A Memorial Day salute to those that served–and to those that currently serve in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
We did our duty when called upon.
In my own experience–it wasn’t always without complaint. Truth shouldn’t be embellished, hidden, or ignored. War is playing for keeps. There are lasting scars–not all of them visible.
In humble remembrance, these mementos are of veteran family members from WWII and the Vietnam era.
Dad’s cousin, MIA after the Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The Indianapolis delivered components for the atomic bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
My Dad with his “Deuce and a half” WWII truck on maneuvers in the California desert. If you look closely, there’s a lizard on the truck’s fender. Perhaps Dad adopted a new mascot? Dad served overseas in China, India, and Burma.
My Uncle Harvey US Navy WWII veteran, served in the Pacific Theater. My mother and Uncle Harvey had a close relationship, since they were the youngest members of the family.
A picture of yours truly in my USAF uniform. I served during the Vietnam era. I didn’t do anything special–served in the 322 CSG, Rhein Main AB, Germany. To those that didn’t get a proper welcome–Welcome Back!
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
Favorite pictures: The pictures reprised below, captured the essence of my father. The picture of Dad with an adopted dog mascot. My father looked contented in the picture with his truck. He was a stickler for proper maintenance of vehicles and machinery. He wouldn’t accept excuses or shortcuts.
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.
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
I’ll answer your letter of March 25th now. Today was another Sunday with the afternoon off.
It was too bad about the death of Pres. Roosevelt. Truman has quite a job ahead of him, now. I sure hope he’s capable of doing the job.
I haven’t learned much about typing. There’s a lot of difference typing out an address and typing a whole letter. Dorothy knows how to type though, and if the necessity ever calls for it, she can do my typing.
I wouldn’t mind taking a short course on farming after I get out of the army and before I start farming. I could do that in the winter when I couldn’t do anything else. I could work and earn a little as long as I could, if I’m free during the summer and fall months.
I’m afraid that the 300 dollars I get when I’m discharged, won’t do much more than buy my clothes as I’ll have to have a complete outfit. Then, too, I’ll have to convert my insurance which will probably take some time. I think I’ll have it changed to 20 year pay and then the money would come about right for the kid’s education, if there are any.
I sure want to stay in the States when I get there, and I intend to do everything I can to get to stay.
Right around here I haven’t noticed many flowers yet. things were torn up so bad, that if there were any tame flowers, they wouldn’t be here now. Wild orchids grow in some regions around here.
I’m glad you got the birthday present in time since I sent money to Dorothy to have her get you something and it just got there a few days ahead of time. Sixty isn’t so old nowadays if a person takes care of himself.
By the time you get this letter, I think the war in Germany will be over. That should make quite a difference in everything. Maybe by the time I get home, things will be sort of loosened up back there.
Well, that’s about all for this time, I guess. Everything is fine over here, except the heat.
April 21, 1945
I received your letter of the 2nd a day or two ago, but I waited until my regular time to write.
Tonight is the kind of night when a person is glad he has a roof over his head. Otherwise he’d get rather wet.
I wonder if you are still having rains? If not, I imagine everybody is busy with gardens and getting ready for corn. It’s hard for me to realize that another planting time has rolled around. I sure hope that by next year this time I’m home for corn planting or nearby.
I guess I’ll get to see the crop this year anyway, even though I won’t get to see it put in. Maybe I’ll be there in time to run a cultivator a time or two. I want to eat some of that fried chicken. If you have any strawberries, put a few away in the locker so I can get a taste of them.
I’m sorry to hear about Mr. Sawtell. He was getting pretty well along in years, I guess. There have sure been a lot of deaths around Chesterfield since I’ve been overseas.I’m glad that you two get out once in a while and see a show. I’d think you could go a little more often as you haven’t so many responsibilities now. I saw “Meet Me in St. Louis” over here a while back. It was a fairly good show. I want you to go see the show, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” because it’s very good. I read the book around Christmas and then saw the show about a month ago.
Uncle George and Aunt Minnie are pretty spry yet, I guess, if they still go to the show. I guess the “kids” take them. I don’t imagine that Greene or the other fellow living on the Gahr place, cares much about them carrying off stuff either, after giving up possession. It wold take a lot of nerve, looks to me like, for anyone to try to do that.
If Uncle Val [Gahr] and Dowland haven’t any money now to pay for feed, they never will. They should have it now, if ever.
I’ll bet things are pretty around there now.
Bill Dams didn’t stay overseas very long, it seems like, but I guess he saw plenty of action while he was there.
I’ll close for this time. Hope you are well.
April 29, 1945
I have your letters of the 8th and 15th to answer tonight as they both came since I wrote you last.
I’ll keep writing you letters as long as I can, but I don’t think there’s any need for you to write me anymore as I more than likely will no longer be at this address when you get this letter. Now, don’t get excited about my coming home, as I don’t think I’ll be there before the last of June or the first part of July.
There sure have been lots of rumors coming over the air today, but so far most of them have proved to not have any foundation. The first thing this morning, we heard that Germany had surrendered and later found that they hadn’t, but had only asked for it. I don’t suppose it’ll be long, though, before they’ll actually be out of the picture, whether they ask for peace or not. There isn’t much left of Germany anymore that the Allies haven’t run over.
