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We Are Not an Occupation Force

Posted by on July 9, 2017

October 3 and 6, 1945. Dad writes two letters home from Northwest Field where he is stationed with the 331st Bomb Group and “it has been raining for the past day or so.” He specifies that he is “still on Guam” and that “we are not what you would call an occupation force, it’s just that a lot of moving is going on while we sit tight and hope we get a good break…” Even though “the war is over” and there is not much for Dad to do, he still “won’t get home until sometime around Easter”. He is looking forward to “hot water, a soft chair, bed springs and flushing toilets” and “to be able to sit down in a kitchen with your own folks at a table.” Then in a nod to his brother he writes, “I hope Stanley gets to be a civilian by Christmas as that would be one of the best presents anyone could wish for.”

He writes that “We have some Japanese prisoners doing the ditch digging for us. Although they are short, they are well build. Maybe it’s the American food in them which makes them broad and muscular. They are not so decrepit looking as the papers play them up to be. The way the newspapers describe them, you’d think a Jap was the size of a kid and a pushover… They look at you in the most curious fashion but maybe we appear to do the same to them.” 

He writes that he is looking forward to an experience with the local population. “This Sunday evening, the priests of Guam are going to hold a Holy Hour at the village of Agana so I guess I’ll go there as our Chaplain has arranged to get transportation for us. It ought to be an interesting experience; it will give me a chance to study the Chamorros at praying; I’ll write you about it. I went to church with the Poles on Sheridan Ave., with the Germans on Central Ave., negroes at St. Phillips, Italians in Auresville, Irish on Ten Broeck, Liths in Colonie, so why not the Chamorros”

While on the subject of religious observances, he writes about how, “Our Chaplain, during one of his announcements, told us how he got everything for building the Chapel legally as that was the way he wanted it built….without ‘moonlight’ requisition or bartering away with whiskey as most of the officer’s clubs have been built. Then he said how nice it would be when the Chapel would be completed and the rugs and other furnishings which were secured from the small chapel at McCook, which he said had been closed at the most opportune moment in time for us to take most of the furnishing…when we were getting ready to leave for our overseas destination.”

Before closing, his thoughts return to his finally being home and a few projects around the house that he would like to take on. “I’ve seen all types of contraptions serving as washing machines and I believe I could build one for ma in case she needed something to wash her clothes in. You can have your choice of an electric or non-electric machine. There’s also the type of washing machine you can make that will operate from the motion of a wheel on a truck.” As far as another project, he writes, “Tell pop when I get home we will have to get together and make that work bench. I’ve got some wonderful ideas…on making containers for tools as well as keeping those tools from rusting after being around the Air Corps Supply part of the Army… We’ll need quite a few two by fours, heavy lumber and plywood and about five kinds of nails… Silica gel in bags is good for keeping the moisture off the tools as it does the job here where we have salt water moisture and rain most of the time.”

Army Engineers improvise a makeshift washing machine.

He signs off, “Guess I’ll close the letter for now. God bless you and best of luck to you!”

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