do some exploring. They didn’t get more than a couple of hundred feet away from the area before they ran across a Jap soldier and a civilian who had been hit by flamethrowers. The soldier caught his before he could get out of his foxhole. Surprisingly enough, they didn’t smell too badly. A detail was sent out to bury them.

One night we had a raid and for the first time we saw an enemy observation plane. We had seen plenty of zeros and had seen lots of them shot down, this was the first time we had seen an observation plane. One of the boys made the speculation that we soon would be bombed. This theory I quickly pooh-poohed, figuring it was too far-fetched. That night I went to bed in perfect peace (nevertheless I was in my foxhole which was covered with my tent). The next thing I knew there was a terrific explosion that shook the dirt loose from the sides of my foxhole, and bounced me up and down on my cot. Then another and another. There were five of them altogether. I wondered what it was so I got up and looked out between the flaps of my tent. I saw that dawn was breaking as I threw on my shoes (I had the rest of my clothes on all night) and went out to see what had happened. The first person I saw was Larry Oeruatoski (?) who was on guard. He said it was a Jap who had come in low just over the trees and had dropped a stick of five bombs, so we took off across the field a few hundred feet to where we found the first crater. We decided that it must have been a 100-lb. anti-personnel bomb because the crater was only a couple of feet in diameter. We found the rest of the craters and started thanking our lucky stars that the pilot of the plane was a poor shot. If he had been a few degrees to the left he would have reduced the size of the US Army by a few men. We found shrapnel holes in our mess tent, supply tent, and one guy had a rip in his tent about 2 feet long.

Tomorrow and Thursday, the other two sections of this letter from Dave, Grandpa’s youngest, who is stationed in Okinawa. On Friday, a letter from Biss to Ced, in Alaska.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dave in Okinawa (1) – June, 1945

The letter I am transcribing is from a copy of a typed letter on onion skin or airmail paper. It is a very poor copy, water stained, creased with the last portion of the letter typed on the back of page 3 and bleeding through. I honestly don’t know if I will be able to transcribe any of that but I’ll give it a try.

June, 7, 1945

Dear folks:

Well, the lid is at least part way off. We got a new APO number today – APO 902. Now at least I can tell you I’m on Okinawa. I surmised that you already had guessed that but now you know officially. I am afraid this letter will be a little jumpy because there are so many things I want to say now that I can tell you some things of interest.

I don’t know what you’ve read about this island but it’s really very beautiful. They told us before we hit the island that it was a hell hole. They painted a nightmarish picture of unfriendly natives, mud, poisonous snakes, mosquitoes, etc. Well, all they said was true but not nearly as bad as they made it out to be. We do have poisonous snakes, but as yet I haven’t seen any, although some of the other guys in the outfit have. The natives, with a few exceptions, have been very friendly as far as I know. Whether it is because they are glad to see us come and drive the Japs out or that they are afraid of us, I don’t know; but I am inclined to think it is more or less the latter. You should see them bow to us whenever they see any of us. It makes me feel like a jerk. The mud is every bit as bad as they said it was. I’ve never seen mud that had such a sticky content. It’s just like taffy before the taffy is pulled and hardened. The mosquitoes are pretty bad but we’ve got plenty of effective repellent and mosquito netting for our heads and canopies over our bunks.

The island itself is almost a Shangri-La (there are a lot of people who would give me an argument on that statement) in as far as it’s terrain and foliage is concerned. There are large hills, almost mountains, beautiful valleys, fertile soil, beautiful pine trees, pretty streams and fine beaches. In many places it reminds me of Connecticut and in others of the Gaspé Peninsula. The foliage isn’t foreign to what I’ve been brought up in.