I was out to see Russell Scott this afternoon. I told that it would likely be the last time I’d see him for a while.
I’m surprised that you didn’t butcher any pork this year. It’s been a long time since you’ve never butchered a hog during the winter, hasn’t it?
There sure have been a lot of deaths around Chesterfield lately. I sure was surprised to hear of the death of Florence Reesor, as she was so young. Gertrude is going to be tied down now with those three kids.
So Clarence Dowland and Hazel finally got married. They sure waited a long time.
I hardly recognized Harold Huyear in the picture you sent me. I suppose after four years, one forgets faces that he wasn’t too familiar with. There’ll probably be a lot of people around home that I won’t know. Especially the kids that have grown up will be strangers.
I’m over the cold and sore throat OK now. I’m going to be awfully bad off if they can keep me from coming home.
It looks like Uncle Pete is having his share of tough luck now. He’s going to have a tough time of it this summer with no man if he’s still trying to farm the Wooley place.
May 13, 1945
Here it is another Mother’s Day in India. I believe it makes about the third one over here.
I’m sure sweating it out here as the weather is sure hot. I’m waiting for (censored).
I should be back in the States by sometime in (July). It’ll probably be hot back there too by then.
Well, now that the war in Europe is over, things should loosen up a bit back there in the States.
Headlines announced V-E Day
Some of the luckier ones will get discharged, bit I guess I’ll be stuck for the duration. If I’d been in a combat outfit, I’d probably be getting out of the army by now.
I hope you have plenty of fryers as I’m going to want plenty of fried chicken.
I’m going to be plenty hungry as it’s too hot to eat here and I’ll lose weight.
I hope to be seeing you before too long.
Editor’s note: That was Dad’s last overseas letter. Exact details of his departure weren’t available. Would things go according to plan? After being away from home for so long, a little more inconvenience wouldn’t be a big deal. Return transportation took time–probably less time than the trip over. There’s more to come in the concluding chapter.
The American GI is really fighting, because he wants to get his job done and get back home
–Gen. Joseph Stillwell–
As you were having warm weather in March you should be having real nice weather now in April. You are probably really busy hauling manure and probably plowing by the time this letter reaches you.
I’m glad to hear the cattle are doing so good. Maybe you’ll make a little money on them this time.
Uncle Pete will have a time this year, if he doesn’t find a man. Olin Trill [Uncle Pete’s bro.-in-law?] can be forced to come back to the farm, though, can’t he? I thought agricultural workers were frozen for the duration. Of course, if Uncle Pete released him in the fall it might make a difference.
I’m glad to hear that you were able to get the car fixed up in fair condition. How’s the condition of the motor? Does it use much oil yet?
If you had the tractor fixed up last year, it shouldn’t give you too much trouble this year as you won’t use it only half as much. Do you still have trouble with the gear on the steering working loose? I don’t suppose it gets as bad now, since it’s on rubber tires.
Vintage 1936 Case tractor on steel wheels
It’s a good thing we got you convinced that rubber was the best on the tractor before I got in the army. Otherwise, it would have been much harder to operate and would have cost some more to operate and repair. Someday, I hope to have all my farm equipment mounted on rubber. The main thing to make the tires last longer, is to keep them properly inflated. Don’t run them too low, because they puncture more easily and also weaken the side walls. It isn’t even good for them to sit flat.
Editor’s note: These words spoken like a true mechanic. When Dad later farmed, he did most of his own repairs–with the exception of welding. He passed along knowledge of basic maintenance to me and my brothers. Only one of us turned out to be a good mechanic.
It doesn’t look like I’ll get home before June at the soonest. I was hoping that I could get home in May. I sure hope that when I do get home, I won’t have to come back overseas anymore. I guess I’ll sure find out what I’ll have to do when I get back to the states.
I guess I’ll have to get one of those loans when I get out of the army and set up for myself. I might as well set up good at the start, and then I can benefit from the few good years that’ll follow the war. It’ll be my only chance to get off to a good start.
Well,, I’ve about run down for this time. Don’t work too hard. Do what you can and let the rest go.
I’m feeling fine. The heat is getting bad, but I’m looking forward to getting out of here.
PS: I cancelled the 20 dollar allotment coming to you this month, so you won’t get it next month. I did that because when I get back to the States, I’ll lose that much in pay. I’ll need the rest to get by on as I want Dorothy to stay near me as long as I’m in the States. Instead of getting $97.50 minus allotments, as I am now, I’ll only get $81.90 minus allotments, because of the 20% overseas pay. I should have between 6 & 700 dollars by this time. That should help some day.
Editor’s note: The GI newspaper was now the “India–Burma Theater Roundup.” Soldiers in China had “The Lantern” The following is transcribed from the March 8, 1945 edition of the “India-Burma Theater Roundup.” It described where my Dad worked.
World’s Largest Service Station Operates Along Ledo Road
Today, the world’s most unusual and largest super-service station operates along the Ledo Road, American-built highway between India and Burma.
