Saturday, April 20, 2013

Letter From Bob, April 1943

Dearest Rosie:

Something huge just happened, and I was a big part of it, but the censors won't let me tell you what it was! You cannot imagine how hard it is to keep the secret, but I've got to trust the Army when they say there's a good reason not to tell. All I'm allowed to write is that I hope you'll read something in the papers later and think of me.

The other thing that's tough is the knowledge that it's our second wedding anniversary, and once again I'm not with you. I'm sure you've had the same thought I have - we've been apart longer than we've been together. It's not the worst thing the Japs have done from the world's point of view, but it's the worst thing they've done as far as I'm concerned.

It's been a little bit of "Old Home Week" here at the base. One of the pilots in our group, a fellow by name of Rex Barber, turns out to be a fellow Oregonian. Not from the "big city" of Portland where we were born, but a tiny town called Culver in the sagebrush country east of the mountains. Exactly why is a military secret for now, but mark my words, he'll be famous someday.

Turns out there's also a fellow from Seattle at our base. Of course the Negroes are in separate quarters from us, but out here the far corners of the world people rub shoulders more than they would back home. I got to chatting with this Al Hendrix, who tells quite a story. He was born in Vancouver, B.C. to a family of vaudeville performers who settled in Seattle. He misses his wife Lucille something awful; they were married a year ago, just three days before he shipped out to Georgia for basic training. At least you and I had six months together before I joined up! He says the very worst of it was when his son Jimmy was born last November. He couldn't get enough leave time to get back to Seattle to visit his family, and his sergeant threw him in the stockade to boot to keep him from going AWOL. Now he's stuck out here in the jungle 10,000 miles from a son he's never seen.

It hasn't been any easier to find you an anniversary present this year than it was before, so I hope you'll forgive me for repeating myself. I've enclosed another watercolor of the local scenery. There are several fellows around here with real talent, not that they've got a lot of free time to use it. I have another piece of artwork that may amuse you, but I'm saving something for my next letter.

They showed us another one of those "Why We Fight" movies at the base the other day. Of course we all want the same thing, but I can tell you that every man out here has his own private reason for fighting as well. Mine happens to be pinned inside my P-38's cockpit, next to the altimeter:

Happy Anniversary.

All my love, Bob.

*Image: Watercolor by James S. Crafts, Milne Bay, New Guinea, April 1943.