Category Archives: Letters home

Christmas Wishes for ALL

TO ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN PEACE  HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

REMEMBER THOSE WHO HELPED TO GIVE YOU FREEDOM!!!

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AND THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO KEEP US SAFE!!!

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Albert Atkins – Belvidere, NJ; US Army, Korea, Co. E/2nd/187th RCT, KIA

Mary (Sweet) Brown (103) – Tauranga, NZ; WA Air Force # 2031332, WWII

Ronald Burditt – NV; US Army, Korea, communications

Jack Downhill – Rochester, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lt.Col. (Ret. 28 y.)

Joseph Elliot – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Lt.Commander (Ret. 23 y.)

Richard Grimm – Athens, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187/11th Airborne Division

Andrew McGarry (100) – Milton, OK; US Navy, WWII

Robert Newcomb (100) – Honolulu, HI; US Navy, WWII, PTO / Korea, Cmdr. (Ret. 20 y.)

Kenneth Reth – Racine, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, tank battalion

Maurice Ritter – Cockeysville, MD; US Navy, WWII, USS Naukesa

Lones Wigger Jr. – Carter, MT; Vietnam, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 27 y.), Olympic Gold winner

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Smitty’s Guard Duty – Letter XVI – conclusion

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. 

 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 – 

WWI soldiers had their brand of humor too for guard duty.

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

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bond – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, 187th RCT, Colonel (Ret.)

Cornelius Cunningham – Bronx, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt. 27th Division

Teddy Drapper Sr. – Chinle, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 5th Marine Div.

Stuart Haw Jr. – St. Louis, MO; US Army, 11th Airborne Div., Military Police

Charles Quarles – Hockessin, DE; US Navy, WWII, electronic tech’s mate

Edward Rowny (100) – Baltimore, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO/Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad., Lt.General (Ret.), Presidential adviser

Nola ‘Paddy’ Scott – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 621, WWII

Wilburn Timmons – Jonesboro, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Douglas Voyzey – AUS; RA Army # 2137680, Vietnam, KIA

George B Willis Sr. – Leupp, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 2nd Marine Division

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Smitty’s Letter XVI – Guard Duty, part one

 

Guard Duty, history.army.com, click to enlarge.

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 –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Lucien Bolduc Jr. San Antonio, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad, MGeneral (Ret.)

Leo Chisholm – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

A soldier from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the guardians of Arlington National Cemetery, waits amid the gravestones during funeral services for Army Spc. Sean R. Cutsforth, of Radford, Va., a member of the 101st Airborne who was killed in Afghanistan in December, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Thomas Curtsinger Sr. – Springfield, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘The Hump’, radioman

Glen Elfrank – Painton, MO; US Air Force

Richard Groff – Collegeville, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Edwin ‘Perry’ Miller – Lincoln, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-25 pilot instructor

Pat Murphy – Kansas City, MO; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT ‘Rakkasans’

George Pfeifer – Roslyn Heights, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Irving Sager (103) – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, radar

Ernest Zeman – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Breton, Lt. (Ret.)

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Home Front – Ham Radio Operators – Intermission Story (18)

Canadian radio operators

Naval Communication Reserve, the Army Amateur Network (not military and often used by the Red Cross), and the Amateur Emergency of the American Radar Relay League  (AARL),were the main networks as WWII brewed toward the USA. The messages were relayed and transmitted free of charge.

In Los Angeles, CA, the Major Diasater Emergency Council, a behind-the-scenes orgaization, prepared early to take over the handling of relief and and public safety.  The operators wore a special uniform and each had special instructions as to their duties.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC), trained intelligent men who were needed to man the new long-range surveillance and direction-finding radio interceptor stations that were being built as part of the national defense program.  [This was transpiring in 1939, long before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor]

A very short (1:28) video on the secret wireless war from the UK.

 

In time of war, thousands of trained members of these nets would be taken in by the military services for active duty and many others would be detailed to guard various frequencies to detect enemy and spy messages.  Resitrictions governing amateur radio were being tightened and all owners of transmittng stations were fingerprinted and were required to show proof of citizenship.

