February 29, 1944

Tuesday

Dear Bonnie,
Today is payday for many of the men but guess we’ll miss this one. At least we haven’t signed a payroll as yet. It doesn’t make a lot of difference as I’ve spent exactly $5.00 since leaving San Francisco, which seems an eternity ago.

A couple of men were down from the Treasury Islands yesterday looking for anyone who might be from Greenville. They told us the score up there. The point system is in force as regarding return to the States. One point is given for every one hundred hours of flying time. One point for each three months spent out here and one point for ev13th Air Foce Patchery ten missions. It evidently takes 6 points as a minimum for the return home. However of the first contingent of men to leave the 42nd Bomb Group for home who departed yesterday, 12 officers and 8 enlisted men, a bombardier in the outfit had 55 missions and a pilot had 41 missions in, plus a year’s service in the South Pacific. The 13th AAF has been a forgotten outfit down here, the 5tn and 7th being the boys who get the glory.

Rabaul must really be getting a working over. The Navy takes it in the a.m.; the 42nd in the p.m., alternating with B-24s from Munda and Guadalcanal. One gunner was killed yesterday, the first casualty in 6 days. Antiaircraft was the cause. The Jap antiaircraft is pretty accurate but the fragments it casts are not so good. The frag is evidently made of aluminum, which indicates a shortage of steel in Japan proper.

We are cutting the Nips down, little by little, through attrition methods. Our subs, Navy and aircraft seem to be exacting a terrific toll, which is jake with me.

Before coming to the South Pacific, it looked as if Germany would be whipped before Japan; however, I’m not so sure anymore. The progress here is quite encouraging.

It’s raining again today. The antiaircraft detonate every once in awhile.

Last night, we saw the picture show, Dr. Gillespie’s Murder Case1. Very interesting. You should have heard some of the remarks the boys made when the blondes went into their stuff. Such as, “to hell with the penitentiary”, on his first visit to her and other remarks a little too coarse for your shell like ears, darling. At any rate, a good time was had by all.

After the show, we watched a couple of searchlights weave their beams across a partly cloudy sky. It’s certainly a majestic show. Russell and I spent some time looking for the Southern Cross and the constellation Orion, without much success, too cloudy. You can tell direction at night by use of them. A very good thing in case of getting shot down over the jungle and surviving the crash. Impossible to locate however. It’s too cloudy.

It’s raining every day now. Miserable existence and impossible to keep clean clothes. The relief from the heat however is a perfect God send.

In case you get a telegram saying I’m missing in action, don’t give up hope. 90% of our boys shot down and given up, are rescued sooner or later. One cannot be sure even of death out here. Dead men, missing men, “do come back”.

Am writing another letter today, which I’ll mail!

Well, baby, we took off at 12:15 noon today. Swooped into the air, made a 180 degree turn and came in immediately. Shortly after getting in the air, one engine coughed and momentarily quit putting out the necessary power. That makes the second time in my Army career. I pray the third time is not a charm. Twice in a lifetime, having your heart in your throat is not what I’d recommend for a daily diet. On other planes it may be all right, but a B-25 will not take off on one engine. Especially when it is driven by the average Army pilot. The water in the ocean was perfectly blue today and too darn close.

Hooray, received letters from my mother and father, as well as a Valentine from Mom, and life is almost good enough to begin living again. Dad is evidently going back to the hospital again to have his once broken leg taken care of again.2 Dodge City, Kansas hospital again, I reckon.

Was surprised and very shocked to hear of the sudden death of our old friend’s wife. The charm and the cheer will certainly be devoid in their home. Happy landings, Mrs. Weathers. My God be kind and good to you!

Mom said that brother Nordy3just missed winning the best dressed noncom’s4 rating at his school. Too young for war and very interested in JROTC.5 Hope the battling ends before his time comes. Please God!

We’ve flown twice to get a certain mission in. Maybe the third time will see things improve quite a little bit.

