Oct. 11, 1944
Since my last letter to you, I have received two from you, one from Mrs. Roussey, and one from Fred. Also, I received a package from you. It was, I believe, when you sent it, a strong wooden box. I am certainly glad that you had put string around it, as all of the nails had pulled loose. The sides of the box were sliding back and forth over each other. The string wasn't sufficient to prevent the sides from sliding far enough to make openings in the box. I don't know whether anything was missing or not, so I'll tell you just what it contained: three boxes of chocolates, one box of candy-coated nuts, and a puzzle of blocks. Was there supposed to be anything else in the box? I read Pappy's letter, which was a continuation of yours. Did he locate a boat motor yet? Yep, he sure must have a pretty good job. Better tell him to save his money for after the war.
I read your clipping concerning the demobilization plan. It sure looks good on paper, but we know that part of it is untrue. It says something about there not being enough boats to take the boys back to the States who are now eligible under the 18 months rotation plan. That's a lie. Boats bring troops and equipment over continually. What do you think they carry on their return trip? Well, it so happens that they carry sandbags for ballast. What do you think of that? Boy! As soldiers, we can sure see how they pull the wool over the general public's eyes. After the war, or after some of the soldiers from this theater get back to the States, Gen. MacArthur won't be the big and glorious hero which the public thinks he is. Soldiers will tell you a few things. We, the soldiers, call him "Dugout Doug." [William Manchester's biography American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 refutes this characterization. The general repeatedly placed himself in harm's way, to the dismay of those around him. - Ed.] One outfit cancelled their war bonds 100% because of something that I cannot now tell you about. [In Studs Terkel's book The Good War, a soldier named Peter Bezich claimed that MacArthur had a massive "palace" built for himself while his frontline troops were living on "one-third rations." (Read an excerpt at Google Books.) However, according to Manchester, the residence at Hollandia was arranged by subordinates, without the general's knowledge or approval, and he only spent four nights there. - Ed.] In summing up what I have just written, the Army's rotation plan is just something to console the friends and parents of the overseas boys. It exists theoretically only - not actually. How would you feel if you were in Darwin and New Guinea for over 30 months and are being set for further combat duty? Some of the boys are in just such a situation and can see no hopes of going home. One of our officers has been overseas about 25 mos. and he cannot even manage to get back. If officers cannot, what chance to you think the common enlisted man has? True, the Army did allow a quota of men to return to the U.S., but on leave only. They have to come back to New Guinea, such as C. Ashley [first name Chauncy - Ed.]. Well, so much for that.
Read the clipping of the Baltimore Sun. Yvonne's drawing of New Guinea was good. How does she like her Sunday school class? Fred [Roussey] told me in his letter that he just got out of the hospital. He had dengue fever, the same as I. Gus [Fetting] is in the tank part of the infantry somewhere in Italy. Well, in the last week, I have received four shots. One for tetanus, one for typhoid, another for cholera, and one vaccination for smallpox. I still as yet have to take another vaccine for typhus. Right now my arms, head, and teeth ache. It should wear off soon though. These are what they call periodic booster shots. I had them all once before. George Harmening is on the Gilbert Islands and is supposed to be back in the States by October sometime. Maybe at this moment he is in Irvington. So, the Marine Corps has finally ended Philip Demario's government-sponsored vacation. Too bad. He was only in the States about a year and only got home about "umpteen" times. Yes, it's too bad that he has had it so rough. My heart bleeds for him and it hurts me deeply to see him sent overseas - so soon, too. I wish that I had had it as rough as he.
I am glad that you made out O.K. with the sunglasses [requested in September 5, 1944, letter - Ed.]. Well, the other night my squadron had two movie premieres. (We have a sound movie machine in the outfit.) One picture was called Devotion. It was good acting, but I don't care for drama. It will be released in the States in 1945. [It was eventually released in April 1946. - Ed.] I liked the other picture better. Oh yes, about the other picture. It was taken by I and another fellow with our movie cameras. We developed it ourselves, too. Although there was no sound to it, the boys all enjoyed the show very much. It was nice for them to see aerial photographs of the base and moving pictures of themselves at work. Needless to say, most of the film will be restricted and will not pass censorship. So, I don't know just yet what I will be able to send you. Have you sent me the dimensions of the projector reel yet? In all, we had about 700 feet of film. You can realize just how much work we put into it, when I tell you that it takes two hours and forty minutes to develop one 45-foot roll. After the development of each roll, we spliced them (his and my film) together. We then showed the results to the boys. I think on the whole that it was a success, even though one scene was spliced into the complete roll upside down.
Enclosed are some more pictures. Picture #1 is one which Mrs. Roussey sent me showing Fred (standing) and another boy. [See below. - Ed.] As you know, he is on Saipan island. There isn't anything much to say about the other pictures. Also enclosed, if the censor allows it to pass, you will find some propaganda leaflets which we drop by airplane. Two are addressed to the New Guinea natives (some can read, as they went to a missionary school) and the large one is for Jap soldiers. They are a little dirty and wrinkled, as I got them out of a crashed bomber of ours. Well, and so goes the news - so until next time, cheerio -