In June 1942, at the request of the AARL, the War Emergency Radio Service (WERS), was created.  The FCC continued to offer amateur licensing throughout the war.

Gwendoline’s contribution for us – Here you can see the letter sent from Mrs. Cecilia McKie in Sacramento, California to Mrs. Alice Eaddie, Yorkshire, England (a similar letter sent to Mr. & Mrs. Nils T. Peterson, MT).  In it Mrs. McKie explains that she listens to the shortwave program and overhears messages from Allied POWs in Japanese camps.  During February 1943 to the present date of this letter, Cecilia had mailed out 8100 letters to the families of these prisoners.  The message to Mrs. Eaddie was:

“Received your cablegram and safe.  Hope you are all still well at home.  Give my love to Mother and Dad.  Best wishes to our friends.  Tell May Charles (?) is all right.  All my love to you, Patricia.”

Ham radio WWII letter, contributed by Garrulous Gwedoline

 

Other countries had many other radio operators – here is an incredible example from Australia –

http://www.arrl.org/news/behind-enemy-lines-an-amateur-radio-operator-rsquo-s-amazing-tale-of-bravery

This post was inspired by Garrulous Gwendoline and her contribution to this site.  Her own website is well worth a read – you’ll love it!

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

“I DON’T CARE IF DIVISION DOESN’T SEND QSL CARDS……GET ON THAT RADIO!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Butler – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Korea

Caleb Erickson – Waseca, MN; USMC; Afghanistan, Cpl., KIA

Samuel Hadley Jr. – W>Palm Beach, FL; US Army, WWII

Paul Himber – Elizabeth, NJ; US Navy, USS Threadfin

Stanley Krolczyk – Toledo, OH; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Cmdr. (Ret. 24 y.), pilot

Al Kuhn – Chcago, IL; US Army

Rex Phelps – MI; US Navy, WWII, LT., LST

Larry Satell – Palm Beach Gardens, FL; US Army, Korea

Kent Stirling – Pittsburgh, PA; US Air Force

Leland Uhlenhopp – Storden, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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Smitty’s Letter XV – “Landing”

All ashore that’s going’ ashore…..

November 1944: Two Coast Guard-manned landing ships open their jaws as U.S. soldiers line up to build sandbag piers out to the ramps, on Leyte island, Philippines. (AP Photo)

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, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans came together.

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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.

November 1944: U.S. landing ship tanks are seen from above as they pour military equipment onto the shores of Leyte island, to support invading forces in the Philippines. (AP Photo)

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Brown – Alma, MI; US Army, WWII, Military Police

Harold DeRose – Indianmound, TN; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Robert Fairbank – Gilbert, AZ; US Merchant Marine, WWII

Boy Scout Farewell Salute

Victor Galletly – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44189, WWII

Zeb Kilpatrick – Hendersonville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Leo ‘Bill’ LeFevre – Jamestown, ND; US Army, WWII

David Maxwell – Brisbane, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Jose Ocampo – San Jose, CA; US Navy, WWII

Dick Patterson – Fort Worth, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

Anthony Randi – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, Cpl.

Donald Thompson – Spokane, WA; US Army, WWII

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Smitty’s Letter XIV – “On the Move Again”

 

Letter XIV                                    “On the Move” (again)                        undated due to censorship

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – For those of you who will be in the Fredricksburg, Texas area…..

http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joan Abery – Darley Dale, ENG; RAF, WWII

Emil Adams – brn: Slovakia/US; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Annapolis graduate

David Altop – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio operator

George E. Bria (101) – brn: Rome, ITAL/Waterbury, CT; AP war correspondent, ETO

Otis ‘Roger’ Humphrey – Montpelier, IN; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Johnson – Wichita, KA; US Navy, WWII

Lucien Legault – Windsor, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

John Mumford – St. Petersburg, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 318/325/15th Air Force, KIA

Marion “Flee” Pettygrove – CA; USMC Women’s Corps, WWII

James Summitt – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, radioman

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Smitty – Letter XIII

outhouse-1-640x480

Back in the states, people were still dancing to the tunes of The Dorsey Brothers, Count Basie and Artie Shaw.  They listened to the songs of Doris Day, the Andrew Sisters, Lena Horne and Rosemary Clooney.  But, some others weren’t so lucky, in the army there was always latrine duty, as depicted in the following letter from Smitty.

