Attu: June 24, 1943

I hope that by now you have received some leters from me more recent than the one of April 29. Starting with this letter I am going to start numbering each one, so that you can know whether all of them are reaching you. I have written quite a few in the last 3 weeks.

Censorship regulations having been relaxed to a certain extent I can now tell you that I have been in combat against the Japs and have seen plenty of action. I may later be able to locate the guy who took a picture of a gang of us after 3 weeks without shaving, washing, brushing teeth or combing hair. If you see the picture you probably won’t be able to recognize me. That Cyrano de Bergerac nose may give you a clue, however, in spite of the thick layer of mud with which it is camouflaged.

I shall never forget the day we first contacted the enemy. Many times at camp I have heard shells going over head, but that certainly does little to prepare one for the time when a determined enemy is directing shells at you —as fast as he can —with deadly intent to kill. I had only half-finished digging my fox-hole when an explosion was heard about 500 yards to the right of us.

Our own artillery had been firing all morning and when I heard the explosion I assumed it was caused by the firing of one of our guns. I continued digging. A few seconds later another explosion was heard. This one was much louder and much closer. Someone yelled, “They’re going the wrong way!” (Meaning that it was an enemy shell and not our own.) Everyone hit the ground. I crawled into my very inadequate fox-hole and hugged the ground, in spite of the 4 inches of water in which I was lying. Not too soon either. A third shell landed and a cruel, razor-edged piece of shrapnel came bouncing over the ground, landing about 5 yeards from the fox-hole next to me. I thought to myself — “So this is it, this is war.” At the same time I cursed the ancestors who were responsible for the long nose which made it difficult to get closer to the ground. It seemed to make such a difference at the time. My heart was pounding violently — threatening to tear itself loose it seemed. Although my face was flushed and hot, I was shivering — whether from the cold or from fear I cannot say. It was probably fear, because the intense cold was completely forgotten.

The candle-light grows dim and flickering. The sputtering wick is about to expire — and so must this letter. I will continue the story in my next letter which I will write tomorrow.

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