The natives here were originally Chinese but the islands were invaded and taken over by the Japs a few hundred years ago. Since then, the Japs have treated the Okinawans as an inferior people. Their whole mode of life is a cross between the Japs and the Chinese. They stick to the old Chinese custom of burying the dead in tombs with food and clothing for their journey to wherever they’re going. The whole island is covered with these tombs, all built almost entirely alike. It’s surprising to an Occidental to see the humble dwellings of these people standing beside a sturdy, well-built tomb, made of a sort of concrete. The houses are made of wood and have thatched roofs. Their schools (of which there are plenty) are a little better built, having fancy tile roofs with that ______ that you see in all oriental buildings. The literacy rate of the island is supposed to be very high and I can see that it might be, after having seen so many schools, and the more painstaking structures that house the “learners”.

Our bivouac area and all the surrounding countryside is strictly an agricultural section. Maha (?) was supposed to have been a fairly modern city with all the fixings, but I never did get anywhere near there, so all I can tell you about is the poor farmer. He must be a very hard worker. All his tools for farming and all his necessities for living are handmade. Their pottery is very beautiful even though that is also handmade. It strikes me funny that their necessities should be so crude and yet all the homes have beautiful cabinets and in those cabinets are the most beautiful pieces of pottery you could find.


The next three days will be devoted to the rest of this letter. On Friday, I’ll be posting a letter from Biss to her big brother, Ced.

Judy Guion

Life in St Petersburg, (12) – Please, Please, Please – April, 1935

At this point, Aunt Biss is definitely thinking about coming home. She almost sounds wistful as she thinks about her brothers.

Friday night

10:00 PM


Dear Dad:

Elizabeth (Biss) Westlin Guion

Elizabeth (Biss) Westlin Guion

I have just gotten back from church. The whole thing was just music – and it was very pretty. There were one or two very nice voices in the choir also. Absolutely the only talking was at the very end when the preacher gave a half minute sermon for dismissal. The service was “The Seven Last Sentences of Jesus” or something to that effect. Buelah – the maid – stayed with the children so Aunt Anne and I were able to go with peaceful minds. I have to go in to tell Aunt Anne that I put the hot water heater on for her so I will be back in a minute.

This is going to be what you would call a rather selfish letter – it is selfishness on my part. First – I have told several people down here a great deal about my family – perhaps too much, for I am quite proud of them and I also said plenty about the house. I have shown them the pictures of all of

Lilac Bush

Lilac Bush

you which were taken while you were down here – but I have no picture of the house to show them. They evidently have never seen a lilac for they haven’t the slightest inkling of what they look like – so – I was wondering if you would take a picture of the house from every angle and then send them down here to me. Please take the pictures when the lilacs are in bloom for that is the time I like best. If you feel as if it would be too much, why, you can send the films down and I will have them developed here. I would also have one of Mack – for they have heard how wonderful he is.

The other favor is much, much larger but I hope you will do it so that I may carry out my plans – that is – Aunt Anne’s finances are very low – too low for comfort and so I told her that I was going to suggest to you that you send me – if possible – money for my passage home. I stayed up until 11 one night figuring out the cost for one steamline and I am going to find out the price for the other tomorrow or one day next week. The total cost for the Savanna line – minimum – would be around fifty dollars. Dad, I am going to change that a little bit. How anxious are you to see me? You see, Aunt Anne may not be going home until July or August and I explained to her that I would like to get home and I wished to go home around June 1 if she didn’t mind. I am hoping to go home by June 1 at the latest and want to know if you will help me out – something tells me you are angry at reading this letter and thank goodness – I am far enough away to be fairly safe – don’t take it out on the poor boys. But seriously, Dad, please don’t delay answering for it is a case of life or death and I want to know which my fate is to be. Please don’t mention this to anyone, not even my brothers – for if it is “No”, I don’t want them to be disappointed (I suppose I should say overjoyed) and if it is “Yes” (as I hope, although I try not to) then I want to surprise them all – and I think I can get my transportation home from New York – so you needn’t worry about that – if I can’t I will let you know ahead of time. Please hurry so I won’t get nervous prostration while waiting.


Your hoping, but not too expectant, daughter,


P.S. Please answer in the affirmative  like a good pop.

P.P.S.  It is 11:36 P.M. Tsk, tsk, tsk!

