Category Archives: Letters home

Smitty’s Letter XVI “Guard Duty” conclusion

It’s lonely out there.

In the event that you missed the previous post, Cpl. 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 four 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. 

Aleutians, 1943

” 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 way — 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.

“Love,  Everett”

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lawrence L. Brown – USA; US Army, Cpl., Co. M/3/9/2nd Infantry Division, KIA (POW Camp # 5, NK)

Louis “Red” Carter – Attapulgus, GA; US Merchant Marines, WWII, PTO/ETO

Long may she wave!!
(courtesy of Dan Antion)

Wesley O. Garrett – So. Trenton, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 84th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Gail S. Halvorsen (101) Salt Lake City, UT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Colonel, “The Candy Bomber”, pilot (Ret. 32 y.)

Harvey C. Herber – Tacoma, WA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Electrician’s Mate 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Francis J. Jury – USA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Heavy Mortar Co./32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Mary (Sullivan) Mann – Braintree, MA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Jack R. Pathman – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, bomber/radio instructor

William Sieg Sr, – Winlock, WA; US Navy, WWII

Henry E. Stevens (102) – New Britain, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Tuscaloosa, Naval Academy graduate

John A. Trucano (100) – Vineland, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Military Police

Henry Zanetti – Lee, MA; US Army, WWII, SSgt.

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Smitty’s Letter XVI “Guard Duty”

Guard Duty, armyhistory.com

15 January 1945, all of the 11th Airborne Division was back on Bito Beach where they rested, re-organized, got re-equipped, re-trained and with a little time left over – they wrote letters home.  Here starts Number 16 from Smitty….

 

Letter XVI                                                                 Guard Duty                                                               1/15/45

 

You have received many notes from me in the past that always seem to contain one line that went something like this, “Have to go on guard duty tonight ____.”  Now in this letter I hope to be able to picture for you convincingly enough my first night on guard duty.  Please remember, all through this letter, that this place at the time was threatened at ALL times by the Japs and never for one moment were we allowed to forget it — especially at night.

My first trick on guard was posted for the hours of 9 to 11pm with a four-hour sleep period before going on as second sentry relief.  We were to be ready for immediate action.  This was also the first time I had to stand guard with a loaded rifle, so instead of feeling safe and secure, it tends to make me that much more nervous and apprehensive.

At eight-forty-five sharp, we were called out, inspected and told the password and counter sign.  We were then marched away, in a body, to our respective posts, told the special orders pertaining to that particular post and then left alone.  The quick, short steps of the guard soon grow faint and they rapidly walk on until all you can hear is the beat of your heart.

As soon as I realized that I was alone and on my post, I tried vainly to pierce the darkness and see just where I was and what was around and near me.  It generally takes from five to ten minutes before your eyes become accustomed to the darkness, but before that happens, I found out that your mind sees things and imagines most anything from a Jap standing or crouching down.  You try to shake off the feeling, but damn it all — how can you?

After a while, you begin to see things in their true form and you notice that the standing Jap is nothing but a small palm tree and that sinister apparition is only some old debris or fallen tree.  As these things unfolded before in their real form, I heaved a great sigh and relieved my tightened grip on my rifle.  Boy!  What a relief I thought and was just about to sling my rifle over my shoulder when suddenly I heard a noise.

I crouched down trying desperately this time to see what my ears had just heard, when again, I heard a faint sound — only this time it was in back of me or maybe on the side.  All sorts of thoughts run rampant through your mind at this stage and mine were really running wild.

You try to remember things you were taught about for situations such as these, but at the time the lessons were given, they seemed boring and so you didn’t pay much attention.  Now I wish I had listened and desperately tried to recall to mind what little I did hear.  Seconds seemed liked hours, my legs were getting numb, but I was too damned scared to move a muscle for fear of giving away my position to whatever was around.  “Where the hell is that man?”  I thought to myself.  Gosh, it sure was quiet and still that night.  I even tried to stop breathing for fear it would be heard.

Suddenly, your eyes pick out a strange object that wasn’t there before, or so your memory tells you.  You watch it for a while, then — oh, oh — it moves, sure as hell, it moved — there it goes again.

I could see it then, just an outline, but that was clear enough for me.  I held my breath and at the same time brought my rifle up and aimed it.  Now, I was in a mess.  What if it was an American soldier out there or the next guard?  The book covers this well, you remember it says, “Yell out, in a clear distinctive voice, HALT, at least three times.”  That’s fine I thought, but dammit, the guy who wrote that isn’t out there with me now and I’d bet he wouldn’t yell “HALT” at least three times.