Can’t understand why no letter from Bonnie today. Probably because it takes 2 days longer for her mail to come through. That can be the only reason, dearest; and I’m eagerly awaiting word from you. Mom and Dad both mentioned that they’d heard from you. Good Girl!

It’s busily raining again. Promises to be a whopper before the night is over.

You know, if wars were nonexistent, I’d not be near as lonely and as blue. Here’s a wish that I truly hope for. The people who through greediness, pushed this battle into being and added to its fire after beginning it can roast a billion years in hell for all of me. Being pretty slick articles, only they know of their contribution to this business. May their consciences repay their greediness, though my realization is that they know such a thing.

Another thing is the tax situation. The fellow who thought up those forms ought to roast for a long time. Of all the things to try to putting over on the people of the United States, that takes the cake. We don’t mind paying those taxes, Mr. In The Know, but we certainly hate to get 4 college degrees to be able to interpret them. If all the laws set up on taxation causes this mess, why not do a simple thing such as to repeal all the old laws and incorporate the workable features of each into one master plan, leaving attached space for any future tax legislation. Then I can understand it as well as you, Mr. Big Shot. Cut through that tape and do the necessary streamlining that has so long appeared necessary in regard to our laws. There surely is a genius who can do this without flagrantly changing the Constitution of the United States. Leave that inviolable.

Suppertime and more Vienna Sausage, one of those things that civilians never see. We’d gladly give the civilians all of them for one fresh pork chop or beef roast.

While on the line today, we saw the big B-24 Bad Penny. This plane had seen combat service on 48 bombing missions, and was one of those used at Wake Island, 12-23-1942. Surprising what marvelous things these aircraft can do. How about that?6

The Battle of Russia7 is the picture show for tonight. As I’ve see it once at Columbia, will stay home tonight and give the other men a chance.

Time to answer letters, so I’ll sign off for the time being.

Adios, baby mia! I’ll see you in my dreams tonight and will love you always.

Notes & Commentary:

1 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released Dr. Gillespie’s Criminal Case in May 1943. The movie starred Lionel Barrymore, Van Johnson, Alma Kruger, Margaret O’Brien, and Donna Reed. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035826/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt.

2 In late 1943 while employed as a construction manager, Thomas Jason Gray fell off the roof of a aircraft hangar under construction at Dodge City Army Air Field, Kansas and broke his leg. His father was 49 years old.

3 Nordy, Wayne’s youngest brother, Harry Nordman Gray (1926-1970).

4 noncom, non-commissioned officer.

5 JROTC, Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps

6 The Bad Penny, 41-23899, made a non-battle, forced water landing nine miles off the coast of Guadalcanal on 01 May 1944. The plane, a B-24D, was returning from a flight to Sydney, Australia. Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947, database, The National Archives, digital image (http://www.fold3.com/image/38647403/ : accessed 28 February 2014), entry B-24D, s/n 41-23899.

7The Battle of Russia was a documentary of the fight between the Soviet Union and Germany. It was produced by the U.S. War Department, Special Services Division and was distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and the War Activities Committee of the Motion Picture Industry in November 1943. See: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036629/?ref_=ttco_co_tt.

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One Response to February 29, 1944

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    It has not changed a bit since then…

    Another thing is the tax situation. The fellow who thought up those forms ought to roast for a long time. Of all the things to try to putting over on the people of the United States, that takes the cake. We don’t mind paying those taxes, Mr. In The Know, but we certainly hate to get 4 college degrees to be able to interpret them. If all the laws set up on taxation causes this mess, why not do a simple thing such as to repeal all the old laws and incorporate the workable features of each into one master plan, leaving attached space for any future tax legislation. Then I can understand it as well as you, Mr. Big Shot. Cut through that tape and do the necessary streamlining that has so long appeared necessary in regard to our laws. There surely is a genius who can do this without flagrantly changing the Constitution of the United States. Leave that inviolable.

    Like

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