Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).
March 14, 1944
Somewhere in New Guinea
Since my last letter to you, I have received a Valentine card and a letter from you dated February 17th. Also, received a New Year's card from Phus and a forwarded Christmas card from Etta Smith. I am glad that you have finally received the Jap shells and hand grenade for souvenirs. I have in a previous letter told you what I wanted for my birthday. It particularly doesn't make any difference whether I receive the things on time or not. Time up here doesn't mean much. One day is about the same as the next. Sometimes it slips our minds as to just what month it is. The term "fuzzy-wuzzy" is a slang word given to all the natives by the Yanks and Aussies. It was derived from their type of hair, it usually looking like a worn-out mop with a reddish tint on top of a mass of black fuzz. No, I haven't received the copies of the pictures yet and I won't be surprised if I ever do because of certain recent events. All of the mail, I actually know, doesn't get through to us.
A couple times a week, we have movies at one camp or another on the base. Once in a while, the infantry band plays for us. Incidentally, the members of the band act as stretcher bearers during the actual fighting. Well, since my last letter, things have been practically the same. Saw three more Jap prisoners. The infantry killed, it is said, about thirty others, but saved these three for questioning. We have been bombed some more times. At one time we were bombed four nights out of five. The next morning, everyone looks over the scattered pieces of shrapnel. One bomb a long time ago was found to contain bottle caps, nails, glass, and razor blades - of American make. The other day, a squadron of our planes landed here all shot up. They had just returned from a dogfight with a squadron of Zeros. We lost two planes. The Japs lost twelve. A pretty good score. One of the planes made a crash landing here. The pilot wasn't hurt. Do you remember me telling you of the pilot with all of the Jap planes to his credit - twenty-two to be exact? Well, he got shot down while on a strafing mission over a Jap air base. [Probably meaning Neel Kearby. See photos below. - Ed.] Well, it's all in the game, I guess. A pilot cannot be lucky all of the time. One of my friends about a week ago was lost. The plane which he was in was last seen out over the Pacific Ocean. That was a week ago. Well, I have about half of my required combat time in now. Maybe I'll be home for Christmas. We had steak and fresh eggs today - the first time in over a month. Incidentally, the egg crate was marked "Packed in 1939." Well, this is just a short letter - nothing much to say - except that I am still O.K. - up to today - anyway. So, until next time - again soon.
Neel Kearby's plane "Fiery Ginger" on the runway, probably at Saidor Airfield. The 22 "kills" painted on the side of the plane was
his total for the war. If that's him in the cockpit, this might be one of his last photos. He was himself shot down on March 5, 1944.
Colonel Neel Kearby's P-47, named "Fiery Ginger" after his wife Virginia. One of the top flying aces of the Pacific
Theater - notice the 22 "kills" painted on the side of his plane - he was himself shot down on March 5, 1944.
Another photo of Neel Kearby's "Fiery Ginger II" plane. The 22 "kills" marked on the side of the plane was his total
for the war, before being shot down himself. So these may have been the very last photos taken of his plane.
A soldier in New Guinea poses with the P-47 flown by Dick Rowland. This was "Miss Mutt II / Pride of Lodi, Ohio," the second of several
"Miss Mutt" planes that Rowland flew. See this blog article for more background. "Miss Mutt III" is the next photo below.
"Miss Mutt III" / "Pride of Lodi Ohio" - a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt - on the runway in New Guinea, circa 1943-44. This was
the third "Miss Mutt" plane flown by Dick Rowland. The eight "kills" painted under the cockpit was his total for the war..
Planes on runway in New Guinea, 1943.
Vultee A-31 Vengeance Navy dive bombers on the runway, probably in New Guinea.
NOW AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK!
The Kindle book includes the letters; all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; complete text of the U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia,” which soldiers heading Down Under were given to read; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.
This page established: November 11, 2018
Last updated: February 23, 2023
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