Letter IX – “A Day’s Venture”

Dobodura, New Guinea

At this point in time, the jungle war training had live firing and everything was becoming a bit clearer, a bit more realistic.

Major Burgess left the units temporarily to set up a jump school.  This would give the glidermen and Burgess himself an opportunity to qualify as paratroopers.  The parachutists began their glider training at Soputa airstrip that was no longer in regular use.

waters off Lae, New Guinea

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Letter IX                                               “A Day’s Venture”                                                                      Monday   6/26/44                                        

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, being Sunday, a day of rest, I decided to ride around this place and see something.  I made up my mine though that this sightseeing tour of mine, this time, would be done as a civilian completely forgetting I’m in the army.  You have to do this in order to see the place in its true light, otherwise if you don’t all you can see is hardship and work.  With my mind cleared of Khaki, I set forth in a jeep with a buddy of mine; who I dare say couldn’t see the sense of our venture.

As we drove along in the still quiet, the thought kept coming to me of the enormous job the boys before us had to confront and overcome.  Here and there along the way you could see some old emplacement or deserted village.  These villages were really something to see with their straw-thatched roofs and open sided houses.  We wouldn’t call them shed, but that is just what they looked like.

One can readily understand why the authors of those travelogues really go all out when describing these islands.  You forget the heat as cooling breezes blow over you from the coast and the shade of the giant coconut trees gradually engulf you.

We passed one spot close to the coast that suddenly shook us with the horrible realization of our place and mission.  It wasn’t large or spread out, but all was peaceful and quiet though men were gaily chatting and swimming nearby.  We entered by an archway on which was inscribed, “Japanese Cemetery.”  We passed now upon some of the little white markers all neatly lined up and lettered.  Although they were once an active enemy, one could not help but see the shame and waste of war.

We looked around the beach for a while, then decided to go in for a swim.  The water here is amazingly warm and clear.  You could never believe it unless you could see it as I have.  How crystal clear and immune of blemish this water here is.  Why, to peer down 25 feet and see bottom is really an easy thing to do.  The bottom is sand, sand at its finest and whitest literally covered with shells of every shape and color with here and there a grotesque piece of coral.  You can really pick out the coral as it shows up a faint green while the shells throw all colors of the rainbow up at you until your eyes are completely dazzled by the many-colored lights.

By this time, the sun was well on its way toward the horizon and dusk rapidly approaching.  Here and there a faint star twinkled until suddenly the sky was almost completely covered with thousands.  The moon finally appeared in all its bright glory and reflected itself a hundred times over on the waves before us.  The end of the day had come and with it also my venture into a world never to be forgotten.  This day will long be remembered and stored with the rest of my most treasured memories.

Good night!  And may God bless you,  Everett

PS>  I shall write to Joe Dumb as soon as I send this letter on its way.  Be good and take care of yourself.

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Current News –        Mission 55

Say hello to Mr. Joe Butkus, a proud veteran of the 84th Engineer Construction Battalion who is having a birthday REAL SOON!

For the Mr.  Butkus story, visit equips !!

Cards to be sent to:  Joe Butkus  c/o Mary Ellen Hart  1868 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT  06824

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles E. Burns – Miami, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Pete Conley – Chapmanville, WV; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Arthur W. Countryman – Plainfield, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, TSgt. # 20602751, Co F/12/4th Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Tony Elliott – brn: UK; Royal Navy, WWII, CBI  &  Korea

George M. Gooch – Laclede, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Electrician’s Mate, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert J. Harr – Dallas City, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Irene Heyman – Brooklyn, NY; Civilian, WWII, Defense blueprints and Red Cross “Gray Lady”

Andrew J. Ladner – MS; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt. # 34133073, 126/32nd Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Huggin Road Blockade, NG)

Francis Morrill Jr. – Salem, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO  /  USMC, Korea

Earl D. Rediske – Prosser, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co A/55/11th Airborne Division

Marian Robert (102) – Vancouver, CAN, RC Women’s Air Force, WWII

Leonard F. Smith – Albany, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Metalsmith 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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A TOUCH OF BEAUTY

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 26, 2021, in Letters home, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 103 Comments.

  1. Beautiful Video! Amazing. God bestows always blessings to you. Keep you safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your father was a good writer, and observer, GP. I love his description of the beauty of the place, and his candor upon finding the Japanese burial site. ” Although they were once an active enemy, one could not help but see the shame and waste of war.” Each one of the dead was once someone’s child.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also must agree that Dad had quite a way with words and his letters are just beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. These letters are priceless, my friend. I just wish i was able to hold on to the various private letters and pictures when I was still with the service.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We never think they’ll be wanted, do we? So many things I discarded for one reason or another and I now wish I had been a hoarder. I thank my grandmother for saving these letters and my father for knowing just how much they meant to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are very fortunate to have these great memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That was a beautiful letter. The detailed description and heartfelt realization of war jump right out. Wow!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Not only did your Dad have a great attitude but his descriptions of the water and sky would have made travelers want to visit that spot. Wow! What a way with words.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wat een prachtige brief schreef je vader naar huis. In alle ellende zag hij daar al dat moois en stuurde het naar jullie door om jullie toch wat troost te bieden omdat hij van huis was. Hij had ook een schrijverstalent