This coming week I’ll be posting letters written in 1945. Dan and Paulette are hoping to get married in July but so much depends on the Army, they really don’t know if they will be able to pull it off. I have divided a long letter from Dave into four segments, Monday through Thursday, and on Friday, I’ll post a letter to Ced from his sister, Biss.

Judy Guion

Life in St. Petersburg, Florida (11) – Tests, Projects and Lilacs – April, 1935

My Grandmother died when my Dad was nineteen and her youngest, Dave, was only seven. Biss was fourteen, a terrible age to lose her Mother, and she didn’t take it well. She acted out and my Grandpa and Arla’s sisters thought it would help Biss if she went to St Petersburg and lived with Aunt Anne, also helping Anne, a single parent,  with her two children, Don and Gwen. She tries very hard to write to her Dad every week, sometimes more often, and he writes to her every week.

Tuesday morning

11:26 AM


Dear Dad:

I better explain first about the letter you just received (yesterday or today). You see I was getting sort of worried about my allowance. I just stated that I would write to you whether you did to me or not and so I did. I did not send the letter until after I had read yours but I figured that I might just as well send it anyway for it was all sealed and ready to go. The bell has rung so I will finish this later.

It is just after lunch period now and my history teacher has disappeared so I am taking time to write a little bit further. I am going to a play with Bill tonight and do not

Art Mantle, Biss and Lad Guion

Art Mantle, Biss and Lad Guion

expect to take a vacation tomorrow as I had planned, but Friday instead. There was a boy in this history class who drew a picture of President Roosevelt which looks more like him than he does himself. Ralph – the painter – is going to send it to President Roosevelt in a week or two so you see our history class is quite “fed up” about it and we look at the world as though they were trash.

We had a geometry test yesterday and it was quite stiff but I think I passed it. I’ll let you know when I get my paper back today. My daily use of the King’s English has become quite careless and I am trying to work myself back to a high standard – Aunt Anne is helping me immensely. We are starting a contest hear in history so I have to stop.

I am now in geometry and there is such a commotion that I cannot hear myself think. There is going to be a school exhibit and I am making a project for French and also for geometry so I am quite a busy child which is quite unusual for me. In English we had to write some informal letters – I wrote one to Dan and I am going to send it on up to him. Am glad Alfred’s party was such a big success. It reminds me of my birthday party about five years ago – as I remember it. We did not get our papers back so I cannot give you my mark. We’re going to have a departmental test day after tomorrow – I don’t mind them especially. I like writing these letters like this for it makes the day go so much faster. At last we can have peace to do what we like! I’m in sixth period study – I suppose that has become a familiar phrase. How do you like Peggy’s Westport friends? I imagine they are a very nice bunch. We are all gradually becoming very dark because we go out to the beach at least once a week and the sun is very hot! I don’t see how it can be done but if you can figure out a way I would love to have some lilacs when they come out.



P.S. Is this a quick enough answer to your letter?

Trumbull – My Dear Little Pills – Jan., 1943

Trumbull House in winter - (cropped) - 1940

 Trumbull, Conn., Jan. 31, 1943

My dear little pills:

No, there is nothing intentionally derogatory in the use of this title in your case. Contrary to what your conscience may suggest, it is not a sly dig at the unanimous absence of letters from the (non) fighting fronts. It is just my playful little way of starting the letter this week, inspired by an account I read of some of the American bombers that visited Berlin the other day. It seems it is the habit of giving pet names to each of the bombing planes, and one in command of an officer named Carter had been christened “Carter and his little pills”, which appealed to me as being a typically appropriate bit of American humor. An English official report the other day also revealed their sense of humor. It said, “This year our army entered Bengazi one week earlier than usual”.

Barbara just popped in, Dan, and asked me to enclose the blue slip here with, giving information about the Spanish paper, La Prensa, which on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, conducts a course in Spanish. A three month subscription costs a $1.50 but that may be only on the days mentioned. The address is 245 Canal St., N. Y. City.

