Guard Duty – Letter XVI – conclusion
In the event that you missed the previous post, Pvt. Smith serving in the 11th Airborne during WWII, was attempting to visualize his first experience at standing guard duty in a combat zone to his mother in a letter. At one point, the situation appears critical and the next – a comedy of errors. Nevertheless, this half of the letter describes his four-hour rest period and the following two hours of standing guard. Hope you stick around to see how he does.
Guard Duty (con’t)
As soon as your relief man comes along, you strut back to your tent feeling as proud as all hell knowing that you are a conqueror of the night and a tried and true veteran of the guard. You are supposed to get four hours of rest or sleep before going on for your second shift, but for some reason or another the time just flits away and just as you close your eyes in deep slumber — in walks the sergeant of the guard and out you go sleepily rubbing your eyes wondering how in the devil you are ever going to keep awake for the next two hours.
As you sit on the stump of a tree surveying what you have just fours hours ago mentally overcame, you begin to think of home. Now, thinking of home is alright in the daytime with a load of griping G.I.s around, but at night on a lonesome post, it is strictly out. Not only do you think of things you shouldn’t, but soon you are feeling sad and more lonely than ever knowing that no one cares and that the whole world is against you. Not only is this bad for you, it doesn’t even help to pass the time.
You turn your thoughts elsewhere trying next to figure out what the cooks will try to feed you tomorrow. Here again is a very poor time-passing thought as you know damn well they’ll feed you bully-beef in its most gruesome form. Soon your eyes feel heavy again and seem like they’re going to close and you wonder if it would be okay to light up a cigarette. Here again the book says what to do, but heck, as I said before, the guy who wrote it isn’t out here, so what does he know? You daringly light one up, trying desperately to shield the light and take a big, deep drag. I found that it isn’t the inhaling of the cigarette that keeps you awake, but the ever constant threat of being caught in the act. You look at your watch and find to your dismay that you still have an hour and forty-five minutes left to go.
Damn but the time sure does drag along. Wonder why it doesn’t speed up and pass on just as it does when you are off. Oh! Well, sit down again and hum a tune or two, maybe that will help. Gosh, sure wish someone would come along to talk. Ho-hum, lets see now. What will I do tomorrow on my time off? This last thought is sure to pass away in 15 to 20 minutes, but why it should, I don’t know. You know damn well that no matter what you may plan for tomorrow’s off-time, it will only be discarded and you will spend that time in bed asleep. Light up another cigarette, sweat it out, swear a little at the dragging time, hum another tune, think more about home, think of you and the army, swear good and plenty and after that thought — look at your watch.
Hey — what goes on here? — that damn relief is over a half-minute late — who does he think he is anyway? Swear. Brother how you are swearing and cursing now. Oh! Oh! There’s a light coming your wat — the relief. “Oh boy, sleep ahead.”
“So long bud, the whole damn post is yours. Take it easy, it ain’t too bad. Goodnite.” — And so ends your first night of guard duty as you wearily drag yourself to your bunk too damn tired to even undress.
Hey Mom, hope you enjoyed this as much as some of the others here did. Meant to send this off before now, but you know me.
A lot of information about Leyte was difficult to acquire and/or receive permission to reprint. I will therefore in the following post include a few more photos to give the reader an idea of how efficiently the American troops went through the island to clear out the Japanese.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________ Personal Note – I have been invited by Judith Hardy, of Greatest Generations Lessons, to be a Guest writer on her blog. Her father was born the same year as “Smitty” and also received his draft notice the same year. I’m very excited about the article and the honor and certainly hope many of you will stop by her blog and check it out. My article should appear this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, but stay a while and check out Judy’s previous posts. Thank you._____________________________________________________________________________________________
Posted on December 4, 2012, in Letters home, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged 11th airborne, 1944, Army, family history, guard duty, Leyte, Military, Military History, Pacific War, paratroopers, Philippines, veterans, war letters, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.