No neon lights or brightly colored signs clamor for patronage nor do white-coated attendants hover about. Rude, bulldozered driveways lead to this jungle garage squatting in the shadows of the Patkai hills of upper Assam, where open-sided bamboo sheds house an impressive array of both modern and ingeniously improvised automotive equipment.
Beneath these tall shelter, roofed with Jeng leaves from the nearby wilderness, sweating, coverall-clad American soldiers and Indian workers are keeping a never-ending stream of Uncle Sam’s trucks rolling to the Burma front with vital war supplies.
Nowhere else does the Army run a localized maintenance system on such a large-scale. It is, in fact, an innovation, an example of American initiative and resourcefulness, resulting from exceptional circumstances and conditions. It grew out of a need to lick, and to lick immediately, a motor maintenance problem which is the hardest, toughest, most heart breaking in the world.
Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Pick, Base Commander, and himself a producer of miracles, called upon his Ordnance Officer to produce a maintenance miracle. Lt. Col. A. A. Kaufman, a hard-hitting Texan, knew what the General meant. A firm believer in the Army’s time-tried “echelon” system of maintenance, he swiftly set about making work under almost unbelievable conditions.
Kaufman planned something similar to a mass-production assembly line whereby each vehicle could enter a shop, roadworn and dirty, and emerge completely washed, checked serviced, and repaired. The normal maintenance personnel and tools of all truck companies would be pooled. Indian mechanics and laborers would be employed as needed. Every branch of the Army would be called upon to furnish the best of equipment that could be used.
With whole-hearted cooperation of Col J. A. Stewart, Chief of Transportation, the plan was quickly approved. On Gen. Pick’s order, the Engineers started clearing the jungles, and Transportation Service Shop No. 1 was officially born.
Covering an area of between four and five jungle-cleared acres, this shop consists of a series of bamboo structures set in a square pattern around a parking lot, which is capable of holding 300 trucks. Designed to support a vehicle population of 1,000, it can, on a 20-hour operational basis clear up to 300 vehicles.
It is operated by 110 Army soldiers, 140 Indian mechanics and laborers, and a transportation Service staff of five officers, headed by Major R. J. Keefer. An Ordnance Warrant Officer, Motor Specialist, and an Ordnance Sergeant give technical advice and assistance.
Every effort is made to finish a repair job on the same day it enters the shop, with a driver on call at all times to deliver the vehicle to the proper organization.
The shop has its own supply room, and once parts stockage is maintained, where there might otherwise be 16 or 20 in separate companies, 16 or 20 parts clerks tied up, 16 or 20 supply vehicles going to and from the Ordnance Depot.
Success of the project, the result of foresight, improvisation, and cooperation among all branches concerned, is proved. While many other factors contributed, it can be fairly stated that Transportation Service Shop No. 1 was largely responsible for (1) reducing vehicle deadline in this area 83%; (2) increasing by almost 100% the average vehicle life-time, thus enabling hundreds of vehicles to continue operation at a time when they are vitally needed and, (3) conserving costly replacement parts.
by S/Sgt. I. M. Sohureman and Sgt. C. M. Buchanan, Roundup Field Correspondents
Dad, at duty section, front row, right
Constructing Ledo road through mountainsFirst Ledo road convoy Jan. 28, 1945First convoy commemorative marker in English & Chinese
Editor’s note: The following from the Feb. 8, 1945 issue of the “India-Burma Theater Roundup.”
STATISTICS OF WAR DEPARTMENT SHOW LEDO ROAD TOUGHEST JOB
Washington (ANS) The War Department this week backed up with statistics the proud boasts of G. I.’s who built the Ledo road that theirs was “the toughest road construction job ever undertaken.”
In an official release, the following facts about the road were disclosed: the 478 mile highway was built at a rate of about one mile per day through some of the worst jungle in the world and over 4,000-foot mountain passes. During one seven-month period, 175 inches of rain fell to hamper the work. By comparison, Eastern states of the U. S. average less that 45 inches per year.
Approximately 70 acres of airstrips were built at points near the Ledo road. The road’s builders moved a total of 13,500,000 cubic yards of earth–it would take a string of railroad cars 470 miles long to transport the 1,303,000 cubic yards of gravel spread on the road. To top it off, there’s an average of one bridge to every three miles of the road. So, take a well deserved bow, boys.
Editor’s note: Road building was a cooperative effort of American, Chinese, and Indian workers. Chinese soldiers fought alongside Americans to drive the Japanese out of Burma. The following is a souvenir Chinese 10 Yuan bank-note with an inscription [front and back], found among Dad’s effects. The inscription written by a Chinese Lieutenant: “[Back] Have you hear [heard] the Victory Voice of China? Help China some more!” “[Front] We advance side by side and gloriously occupe Japs capital–Tokio! Victory for you! Souvenir from Chinese Army in India 2nd Tank Bn. Lt. Yuan.”
Here it is March and usually back there this time of the year a person on the farm thinks of farm work. I wonder if your winter weather has let up? This is the month usually for lots of wind. Over here the days are getting where a person doesn’t need any blankets. The flowers are beginning to bloom. The vegetation seems to be coming out of its winter dormant stage. Even though it’s green all winter, the vegetation doesn’t grow much, although the native to grow vegetables, etc.
