Trumbull, Conn., September 16, 1945
Dear Network Stations:
Might as well start in with quotes at once this week as otherwise I might be accused of not doing my part in conserving paper. Maybe you have noticed that the quotes tail now wags the letter dog so to speak. Clever of me to work it this way, wasn’t it? I now don’t have to do anything but sit like a big spider in the middle of my web and merely act as a clearinghouse or central station (Dave would probably have the right descriptive adjective or term for this sort of communication center) for the messages you boys send in of interest to all the rest of the family (when I say “boys” of course that includes the girls too), making it unnecessary for me to use my brain, if any, to try to think up interesting and clever things to write so that you boys will all exclaim in chorus, “Oh, isn’t he wonderful! I don’t see how he does it!” You notice, don’t you, how we get to the quotes at once. Oh well, then, here’s one from Dave:
“Someday I’ll write you a long letter on St. Augustine’s Church in the Intramuras and some of the other things I’ve seen and heard here. One night at St. Augustine’s I talked to a Spanish woman that had lived near there. She told me some pretty gruesome things that she had actually seen. One thing I got a laugh about was her account of the first Americans she saw returning to Manila. She said she looked at them from a distance and decided that they were awfully nice looking Japs, but when one of them said Okay, sister, move along”, she knew they were Americans taking back the city. The Japs have turned many of these “flips” into robbers. The only food they had was what they could steal and it became a habit. Now we have to watch carefully every time one gets near. Of course they aren’t all that way, some are really very nice and respectable people. They love MacArthur and seemed to be better Americans than some of the people whose homes are in the States. There seems to be some resentment on MacArthur’s seemingly “glory getting” attitude among the men in the Pacific, but you won’t find very many guys who express satisfaction with those that are over them. It just gives them something to moan about. Remember I said they didn’t like Buckner too well? – The same thing. However I’ve never heard anyone say anything about not liking Stillwell— he seems to be an all-right guy.
And another from Dave dated Sept. 4th: “Today they stopped censorship on the mail which gives me a chance to say some things which until now I have hesitated to mention. The first you have probably already guessed – – I was put in the harbor on L-Day at Okinawa. That was Easter Sunday—a day I’ll never forget. The feint on the east side of the island came off at dawn and then at 8:30 the real invasion went ashore. It was a beautiful clear day and we stood on the deck watching the barges go by with the Marines in them. On shore we could see the little dots advance up the beach and into the brush. Later on, we watched the vehicles, tanks, etc., go in. In the air over the island we watched American planes dive straight down out of sight and then come up again in a matter of seconds. There was a haze over the spot— they were dive bombing Yontan Airport. The other important thing I want to tell you is far more saddening to me. A group of the boys went down to Shuri — I think it was the last Sunday in July — souvenir hunting. There were about nine of them. Shuri was a scene of hard but swift fighting. Naturally there were a lot of explosives left there by the swift advancing army. Minefields weren’t cleared and duds were still left lying around without being detonated. The supply sergeant, who is a wild sort of guy, saw a Jap dud and raised his foot to kick it. Al Rundel, who was in my class
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back at Crowder, told him not to kick the dud, and when he saw him doing it anyway, he dropped to the ground. The dud went off throwing shrapnel all over the place. Bernie Arnold was in front of Sgt. Hamm, the guy who kicked the dud, and caught most of the shrapnel right in his stomach. He screamed and fell to the ground. He died about an hour later. There were three of us who were quite good friends — Hensley, Bernie and myself. Hensley was there and saw the whole thing. He gave me the complete story which wasn’t very pretty. I’ll never forgive Sgt. Hamm for the damned-fool thing he did. If we’ve seen one training film about leaving duds and charges alone, we’ve seen fifty. He escaped with the damaged fort. Leg injury to one of the cooks, complete paralysis to the arm of one of the clerks and other cuts and bruises were some of the other damage done. But as usual, it was the best man of all that had to die. Naturally I felt terrible about the accident and loss of Bernie. I want to church that night and that helped, but not enough. I felt pretty bad for a number of days. All I could think of was the picture he had shown me so many times of himself, his wife and his three-year-old daughter sitting in front of their Christmas tree the year before last. To top it all off, about two days later I got a letter from Ellie asking me to thank Bernie for the bracelet he had made from a Jap plane, which I had sent her. Bertie was no longer there to thank. He had missed the end of the war only by a few months. He was 38 and would probably be on his way home now. I’m doing crypt work here or at least I will be when our co. get set up in Korea in a few days. We will handle the communications between GHQ and the co. I think the rest of the co. will be in Korea. We are no longer a monitoring co. and now have reverted back to a plain service co. When the rest of the co. landed on Okinawa, Lieut. Greenberger intended to give me the T/4 that was open on our team. At that time he didn’t know how good Salamone was, and was more deserving of the rating and been in grade longer than I. So Sallie got the rating but Lieut. G. told me that when the chance permitted, he would see if he could promote me. As he is in charge of the group here in Manila, my chances are fairly good I think. All I’ve got to do is stay on the ball. The only trouble is it’s been so long since I’ve worked in a code room, as up in Okie I was working in the compilation section.
Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll post the rest of this long letter. The posts will include more news from Dan and also news from Brazil.
Saturday and Sunday, I’ll continue the story of Mary E and Archie Wilson as they move to Trumbull.