Well, I won the bet and only yelled once and waited for the password.  Again, minutes seemed like hours, suppose he didn’t hear me, should I yell again?  Suppose it is another guard and he thinks I’m only kidding or it’s nothing but a swaying branch, what a mess, what do I do?  All these thoughts flash thru your mind and you are about to get up and yell again, but it moves back — that’s a Jap.  Without hesitation now, you pull the trigger and then in excitement, before you release your finger, you hear instead of one shot, three or more ring out.

Flash lights appear from nowhere as men come out anxiously looking about and trying to find out what the noise is about.  In the dim rays of their lights, you find that what you thought was a hoard of Japs surrounding you is nothing or was nothing more than a dog or wild pig prowling about.  You feel about the size of a ten cent piece, I sure did.  Inwardly you are proud to note that what you aimed at in the darkness, you hit and that a few are even remarking about that wonderful feat.  You aren’t even shaking anymore.  In fact, you notice to your most pleasant surprise you are no longer afraid.

Soon tho, you are left alone again, but this time the loneliness isn’t so bad and you know that soon you will be relieved and another “first night” will come along and make the same mistakes you did.

to be continued …

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Military Humor – 

Soldiers and Officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, build snow men during their Naafi break.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stanley W. Adams (101) – Simcoe, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Lord Strathcona Tank Regiment

Michael C. Ambrosia – East Meadow, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Eagle stands guard

Charles R. Baker – Elva, KY; USMC, Korea, air traffic comptroller

Kenneth Dawson – Taft, CA; US Navy, WWII, Lt JG

Richard W. Horrigan – Chester, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47D pilot, 22FS/36FG/9th Air Force, KIA (Alt Lönnewitz Airfield)

Billy Layfield – Phenix City. AL; US Navy, WWII

Yvonne LeMere – Garden City, GA; Civilian, WWII, USO performer

Donald L. Menken – Letcher County, KY; US Army Korea, Cpl. # 13428835, Co K/3/15/3rd Infantry Div., KIA (Outpost Harry, on guard duty in the area that would become the DMZ)

Kyle Mullen – Manalapan, NJ; US Navy, SEAL

Don Pegues (Andrew D. Austin III) – Juneau, AK; US Army, WWII, APO,  MP 761st

George F. Price – Dallas City, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Harry E. Walker – San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

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Smitty’s Letter XV “Land”

Native outrigger canoes meet up with a Coast Guard transport.

[Please do not be offended by certain remarks, remember that these letters were written 77 years ago when people lived in another time and another world].

As the ships drew closer to Leyte, the American soldiers already on shore were being hampered by logistical problems which caused a severe delay in capturing the island.  When the 11th A/B division arrived on Bito Beach, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans started to come together.

Leyte activity map | enlarge for detail

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Letter XV                                         Landing                        Somewhere in the Philippines

Dear Mom,

We landed here in the Philippines yesterday morn, but before leaving the ship, the Japs treated us with their honorable (?) presence in the form of bombing planes.  Shore batteries kept hammering at them in the gloom of a misty a.m. and the tracer’s bullets reaching up to the planes made a very pretty but gruesome sight.   The way those tracer shells can pick out the planes you would think that they had a score to settle and just can’t wait to even it.

We landed finally on the beach, being taken to it in those much touted and not highly praised enough landing boats.  How boats can ground themselves  on land the way they do and still get off again unscratched is really a marvel.  Those boys who handle them also deserve a lot of credit and, as Winchell would say, “A great big orchid is due.”

The natives here were real friendly and helpful in a dozen different ways.  They ran up to the landing boats as soon as the bow of the boat sunk its bottom into the beach and helped us carry off our burdensome equipment.  It reminded me of Penn or Grand Central Stations with porters running helter-skelter all over the place.  The only thing missing to make the picture complete were the tell-tale red caps on their heads.

It wasn’t long after landing that we were organized into work groups and sent off to our chores.  Work kept on until we were hours into the night despite the fact that again, Jap planes came over.  I am happy to report that they will not be able to do so again, that is – not the same ones.

During the day we were handed K-rations for our dinner and after the excellent food we had aboard ship, they sure tasted like hell.  Just before dark last night, we were allowed a few moments to ourselves and at once set to work getting our tents erected.  Here again, the native men came in handy helping us to either put up the tents or dig our slit trenches.  Of course they don’t do any of this work for nothing, but for items such as undershirts, trousers, soap or most anything in the line of clothing.