This is my morning off and I had to work this afternoon. Things were kind of slow though, and there wasn’t so much to do. Last Sunday afternoon, Russell Scott came over and we had quite a visit talking over our experience in the army and of old times. He lacks almost a year having been overseas as long as I. He is a medic attached to another outfit–in other words he’s on D. S.
I received your letter of Feb 12th the first of the week shortly after your letter of the week before.
You’re sure having quite a time moving chicken houses and fences for your chickens. I can’t see why you don’t slow on the chicken raising. I think you’ve raised your share and it’s about time you took things easier.Dad’ll probably have about all he’ll want to do to keep the place going.
Forty dollars for 30 hens is a fairly good price. I can remember when an old hen wouldn’t bring a dollar.
I’m surprised that Olin G. [Gahr] has lost interest in the farm. I thought he bought a small place out there near the home place. I understand he’s running a tavern now. I guess a person can make money at that racket if he has the right location. I’m a little doubtful about that now, though.
What did Gov. Green have to say about the returning veterans? I sort of doubt though, if we can get ahead of those that have stayed behind as they’ve gotten their start during prosperity.
I would like to take a short course of schooling on modern farming methods the winter before I go into farming in the spring, if possible, and it doesn’t cut too deep into our savings.
It looks like the Government is going to make it possible for a returning veteran to borrow money at a reasonable rate of interest. I’ll have to borrow some probably to get set up. A person is going to have to get off to a speedy start in order to reap some of the profits before hard times come again
Dorothy and I can furnish our home pretty good, I think. I don’t know, but I think the war will be over by the end of next year. Of course it depends on a lot of things on how much longer I’ll have to stay in the army.
I’m doing all right with the exception of a cold right now. I’ve put on weight during the cool season. I don’t know how long it’ll last thought in the hot season. Write.
March 9, 1945
Here it is already well into March. Spring is just around the corner. I’ll bet the farmers are beginning to think of their spring work. the weather is changing here too in respect to heat.
Yes, in Feb, it was a little early to think of putting in an early garden. The trees in the orchard must be getting rather few and far between, unless you’ve set out some new stock. Is your berry patch still in existence?
I wish I could see the cattle before they’re sold, but that’s impossible this time. Why don’t you take a picture of them and send it to me?
You seem to be doing pretty good with your hens. They must be bringing in between two and three dollars a day. Of course the feed has to come out of that. A person doesn’t notice the feed so much when it comes off the farm, but if you buy it, it eats pretty heavy into the profits.
Russell Scott’s address would have helped out a lot, if I hadn’t already seen him. I’ll have to go see him or I may not get the chance again.
There just doesn’t seem much to write about tonight and I’m rather tired, so I’ll close for this time.
I sure hope to hear something about coming home before long.
Oh yes, I got a letter from Mrs. Kallal yesterday.
March 18, 1945
I didn’t get a letter from you this week. I had four or five from Dorothy. From what she said, you were still having winter weather the last part of February.
I had a letter from Wendell Dowland and he’s in England. He seemed to be seeing the sights and enjoying his stay there.
He wanted to know if I’d been there. I guess he doesn’t know that I missed that a long ways.
I guess by now, you’re beginning to get the spring fever, as surely as the weather had gotten milder. Here it is the latter half of March already. You’ve sure had a tough winter this year. According to tradition, there should be good crops this year.
I guess, unless it’s rained by now, there’s sort of a water shortage. My buddy, Fred B. [Bratton] said that his home town (Arthur, IL) was having a water shortage and were thinking of digging a new well.
The weather is getting warmer here. The days are getting hotter and the nights are getting warmer. There still isn’t any rain, except a few occasional showers. We sure managed to get where there was a long dry season this time. It’s the longest we’ve been dry since we’ve been over here in Asia. Some of these days though, it’ll start raining though, I guess. I’m hoping to get out of here before much of that.
I’m figuring on getting home in 2 or 3 months. I don’t know for sure, but I think I will. I’ve been over here over two years now.
Things are going about the same here. I hope they are the same back there. Write.
March 19, 1945
I wrote a letter last night, but since I got yours today, I’ll write another tonight.
It sounds like you did pretty good on your clover crop last year. You must have cleaned up somewhere, if you had to pay that much income tax. Taxes are awfully high now I guess. I guess the sale was what made your taxes so high this time.
How are you making out on the payments on the place now? You must have it whittled down considerably by now. You should do fairly good on the cattle this time as you had all that corn from the other place that you otherwise wold have had to buy.
One good thing , you won’t have so much to worry about this year with the other place out of the way. You’ll still have plenty to keep yo busy, though. Not having any hay will help out. Although you won’t have any to feed next winter, unless you have plenty left over from last year.
You sure won’t have much corn this time. It’ll make a lot of difference in the corn crib, too, unless you have a good yield to make up for the acreage. Why don’t you sow a few acres of sorghum to help fill the silo? You could get a lot more tonnage to the acre or you cold get a special corn silo.
I’m figuring on getting home sometime this summer to look around and see how things are going. It’s about time I was getting back. Looks like as it was 26 months ago today since I set foot on US soil. I hope that I can get back before it gets too hot back there and here both. It’s already getting hot here.
