Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).

<- PREVIOUS LETTER September 28, 1945: Kyoto, Hiroshima, Mount Fuji
Atsugi Airfield, Honshu, Japan

Sept. 28, 1945

Hello Ma:

      You probably are worried by now after having not heard from me in quite a long time. Well, to tell the truth, this is about really the first time in over two weeks that I have had a chance to write. Another friend and I were sent about 250 miles from Atsugi to the city of Kyoto. We lived with the Japanese soldiers and civilians for over ten days. The closest Allied base was Atsugi Airfield. Although we were both armed with a .45 caliber pistol, there were times when we were scared. Can you imagine how just two American soldiers would feel in a city of over 100,000 population and on an airfield with the Japanese air corps? Ma, there is too much for me to try to tell you everything that happened while I was there. I wrote a little piece for the Squadron Pulse. [See his story “A GOOD DEAL AT KYOTO” in the September 30, 1945, issue. - Ed.] When I get home, I'll tell you the full story. It sounds like a story book the way everything happened. I had a better time there than I did at any base in the States. What we thought would be an unpleasant mission turned out to be a big vacation. Well, so much for that - more when I get home.

      Yesterday, I flew about 400 miles southwest of Atsugi Airfield. For about 20 minutes or so, we flew low over and around the city of Hiroshima. Boy! You should see what one little atomic bomb did. The framework of about 15 large buildings remain. Everything else is flat. Not even a smashed building wall remains partly standing. A better job couldn't have been done with a large steamroller. In the harbor area, boats of all types lie sunk at their docks. Subs, battleships, and a few aircraft carriers could be seen in various states of destruction.

      On the way down to Hiroshima, I had another experience which might be worth mentioning. We climbed to approximately 14 or 15 thousand feet. It was plenty cold up there above the clouds. We put the airplane into a shallow dive and gave the top of Mt. Fujiyama [Mount Fuji - Ed.] a "buzz-job." This mountain is 12,385 feet high. We circled above the small crater on top for about five minutes. It, at the time, had no snow on it, but plenty of large icicles hanging downward. I guess that I am one of the few people who has seen Mt. Fujiyama from above.

      Today, we went to Tokyo and Yokohama sightseeing. It is destroyed as much, if not more, than the city of Manila was.

      I received your letters of September 2nd and 3rd. My movie camera is a "cine" [Ciné-Kodak - Ed.] magazine loading 16mm 50 ft. movie film. I have an f/1.9 lens in addition to a three-inch telescopic lens attachment. Too bad about Natalie Bartlett. I could have predicted that a long time ago. You see, I know just how these Army boys operate. She is just one of a million or so such girls. He had his good time with her and that's all he wanted. Too bad that girls believe everything a boy tells them. Oh well, as they say, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." I shouldn't talk. How does Yvonne like her new school subjects and teachers? Mail service here is very bad. There is still no post office here. I am not able to send you any money orders for that reason. I did get paid last night. Take the money out of the bank to pay for all of my gifts from me to you and to all my friends. I'll send you money as soon as it is possible to do so.

      Enclosed is a Squadron Pulse which you will probably find rather interesting. Also, enclosed are some postcards of the city of Yokohama as it was in pre-war days.

      Well, Ma, I still do not know when I will get home. Every day brings new rumors. All so far untrue, just wishful thinking on the part of the boys. Those above 80 points are still here.

      All for now -



      Sergt. Earl Philip Reinhalter, son of Mr. and Mrs. Philip J. Reinhalter, of 4408 Frederick Avenue, who volunteered to help repair Japanese aircraft shortly after V-J day, was one of the first GI's to enter the shrine city of Kyoto.

      In an article published in his squadron's newspaper, he wrote:

      "They treated us like long lost brothers. A Jap first lieutenant helped us put our sacks together and hung up our mosquito nets. A master sergeant did our laundry. 'Sake' and various kinds of wines we also received. Nineteen Japanese factory technicians were in on the job repairing the planes which we designated.

Test Flight Described

      "The fourth day, the company gave me their chief test pilot. The fifth day saw our first Jap trainer take to the air. The test pilot was at the controls, and I was in the forward cockpit. In accordance to my visual hand signals, the pilot performed the various maneuvers.

      "Throughout the loops, snaprolls, spins, power dives and buzz jobs, the plane held together. Our first plane was a success. On the sixth day plans were laid before me showing the details of the two proposed airstrips. The seventh day found 100 to 150 civilian workers at the field, and a 6th Army general checked over the plans and okayed them.

      "I might mention that after the second day we were given an entire wing of the factory dormitory and two beds from the modern Kyoto Hotel. We were furnished with cider, not to mention the large black sedan with chauffeur. No matter where we went, salutes were continually being thrown at us."

      Sergeant Reinhalter, 23, went overseas in May, 1943, and served in Brisbane, New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon and Ie Shima. He is now at Atsugi airbase.


YANKS TAKE OVER - Signs on this tower on Atsugi airfield give notice that it is now being manned by American troops.

Post-war view of destruction in Tokyo, 1945.

Discharged Jap soldiers on the way home - Tokyo, 1945.


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.


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