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Letter XIII                               Latrines                        Wednesday 9/5/44

Dear Mom,

Many are the times you have heard me refer to the latrines.  Never before had I any conception or realized the amount of genius and mathematical figuring that was necessary for the building of one of these casual looking comfort stations.

Yesterday I had the dubious honor of being selected, with four other disgruntled G.I.s, to labor on a detail whose sole aim and mission was the digging and building of a latrine.  It seems that in order to get a latrine built correctly there also has to be present a lieutenant and a hard to please sergeant.  Their presence is essential due to the fact that if they weren’t around, it would never get built, no less started and to supervise the completion and finesse details of the finer points necessary for sanitation and the comfort of the men.  You can most generally find these two worthy in some far off spot, away from all the work.

slit-trench

slit-trench

To begin with, a place is chosen suitable for a latrine, generally about a half mile from the nearest inhabitant and well hidden in the brush and woods.  This is done for the very simple reason that it affords the stricken G.I. a chance to brush up on his long forgotten tracking and compass reading lessons, also the hike involved tends to make up for the many he has missed.

You wait then while the Lt., in a very business-like manner, marks out the length and width desired.  When finished, he gives you a short speech on the importance of the detail and the time limit allotted, ending with: “Good digging fellows.  I know you can do it, as you are the picked men!”

You pick up your shovels and picks and gloomily get to work.  First, the picks are put into play loosening up the stubborn ground.  Then, the shovels get to work removing the loose dirt, making sure to pile it evenly around the hole.  This procedure is followed until finally you have now a hole six feet long by five feet in width with a depth ranging anywheres from six to eight feet.  Try as you may to dig less than six feet, the sergeant always has a ruler handy which he guards with his life.  One would think that a latrine hole that size would last forever, but as I found out, in the army — they don’t.

pit latrine

pit latrine

Next step is to lower into this hole oil drums whose both ends have been removed.  This end cutting process is something foreign to us as they had another detail doing that the day before.  I understand though that it is a highly skilled job in that keeping the ax blades from chipping is quite a problem.  These drums, once lowered and set side by side, draws to a close the crude laborious end of the job.

Boards, saws, hammers and nails now appear along with some overbearing would-be carpenters.  They proceed to build a coffin-like box which looks more like anything else but a box.  This affair, when finished, is fitted over the hole, covering completely the hole and part of the piles of loose dirt spread around the outer fringe.  This type of latrine box is called the settee type.  It is very comfortable to sit on if rough boarding isn’t employed.  When the box is completed to the satisfaction and sitting height comfort of all present, holes are then cut in the top.  These holes are oval in shape, but of different width and shapes.  The rear end of a G.I.’s anatomy, I’ve found, has many varied shapes and sizes.

The next thing to put in an appearance is the latrine blind and screen.  This is very simple, although at times men have leaned back into it and got tangled up in the canvas, bringing it where the blind should be.  While the blind is being put up on a long pipe, funnel-shaped at one end comes up and demands a lot of detailed attention.  The height of this pipe, when set, is a trial and tribulation to all and never satisfies all who use it.  This funneled affair is intended for what all funnels are.  The directing of a stream of water.

The Lt. and sergeant now come out of hiding, inspect it and proclaim it a job well done and worthy of their time and supervision, strutting off gaily chatting, leaving us to find our way alone, unguided and without a compass, back to our tents.  We, in the building of this latrine were fortunate in that we only had to erect it once and it was the correct position.  Generally, you dig three or four only to find out that it is out of line somehow with the next latrine a mile away.

