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The Red Cross Truck

Posted by on July 28, 2017

November 1, 1945. Dad writes two letters home from Guam where he is still stationed with the 331st Bomb Group, even though the war in the Pacific has been over for two months. He mentions that his group is not the only occupants of the island. He writes that he had the afternoon of the day before off and that he and a friend of his “toured behind our air field with a jeep. When you stand on the cliff which has been cleared of trees by dynamiting, you can see below around the shoreline the thickly wooded areas where the Japs are supposed to be hiding. The figure is around 300. It gives you the creeps; so we and the jeep got the heck out of there. It’s no fun if you don’t have a gun with you.”

He also writes that in addition to the enemy forces that are still hiding out in the forests, there are some Japanese POWs. He draws a distinction in terms of how they are fed compared to the American soldiers. “This noon we had a decent meal. We had Swiss steak and maple ice cream, the Japs, as is their usual noon meal, had two to three boxes of K rations, they get humane treatment but are not coddled.”

A typical K-Rations Supper Unit which contained canned meat product, biscuits, bouillon powder, candy, chewing gum, powdered coffee, granulated sugar, cigarettes, can opener. toilet paper and a wooden spoon. US Army Signal Corps Image, Public Domain.

He also writes about a hospitality visit that was made to their airfield by the Red Cross which included the added excitement of a film crew. “On Thursday morning…the Red Cross truck comes to the line and gives out doughnuts and coffee. Since today was their first day, here’s what happened. The truck came to the line and a big line of fellows formed by the truck. The inevitable newsreel camera man was there; so…the fellows were told to stay there while the camera man placed himself on a stand with his camera facing to where the men were. Now here’s what the Red Cross truck was supposed to do, while the men’s mouths were watering and their tongues hanging down to their ankles, the truck backed to the end of the ramp. Then it came forward like the devil out a hell, and it came toward the men the camera man let his camera grind away showing ‘the arrival of the Red Cross coffee and doughnut truck.’ If you should see it in the movies, you’ll know it was a put up job. That’s one way the Red Cross goes around getting its publicity. That’s what they hand out for civilian consumption. However, they did hand out the coffee and doughnuts. Maybe that is what counts, even though they have to put on a big show about it all.”

The ubiquitous Red Cross Clubmobile delivering coffee and doughnuts to servicemen overseas.

Dad also writes a little about the local color around camp. “We’ve got a couple of monkeys around here. We once had one in our barracks and he climbed all over the rafters. They’re not wild and they are tied with a rope around their waist. The monkey we had here was crazy about cigars. If you’d give him a pack of cigarettes, he’d open them up and throw them one by one around the room. Maybe I’ll keep one of them in my room when I get home, eh, mama? He could hold the soap for ma while ma did the washing.”

He closes, “Seems though that is all for now. God bless you and best of luck to you.”

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