How’s the old car running? Is it still in running order? How are the tires holding up? I suppose that you could get more if you needed them. Dorothy got three and has another on order at the ration board. I’ll probably be wanting to drive it some when I get my furlough. It’s going to be a little hard to get enough gasoline, I guess, as I hear they give only a gallon a day to soldiers on leave. That wouldn’t be enough to make a trip a day to Carlinville and back. Maybe you’ll have some you haven’t used by then? Ha!
Well, that’s about all for this time. I’m feeling fine except it’s getting too hot.
March 26, 1945
Today I had KP and that’s over again for another couple of weeks I hope. I had planned on going to see Russell Scott yesterday afternoon as I had off, but I couldn’t get the transportation. It’s too far to hitch–hike in half a day.
I received your letter of March 4th a few days ago. No, I guess it doesn’t make much difference whether I send my letters free or air mail. A person might as well send them free and save the six cents.
I guess by now, you are beginning to have spring weather as it’s getting toward the last of March. By the time you get this, the leaves should begin to come out on the trees as I believe they do in April. I sure hope I get home in May, as that’s always a pretty month. Everything is always green and the weather is nice.
So you are bothered with a stiff neck, too? I get one, too, once in a while. The climate over here gives a person colds and such. I’ll be glad to get out of here. A person doesn’t get the right kind of foods either. There’s plenty of starches, but not enough variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. We haven’t had other than fresh fruit for a long while. I traded some cookies out of my PX ration once for four eggs and one was spoiled. They’ve gotten where they won’t accept anything in exchange, but cigarettes or money and they want a preposterous price. The trouble is some guys will pay it and then they always expect it. Consequently, I just do without.
I and another fellow visited a native village yesterday afternoon, and the natives were friendly. They gave us a cup of tea and the head man showed us some pictures of his family. We couldn’t converse with them as we couldn’t understand each other’s language. He understood only a few words of English and we didn’t understand any Shan. Their homes are made of woven bamboo and grass. They moved out there in these places during the invasion. They had bomb shelters to go to during the bombing. I was all very primitive the way they live.
It makes a person appreciate the US after seeing how these people still live like they did 2,000 years ago. As long as they don’t know any better, I guess they are contented. In a way, they are more satisfied with life than the average American. He sure can’t get as much out of life, though, living that way year in and year out. There’s never any chance for betterment. Someday, I suppose, they’ll improve as the world grows smaller and communication improves.
April 1, 1945
Here it is the fourth Easter away from home. I wonder how the weather is back there? It’s hot here. I had intended on going to church this morning, but I have a sore throat and don’t feel like eating all that dust coming and going. I can’t seem to rid myself of colds. For a while, I wasn’t bothered with them. My resistance must be down. It looks like I’ll lose the weight I gained during cool weather before I get home. I just don’t have much of an appetite during hot weather. I was hoping that I’d get home before it got hot back there, but it’s getting to look very doubtful.
By the time you get this, the leaves should be out on the trees and the grass green. That’s always a pretty time of year and a person feels full of ambition. It sure isn’t like that here.
I received your letter of March 10th yesterday. It and a V-mail from Getz was about the only mail I’ve gotten for about a week.
It seems like a lot of farmers are selling and cutting down on farming. There should be a lot of farms to rent when the boys come home. The first one there will probably get the best places.
When it comes to household duties, etc. I don’t think I’ll want anything to do with it. Anything that reminds me of what I’ve had to do in the army, I don’t want anything to do with.
Well, there just isn’t much of anything new to talk about. The war in Europe seems to be in the final phase.
April 11, 1945
I’ve been waiting to write thinking I’d get a letter to answer, but since I didn’t. I’ll have to write anyway. There’s nothing new. It’s the same old thing going on day in and day out. I know my letters make dull reading, other than knowing that I’m still alive and kicking. There just isn’t anything over here to tell about.
Of a morning I get up, eat breakfast, go to work, eat chow at noon, go back to work at one, quit in the evening, take a shower, eat supper and then go to a show, if there’s one, or play a game or two of ping-pong, and then settle down to writing letters or reading.
One day last week, we had six girls and some male members of a USO troupe here for dinner. That sort of broke the monotony for the day. It was the first time since we’d been overseas, that we’d been honored by fair guests. That night we saw the show they put on. It was very good. One of the fellows in the company knew one of the girls which was the reason we happened to have them here for dinner.
Dad’s third from right in the last row
Editor’s note: Were any of the six entertainers recognizeable? I couldn’t tell from the picture.
The cooks went to a lot of trouble and made up a very nice dinner with ice cream for dessert. I think they appreciated it as I heard afterwards, that they remarked it was the best meal they’d had since they left the states. it was the most elaborate meal we’d had since Christmas.
I suppose everyone is busy around there now getting their spring work done. It must be getting nice back there by now. It’s been quite a long time now since I’ve been home to enjoy the springtime.
It doesn’t look like I’ll get home before June or July and then, it could be later. Some of the boys are already gone. Some are just more lucky than others.