Army field latrine

Army field latrine

Generals, colonels and majors all visit while you are at work.  Their presence is also needed for the fact that when they are around, you stand at attention and in that way get a moment’s rest.  The captain generally comes out to see how you are doing and always tells you to hurry it up as the boys back in camp are prancing around like young colts and doing weird dance steps all the while hoping that they can hold out until its completion.

When once finished and back in camp, you are kept busy giving the boys directions as to where it is and then have to listen to them gripe about the distance away from their tent the blame thing is.  It is, I have found out, a thankless detail and one I intend missing the next time there is one to be built.There are of course different types of latrines as the illustrations show, but most of those are for troops on the move.  Now, why they should say, ‘troops on the move’ I do not know, for certainly no matter whether in the latrines or on the way to it, you are most certainly moving.

Before any G.I. finds the latrine, the flies are already there.  No latrine is a latrine until after a family or two moves in.  They too are necessary in that without them as an annoying element, some men would never leave, others would fall asleep, while others would use it as an indefinite hiding place from some hike or detail.  Latrines are also necessary for rumors.  Until a good latrine is built, rumors around the camp lay dormant.  Many new and strange acquaintances are made and the souls of many a man have been saved while sitting in this sanctuary place of appeasement.

No place in the army gets the care and attention of a latrine.  Orderlies are assigned daily to see to its cleanliness.  Medical inspections are twice a week, while on Saturdays it has to stand a general inspection.  It is the haven of good-fellowship, conversations and a relief to all men in the end.

Hoping I have portrayed for you the army’s version of a rest station, I’ll close, as the flies in here are very annoying and the fellow standing and waiting for me to leave is going into a rage and walking up and down all the while eyeing me up and down as if to kill.

Ending this in a hasty departure and on the run, I am always,  Your son, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

[Smitty’s illustrations will appear in the following post.]

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Weston Boyd – Leesburg, FL; US Army, WWII & Korea

Dante Bulli – Cherry, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-26 pilot, SAC Col. (ret. 32 yrs), Bronze Star

painting "Take a Trip With Me" by SFC Peter G. Varisano

painting “Take a Trip With Me” by SFC Peter G. Varisano

Arthur Cain – No.Hampton, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Roy Countryman – Longview, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, 1st Lt.

Thomas Feran Sr. – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII

Betty (Garber) Follander – Clinton, MA; cadet nurse, WWII

William McCurdy – Harrisburg, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Seth McKee – McGehee, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, General (Ret.)

Patrick Stewart – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # 7563, WWII, signalman

Clarence Young Jr. – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII, Africa & CBI, Engineers

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Smitty – Letter XII

The 11th Airborne Division, still in New Guinea  and continuing to specialize their training – little do they know that they are coming closer and closer to their time for combat.  Their commander, General Swing, awaits the word from General MacArthur.

Backpacking the good ol' fashion way

Backpacking the good ol’ fashion way

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Letter XII                                                       ?? Problems ??                                           0800 Sunday 9/3/44

Dear Mom,  We will start off first with “Webster’s” definition of the word — problem.  “A question for solution, and a proposition to be demonstrated.”  This is all very true, only in the army, although it is demonstrated, it never turns out in a satisfactory solution.

For some unknown reason, the hint of a problem soon-to-be gets around long before it is ever officially announced.  When once you hear about it, you begin to wonder just how you will get out of going and wonder if going on sick call will help.  The best thing is to try to get on some detail, but generally, the details floating around loose at that time are of such a nature that going on the problem is much easier.

No one likes or cares for problems including the officers and non-coms, except maybe a few who are bucking and hope to show their leader that they have tactical and sure-fire P.F.C. abilities.

No matter how easy or simple the problem, you always have to carry around a load of unnecessary equipment.  On the day set forth for the problem they put up a list of the stuff you are to take with you.  After an hour or two spent trying to get everything into the pack, just big enough to hold a pair of socks, a tent, poles, rain gear, poncho, insect repellent and your toilet articles, you are pretty well tired out and lie down for a few minutes rest.  You no sooner do that than the sergeant will come around with a revised list of equipment and again you unpack and re-pack.  This goes on through the day until finally in utter despair you pick up your duffel bag and carry that on your back.