Last Monday I had a nice long letter from Ced. (By the way, Monday was Marty’s birthday and Biss asked us all over there for dinner in celebration (including Jean (Hughes) and Barbara (Plumb). Dave had some pop eye 8mm movie films which he had used the day before for his Young People’s Group, which he showed for the edification of your nephews. Well, to get back to Ced’s letter. He says his status with the Army vs Woodley remains unchanged with the possible exception of a rumor to the effect that no change will take place, which is probably authentic, as it comes from the company lawyer who is interested in the case. He mentions also the hectic time he had keeping a New Year’s appointment, the very uncomfortable apartment he has had to put up with and local Christmas gifts received. I wonder if in some letter I may not have received, you mentioned, Ced, receiving the Christmas box from home. Two were sent to you and as far as I know, neither have yet reached you. While they didn’t contain much, it was at least evidence that we hadn’t forgotten you. This week I expect to get another package off to you. On your housekeeping supplies I will be interested in your comments on the several gadgets sent, which mention of any other little things that would be acceptable, as merchandise of all kinds is getting shorter and harder to procure.

Barbara, on account of her psoriasis, was unable to pass her physical exam for the Spars and was naturally quite disappointed. Dan’s 10-day furlough expired all too quickly and he is now back again at Camp. Lad is either pretty busy with his work or with social activities, as I have not heard from him since he wrote on January 9th.

Red (Sirene) is through with school and expects to be drafted any week now. At present he and Dick are both gentlemen of leisure. We have had a small blizzard here for a couple of days. The big driveway is still trackless but the sun today melted quite a bit of snow. Business with me this month has been very poor. I’ve also had one of those hang-on colds, so I’ll quit and go to bed.


This weekend, I’ll be posting more letters from Biss, in Florida, to her Dad, regarding her life with her Aunt Anne (Peabody Stanley) and Don and Gwen, Aunt Anne’s children.

Trumbull – Once Upon a Time and Sylvia’s Wedding – Jan., 1943


Same old place

Usual day, Jan. 24, 1943

Same three boys:

Once upon a time there were three little bears, a Laddie bear, old man river bear and a ceddie (not teddie) bear. And it came time for them to leave the old cave and go out into the cruel world and fight for Uncle Sam. So they all went off and left a little bear behind (of course they left more than that but then that would spoil the joke). So off they chugged in their little gas wagons, being modern bears, and one went race- tracking where Japanese beetles had once bored (Lad is at Camp Santa Anita, California where the horse racing track is now being converted from a Japanese Internment  camp to an Army Base) and another went up to see his aunt aureora borealis (Ced is in Anchorage Alaska) and the third into a lion Den of his own choosing (in Lancaster, Pennsylvania) training for surveying and map-making). What happened is still unwritten history and will be continued in our next installment. Meanwhile Dan is home on a 10 day furlough and airing, hanging his close on the proverbial hickory limb to get rid of the odor of soft cold gas with which his army quarters are permeated due to heating fuel.

My other two boys have joined the ranks of strong, silent man, emphasis on the silent part, but that hope that springs eternal in the human breast buoys me up so that with unabated zeal, I will hie me to box 7 tomorrow with the usual, expectant enthusiasm and peer into its depths for the well-known envelope.

Tomorrow most of the stores ann public buildings in Bridgeport will be closed following the proclamation of the new governor urging one day a week closing of buildings to conserve fuel. Not such a bad idea going to Alaska, Ced, to keep warm. Dick severed his connection yesterday with Producto (a manufacturing plant doing war work in Bridgeport) and is now a gentleman of leisure until the Shelton draft board summons him to partake of its plentiful beef steaks, butter and other delicacies which we civilians once used to enjoy.

Aunt Betty is now resplendent with a new set of teeth and smilingly asks to be remembered to you each individually. David is busy at this moment with preparations for a farewell party to be given here by his young people’s group for Elliott Knecht, who leaves the paternal home for induction tomorrow.

