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This Isn’t the Army that Won the War

Posted by on October 22, 2017

December 10 and 14, 1945. Dad writes two letters home from Guam where he is trying to make the best of the grind and tedium of post-war life in the Pacific. He admits in his first paragraph on the tenth, “I am fine and would feel better if I were at home.”  He notes, “…not much has happened to me, but the Island of Guam is quite a source of news.”

He shares a glimmer of hope that he “…should be getting home in February, provided they reduce points to 45 and service to 3 yrs. as of 1 Feb. Already 3 ½ year men and 50 pointers have been transferred out of our outfit and are awaiting a boat.”  In his letter of the 14th he details “…the 50 pointers are leaving on a boat tomorrow.”  As far as his own discharge, he writes, “Looks like I won’t be home for Christmas after all, but here’s a date for Easter. Get that extra chair ready. I’ll probably get home just in time to help you observe Lent. If I ever fasted, I’ve done it on Guam.” He comments further “Have ma throw an extra herring on the table.”

He notes that the 16mm projector in their movie theater has been replaced by a 35 mm projector and writes, “…it’s like seeing a show at the Palace Theater…” In addition, he writes, “…they dedicated the theater ‘Brown Memorial’ after Cpl. Robert Brown on whom a 500 lb. bomb dropped as he was loading it into the bomb bay during the war. It happened prior to the week I was to pull CQ out the line. A plaque is being sent to his parents about the theater being dedicated in his memory. He was in the 356th Squadron.”

As far as the ongoing issue of the food on base, on the tenth Dad writes that it has improved. “We now get ‘chicken-a-la-king’ – we march to the line and work all morning. In the afternoon we get ground training, – lectures and close order drills, overseas, mind you! Higher headquarters has been notified that we cannot do all this on the unnutritive food we get. You can fill yourself up here and there but you don’t have much energy”

On the 14th he writes more about the food service, “For supper we had a big piece of steak and ice cream, plus dehydrated potatoes. It was a treat even though we haven’t had salt on the table for several weeks. We used to crush the salt tablets, the ones you take for heat exhaustion, but they don’t even have those any more. This certainly isn’t the Army that won the war

He also writes that he took the initiative to change some of the reporting procedures. “This morning at work I got Tee’d off and done away with written airplane status reports for all three squadron orderly rooms and operations, and me being only 357th Sq. From now on we call it in on the phone if they want it. We now only make only one written report which goes to the Gp. Hq. It’ll give us more time to sit in the office and wiggle our toes.  

Along with his letter he includes a few clippings from Navy News. Two of them about the about Japanese snipers who are still on the island, apparently unaware that the war has been over for the better part of three months. One clipping provides details about three Marines who were killed by unseen snipers. The other clipping is about five Japanese soldiers and “two ex-geisha girls” who surrendered to an MP patrol, apparently unaware that the war was over.

A clipping from the front page of the December 10, 1945 Navy News Guam edition detailing the circumstances surrounding the death of three Marines who were killed by Japanese snipers on Guam three months after the end of the War. Click on the image above to read the article in a new window.


A clipping form the December 14th Edition of the Navy News Guam Edition telling about five Japanese soldiers who surrendered to American forces on Guam more than three months after V-J Day. Click on the image above to read the article in a new window.

He also points his family to a story on the back of one of the clippings that has pictures of the local Bishop celebrating a Mass of thanksgiving for the victory in the Pacific. He comments on the picture of the locals, “You will notice the Chamorros are American-like, even better than some U.S. citizens you meet.” He then writes something that probably raises as many questions as it settles. “No, I’m not going to marry one of them even though they’d make good wives. You see, I don’t care for the Island of Guam.”

Clipping detailing the celebration of a Mass of Thanksgiving by the local Bishop.

In other news from Guam he writes, “Three evenings ago around 6:20 PM, we were outside the barracks as usual throwing up coral flak at the fruit bats that appear every day around that time, when we saw a sheet of flame south of our field (Northwest Field) followed by a reddish black dotted debris, and then a tremendous blast. It was the Engineer’s outfit’s explosives that blew up, 5 shacks of it, and they never did find the two guards that they had stationed there. At first we thought one of our planes blew up.”

Before closing his letter on the 14th he notes that he is enclosing a twenty dollar bill. Apparently there are not many places to do Christmas shopping on Guam, so he encourages his family to use the money, “…to pay for beer, liquor or anything else that would make for a happier Christmas celebration.” He continues, “…its about 11 days to Christmas so I figure I’ll start wishing you a Merry Christmas in my next several letter. As a start, Merry Christmas to you all!”

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