What kind of condition is the car in? I’ll be needing some kind of transportation when I do get home. Dorothy has been having lots of trouble with her car this winter. After they get so old, they need so much work done on them. Now, it’s pretty hard to get anyone to do things like that, no matter how minor they are.
I received your letters of Dec. 10th and 17th today. It’s the first time I’ve received any mail in a week besides a package from Dorothy that came three days ago. I don’t see why you haven’t been hearing from me. I’ve been writing all the time and I usually get your letters OK outside of maybe they don’t come one week, but the next I get both of them. I certainly hope that you’ve heard by this time. I’m glad that you got my Christmas card anyway.
You must be having real winter weather. Dorothy said that she was having a time getting to school in the drifts. Harvey had been driving her.
So Mrs. Senior outlived Lila. I thought sure that Lila would be left alone. I guess the old Senior place [later called the Hick’s house] looks mighty lonesome now, with no one there. I’m glad to hear that Myrtle Rigsbey is improving. She must have had quite a time of it.
I got a letter from Evelyn Getz here awhile back and she said that Wendell was headed overseas, but she hadn’t heard where yet. She was awfully anxious to hear. If he happens to land in the thick of things, she’ll wish she didn’t know then.
Esther Parker is getting to be quite the career woman. The picture of here in the clipping doesn’t look much like her. Those printed pictures don’t always turn out so good though. Maybe she’ll capture herself some big shot in the army.
I got the Christmas boxes OK. I got the one the Farm Bureau sent me. I’ve been using the pipe you sent me and in Dorothy’s package there was some tobacco so the two go together. Surely the letters I have written you will get there eventually. They may have ben held up for some reason. I’m nursing a cold now, but it’s improving, otherwise OK.
Editor’s note: Apparently, there was frustration on the home front about regular mail from overseas.
Jan. 13, 1945
I wonder how you folks are tonight? I’ll bet you are sitting close to the fire toasting your toes. It’s nothing like that here, although, a fire does feel good in the evenings and early mornings. I have a little fire going now in one little stove.
I hope that by now you’ve heard from me. Your last letter said that you hadn’t heard for three weeks. I guess the mail just got held up somewhere along the line. If these letters don’t get through, I’ll have to try V-mail as it seems to always get there.
Christmas is over and New Years is over and here we are about the middle of January already. Time seems to go pretty fast.
I spend my leisure time writing letters, reading and going to movies. I don’t find much time that I don’t know what to do with. I heard from Gene Parker about a week ago. I answered his letter a few nights ago. He is prompt in answering. I get his letters in three days. I guess he’s glad to hear from someone from home. I know that I am and sure wish it were possible to see him. He’s doing about the same kind of work that I am.
My last letter from Dorothy was Dec 29 and she said that it was cold and slippery out, then. I’m glad that it was during her vacation, so she wouldn’t have to drive over the slick roads. She said that she’d gotten another new tire for her car, which makes three, now. She needs one more to make a complete new set. She’ll have to get it before school is out, as the ration board probably won’t let her have one, otherwise.
Editor’s note: Worn tires, slick country roads, a dangerous combination.
I’m wondering what I’m going to do for gas when I get home? I’ll want to do a little getting around when I get home, as it’s been so long. I guess a person can always manage as long as there’s any tractor gas, if you know what I mean. I’d sure like to get home in time to help a little bit in corn planting. A person never knows for sure, though. In ’42, I got to help sow beans and that’s the last time I got to do anything like that.
From the news broadcast, it sounds like some of these younger farm boys that so far have been deferred, are gong to have to change from overalls to uniforms. Well, I can’t see that it’ll hurt them to do some of it, too, rather than let us older ones do it all. That’s going to hit kind of hard around home, I’m afraid, as there are several boys below thirty. Let’s see, there’s Burns, Leach, Woods, Chism, and probably several more that I can’t think of at the present. Families sure aren’t keeping them out.
Editor’s note: Dad frequently compared his situation to boys at home that had escaped conscription. Was it just his bad luck and their good fortune?
Well, I’ll close for tonight, I guess, as I want to write to Dorothy yet, before bedtime. It seems like bedtime is here before one knows it. I hope you are well.
I received your letters of Dec. 25th and Jan. 1st. From what you said, you did have a white Christmas and also a white New Year’s Day. I’m glad that you finally got my letters before Christmas. I got two of my Boxes before Christmas and two more shortly afterward. Charles Clements didn’t have to go back overseas, then, after his furlough. I heard somewhere that Ammie Zimmerman died last fall.
I was wondering what Clarence Dowland is doing now? I wonder who Bill [Rigsbey] will get on his place, now that Floyd’s gone?
Finis [Wade] is eligible for a pension, isn’t he? Along with the work he gets, he should be able to get along.
It seems that the war is starting to take its toll from Chesterfield.
Bud Scott (Russell) must be around here somewhere. If I knew his address, I could probably find out his whereabouts. He could probably be close around and I’d never know it. Yes, It’s much nicer here than any place we’ve been located yet in this theatre. We have a bigger and nicer camp with more conveniences. It seem that the food is getting better. We have more fresh meat now. I’m not worried about the Japs.
