Monday, January 14, 2013

Letter from Bob, January 1943

Image courtesy @son_of_sandor

Dearest Rosie:

Well, my big news is that I've made my first "kill." I see as I write that line it's a horrible way to start a letter to my wife. I nearly tore up the page and started over, but I suppose there's really no hiding what war has made of us, and you might as well know.

I'd been in a few inconclusive dogfights; the Jap Zeros can turn more tightly than our P-38s, but we're faster and can climb higher. It's taken us a while but we've finally figured out how to fight those sons of the Rising Sun. We climb above them and pounce. Our C.O. says we're falcons nabbing pigeons. And that's exactly what I did to to that Jap. I fired my guns at him while he sped beneath me. His wing shattered and the plane spun to the ground like a maple seed. I didn't see a parachute but I didn't stick around to look, either.

On a pleasanter note, I've met some interesting people here. There's a pilot by the name of Richard Bong who hails from Wisconsin and seems to have quite a knack for flying a P-38. The other fellows told me that when he was in training in California he got grounded for flying a loop around the Golden Gate Bridge, making a low-level pass down Market Street in San Francisco, and blowing a woman's laundry right off the clothesline in Oakland. Boy, would I like to have seen that! He's already gotten two kills, a Zero and a Nakajima, even though he claims he's not a good shot. I think he's just being modest the way so many from the Midwest are.

I know I haven't been much of a correspondent. My New Year's resolution is to do better, and it seems the Army's here to help. They've distributed a handy letter-writing guide, which we're supposed to pass along to our families. I'm happy to oblige, though I hardly think you need any assistance. Anyway, I wouldn't care if your letters were nothing more than weather reports - anything you've written is my most treasured possession.

Well, that's all for now. I promise I'll be writing more frequently.

All my love, Bob.