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Sticking with Ordnance

Posted by on July 2, 2014

May 9 & 10, 1943. Two letters from Dad to home. Writing from the Smoky Hill Army Air Field in Salina Kansas, all is well. With the 9th being a Sunday, Dad is in the office after going to Mass. Since “there isn’t much doing” he’s decided to write home.

It is Mother’s Day, so ”Mass was said…for all of the mothers living and dead of the servicemen on the base so that included mama.” Dad also reports that on Monday Mass will be said for “the relatives of the servicemen…of the 376th…so it will be for all of you at home as well.” He returns to the day being Mother’s Day and says that mama “may depend on me for the rest of her life.”

In other news, “Stanley did tell me that he is expecting a promotion, and I myself have been told that I will be here about 2 or 3 months and will move out as a chief clerk which would carry a rating of Staff Sergeant or thereabout.”  As far as other avenues that may have been open to him, he has explored the Army Specialist Training Program and concluded “You get a choice but they use you to their advantage. I thought that I might have gotten into automotive engineering or electrical or radio, but that would be entirely up to them to decide and my background doesn’t exactly help me any as I had no experience in that type of work which I would like to do. For the present I am sticking it out with Ordnance.”

As far as being in Ordnance he writes, “When other fellows at this base hear that we are Ordnancemen, they look at us and say we’ll never see the other side, but on that I have no confirmation. We are practically outcasts of the Air Corps as we go about our own business without the Air Corps administration but our own, and yet we are connected to them and they service our meals and do draws for K.P. Whatever it is, it is all bawled up. I understand their setup but to explain it to someone is another thing.

He notes that he will be at Smoky Hill at the time that he hits his six month mark and “I will be able to use my 7-day furlough and try to annex a 24 or 36 hour leave to it so I guess around the end of July I’ll be home.” He further expects that when he finishes up at Smoky Hill in another 2 to 3 months he will be sent to another base to head Ordanance there. From what he hears it may be in Nebraska but he says, “I’ll believe it when the time comes.”

As far as the events of the war he comments that “the news on the radio is getting better and better all the time now that Africa has been cleared of the German stink.” By May 13th (four days after Dad writes this letter) Rommel will have surrendered in Africa and Allied forces would take 250,000 German and Italian forces prisoner.

On May 10th, Dad writes that he has been transferred from 376th Base Ordnance to the 21st Bombardment Wing. He writes, “The only difference is that I am on a different end of the camp where we have a smaller mess hall.” He also mentions that he may end up in Topeka, Kansas after this assignment at Smoky Hill and that his “chances for a quicker rating may be better now”. He says that being part of a wing, they take care of several squadrons.

Insignia of the 21st Air Division, originally the 21st Bombardment Wing. The 21st has been activated and deactivated numerous times over the years.

Insignia of the 21st Air Division, originally the 21st Bombardment Wing. The 21st has been activated and deactivated numerous times over the years.

Click Here to learn more about the history of the 21st Air Division.

He then moves on to “the important part” to let his family know that he received the picture of baby Theresa-Marie “and she looks beautiful. The more I look at [the picture] the more I can recall how Theresa-Marie actually looks.” He signs off, “God bless each and every one of you!”

Got about ten minutes? Check out this newsreel on the defeat of the Axis forces in Africa.

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