I will write more about the people in a later chapter.  After all, you can’t do well to write about them on so short an acquaintance.  Right now we are busy setting up a camp decent enough to live in.  Having a few minutes to spare in between tents.  I thought I’d write this down before it completely slipped my unrententive and feeble brain.  There goes the whistle calling us back to work now, so until the next ten minute rest period, I’ll close with loads of love and car loads of kisses,

Love, Everett

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard R. Belden – Warren County, NY, US Army, Korea, Cpl. # 12107317, HQ Co/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Roger Butts – Portsmouth, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Cook 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gen. Colin Powell

Elvagine “Gene” Ertzberger – Rainier, WA; Civilian, WWII, shipyard welder

Lorenz D. Haselhofer – Watsonville, CA; US Navy, USS Hancock

Sonny Karcher – Enid, OK; US Army, Cold War

Fred M. Montanari – Westmoreland County, PA; US Air Force, pilot

Larry E. Murphy – E. St. Louis, IL; US Air Force & US Army, Cmdr. Sgt. Major (Ret. 36 y.)

Steven L. Nolin – New Brockton, AL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 188/11th Airborne Division

Henry G. Piper Sr. – Englewood, NJ; US Army, WWII, APO (Alaska)

Colin Powell – NYC, NY; US Army, Vietnam / General (Ret. 35 y.), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Sec. of State

Edward Souza – New Bedford, MA; US Air Force

James Wallace – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., B-24 waist gunner, POW (escaped)

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Smitty’s Letter XIV “On The Move (again)”

LSTs unload at Leyte

By mid-November, Gen. Krueger’s 4 divisions held only a small fraction of Leyte and Yamashita’s reinforcements were still landing.  The weather was grounding aircraft on both sides.

18 November, the 11th Airborne joined in on the King II Operation.  The 2nd battalion of the 187th Regiment went aboard the USS Calvert to land on Bito Beach.  Being as Smitty was part of Gen. Swing’s staff in HQ Company, I do not know if he went aboard this ship.

Berthing

 

Letter XIV                                                                             “On The Move (again)”

 

Dear Mom, 

We have been at sea now for three days heading toward someplace the Land and the great white father in Washington only knows.

As I sit here writing this, I just can’t help but feel like a very small insignificant part of something so vast that the mind can’t in any way begin to comprehend what it is all about.  Here I am on a ship heading out to something, someplace, and it was all planned probably months ago, miles and miles away from anywheres near here.  Suddenly it all takes form.  Transports and other ships stream into the harbor and just as quickly and quietly we are made loose and moving out.  It all happens so fast and so smoothly that you can’t help but admire it all.

Of course, as serious as it all is, the army just can’t help but be the cause of many amusing incidents.  When we first landed in New Guinea we got lost looking for our camp and coming down to the boats, the trucks again got lost and so we had to travel up and down the beach until finally, instead of us finding the boats — the boats found us.  Climbing up the gangplank with our packs and duffel bags always provide an amusing incident or two, but at the time seem pretty damn dangerous.

On board ship, we are once again packed in like sardines down in the hold.  Once shown our bunk, we proceed at once to get rid of our equipment and dash up on deck to pick out some spot where we can spend the night,  It isn’t long after this that the details are handed out — and so — what could have been a very pleasant voyage soon turns out to be anything else but.  I was lucky in that I was handed a detail that only worked for an hour each day, but the poor guys that hit the broom detail were at it all day long.  All we could hear, all day long, over the speaker system was: “Army broom detail, moping and brooms, clean sweep down forward aft, all decks.”  They kept it up all the time until soon one of the fellas made up a little ditty about it and sang it every time we saw a broom coming down the deck.

The food was excellent and really worth talking about.  On the first trip coming over from the states, we dreaded the thought of eating, but on this ship, it was more than a welcome thought.  Generally, when you go to a movie there are news reel pictures of convoys of ships and the men aboard.  They always try to show you a few playing cards or joking and say that this is how the boys relieve the tension they are under.  Well, I don’t know about the seriousness of the situation was anything like what the news reels portray.

Of course, it was a strange sight to see the boys at night line up at the side scanning the sky and distant horizon.  This was generally though at night and early dawn.  What we expected to see, I don’t know and what our reaction would be, if we did see something — I hesitate to predict.  It won’t be long after this letter is written that we will land or at least sight our destination, so wishing  to be wide-awake when we do, I’ll close this letter now and hit the hay hoping I sleep an uninterrupted sleep.

Till next time, “Good night and pleasant dreams.”           