I forgot to mention in last week’s letter that I went to New York to see Sylvia married to her English aviator husband, at the church of or rather Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where in my boyhood, I had seen her mother married. I got there early and found there was going on a great funeral in some foreign language (I believe Czech) by the Greek Orthodox Church for the noted scientist and inventor Tesla. At the reception afterward I saw Mount Vernon folks I had not met for 30 years or more. Sylvia’s husband goes back to Canada to teach young aviators and may later go to England and take his new wife with him.

Next week, after the Russians capture a few more towns, MacArthur sinks a few more ships and planes, and MacArthur  chases a few more of Rommel’s Army (and we lose a few more ships to Hitler’s submarines), I will continue this missive and try to answer all the questions in the letters I expect to have received by that time from youse.


Tomorrow, one more letter from Grandpa. On Saturday and Sunday, more letters from Biss to her Father, from St. Petersburg, Florida, where she is helping her Aunt Anne.

Judy Guion


Trumbull – News From Lad and Trumbull News – Jan., 1943

ADG - Grandpa about 1945 or 1946 near a tree in winter

Trumbull, January 17, 1943

Dear Soloists:

I see in each of you this afternoon a singer of a particular song. Your specialty, Lad, might be “California, here I come”. Ced, with his long absence from the family circle (or is it a polygon) ought to be able to render with feeling “I’ll see you again”. And Dan, like Old Man River, he don’t say nothing but just keeps rolling along.

The home fires were kindled anew this week by receipt of a letter from Lad. The California Chamber of Commerce evidently failed to reach him in time as his comments on the weather in Arcadia do not ring the bell. He arrived a few days sooner than he was supposed to report, spent them in visiting various USO camps, reported for duty and was promptly quarantined. His trip consumed gasoline and rubber, 4200 miles worth, to find his new quarters under course of remodeling after serving as a Jap concentration camp. Outside of condenser and radiator trouble, the car performed admirably. He did not say what passengers he had from Flint to Los Angeles but promises to give trip details in a later letter. Oh, by the way, Lad, I stopped in at the Blue Print Shop in the Arcade in Bridgeport yesterday and one Evelyn Kreglin asked me how you were and remarked she was still awaiting a letter from you. No matter where I go, I seem to bump into someone who considers me noteworthy as Lad’s father. Ah, Fame, thou should be made of sterner stuff.

I heard indirectly from Dan this week in the shape of a $25 war savings bond jointly registered in his name and mine. It will go into my safe deposit box in the Bridgeport City Trust Company in Dan’s envelope along with his stock certificate, etc. Dan did not again put in an appearance this week nor burden Uncle Sam’s Postal Service with any letters, but the trap is set for next week. With the scarcity of meat nowadays, it is difficult to get any selection at all, so I have already left an order for a leg of lamb for next week in the hope it will be forthcoming in time for next Sunday’s dinner.

Ced’s fate is still undetermined as far as any definite news as to his status is concerned, but I am hoping for a letter this week, which will clear up this moot point.

Barbara (Plumb) and Jean (Hughes) have both received, at their request, application forms to be filled out for joining the Spars, which I understand is affiliated with the Coast Guard. Mrs. Warden says Ethel Bushey told her Mr. Ives was not expected to live much longer. The older Buckingham youngster has scarlet fever and is in a Bridgeport Hospital. Hitler is threatened with a case of the jitters and that is all the news this week.

The battery in my car is getting senile so in spite of Carl’s salesmanship to induce me to get a Willard, I recalled Lad’s favorable mention of the Shepard battery and have ordered one made to order, which Mr. Shepherd says will be the last one coming through with rubber case. I expect to get delivery this week.

Write me and who can tell but what in reply I may write a two-page letter, instead of just a single page. I develop a mirthless laugh when I hear over the radio how anxious the boys in the service are to receive letters from home. Perhaps I am cynical and ought to _________________.                         DAD

I’ll finish out the week with two more one-page letters from Grandpa to all three boys far from home.

Judy Guion