- Editor’s note: Cynical GI’s claimed “C.B.I.” [China-India-Burma] stood for “Confusion Beyond Imagination.” My father headed home, further indignities didn’t matter. The army became a blurred memory–the incredibly inedible rations, long duty hours, KP and guard duty. Dad’s thoughts about his letters, “I know my letters make dull reading other than knowing that I’m alive and still kicking.” He probably wouldn’t want his letters published. These stacks of old letters represented thousands of “Pismo Petes,” “Harry Grants,” others with families that worried, prayed for good news–members of the “greatest generation.”
History of 115th Ordnance (Medium Maintenance) Company
- Questions: I wondered if Dad [like myself] had recurring dreams of being back in the military? Was the story about my father taking a Jeep from the motor pool to a picture show, and it being stolen, true? There was no corroborating evidence. Had he hitchhiked and taken a wild eighty mile per hour ride, from Chicago, in a Chrysler Airflow down Route 66? That could have been true, since Dad was inducted at Ft. Sheridan, near Chicago.
Dad’s discharge record
Questions answered: The return trip took twenty-eight days compared to forty-one days for the trip over. Dad arrived stateside June 22, 1945. He was officially discharged at Ft. Custer, Michigan [near Battle Creek] on Oct. 1, 1945. More questions–medical records showed Yellow Fever contracted in March 5, 1942–a year before overseas deployment? Mom was five-foot two. Dad was five-foot three? …Records center screwups? What happened to Dad’s campaign ribbons? Fred Bratton, Dad’s army buddy, made several visits during my childhood. When my mother passed away in 1986, Dad sought the company of his old army buddy.
Dad, at home, summer 1945
Mom & Dad at ChesterfieldDad and Fred Bratton stateside
- Similarities & Contrasts: I had more in common with my father than I realized. My opinions of military life were the same. I shared his feelings of being left behind, while the world at home went on. We served just about the same amount of time overseas. That’s where the similarity ended. I can never hope to understand what it was like–living in tents and bamboo huts in wartime Burma and India.
- Man of his word: My father was a man of his word in all aspects of life. I can now, understand more fully, Dad’s refusal to join family camping outings–not even for picnics. His response, “I camped more than I cared to in the Army.”
- Mementos: tucked away in the pages of his diary. A souvenir inscribed Chinese 10 Yuan bank-note [mentioned in Chapter 22]. Some Japanese occupation paper currency. A newspaper clipping announced his marriage. The names and addresses listed below.
Claude A. Kinzel
Long Prairie, Minn.
825 2nd Ave. No.
126 Clarensdale Ave.
Willard H. Wagner
167 Halstead St.
3412 N. 10th St.
From the Springfield, IL “State Journal Register“
Carlinville, May 6, ’43–Mrs. Nancy Clark is announcing the marriage of her daughter, Dorothy, to Pvt. Clyde F. Adam, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Adam of Chesterfield. The ceremony was performed Nov. 14, 1942, at Palmyra, Mo., by Rev. C. Dorris.
Mrs. Adam is a graduate of Blackburn College and for the last three years has taught Albany school near Chesterfield. At present she is employed by Owens-Illinois glass Co. at Alton.
Private Adam was engaged in farming before entering the armed forces. He is now serving overseas.
Japanese occupation currency [front]Japanese currency [back]Picture of New Caledonia [port of call not mentioned in letters]
WWII Poem, clipped from “Illinois State Journal-Register”
In Remembrance: Chesterfield, Illinois, population 300, was barely a spot on the map. This little town with a big heart gave its finest young men and women–four, listed below, made the ultimate sacrifice. Here’s a list of names inscribed on the veteran’s memorial in front of the Chesterfield United Church.
–John K. Flowers–Robert Jacoby–Leonard Stone–Earl J. Wheeler–
From 12-1-1946 Veteran’s Memorial Dedication
“In memory and in honor of these eighty-three citizens of this community, who served the nation in the armed forces of the United States of America, the Daughters of Dorcas Sunday School Class of the United Church, solicited the willing support of the entire community for the purchase of the two white marble benches, which now and forever, shall stand on the church grounds, eternal symbols of the gratitude and high honor in which these names are held”
Names mentioned in letters: John K. Flowers, Harvey Crowder, Ansel Dowland, Wendell Dowland, Theodore Hall, Harold Huyear, Floyd Nixon, Eugene [Gene] Parker, *George Parker, Esther Parker, Armin Rigsbey, Leo M. Rigsbey, Russell Scott, Albert Wilson, Kenneth Woods
Afterthoughts: The black tapestries embroidered with silver thread, a silver bracelet, souvenirs from a strange-named place called the Taj Mahal didn’t mean anything to me when I found them in Mom’s cedar chest. They were mere curiosities to a young boy meddling where he had no business. Now, they represent treasured memories from almost seventy years ago.
- Memories of “greatest generation” WWII veterans will fade away–if we let them. We all know what happened in WWII. The enemies were defeated, the world was made safer. It’s important to remember why. I set out to tell the story of one soldier’s contribution to the war effort in jungles of India and Burma. I’ve gained a new appreciation for his sacrifices made in service to our country.
Acknowledgements: George F. Adam Sr., brother, for access to pictures, documents from Adam family archives. Ray Parker, hometown friend, [son of *George Parker], for newspaper clipping with poem, veterans memorial information.
Other Favorite WWII Blogs: notsofancynancy–father’s war experiences told from letters home, No. 23 Squadron–about an RAF Mosquito squadron, “Greatest generation” Life Lessons–story of an ordinary family trying to live ordinary lives during an extraordinary time frame…, Pacificparatrooper–Pacific war era information