               Love, Everett

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lucius E. Agee – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, aviation radioman, USS BonHomme Richard

Dick Barlow – Manchester, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO, motorcycle dispatch rider

OUR FLAG
Courtesy of: Dan Antion

Duane E. Dewey – Grand Rapids, MI; USMCR, Korea, Cpl., Medal of Honor

Gabriel J. Eggus – NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-39 pilot # 0-669878, 100/71st Recon Group, KIA (Wewak, NG)

Edwin A. Jacoby – brn: GER/ Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO  /  Korea, Sgt.

Sam Kendrick – Wexford, IRE; US Army, WWII, ETO

David L. Long – Milwaukee, WI; US Army, tank commander, 1/72/2nd Infantry Division

Alan E. Petersen – Brownton, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 345/98/9th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

Joseph M. Robertson – Paragould, AR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 2797547, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Pete Turk – Scammon, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3422928, USS California, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Murray Weiss – Kellogg, ID; US Air Force

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Letter XI “Java at 2100”

503rd Regiment at Noemfoer, 2 July 1944

Off New Guinea, the resistance on Biak and Noemfoor Islands was crushed as 2,000 paratroopers of the 503rd jumped and the land forces of the 158th RCT overtook the airfields.  Operation Cyclone was a success.  The 503rd A/B would soon be incorporated into the 11th Airborne Division.

In a radio broadcast by Pres. Roosevelt, he made clear the final decision that troops would be attacking the Philippine Islands and not Formosa.  Now the Japanese were also aware.  It was seen by White House observers that FDR had timed the invasion to make headlines for the end of his re-election campaign.

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea in front of his tent

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Letter XI                            Java at 2100                                       Thursday 8/10/44

Dear Mom,  Java at 2100 is nothing more or less than a good old-fashioned gabfest or the same as women folk back home call a “Koffee Klotch.”

There are a few differences though that need a little explaining.  At home, the girls gather and talk, generally about the one who isn’t present; including in this conversation, her husband and his family, also hers and then down the line to her most distant relatives.  Also, they will gab for hours about the gossip of the neighborhood and of course add a little more to it.  At times, arguments amongst themselves will ensue and that ends the present meeting and the next few to come.

With us there are a few differences and variations, such as: we don’t care whether the person being talked about is present or not; although his absence is preferred and appreciated.  Of course we have our little gossip circles, but they mostly run toward the rumor side and therefore no one puts much stock in them.  Invariably we always talk of home, such as what we did before the President greeted us, also what we intend to do when we get back.  This home talk most always leads into a lively debate as to whose state, city or county is the best.  Arguing that topic is just like arguing religion; no one is ever impressed or convinced.

The officers are always good for a good 20 to 30 minute razing, with no one pulling their punches.  At times though you must be careful, as there might be someone present who is bucking like the devil and the talk will go back.  Never is there a good word said in the officers’ defense and I doubt if there ever will be.

a sample koffee klotch

Another colorful period is spent when someone brings up non-coms.  What is said at this time is unprintable.  Surprise to say that if I was visited by the seven plagues, I wouldn’t be as bad off as the non-coms, if even half the things wished upon him should ever befall him.  I sometimes wonder if ever in their own conceited way they know just how the private feels toward them.

At home, the girls are all gathered around strictly  talking, but here again we vary.  Some may be playing cards with every now and then some player adding his say, much to the consternation and anguish of the others.  Over in another corner are the die-hards who always listen for rumors and continue on talking about the latest one long after the others have dropped it.

All this time the water is being boiled outside in a large five gallon can.  Every now and then, someone will go out to see if it is time to add the coffee.  When once the coffee is added, there comes over the tent a lull and then everyone shuffles out to get his cup, which he will dip into the can of coffee before coming back in.  Conversation for a while is a combination of talk, loud sips and the blowing of the hot Java.  We manage also to provide milk and sugar and at times, crackers.  The last is generally present only around paydays.

I don’t know whether it is the effects of the hot coffee upon the vocal chords or not, but always right after the coffee, some would-be Crosby or Sinatra starts singing some old favorite and that is when music conquers over all.  They say music has its charms, but after listening to it here — I have my doubts.

Some nights the conversations are really good and so is the coffee, on those occasions, talking lasts after taps has blown and then you are sure to hear the mournful wail of the company charge of quarters meekly saying, “Aw fellas, put out the lights.”  Never has it happened that the request was heeded and I doubt if it ever will be.  It isn’t long after though that the first sergeant comes barging in bellowing, “Get those blankety-blank lights out and get the H–l to bed!”  Lights immediately go out and good-nights can be heard throughout the company area as Koffee Klotches all over break up.

