Friday, July 26, 2013

Letter from Bob, July 1943

Dearest Rosie:

They've moved us away from the "big city" of Port Moresby to a small spot on the other side of New Guinea. I'm not supposed to tell you where it is, but even if I did it wouldn't matter. No one but the natives has ever heard of any of the places in this part of the world.

We're spending most of our time chasing Zeros up and down the coast, scrambling to intercept the Japs when they come buzzing over the horizon from their big base in Rabaul. Old Man MacArthur's undoubtedly got some grand plan up his sleeve, but whatever it is it's not obvious to us jungle pilots.

As usual it's a test of our speed and firepower versus their maneuverability, like hawks plunging down on sparrows. Except these "sparrows" are buck-toothed bastards who'll machine-gun a parachuting pilot without batting an eye.

I used to think I was above saying things like that. I told myself I'm not one of those-blood-and-guts fellows. But watching your friends die changes a man forever. I worry sometimes, Rosie, that you won't recognize me when I come home. When I was studying architecture all I dreamed of and cared about was the earth: Houses and streets and trees and the little bungalow I'd build for us when we were married. I never thought about the sky except to admire a sunset. Now I spend all my time there and it's a beautiful but hateful place. It's full of stars and steel, raindrops and drops of blood. I just want to be done with it.

I'm sorry if I seem down. Haven't been feeling like my old self recently, and a little unwell the last couple of days. Nothing to worry about, just the usual sort of thing that happens when the cook decides to get "creative" with Spam and coconuts.

Going to lie down for a bit after I mail this, then back at the Japs. "Rosie" has at least one 50-caliber shell with a Nip's name on it.

As always I miss you more than I have words to tell. I picture you and Stormy (forever as a kitten though of course she's grown into a big cat now!) and our house, even when I'm skimming above the tops of the palm trees and over the icy Owen Stanley Mountains. I promise that when I return I'll never leave you again for anything.

Your loving husband,