Finally the whistle blows.  You hurriedly put on your pack, pick up your rifle and dash to fall in the formation forming outside.  After standing there for 30 or 40 minutes, you realize that all your rushing was in vain and that you have a chance to untangle yourself from the pack harness and straighten it out.  You no sooner start to do this than the order comes to pull out and get going.

While marching out, it suddenly dawns on you that a quick visit to the latrine would have helped, but is now impossible to get to.  After walking for two hours, your pack feels like a ton and your five-pound rifle now weighs twenty.  The heat is slowly getting you down and you begin to wonder, is it all worth it?  Soon the Lt. comes prancing alongside of you and walking just as easy as falling off a log.  He says a few words to you, such as, “Close it up.” “Keep in line” or “How you doing fella?” as he passes by.  You wonder how the devil he can keep it up, until you take a good look at his pack.  Many are the times when I wondered what would happen if I stuck a pin in it.  Wonderful things these basketball bladders.

When finally you arrive at the next to last stop, the Lt. calls his men around him and proceeds to try and tell them what this problem is about and what we are supposed to do.  We are all too tired to listen in the first place and in the second place — don’t give a damn.  All this time you watch the Lt. and soon you realize that he didn’t much care for the problem and is probably just as annoyed as you.

When you finally hit the place where the problem is, confusion takes over and the problem is started.  Orders are given and not carried out, cause generally the G.I. has been told before to do something else, so that by the time order is restored, all is in a worse shape than before.  The Lt. takes out a map to try and locate himself and is only to find that the map he has is the one relating to last week’s problem.  No matter, from then on, where the C.P. and assembly area were to be, now, wherever you are at that particular moment will become the C.P. and assembly area.  If the rest of the company was fortunate enough to locate the right place — the hell with them — let them find us.

You are then assigned to different spots and told to dig in.  Now, digging in calls for some thought.  If you just dig a slit trench, it doesn’t call for much work, but you can always be seen and so you can’t sleep.  But, if you dig a larger hole, called a foxhole, you can safely sleep away the night and also — the problem.  Myself?  I go for the foxhole on the slit trench side as it affords me the opportunity of sleeping in a horizontal position.

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Soon the whistle blows announcing the end of the problem.  You awaken to find that it is the next day and that once again you slept through the whole mess.  Questions are asked as to who or what side won, did the enemy get through and a thousand and one others.  Before leaving the place, you now have to shovel the dirt back into your hole, as leaving blank open holes around are dangerous to life and limb.  When that is completed, you put your backpack back on and trudge your weary way back.

Upon arriving back in camp, critiques are held and then you find out what you were supposed to have learnt while you were out there.  I have always been of the opinion that if critiques were held before going out, it would save us all a lot of trouble and also make going on the problem — unnecessary.  Once back in your tent, you unpack and think that now you will lie down and have a little nap, only to find out that the detail you tried to get on in order to miss the problem has materialized and that you are to get up and get on it.  Oh, weary bones, will they never have any rest?

Don’t give up, for after all, the war can’t last forever.  One thing you can always count on though, problems are the pride and joy of the army and will continue on being as long as there is an army.

Hope I’ve confused you as much as we are.  I’ll leave you as that damn detail has come up and so I’ll have to carry my weary body out and hope I last out the day.

Confused as all hell,    Everett

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But training goes on …..

New Guinea, training. Notice the date on the picture – 

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

John ‘Spike’ Adochio – Miltown, NJ; US Army, WWII

Nevin Biser Jr. – Columbia, SC; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Chadwell – Tullahoma, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 101st Airborne Division

Edward Elder – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, USS Seawolf, KIA

US Army division salute for outgoing & incoming troops

US Army division salute for outgoing & incoming troops

Alan Fewer – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force  # 413053, Squadron 485 & RAF 232, WWII

Bee Jay Garrison – Bethany, OK; US Army, WWII, PTO

Clare Hollingworth – ENG; Telegraph war correspondent, WWII, ETO

John McGrath – Calgary, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, (Ret.)