Peace and quiet prevails until all one can hear is the not too soft patter of feet heading out to the place where, at some time or another, we all must frequent.  Bits of conversation can be heard drifting through the night, but generally isn’t worth listening to, as it is only the rumor mongers at work again in their office.

Before I close this chapter, allow me to say that the evening coffee, sugar and milk are all donated cheerfully by the fellow most unfortunate enough to have had K.P. the day before.

Having nothing more to gab about and also having to pay a visit down to the end of the company street, I’ll close before I have to make a run for it.

Gabbingly yours,  Everett  (The Donator of This Evening’s Coffee)

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

William Billeaux – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 2-Bronze Stars

Eric Carter (101) – Worcestershire, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO + CBI, pilot

Courtney (Anderson) Couch – Lane County, OR; US Army  /  Sheriff’s deputy

George Gonzalez – Brooklyn, NY; US Army  /  Pentagon Police Force

Harold W. Hayden – Norwood, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

Tresse Z. King – Raeford, NC; US Air Force, Kuwait, Chief Master Sgt.

George Miller – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Frank A. Norris – Quinlan, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt., pilot-engineer, 345/98/9th Air Force, KIA (Ploesti, ROM)

Rex Prisbrey – Washington, UT; US Army Air Corps, CBI

Daniel Sullivan – Groton, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, radar operator

Royal L. Waltz – Cambria, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co A/1/18/2 Marine Division, KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

Byron S. Wise –  Newalla, OK; US Army, Co. B/88th Artillery, 11th Airborne Division

Dale W. Wright – Flint, MI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co C/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

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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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Letter VII Land

native hut in New Guinea

For a period of five months the 11th Airborne Division would receive jungle warfare and intensified combat unit ground training in the primitive land of jungles and mountains and thatched huts and the native population fondly called, Fuzzy Wuzzies.  The Papua brigades and Allied forces, that fought in what constituted the Cartwheel Operations before the troopers arrived, made this landing possible.

The Dobodura area that the 11th A/B would make their home was inherited from the 5th Air Force.  The first order of business was for the 408th Quartermaster trucks to deliver the pyramidal tents.

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea

 

 

Letter VII                                                          Land               6/8/44

 

  Dear Mom,    

Well, here we are on the island of New Guinea.  From what we can see if it so far, I know we’ll never go hungry as the coconut trees are as thick as a swarm of bees.

We started for our area in trucks after all the rumors said we’d walk and we “Oh!” and Ah’d” all throughout the trip.  Not wanting to show the natives here how smart we are, the driver proceeded on his own when lo and behold — where were we?  I don’t know, no one knows, so right away we all knew that wherever we were — that wasn’t where we were supposed to be. 

Now, of course, we weren’t to blame, as after all, this is a strange and new place to us and they didn’t give us a Socony road map or a compass reading, so no matter — drive on — come what may.  Of course, some large and strange appearing trees which grew in the road had different ideas and no matter how hard we hit them, they consistently set us back.  How they ever managed to find a road to grow in is beyond me, but then they were here before us.  Naturally, after the way they treated our truck, we gave them a wide berth, eventually leaving the road al together.

When after what seemed like hours, we finally found our area, much to the delight of the lower hind part of our anatomy.  Then, our shoulders and backs had to haul our bags around until we found our tents.  This was done very systematically: someone had the idea of first asking the captain just where we belonged and he proceeded to take us there.  We could see at once that this place was no place for us and got right down to thinking up goldbricking alibis.

Work here is the main word we soon found out, and might I add we are all still trying to duck, but it seems that as soon as one finds a spot in the woods, oops I mean jungle, the tree-chopper-downers come along and there you are not only up to your neck in work, but also find out that now your haven is so exposed as to make it useless again as a hideout.

You might wonder what all this labor is about and also expect to find out in this chapter or letter, but no, it shall never be.  I’m saving that for the next installment, which I’m sure you will be breathlessly awaiting. 

 Regards to all.

Love, Your son,  Everett

Quartermaster Corps collar disc

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Barno – Nesquehoning, PA; US Navy, WWII  /  USMC, Korea, Sgt.

Wesley J. Brown – Helena, MT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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

Robert F. England – MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, “Hump” pilot  /  Korea, 1st Lt.