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amazing trip, especially after hard war work.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Gwen M. Plano

    Your father’s letter is very moving. Just thinking about all those young men, far from home, facing one challenge after another…heartbreaking. Your dad makes it real for all of us. Thank you, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a wonderful letter! Love the way your father described his tour of the area. Taking out the ugliness of the war, the Pacific is such a beautiful place. There are still some undiscovered islands and pristine water!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A lovely letter with a magical description of an undersea world so different from any of the ones that American soldiers would have seen back home.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Eloquent and evocative. Such a treasure to have these letters, and so wonderful he could separate himself at least for one day from why he was there.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Since we both share certain opinions about the Pacific campaign, suffice to say that this letter stunned me. The torrential rain, and mud so deep it could swallow up heavy equipment, that our men had to slog through…I couldn’t see New Guinea as anything beautiful.
    No doubt your dad had reasons for not pursuing a writing career; just have to respect that, though it may be difficult to fathom.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Your dad was such a gifted writer and observer. It really shows in this letter. I’m glad he found some peace and beauty in the middle of the war.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I just got a card ready to put in the mail for Mr. Joe Butkus.
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Your Dad’s writing is wonderful. What he chose to share and how he shared it says a lot about him. 🙂 Gets me all teary-eyed. What a joy and a comfort for his family (especially his Mom) to receive his letters. And now they are memories and history…I’m sure when he wrote them he never dreamed we would all be reading them all these years later…AND they would be a boost to us in our lives today. 🙂 A BIG Thank you to your Dad and to you, GP!
    (((HUGS)))
    PS…I remember as a little girl waiting and watching for the mailman to see if we had any letters from my 18 year old brother who was serving in Vietnam.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dad was a special person and makes me feel great to know people such as yourself feel the same way.
      I can fully understand your anxiousness awaiting news from Vietnam!!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Another terrific letter, GP. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I have to think very hard to reveal a young man today writing home to their parents and bestowing God’s blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I agree with all the comments about what a fine writer Smitty was and it shame he didn’t pursue it. And as always I thank you, GP, for sharing him with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I thank you for taking the time read it, Don. He liked to dabble, but never felt good enough to try and get published. He would have had fun with a blog, I believe.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. It is really good to read once that there wasn’t all work. But it must have been pretty dangerous, just driving around in civilian clothes.Thanks for sharing another great part of your fathers expieriences, G.P.. Enjoy a wonderful week! xx Michael

    Like

    • I imagine Dad traveled south to try and ensure no exposure to the enemy. It would have made me nervous though.
      Thank you for always being so supportive, Michael.

      Like

  22. A beautifully written letter of a glimpse of paradise beyond the hell of war. What a marvelous keepsake.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. What a wonderful description of his ‘day out’. What a sensitive, aware man he was.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. If this young man didn’t become a writer after leaving the Army (or still with it), he missed his calling. Great descriptions. Love “mind cleared of Khaki,”.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. A lovely, evocative letter…

    Liked by 1 person

  26. That he could get out and record this so eloquently speaks of the man

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Very poetic writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. He described the landscape and water with such beautiful detail—you can visualize it all. But his line about the waste of war will stick with me the most.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Wow! How different the New Guinea landscape looked when viewed with a mind cleared of khaki!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. What a refreshing letter. I am enjoying these descriptions do New Guinea so much, GP. Thank you for sharing your father’s letters. If I could, I’d thank him for writing them and every person who thought to save them.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. That wonderful description would make anyone want to be there – until you remember that while he took off his khaki-colored glasses, he was still wearing khaki and still in a war.
    Did he do any writing later as a civilian?

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Love Smitty’s description of the lagoon and sunset. Wonder if it still has all those shells. Great video of the body formed from the contrails
    Thanks for the shout out about the upcoming birthday celebration. Good man. 👍🇺🇸🤓🌹🎊

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Everett’s letter is such compelling poetry.

    Card addressed for Joe Butkus!

    Liked by 2 people

  34. How unusual to think of seeing the place as it really was, and not just as another theatre of war. His sympathy for the Japanese in the cemetrey shows what a kind man he was at heart. This was a touching ‘interlude’ indeed, GP.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. People often talk about rose-colored glasses; I thought it was especially interesting that Smitty understood he was wearing khaki-colored glasses, and was wise enough to take them off for a different kind of look at the world around him. His descriptions of the natural world are lovely, and his sensitivity to the Japanese cemetery is poignant. This is an especially fine letter; thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. This is quite an expression of being able to shift out of character and display insight through observation.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Thank you, Michael.
    (I find I can not comment on this particular site.)

    Like

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