Bruce O’Brien Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Joseph ‘Pip’ Paolantonio – Wayne, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Cpl., 472 Glider Field Artillery/11th Airborne Division

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Smitty – Letter XI

Everett 'Smitty' Smith and the 187th Regiment

Everett ‘Smitty’ Smith and the 187th Regiment

This following letter from Smitty will show how much the G.I.’s of WWII and those of today have in common.  Human nature doesn’t seem to change very much in 68 years.

11th A/B patches

11th A/B patches

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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.

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.

coffeepouringani

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)

Click on images to enlarge.

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imagesiu502ww1To the Arkansas veterans who read and listen to this site… may I send you a Happy New Year wish and hearty Thank You for all you’ve done for us !!

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Ables – Kirkersville, OH, US Army, WWII

Joseph Charyk – Falmouth, MA; Under Sec. of the Air Force

W.L. Doerty – Gunnison, CO; US Air Force, Korea, pilot, POW &

Broad Channel veteran's  parade

Broad Channel veteran’s parade

Vietnam, Bronze Star

Fredene Frye – Greybull, WY; US Army WAC, WWII

Billy Hooks – Lake City, TN; USMC, Vietnam, Cpl.

Darlene Koering – Shellsburg – IA; US Women’s Marines, WWII

Troy Gilbert – Litchfield Park, AZ; US Air Force, Oper. Iraqi Freedom, Major, KIA

Charlie Laine – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Troy Gilbert – Nazzareno Tassone – Niagara, CAN; YPG, Syria

Floyd Passmore – Bedford, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C/503rd/11th Airborne Division

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Smitty ~ Letter X

11th Airborne preparing to jump. (soldier turned around appears to be Smitty)

11th Airborne preparing to jump. (soldier turned around appears to be Smitty)

In Dobodura, New Guinea, the 457th began to notice severe shortages in their sugar supply.  As it turned out, there was a major boot-legging operation in progress.  With the absence of alcohol, the men felt ‘necessity would be the mother of invention’, but they were caught with their stills in production.  The makeshift liquor companies were immediately put out of business.

My father had other ideas.  Smitty’s ingenuity was unfailing.  He used to tell me, “If you think hard enough, there’s a solution to every problem.”  After years of having tended bar, this was going to  be right up Smitty’s alley.

Letter # 10 has been previously published by “Whistling Shade” magazine in 2007.  I submitted it during their war story inquiry.

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Letter X                                          “Jungle Juice”                                  Monday 7/17/44

Dear Mom,  The title of this letter, at first glance, will no doubt puzzle you, but I suspect at the end you will know more than you do now.  Before going any farther with this, allow me to explain the whys and wherefores of its origin and purpose.

The Army has been telling us, for some time now, that any day (they mean year), they are going to issue us hot, dry soldiers some beer.  They haven’t told us the percentages yet, but never fear, it will be 3.2.  In the meantime, we’re here in New Guinea patiently awaiting the day.  We know, because our eyes and nostrils do not lie, that there is good whiskey slyly floating about.  Try as we may to lay hold of some, as yet, none have succeeded. 

There is an old saying, told to me by a much older and wiser veteran of this man’s army that goes: “Take something away from a soldier and he will, in time, make or find a better substitute.”  Hence and forever after – Jungle Juice.

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To begin the making of this liquor substitute, one must first overcome a few minor details in order to secure the necessary equipment and ingredients.  First:  You may try to cultivate the friendship of the mess sergeant.  This is easily accomplished if one is well endowed with currency.  Second:  You may try getting on guard duty and taking a chance of getting the job of protecting the mess hall. (The odds against this working out is ten to one against you.)  This is the hard way of acquiring the friendship of the mess sergeant and we will continue.  With your new buddy’s help, you now have in your proud and cherished possession a quantity of raisins, dried prunes or apricots and some sugar.  (Very rarely will one come up with any yeast, so we will forget it.)

