Tag Archives: US Navy

Letters from Dad — Letter 1 to his parents

Okay, this is the real first letter, I think. Or it may be the fourth or fifth. See, he didn’t always remember to put the month on the letter. This one says Mon — 29 — 48. According to the Time and Date website the 29th of the month fell on a Monday twice in 1948 — May and November. Judging from the length and detail of this letter, however, I am going to guess it was written in May.

“Mon — 29 — 48
Great Lakes, Ill.

Hello Everybody,

 

Well I was going to write this letter yesterday but I will try and write it now. Boy, yesterday was a busy Sun. We got up at 5:30, went to early chow and then went to church. They had 3 different churches so I went to our church. I didn’t like the minister as well as at the church at home though, he was a civilian too. After church we came back and mopped the whole barracks floor, shower room , head (toilet), washroom, drying room and everything. When we got the barracks cleaned up it was time for noon chow. Afternoon we went to the recreation room. Boy is it nice up there. They have 5 pool tables, a big room full of nice overstuffed furniture, a nice big television set and a lot of magazines. You can check out most any game you want and it’s really swell up there. Up in the rec room they also have a long line of papers with different states marked on the tip so you can put your name, Co. no, and hometown. I haven’t found anybody from Elgin in Camp Moffet yet, but I think that there is a guy here somewhere because he said that he was coming here…….

 

Well I am back again. As I was writing the chief came in and he hollered “Fall out for drill” so we went out and drilled for about an hour before chow. We just got down cleaning up the barracks so maybe I can finish this.

 

After we eft the rec hall yesterday my buddy and I came back and started to clean up our clothes but before we got done we had to fall out for chow. We don’t get as good chow here as we did over at Barry but I’m not complaining.because we get a lot to eat anyway.

 

When we got out of chow we went to the P.X. to get some cigarettes and went to the canteen to get some ice cream. When we left the canteen we went back to the barracks, finished washing our clothes and read the funnies which I bought that morning but didn’t’ have time to read yet. I was pretty tired last night so I didn’t’ try to write.

 

Well, just got back from night chow so I’ll finish quick like a rabbit. I can’t think of much more to write. I went down to the P.X. after night chow and got some pictures. Nobody has a camera here in camp as we all had to send stuff like that back with our clothes. The pictures will give you some kind of idea what this place looks like.

 

Well, guess I’ll have to close pretty soon now as I have to hit the sack pretty soon. How’s Morris and Darlene? I sure would like to see them again. Can you send me some of the best pictures of them? Not too many just 2. How are all of the rest of the kids? Wild as ever, I suppose. Corrine doesn’t know what to do with herself right now — but pretty soon school starts. I hope  Verne is getting better. Tell everybody hello.

Love,
Al

Letters from Johnnie: Letter Five — the last one

Final letter from Johnnie (as far as I know – there may have been more that were lost). I don’t know if Mom ever wrote back to him after this. After we looked at some of them together all she said was, “Maybe he took one look at me and said, ‘She’s just a kid!'”

I have a different theory. I think Mom had begun writing to Dad* by now and saw his photo and fell in love. Dad was a handsome young man. Perhaps they’d met and she abandoned writing to Johnnie.

Poor Johnnie.

So many mysteries. Maybe the great and powerful Internet can solve some. Wouldn’t it be fun if he ended up settling in Bethesda? I hope he followed his dreams.

I’m going to miss Johnnie — and wonder what Mom’s life would have been like with him instead of my father. Of course I am glad she met and married my dad because if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here. And also, he was a great guy.

8 March ‘52

Dear Pat,

It’s true, I have moved around an awful lot, and from the looks of things I’ll be moving for a year longer. The government seems to be on the verge of extending my enlistment for another year. That means I’ll be wearing a hash mark and good conduct medal. I’ll get some laboratory schooling on the East coast out of it.

The days are passing but not fast enough. Only 25 days to go and I’ll be on my way home. One other corpsman and I are the only ones from the KMC’s going home and we are happy.
For three days it has been cold – and we were told by the Koreans that winter is over. Well, at least it isn’t forty below now.

Had to get a new issue of clothes today – my old ones were too small. I just turned 21 and am still growing. Happy am I.

It’s pretty late now Pat and I’m really tired. They kept me busy all last night so I’m turning in early tonight. Best regards to the folks and write again soon.

Johnnie

*The story goes that my mom’s parents were friends of my dad’s sister and brother-in-law and my dad’s sister and brother-in-law asked if Mom would like to write to Dad. She did and he wrote back (mom has a large scrapbook full of his letters) and the rest is history.

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Letters from Johnnie: Letter Four

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

Dear Pat,

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.

“Johnnie”

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