Here is Johnnie’s 4th letter to Mom. He definitely sounds a little down which is probably because of the war and what was going on at the time — intense fighting and the raid on his bunker. However, he did ask Mom if she was writing to any other servicemen — so he might have been a little jealous about something — maybe something she said in a letter? I’m not sure when she began writing to my Dad — but it could have been around this time.
Interesting how he mentioned motion pictures in the letter. His father worked in the motion picture industry in Chicago according to Family Search.
17 February ‘52
Due to circumstances beyond my control it was impossible for me to write any sooner. The Reds have been keeping our group on our toes almost continually for many days and today was the fist letup. I’ve had to tramp over too many hills the past week and had none of my personal gear at my disposal. Thus, this being my first opportunity, I am using it to fulfill the promise (belated) that was made in my last letter.
As I compose this poor excuse for a letter I’m indulging in a cup of hot soup that one of the marines in my immediate company received through the mail. It is a very welcome appetizer due to the cold weather we are enduring. Seems these eves are getting colder instead of warmer. Spring will soon be here and it’s still snowing.
A big group of corpsmen left Korea today for the U.S.. As far as I can figure there are about 130 corpsmen in Korea that have been here for a longer time than I. March 25 (or April 25) cannot come too soon – that being the date I figure to leave here forever (I hope).
Had a unique experience today that saddened me immensely. Upon returning from one of our patrols I found that the Reds had made a probing attack on our position and destroyed my bunker. (bunker – a hole in the side of a hill used as a home). Wait till they get back and find we did the same to their positions. I’m now living with a lieutenant (from Chicago) and find my sorrow slowly changing to glee. He is a swell guy (and has a much warmer bunker than my old one ever was.) Such are fortunes of war.
This is flashy paper, is it not? One of the Marines presented me with a pack in lieu of the one I had that was destroyed. Alas! So many souvenirs I had in the old bunker are gone. I’ll have to start over collecting some.
Golly – this soup is delicious – and almost second best to home cooking. But then, so many little things are appreciated in time of war.
I wish there were something more pleasant for me to write of outside of the war – but then, I’m like a bus driver trying to talk of the making of motion pictures. It doesn’t work.
You put up admirably well with me. You are to be commended for that. Tell me, do you write to any other guys in service? You don’t have to answer that.
I had a beautiful view of the heavens last night and the beauty of the stars was simply breathtaking. Are you at all interested in astronomy? I know little of astral conceptions, but being a nature lover – the heavens and the high seas are always magnificent examples of the works of God. I find music and song in both no matter what the conditions. Sometimes the joy of life is exemplified, and at times sorrow of living. maybe I’m a little nuts, think so?
Had one of those embarrassing and unusual occurrences in talking to a KMC in Korean lingo. He is the hardest worker I have seen here and I told him today that he deserved to rest for the rest of his life. Instead it came out “I think that he deserved to test his best wife.” He didn’t know what to say and I had to start over and then correct myself. Tone of voice has a great deal of importance in oriental lingo, and it’s hard to master. I believe I never shall, either. Maybe I better learn French and worry only about words, and not tones and accents. One word can mean many different things here just by changing tone or accent. And often it proves embarrassing (as my case)
In spite of the five (count ’em) pages I have said very little and can think of nothing of interest (barring war) to talk of so I shall close. I hope to receive a letter from you in the next batch. No mail has arrived in our sector for six days now – I’m due.
Don’t work too hard at your job and write soon. Regards to the folks.
7 thoughts on “Letters from Johnnie: Letter Four”
Oh my god, I loved that one. For his eloquence, his musings on the stars, and of course for his anecdote about speaking Korean. Having learnt two tonal Asian languages, I can totally sympathise with him. I confess I’m beginning to feel rather attached to Johnnie.
I know what you mean, Mali — and I’ve become attached to him too.
I am really enjoying these. I do wonder what happened to him.
Me too, IB. I hope he survived the war and I hope he lived a long life and was able to study mathematics and return to Bethesda. Who knows, perhaps he lived nearby. Perhaps is still does.
wow. just wow.
Thanks Laurie — I’ve not visited your blog in a while, but just checked and love the photos — I have some that look very similar. Will need to visit soon and read your latest posts.
I have to disagree with one of Johnnie’s observations: I think he said a lot in that letter. He sounds like quite an amazing person.