Camp Stoneman & Letters I & II
Pvt. Smith was as cocky and proud as the next trooper, but he also thought of the army as a learning experience and considered his new adventure as a chance to experience things he would not otherwise have the opportunity. On April 23, 1944, he stepped off a train near Camp Stoneman, California. Here the troopers would learn how to live aboard ship, operate life boats, raft kits and climb up and down rope ladders. Censorship of the soldier’s letters began here. The Inspector General’s men discovered the ruse of the 11th A/B Division hiding behind the paperwork of Shipment #1855 and the troopers began to accumulate AW104’s in record amounts. (Under the Article of War #104 – a commanding officer may give punishment, as is necessary, without the threat of court-martial.) May 2, the 11th A/B moved to Pittsburg, CA by way of inland boats to their actual POE and the letters from Smitty began …
Letter I Tuesday 5/2/44 Dear Mom, I sure am a fine one after calling you Sunday especially to wish you a Happy Birthday and I go and forget to, but I assure you it wasn’t intentional, but just excitement of the conversation. I tried yesterday to buy a card, but to no avail. No doubt by the time you receive this letter you will be wondering why I didn’t call you this week as I promised I would. It just so happened that we were confined to our company area starting yesterday morning, so it was an impossibility to get to either a telephone or telegraph office. From now on all my letters to you will be numbered as this one is in the upper left hand corner. In that way, you can read my letters in sequence and can tell whether or not you are receiving all my letters. I would also advise sending all letters to me from now on by airmail as that will be the quickest way. We heard that not all the mail so far from here has yet been sent out, but when it does go out, why you will no doubt get them all at once. Tell everyone at home to be patient and they will no doubt hear from me as I sit down Saturday and either write a letter or card to everyone I know. You had better check up on them all and see that they have my correct address, as the army will notify only you of any new changes. I sure don’t want to lose out on my letters of anyone just because they have an incorrect address. Yesterday we didn’t do much of anything, but Sunday was really quite an entertaining day. We went bowling, then to a free USO show and from there to a movie. The entertainment is so full and alive that sometimes it still persists in your dreams. Therefore, you can really say they even take care of you while you are slumbering. Well mom, that is all for now, so once more I want to wish you a “Happy Birthday” and the best of everything. Don’t worry and keep you chin up. Love, Everett
PS – Be on the lookout for a new Class E allotment I made out and also a B allotment. Your allotments now will come to 22 dollars cash and a $18.75 war bond a month. I’m getting pretty good, aren’t I?
Letter II Thursday 5/4/44
There really isn’t much to write about as I’ve told you most everything on the phone. By the way, when you receive your bill for the month let me know just how much these calls cost.
I heard from Harley yesterday and it seems that he wants something to do and they just won’t give him anything. They have now made him landscape sergeant and I can just see him pulling weeds and taking care of flowers. If he should ever get his load on, he’ll nip out the flowers and let the weeds alone. I haven’t written to Woods yet, but give me time. I’ll get around to it before long.
We have to police up the area now, so will leave you for a while. Be back before long. — Hello again. We no sooner pick up the old cigarette butts and paper than some jerk behind you drops one so that cleaning up is getting to be a problem. Policing up is what is known as body bending exercise, head down, backsides pointing to the sky.
Well mom, that is all there is for now so take care of yourself and give my regards to all. All my love, Everett
Smitty was unable to tell his mother that he and the 11th A/B would be shipping out the following day – destination and mission unknown. The men cruised from Suisan Bay into San Pablo Bay, into San Francisco Bay and under the Oakland Bridge to Oakland Mole where the Red Cross passed out coffee and donuts while they boarded the transport ships. So … back under the Oakland Bridge, thru San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge to the open Pacific.
This photograph on the left was removed from a New York newspaper. The sign above the entry states: “Through these portals pass the best damn soldiers in the World.” The clipping beside it indicates shipping out dates. The 11th A/B departed May 5, 1944. Smitty said that this cruise would be the most boring part of his service, although he did become quite adept at playing cards during this time.