Kenneth G. Hart (100) – Stanwood, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Floyd D. Helton – Somerset, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Fireman, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Donald Johnson (100) – Lake Orion, MI; US Navy, WWII, USS Takanis Bay (CVE-89)

Henry J. Kolasinski – Clayton, DE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Charles E. Lee – McLennan County, TX; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/34/24th Infantry Division, Field Lineman, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Thelma Miller – Akron, OH; Civilian, WWII, Goodyear Aircraft Corp., F4U construction

Robert Read (101) – London, ENG; Royal Navy, submarine service / Korea, Lt. Comdr.

Merle Smith Jr. – New London, CT; US Coast Guard, Vietnam, Cutter Comdr., Coast Guard Academy graduate Class of ’66

John J. Trumbley – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. H/137th Infantry, Sgt.

Stanley Wilusz – Holyoke, MA; US Merchant Marines, WWII  /  US Army, Korea, Sgt.

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My week went well……

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The Neptune Society – Letter IV “Still At Sea In A Quandary” – GP Interview

Pacific Ocean, rough seas off New Zealand

When Smitty and the other troopers passed the equator, as per naval tradition, the ship’s crew donned their apparel of King Neptune and his court in preparation of handing the “Pollywogs” (the soldiers) their certificates of crossing.  The Royal Barber tried to cut the hair of the crew-cut troopers and the Royal Executioner paddled a backside with an oar if the receiving line moved too closely to a snail’s pace. (which one can imagine was every G.I. derriere that went by!) Smitty was one to really enjoy this sort of tomfoolery — even if it was with the navy!  The water damage you see to Smitty’s certificate (pictured below) is one of the reasons I began to make a facsimile of his scrapbook onto the computer.  I have re-typed the contents of the certificate to show the humor involved — despite a war.

IT Read….

To All Sailors, Marines, Whatever Ye Maybe: Greetings: and to all Mermaids, Whales, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Eels, Dolphins, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters and all other Living Things of the Sea: Know ye, that on this June 15 ’44 in Latitude 00000 and Longitude Cape Mendacia there appeared within Our Royal Domain the bound Southwestward for the Equator, the South Sea Islands, New Zealand and Australian ports.

BE IT REMEMBERED That the said Vessel and Officers and Crew thereof have been inspected and passed on by Ourselves and Royal Staff: AND BE IT KNOWN By all ye Sailors, Marines, Landlubbers, Soldiers and all others who may be honored by his presence, that Pollywog Everett A. Smith 32816491  Having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks he has been duly initiated into the SOLEMN MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THE DEEP  Be It Further Understood:  That by Virtue of the power invested in me I do hereby command all my subjects to show honor and respect to him wherever he may be.  Disobey the Order under Penalty of Royal Displeasure. (bottom left) Given under our band and seal this Davey Jones, His Majesty’s Scribe – (bottom right)  Neptunus Rex, His Servant – the signature appears to be Gregory Cullen

equator crossing certificate

Smitty’s Letter IV

Letter IV                                                                                    Still at sea in a quandary

Dear Mom,  Well, here I am again as promised.  Yesterday we had a little something different to sea besides the sea.  Notice that I’m getting so that I can only spell  the sea when I mean to write see.  Early in the morning we had the pleasure of seeing another ship and must say it sure made one feel good.  Why it should though I can’t say unless it is the thought that someone else is having it just as tough.  Guess there is some truth in the saying, “Misery loves company.”  We also had the pleasure of watching some islands in the far off distance.  I won’t try to describe them to you, as that would be too much to expect to pass. (Censorship)  You will kindly take notice that I used the words “pleasant” and “pleasure,” if I keep that up you might get the idea this is getting to be that kind of voyage.  Some amusing things do happen though, such as the boys sleeping out on the deck getting caught in the rain or some clumsy ox slipping and sliding his way along the boat.  By the way, I forgot to tell you that we get the regular news everyday in a printed form resembling a newspaper.  Also music by record sounds tinny, but anything out here is good.

You can readily see I haven’t much ambition for writing today, which reminds me    Matter of fact, the way I feel right now, I don’t care much whether I do or not.  Well, that is all for today’s report on nothing, so with all my love, I am your ever obedient son,  Everett

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Smitty and his mother in artwork courtesy of, Priorhouse.wordpress.com/

From GP – Yvette, from Priorhouse, was kind enough to ask me for an interview for Memorial Day.  I was flabbergasted and honored!