Now, we need something to put all this stuff into.  To make matters worse, it cannot be metal and it must be waterproof.  A nail barrel will do the trick, if we soak it in water, thereby allowing the wood to swell.  You could go to the supply sergeant and get a saw, hammer, nails and boards, but in taking this route, you risk your supplier discovering your idea and you will have to pay him off with the promise that, when finished, he will receive a share.  Not only is this undesirable, but now you will have to sit out in the hot sun and build a cask.  My first suggestion of a nail barrel will not only save you labor, but also add an extra drink of this wonderful alcoholic beverage.

Now, we are ready to begin.  Into the empty cask, put your fruit and sugar, making certain to add water.  With your hands, (clean ones are advisable) stir everything around while crushing some of the fruit with your fists.  This is what’s called the “rapid juice extraction process.”  When finished, cover the cask with a clean piece of linen long enough to drape over the side.  Here, you can also use a G.I. handkerchief or undershirt.  (This is just a sanitary precaution and it in no way affects the product.)

Now, dig yourself a hole (under your bunk preferably) large enough to receive the cask and conceal it.  This is a necessary precaution as the manufacture of Jungle Juice is frowned upon by the Army and especially you C.O. or Inspection Officer.  The finding of such might cause embarrassment.  This way it will only be found if someone should trip you C.O. and he inadvertently falls face down on the spot.

All you have to do at this point is use some self-control and patiently wait out the next two or three weeks as the fruit, sugar and water do their stuff.  We all know from experience that you will only sit out two weeks, so let’s get on with the last step.  Surely you have kept busy locating empty bottles and cleaning them, so dig up the cask.hootch-2bbottles-640x560

To accomplish the final phase, it is wise to get your mattress cover and put it over a clean, steel helmet.  You will find that the Army had supplied you with a damn good filter.  The whole parts stay on top and the liquid freely pours through, without blemish to the helmet.  Pour the juice into the bottles and seal with candle wax, making them air tight.  Here is the most difficult step because by this time, not only your curiosity, but your craving for a taste is so high — you’re almost completely out of control.  But, you must put your contraband away for one more week.

As the expected day approaches, I want to warn you to be on the lookout for newly acquired friends who start calling on you, regardless of the fact that they never came near you before.  Yes, you are suddenly becoming the most popular guy in camp.  When the hour approaches, marked as the time of reckoning, I would advise you to make up your mind that you are not going to finish it all in one sitting.  Actually, this precaution is really unnecessary, as the Jungle Juice will decide that for you.

I won’t describe the taste.  For some it is bitter and others say sweet.  No two batches are alike and in fact the Juice has no opposition.  Even its most adamant foes agree that for variety, the Juice has no equal.

This recipe is given free of charge.

I hope to hear your hiccupping in your next letter soon.  Your brewmeister son & never to be dry again,     Everett

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General Swing decided, after the stills were destroyed, to bring in ice cream machines and set up sports competitions.  Teams were made up for volleyball, softball and tackle football.  This proved not only to lift their spirits, but the activities kept them in top physical shape.

It always amazed me that such a letter as “Jungle Juice” made it through the censors without Smitty ever getting into trouble.  His little operation was never discovered.

Click on images to enlarge.

jumping school

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gilbert Berry – Northwood, OH; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Gerald Boutilier – St. Margaret’s Bay, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Standing Guard

Standing Guard

Joseph Cox – Charlotte, NC; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret.28 years), Silver Star, Bronze Star

Alfred Doktor – Riverton, KS; US Army, Korea, E/187th RCT

Maurice Eatwell (102) – Greymouth, NZ; RNZ Army # 80776, WWII, 35th & 37th Field Batt.

Guy Luck – Cajun, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 457th Artillery/11th A/B Div.

Warren Mitchell – London, ENG; RAF, (beloved actor)

Thomas O’Grady – Newport News, VA; US Army, 503rd/11th Airborne Division

Melvin Smith – Waldwick, NJ; US Navy, WWII, submarine SSR 272 Red Fin

Leonard Sousa – Manchester, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div.

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