The story of Tarawa

December 11, 1943

Do the people at home really think the “war is over”? Here in Hawaii there is a much clearer realization that regardless of the collapse of Germany–our real fight is in the Pacific against Japan–and that the road to victory is a long and hard one. How can there be such complacency when the story of Tarawa is so widely known? There will be many more–and bloodier Tarawas before the war is over.

A Guy Named Joe

May 18, 1944

And here–it’s the same old routine. I’m still working in the hero department–and going to the movies almost every night. Ronight it’s a fairly good one for a change–“Song of Bernadette”. Yesterday I saw Spencer Tracy in “A Guy Named Joe”. Don’t waste your time. They should get wise to the fact that soldiers aren’t interested in war stories and imitation heroes.

Queen of the Battle

August 23, 1944

I forgot to answer your question about the Combat Infantry badge. It is awarded to all infantryman [sic] who have been in combat with forward echelon, and whose recor is otherwise good. The theory behind the $10 pay raise was to recognize the fact that in spite of all other arms and services, the infantry is still the “queen” of the battle–and is the decisive force. Artillery; air & navy bombardment still don’t win battles or war.

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Incidentally, speaking of politics, all men in the 7th Div. were given a copy of Roosevelt’s speech, the one he made during the recent review. Would you call that a political move?

Oahu

May 3, 1944

Well, if Churchill + Roosevelt + Stalin think it is time for post-war planning, I guess we may as well make a few plans of our own. Much as I would like to take a year vacation, I’m afraid I’ll have too much work to permit it. However, you and Willie + I are certainly going to celebrate for 2 or 3 months. After that, however, I might accept your offer of a year vacation while you go to work and bring home the bacon. I may decide to do some writing and that, of course, will bring no immediate financial dividends, so you better practise up on your shorthand + typing Mrs. Secretary.

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Surprised to hear that you thought I was serious about wanting the war to last long enough so that I could be a 1st Sgt. You didn’t really think that, did you [?] As for being busted, don’t be surprised I it happens one of these days. The boys in the platoon are a pretty spirited + independent bunch when in garrison. In action you can always depend on them to do the impossible + I love ’em all, but in garrison they’re always getting into trouble when I have to intervene on their behalf so regularly, it puts me in the dog house too. You didn’t know that Capt. Clarke tried twice to have me “shanghaied” to another outfit, but Major Beatty stopped it. Now Captain Clarke is out, so maybe I can relax for a while.

As for citations, several of the boys have been recommended for work done on Attu. Maj. Beatty even recommended me. If you were to read his account of my exploits you would have nightmares for a week. I don’t know where he got his information. I tried to talk him out of forwarding the recommendation, but I don’t know whether he did or not.

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Medals have certainly lost their value in the eyes of G-I’s who see them pinned on the chests of so many officers who spent their whole time hiding in fox holes. I’ve heard a whole battalion laugh out loud during a formal ceremony when one of its officers marched forward to be decorated for “gallantry in action.”

Oahu, Territory of Hawaii

April 16, 1944

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April 16, 1944 Oahu, Territory of Hawaii

After men have been in combat, they become very intolerant of the minute regulations which were imposed on them in garrison in the States. There, every detail was regulated, including the position of each toilet article—and it was really a pain in the neck. In modern warfare, where individual initiative & intelligence is so important, the army makes a mistake in attempting to impose a deadly uniformity—suppressing all individuality and treating the men as through they were morons.

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As for O.C.S.—I think I’ll forget all about it. Some of the guys who have already passed the OCS Board for Infantry have been waiting for over 5 months now with no results. Besides, I don’t think Id care to be a 2d Looie in a Line Company. A good one usually gets killed, and a poor one gets his men killed—and I don’t care to be in either position. If the war lasts long enough, I may become a 1st Sgt. Or a Master Sergeant—and the pay is about as good as that of a 2d Lt. & the prestige is even higher. So don’t forget to pary for the war to last at least 5 more years.

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Territory of Hawaii

April 8, 1944

My latest assignment is manufacturing heroes! Co. Moore, who is in charge of awards and citations has drafted me to rewrite the recommendations that have been fowarded by company commanders. My job is to rewrite their accounts–using clear and concise language–in a dramatic & interesting manner–so as to convince the Board that an award is deserved. He goes around telling everybodt that I really know how to use the King’s English, so I guess my efforts must be proving satisfactory.

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Territory of Hawaii, Oahu

April 6, 1944

As for the Adjutant General’s Office, the old farm was closed some time ago. No more applications are being accepted. The next time someone tells you that men with combat experience are given preference in the various officer’s schools, I hope you will correct them. I know that many of my friends have gone into the J.A.G.D. without even completing basic training. Major Beatty–our S-2, who gave me a splendid recommendation–was almost flabbergasted when I told him my application was rejected for “lack of necessary qualifications.” Of course, that could anything including that the Board didn’t liked the way I combed my hair. As you say, the rejection wasn’t morale shattering for me either. I’ve got a million dollars’ worth of wood will and friendships here and would really hate to leave it behind.

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Territory of Hawaii

April 1, 1944

No shortage of onions here–by golly. I had one for lunch that must have weighed at least 1/2 lb. It was even too much for me. Think I’ll stay with the Army until you can assure me a reasonable supply of onions at home.

I’m now in first place in rifle marksmanship. Yesterday, for the 1st time in my Army career I shot a “possible” — which means all the shots hit the bullseye. This should convince you that I’m in pretty good physical shape — at least eyes and nerves are O.K. anyhow.

Except for the work on the rifle range, however, I have once more become a white civilian worker — with desk telephone, typewriter and all the other paraphernalia. In fact, I have been working in the S-2 office since returning from Kwajalein. I would much rather be working out in the field with the rest of the platoon, however. I can’t get acclimated to office routine any more. I’m affraid the prospect of returning to desk and practicing law is not very appealing. The body exercises I get now is walking to & from the mess-hall & the Sunday volley-ball game. I certainly feel stale without more physical activity. Nevertheless, I’m in pretty good shape — except for being terribly lonesome for you and Wm — cause I love you very much.