Kallals seem to be having quite a time.
Your hens are doing good for this time of the year. Eggs around here were so scarce that some of the fellows were paying 30 cents an egg for them. They’ve dropped now to about $2.14 a dozen or 7 rupees in native money. Lots of fellows buy them so they can have fresh eggs to eat. I satisfy myself to eat the army grub, as I feel it’s too much to pay for extras.
Everything is going on as usual over here. Camp life is getting more like garrison every day, in spite of the fact that we’re in a foreign country at war, and there’s plenty of work to do. So long for now.
Jan. 30, 1945
I went a little over time in answering your letter this time because I was on the move again. I’m still in Burma, though. I’ve seen quite a little of Burma now, and I like it much better than India. It seems that the country is more beautiful. There is plenty of jungle in Burma, but I’ve seen more open country here, than in India. I guess it just happened that I was in those parts.
I hate this moving, because there’s so much hard work to it, and then a person is always unsettled. That’s the army for you, though.
Well, the one month of the new year is almost gone. The Germans seem to be coming out on a limb right now. I sure hope it’s over before long. Maybe then, I’ll have more of a chance of staying home next time. After 3 1/2 years, this is getting old. Whoever said a year wouldn’t be long was altogether wrong. It’s been the longest year I ever spent.
It looks like you’ve been having plenty of winter this time. Dorothy said it has been the toughest she’s had to get back and forth to school. I guess it is better for the cattle when it stays cold as it doesn’t get muddy. I sure hope you do good on the cattle this year as it’ll be the last time you’ll be able to feed as large a bunch.
I guess it was the right thing to do to sell the horses if they were eating their heads off. Is the team of old white mules all you have in the horse line now? Whatever happened to old Joe.
Well, I’m still figuring on coming home this summer. I don’t know yet whether it’ll be on schedule or a month or so later. I think I’ll still make it, though before winter starts again. I sure hope so.
Its getting chilly here as we haven’t any stoves and I guess I’ll have to go to bed to keep warm. I have a light rigged up so I can read in bed. That’s a good deal.
I hope you are all well. I’m fine, considering this climate for 24 months.
Feb. 3, 1945
I received your birthday card on a very appropriate day–on my birthday. All the celebrating I did was to go on guard that night. That’s my fourth birthday now, in the service.
Dorothy has some snap shots of me that were taken during the summer. I sent her the negatives and thought she would give you a print from them. Not having a camera or film myself, I couldn’t get many pictures. If I’d had them I sure could have gotten lots of interesting pictures from over here.
I’m glad that you don’t have to do much more than chores this winter. It should be sort of a change and rest not to have to worry about the other place.
It looks like Pete Burns has stalled off now until he’s above the age bracket where the army doesn’t need him. I think that’s a dirty trick, since his brother has to go and has a family. Some people, though don’t have any conscience when it comes to saving their own skin.
Our morale has gone up recently as several of the boys from around here that came over at the same time have gone home and others are leaving shortly. So, if everything worked out like it looks like it’s going to, I’ll get home in the spring. That makes me feel more hopeful as I was beginning to feel sort of doubtful about it. I had known some to be over here as long as thirty months.
We are being entertained tonight by music from our amplified phonograph. We have a handy radio man who rigged it up. A record sounds like it’s coming from the radio. It helps cheer up the lonesome evenings over here.
As I sit here and smoke my pipe, I can just see the two of you sitting in the living room reading. It’s funny after being away from home awhile, a person can visualize those old familiar scenes just like it was only yesterday. I think I’m going to be a home loving body from now on. I’ll have to close for this time.
Feb. 11, 1945
Here it is the 11th already. Seems like the time sure flies now, that I’m so busy. I have this afternoon off, it being Sunday, and I get the afternoon off one time and the morning the next. We even sometimes have to work at night if necessity calls for it. So a half day off is quite welcome.
I received your letter of the 21st of January this week. I’m surprised to hear that Uncle Elbert [Clements] is working in Hawaii. I’m glad he likes it. Maybe he’ll get a new lease on life now. Lots of the fellows that have been in Hawaii have liked it. It sure must be nicer than the country over here.
It seems hard to realize that Harold Clements is old enough to be out of high school. He and some other kid is the same age. I can’t remember who it is, unless it’s Val Adam Jr.
It certainly be fine, if I could get located in the States, but I haven’t much hopes of it until after the war with Germany is finished. The present system has been to give the boys a 21 day furlough at home and then ship them to another theater. It’s beginning to look like I’m just going to be an old army man. If I’d started out when I was eighteen, I’d have some time in by now. It wouldn’t have been so hard to take either, then. I sure don’t intend to stay in any longer than necessary. Even at that, it’s going to be kind of late to get a fresh start in life, especially if I have to pile up two more years overseas after this. I sure hope that I get to a better theater than this has been. Another two years, like the last two, would about drive a person nuts.
You have the wrong slant on an only child being held in the States for the duration. That is in the event that one or more sons have been killed in action and in order to spare the last son; he’s either left in the States or sent to a theater where there’s no action.
Well, we got our weekly roundup this afternoon, so I guess I’ll sign off and read the news in it.
Hope you are all well.