I do hope you will go on over and take a peek, I would greatly appreciate it!  Priorhouse

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Burkle Carmichael – Ocala, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO,POW Stalag IV-B

Alex Coran – brn: ITL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Carl M. Ellis – Hope, AK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Myles W. Esmay – Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, !st Lt., Co B/236th Engineer Battalion w/ Merrill’s Marauders, KIA (Myitkyina, Burma)

Gavin MacLeod – Pleasantville, NY; US Air Force  /  Actor

Theresa Morris – Fairfield, CT; Civilian, WWII, Remington munitions inspector

Brian T. O’Connor – Rahway, NY; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces

Ralph Palmer (100) – Florence, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 450/15th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, DFC

Jennings “Bill” Rich – Bainbridge, GA; US Navy, WWII, Korea + Vietnam, USS Boxer, Pickaway + Hornet, MChief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 y.)

Clarence A. Robinson Jr. – Vienna, VA; USMC, Korea, Sgt. / Vietnam, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart (Ret. 20 y.)

Matsuo “Jack” Tominaga – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

John D. VanPatten – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Lester E. “Tosie” Wawner (101) – Clifton Forge, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO + ETO, Machinist 1st Class, USS Morris / US Coast Guard (Ret.)

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“SOLDIERS’ STORIES” VOL. 2, by the Miller Family, REVIEW

Soldiers’ Stories, Vol. II

After reading the Miller Family’s first volume OF SOLDIERS’ STORIES, I was excited to receive Volume # 2.  I was not disappointed.

Not only was I, as usual, proud to see 4 pages of my own Father’s stories in print, but even discovered another member of the 11th Airborne Division represented among the other memoirs.

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Most of my readers tell me that they find the personal stories and letters from my father and other veterans to be their favorite posts.  In this book, readers are privileged to have over 300 pages of such tales.

The many photographs give you a personal perspective, both humorous and educational, of a time that dramatically altered the entire world.  Men and women alike are included in this well constructed journal for the generation we are so quickly losing.

Every branch of service, in each theater of operation, is represented along with the invaluable contributions of the home front military, women, civilians and our British Allies.

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Modern day honoring of those buried in foreign lands and innumerable photos of the people who fought for us and the treasures they left behind.  Even fellow blogger and author, Joy Neal Kidney, has the Wilson Family included.

You can hear in their words the eagerness to serve their country, their laughter and the camaraderie of close unit ties.  You might even feel their pain.

Inspired by the Miller Family’s, SSgt. Myron Miller, of the 83rd Infantry, I can unquestionably recommend both Volume  # 1 and # 2 of SOLDIERS’ STORIES!

For Myra Miller’s blog, click HERE!

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Military Humor –

“I’ve given you th’ best years of my life.”

“What’s your job, steady K.P.?”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Evo Aspreli – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII

Michael Collins – Washington, D.C.; US Air Force, pilot  /  NASA, Astronaut, MGeneral

111024-N-WD757-029
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 24, 2011) Ceremonial honor guard await to render honors for retired Vice Adm. Paul F. McCarthy. McCarthy (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Carlos M. Vazquez II/Released)

Carl Dalrymple – Jamestown, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

James Edgar (100) – brn: Pietersburg, So. Afr.; Gordon Highlanders, WWII, ETO & CBI, Intelligence SOE

Philip T. Hoogacker – USA; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co. D/1/29th Infantry Regiment, KIA (Anui, So. Korea)

George Humphrey – Onslow County, NC; US Army, Medic, 11th Airborne Division

Theodore Q. Jensen – Delta, UT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

James ‘Sonny’ Melhus – Eau Claire, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, HQ Co./506/101st Airborne Division

William H. Melville – Minneapolis, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt., pilot, 36th FS/8th FG, KIA (Papua, New Guinea)

Christopher F. Pantos – Richmond, VA; US Army, Kuwait, SSgt., 55th Sustainment Brigade

John Shoemaker – Mont Clare, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., 87th Infantry, Purple Heart

Michael Sierra – San Antonio, TX; Texas National Guard / US Army, Vietnam, platoon leader, 327/101st Airborne Division

Letter Home, From Tokyo – conclusion

Here is the conclusion of the letter Joe Teri wrote home as he settled in during the Occupation of Japan.  Please do not be offended by any slang that was used back in the day.  The pictures are examples, none accompanied the letter.

