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A Beggar’s Meal

Posted by on August 11, 2017

November  5 and 6, 1945. Dad writes home from Guam where he is stationed with the 331st Bomb Group. He acknowledges that the weather back home in Albany, New York stating, “I know it must be kind of cold up there by now but I’m making it up for all of you down here.”

He also references his brother’s discharge in that he “got that good old letter from ‘Mr.’ Stanley Murawski.” He sees his own discharge as “just a matter of time and [it] seems like a lot of time to me.” He writes about a rumor that his group is “going to the Philippines 2 Jan 46, while fellows with 45 points or two years services are supposed to stay here until they are returned to the states for discharge. They are screening out fellows with 50 points now…”  As far as other military matters are concerned, he writes that “we can wear the American Defense Ribbon, and the Victory Ribbon in addition to the ribbon we got for overseas service…”

Photos of the American Defense Ribbon (top) and the Victory Ribbon (bottom).

He seems to have a lot more free time with a combination of the work winding down and his getting an extra clerk in the office.  As he says, “We’ve got a lot of help now which means we take off at all hours of the day. Between the two squadron engineering clerks and status board clerks, we’ve got a racket. …It’s 3:30 now and within half an hour I’m gonna leave this place as if it’s on fire.”

Event though things seem to be winding down, the Chapel on base is still in the process of being built. The Chaplain apparently issued a warning to the men that “if some of us don’t at least put in 15 nails into the building, we won’t feel right sitting in it when it’s completed. Looks as though I’ll have to…drive in a couple of nails.”

Undated photo of the 331st Bomb Group Chapel on Northwest Field. Photo credit: www.315bw.org, Rider Collection

He spends some time on the 6th wrapping up the letter and details an update that they got from the Group Executive Officer update that was given at the group outdoor theater. The big news is that men with 50 points “will be on their way” by the first of December with half of them being discharged in January and “the rest would be home by April according to the plans which have been laid out by the U.S. Strategic Air Force Hq. in the Pacific.”

He also relays other news from the group Executive Officer, specifically that their “chow may improve as our Surgeons here have written the Surgeon General in Washington, D.C. that the nutritive value of our food is insufficient  as has been evidenced by the loss of weight by most of us here. Maybe twice a week we have food fit for humans.”  He explains that mostly their diet is canned food “because of the strike at Seattle, Washington which has tied up a lot of shipping to us here in the Pacific. That’s the reason they give us and it sure burns all of us up. That’s a dirty rotten trick them longshoremen are pulling on us…  It’s bad enough to be forgotten in this graveyard without making matters worse. The Navy and Marines are the best well fed bunch on this island as they don’t have to depend on a bunch of civilians in the States to send them a beggar’s meal. …We were better fed when the war was going on but now that the war is over, everybody forgets about us. …Well that covers that subject.”

After signing off, he returns for a P.S. that “They are going to have classes here. I signed up for Air Conditioning, Calculus and Automotive Electricity. I should be able to get into one of them in case they work it on a quota proposition.”

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