January 23, 1945: Dad gets a letter from Joe Damusis, a fellow that he struck up a friendship with early in his Army career. From the contents of the letter, it seems that Joe is stationed at Great Bend, Kansas. Joe indicated that his group, the “4503d is definitely being turned into an outfit full of overseas returnees and men physically unfit for overseas.” Joe expects that he will be in another outfit “…by the end of February.” Joe brings Dad up to speed on some of the news from Great Bend a reflects on some current war news.
As far as the news from Eastern Europe, Joe makes a remarkably prescient comment, “The news in Europe looks good tonight. Sure would like to see it end by the end of this month, Russia’s helping us a lot at present, but I personally don’t trust that country. The way it looks now, I doubt weather Poland, Lithuania or any of the other Baltic States will get their freedom from Russia, and Britain and American won’t be able to put up a ‘stink’ about this since Russia did most of the housecleaning along there.”
In terms of what is happening on base, Joe relates “We had a treat here just about a week and a half ago. Yep, it was Bob Hope and company in person. Maybe I mentioned this to you in my last letter or at least told you that he was coming. All I know is that every letter I wrote I couldn’t help mentioning Hope and team. A show like that comes to Great Bend once in a lifetime. He really was tops. Frances Langford looked much better in person then on the screen. Her figure and hair are beautiful. Vera Vague and Jerry Colonna were funny once again. A good time was had by all.”
Joe mentions that they are setting up several committees at the non-commissioned officers club, including “a Publicity Committee…and Entertainment Committee and Membership Committee.” He says of the club, “It’s about the only place on the Base and town that’s worth goin’ to. They have beer, music and hot sandwiches; and since I like all three, I’m a member and up there quite often.”
Apparently, in his last letter to Joe, Dad must have mentioned some memories from the time they were in Miami Beach for Basic Training. Joe replies, “Just like you, I’ll take Miami Beach any day. I’ll never forget that first view I got of Miami Beach form the 8th floor of the Fleetwood Hotel. It was right around sunset time – some day we’ll have to get our wives-to-be in an airplane (preferably a jet propelled plane) and head for Florida.”
Joe signs off, “So long, Tony, and write.”
Below is a short documentary on Bob Hope and the work that he did with the USO entertaining the troops.