P. S. I’m sending some Chinese folding money.
Feb 18, 1945
Here it is Sunday morning and my morning off. Next Sunday I’ll have the afternoon off and Russell Scott is supposed to come pay me a visit then. I guess I didn’t tell you that the other day, I got a letter from Carl Getz and he gave me Russell’s address. From the address I know of an outfit of that number. The first person I saw from that outfit, I inquired if there was a Scott there, and he said, sure, he knew him. He said he’d bring him down the first opportunity. One morning a couple of days later, Russell walks in and we shake hands. I was so busy, that we had to talk in between times, except finding a date for him to come down next Sunday afternoon when I’m off. It seems he had something to interfere with his coming this morning.
It seems good to see someone from around home after all this time. Of course, he looks like another GI, but he’s still someone I knew before I knew the army. I sure wish I could see Gene Parker before coming home. There’s not much chance of doing that, though, unless I could happen to make a trip into China and he’d happen to be at the right place at the right time.
It’s sure cool here in the barracks here this morning. the sun outside is nice and warm. This is about the coldest place I ever slept in, I believe. It’s so big and there’s nothing but mosquito net around sounds [?] and the damp air comes right in. I use all my blankets, sleep with my pants, socks and heavy undershirt on to keep warm. During the day after the sun gets up a person starts peeling off, and if he’s right out in the sun, he peels right off to the skin. The temperature doesn’t get low enough to freeze (in fact I haven’t seen any freezing weather since I left home), but the air is so damp when the sun is not shining. I much prefer actual cold weather. A person can wear enough clothes to keep warm then.
It seems the Nixon family, including the in-laws (some of them), have managed to escape the realities of war. Maybe it’s all right to keep out of it, if you’re smart enough, but it’ll never look right to me. In some ways, I wish I would start out fresh in some new community, as I’ll always be more or less of an outsider. There seems to be plenty around home that have avoided being called and there’ll always be friction between the ex-servicemen and the others.
It sounds like your hens are doing all right regardless of the cold weather. I’d sure like to have some of those fresh eggs to eat.
About my pictures, I was quite a bit thinner then than now, because it was hot weather and I always lose weight then. Of course, the fellow standing next to me is a 200 pounder, and is a little bit larger than I. That fellow is Fred Bratton, the fellow that Dorothy and I went to see the Sunday after we were married. We’ve been together now for three years and he’s about the closest buddy I guess I’ve ever had.
We’ve been through a lot together. I get Christmas and letters from his folks. You couldn’t find any nicer people.
You are mistaken about the mustache being gone. I still have it and have shaved it off only once in over three years, and that was when on maneuvers, and then I let it grow right back out. Anymore it seems as much a part of me as an eyebrow. I’d feel naked without it. the Jap flag was a borrowed one. The rifle is a Jap one, that Fred acquired.
Fred Bratton [left] and Dad with Japanese rifle & flag
I think I’ll go to church after a while. It’s quite a little ride from here. It’s held in a stone chapel that was spared from the war except for one end, a few window glasses, and the roof. the roof has been covered over with tarp. Another church not so far from it was pretty well shot up. There isn’t much left of the rest of the town, as it was really blown up.
Editor’s note: The previous paragraph was Dad’s first mention of war destruction.
Well. I’ll have to close for now. I hope you are well.
Feb 24, 1945
I received your letter of Feb. 4th a couple of days ago. I did pretty good this week on letters. In all, I heard from Dorothy, Gene Parker, Viola Bigelow, and Helen Barnett.
Helen wrote a V-letter, and didn’t say much, except she said that Carla was a big girl now, and was two years old in November which makes a person realize how time flies. Viola was in California in December during Christmas with Vincent. She said it didn’t seem like Xmas as she went swimming at Long Beach. I spent a couple of Christmases in California myself, so I know how it is. Vincent is at Pearl Harbor now.
Gene said that he had talked to a fellow that had heard of my outfit. I’m expecting to see Russell Scott tomorrow afternoon as he talked like he’d come to see me then.
I guess that’s about the first of my letters that was opened by the army examiner as I never heard about it. I’ve only received one so far that was opened in the same way and that was almost two years ago. It was one of Dorothy’s letters. They spot check then and very seldom get the same person’s mail.
How old is Uncle Pres’s baby girl, now? I’m sure getting behind the times. I’m sorry to hear that Uncle Pres is selling off his cows. If he doesn’t have feed for them thought it’s about all he can do I guess. I wonder what kind of job he’s figuring on getting in St. Louis? He’s getting sort of old for a job like that. He’s sure had a tough time of trying to keep things together and raise a family. It looks like I might be in the same boat as I’m getting such a late start.
Myrtle Rigsbey is sure having a tough time of it.
I didn’t know the Ida Lockyer was sick. Edgar [local grocery store proprietor] must be having a tough time of it trying to run the store himself. Everyone has their troubles, I guess.
Grandpa Adam [Great-Grandfather] must be getting pretty well up in his eighties by now. This winter has been a tough one for old people as it’s been so cold.
Well , that’s about all I have to say this time, I guess. I’m pretty busy nowadays. Hope you are surviving the cold weather OK.