Our airforce has done perfect precision bombing, they only wrecked just what they wanted to, the train system is perfect, the trolley line is in good condition, but the War plants are a mass of rubbish.  The Japs have had more equipt than our eyes can believe, even our General here said, we under estimated the Japs at the time of our arrival here, by 60 percent and thats an awful lot, we had planned during the War to make an invasion here, if we had to we would have never got here it would have been suicide for every man and ship.  The land out here is all Mts and islands and in those Mts the Japs have hundreds and hundreds of dual 16 inch guns, those guns are about the most powerful guns any one can have one alone is as big as the biggest one on our ships, so you can Just imagine what 2 of them together can do, they have a channel here about 50 miles long all surrounded with islands, and the ships have to travel about 2 knots an hour in order to get by the islands.  The Japs have caves, miles long with enough equiptment to have a war for at least 10 years they even have complete factories never touched yet in the caves, it must have taken 50 years to get all this accomplished we are destroying the Jap war equipt every day.  I hear a lot of exploding all day long every day.  General Eichenberger says it will take years to destroy all the Jap war equipt and he is right as no matter where you look theres thousands of tons of equipt.  My Colenel says we haven’t discovered half of the things the Japs have yet, they have everything hidden in caves, and perfectly concealed, we have to go hunting for all there things each day. so it will take months and months to find them as the Jap civilians don’t even know where all there loaded packed caves are, every day a bunch of new ones turn up.  Can you imagine these Japs having all that.  What I have been writing is no rumor, it is the actual truth, if it wasnt for the Atomic bomb, this war would have lasted for years to come, as the U.S. has underestimated the Japs by a very long margin, that Atomic bomb is a miracle sent down from heaven.  Well enough of this war talk as the war is over now.  Tokyo is about 400 miles from here, the trains run to there, I sure hope I can get to see that city before I come home, I have been looking for souveniers, but as yet, havent found anything, the japs havent any thing at all except the War equipt and thats in the U.S. Army hands now, they don’t even have enough clothes to wear, they dress in rags, the weather here is pretty cold just now, they have a big snow fall each winter so I guess Ill see a very very lonesome White Christmas.

This club I am working and living in is a very, very beautiful Jap home, a Jap General used to live here, it is in perfect condition and a pretty new home, it has 18 rooms in it with sliding panel windows and doors, over 100 of them the whole house can be opened on all sides, it has beautiful furniture in it made very low, as the the Japs sit on the straw mats on the floor, also take their shoes off when entering any home, their is a jap phone here, still working, servants quarters and a push button bell system, that shows the no of the room at the back hallway for every room here, just like we have in our hospitals, electric system, with electric heat, all marble fire place, Gas for cooling, 2 beautiful lavortories with running water, the Japs dont use stools, they squat, a real big wash room, laundry room, an extra serving kitchen next to the dining room, thats where I built my nice little service bar, only done a little fixing up as the room is almost perfect for a service bar, we have real good U.S. radio here, fire extingishers and beautiful carvings all the sliding doors in the house are made of wood lining with paper frames they sure are delicate, have of them are ripped already, a beautiful terrace, and a real beautiful entrance with a drive way to the entrance, hard wood beautiful floors, 2 real nice hall ways, with all the rooms in between them, the lawn is beautiful it has build in little hills with real old flat big stones to sit on around them, grass, and a lot of real ancient beautiful trees even a lamp post made out of a tree in the lawn, it has wooden shutters all around the house, the house is mostly made out of wood and sand cement, it could burn up in 20 minutes, they have a real nice hot steam bath room, but no running hot water, it is all to beautiful to believe and I am living here, it is my home, while out here, isnt that swell.

Well I have to close the bar now as it is 10:30 PM, so will close this letter now, I hope you have enjoyed reading this letter, I have tried to it interesting, I could write for days, but havent the time, Im praying all 3 of you are in the best of health.  I am in good health and getting along fairly well.  All my Love and best Regards to all of you, Write soon.  Kiss Don for me.

Your Brother in Law                         G.I. Joe Teri

Im sending you 5 yen, 1 yen and 50 sen.  One yen is 16-⅓ cents 100 sens make 1 yen – 15 yen make dollar

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  Military Humor –   Reader’s Digest style – 

“No Ferguson, the military does Not have Casual Fridays!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Bloom – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII, Africa, Meteorologist

Christopher Curry – Terra haute, IN; US Army, Iraq, Sgt., 3/21/1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team/25th Division, KIA

Richard Hunt – Pittsburgh, PA; American Field Service, WWII, India

Robert D. Jenks – Sutherland, IA; USMC, WWII, PTO, D Co./6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Frederick Kroesen – Phillipsburg, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO; Korea & Vietnam, General (Ret. 40 y.) / Army VChief of Staff

J. Howard Lucas – Dogwood, AL; US Navy, WWII

Matthew Morgan – East Islip, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Fiske

Austin Newman – Oneida, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Don Shula – Grand River, OH; Ohio National Guard, Korea / NFL Coach

Florence Wilhelmsen – Brooklyn, NY; Civilian, USO entertainer, WWII

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