Feb. 21, 1944
Somewhere in New Guinea
Since my last letter to you, I have received the package of writing paper and envelopes. Thanks. Also, a Valentine card from Yvonne. Also, two letters from Phus. Tell her that so far I have received three copies of Reader's Digest and now they are somewhere among the boys of the outfit being read. I have finished them, so I passed them on. Phus asked me what the most beautiful word in the world was. Tell her that my choice is the word "furlough." Ma, I received two letters from you containing the miniature copies of the Baltimore Sun paper ["service edition" - Ed.] and Yvonne's school papers of the spelling and arithmetic tests. Also, the sheet of music which Yvonne was practicing. She must be plenty smart to be learning music already and to be on the honor roll each month. Phus said that she (Yvonne) passed to the high third grade. Maybe she will be finished high school before I get back. (That's a joke, of course - at least I certainly hope so anyway.) I guess that Daddy's work is becoming harder on him as time goes on. Well, I'll be back again to help out as soon as the war ends. I am glad that you received the Japanese coins and my cablegram [sent January 5, 1944 - Ed.], even though it was late. That letter which you sent to A.P.O. 723 I am sure that I'll eventually get, as the postal authorities know where all the outfits are. [See his March 21, 1944 letter. - Ed.] Incidentally, the letters "A.S.N." mean "Army Serial Number." As I told you in a previous letter, I did receive the wallet. I haven't yet received the other roller skate. Oh well, naturally I'm in no hurry for that. No, your letters to me are not censored. Please send me two rolls of 620 films. No, I haven't met up with any headhunters. All of the natives are friendly, although their sharp spears could easily kill a person. I guess they respect our firearms. I have two spears and a native comb for souvenirs. I will try to send them to you eventually. Do you remember the watch that I brought overseas with me? Well, after being broke for five months, I finally got it fixed. (The watch was broke - not me.) An instrument technician in my squadron was a watch repairman in civilian life and he had the necessary parts and tools with him. So, now my watch is as good as new. And, if you haven't done so already, don't buy me another for my birthday. If, however, you already have, send it to me anyway. I won't have any trouble selling the one that I now have.
Well, it rained hard again last night. One of the boys swore that he saw a periscope going up and down our company street. It, however, upon closer inspection proved to be an optical illusion.
You always seem to worry about me having enough money. Well, I'll try to explain just how valueless money is to us up here. From one payday to another, the favorite pastime at night is gambling. Anything from cards to shooting dice is played. Right now, in the mess hall where I now write, there is an average of seven to twelve players per game and then more spectators standing up around each game watching the hundreds of dollars (in pounds, of course) reluctantly being passed from hand to hand during the game. Along about the middle of the month, all of the money is in the possession of maybe one to five lucky boys. But what happens then? Does the gambling stop? Heck, no. The boys with the money lend it all out again and the favorite pastime continues at full strength as ever. It's of course continual, as you can see. Some of the boys who send their money home each payday gamble with cigarettes instead of money. It's nothing for a hundred and fifty dollars to be lost by a boy one night and the same boy the next night win back over two hundred dollars. So, since I still do not gamble, money is only so much paper to me. I have about thirty dollars saved up in case I ever get another furlough or rest leave. So, from now on, each payday I'll send all of my money home. There is nothing whatever to spend money on here in the jungle. You asked me what I wanted for my birthday. (Gee, I'm getting to be an old man fast.) Well, my great need is soap. The only other thing that I need is more soap. My squadron cannot seem to obtain any. Do you remember that tooth that broke off and I got it pulled out later? Well, last week the tooth on the other side just like it broke off. I went to the Army dentists and they pulled it out. Tomorrow I'll have to get two fillings put in. Last week, I walked down to the Pacific Ocean and went swimming (or bathing - no can swim yet). The water was plenty salty and the waves plenty big. I had a pretty good time. Have you heard the latest German radio report? It goes something like this:
|"Large formations of American bombers appeared of [over?] central Germany today. Nazi fighters rose and intercepted them. None of our fighters were lost, but missing is one German city."
The other day, I stood and watched our planes in the not too far distance dive bomb the Japs. Later, columns of smoke appeared above the spot. Oftentimes at night on our shortwave receiver, we hear reports about ourselves. Most of the things reported, we of course already know about. The pilots give us the latest first-hand accounts of their missions. One night two weeks ago, a Jap plane got picked up by three of our searchlights. I believe that every gun on the base let go at once. Boy, what a racket! Streams of red tracer bullets all converged toward the same spot high above us. The Jap flew into a low hanging cloud and I guess got away. I received a nice letter from Margie yesterday and her picture. [See below. - Ed.] She seems to be becoming prettier. She asked me for a picture of myself. As I do not have any of myself with me, maybe you could send me some copies of snapshots which I had taken in the past. Pick out the ones which you think are the best. Well, that finishes up another letter. So, until next time -
P.S. Remember, soap for my birthday and that is just all that I need.