March 22, 1944

Wednesday

This day went by on wings. It began at 4:00 a.m. when we hurried out of bed, washed and went to the mess hall for breakfast. We crossed the swinging, suspended footbridge and took the long buggy called the bus to Carney Field, where we preflighted the airplane by checking the Form 1A and going over the entire ship, inch by inch, a ritual with our crew. At 6:00 a.m., we started the engines and taxied from Carney to Koli Field. Received the go ahead sign from Koli Tower and rushed down the long runway, powered into the skies. We were set up for a triangular navigation trip from Guadalcanal to Buttons1 to Stewart and return.

Let me give a few observations I jotted down on the trip. From an aircraft, waves appear to undulate, folding within one another. When clouds, bits of stray mist, appear below, the ocean appears to have three surfaces. The mists floating below seem to be whitecaps on a heaving sea of the blue that is the first surface. The second is a reflection, a seemingly floating haze. The third is the ocean itself, undulating and folding over a solid surface of water. The weather is very cloudy today, and we dash through and around solid banks of clouds. You’re sailing along in the clear and of a sudden, the fleecy mist is a solid wall in your face and one seems entombed by it! Then we’re in the clear blue sky once again. There’s a kaleidoscope of rainbows. Everywhere we look, there’s a rainbow riven sky. Such colors as never an artist could capture regardless of his color appreciation. The South Pacific sky and sea is a natural marvel in contrasts, lovely, beautiful and awesome inspiring! Suppose we owe the beauty of it all to the combination cirrocumuli effect of the clouds, mighty thunderheads of frightening intensity, rolls of fleece and thin mists as far as the eye sees.

We almost made Buttons but the weather was impenetrable so we began our next leg a little prematurely. Arriving at Stewart, we glimpsed an island, half of which was solid mass of jungle. Coconut plantations claimed the rest of it. Row upon row of palms stretching for miles. This seems a wild area, though in reality, there’s not much to be afraid of. The coral islands and reefs are jewels below, tinted a billion colors, intensified by a gleaming Pacific sun!

At Sewart we turned and set or course for Guadalcanal. Shortly after, we looked below and saw a small convoy of two tankers and a brace of trim destroyers. Then miles of nothing but beauty in sky and on sea. Another convoy grows on our consciousness and below are two more tankers with seven destroyers fanning out around them, white wakes fading far behind them. Odd that such a scene of beauty can be a deadly synchronization.

Later, Guadalcanal hove to over the horizon. Soon, she lay under us with her mountain’s stark blue in the sky; and her harbor overflowing with all conceivable types of merchantmen and men of war. Inspiring vision of our Pacific might. Then we join the landing pattern and skim into Koli, gear down for a neat landing. We apply brakes and cut engines to decrease our speed and presently swing from the runway to the road that goes to Carney. At 11:00 a.m. we go into our revetment swing the ship about and cut the engines. We are home and are filled with the ethereal sense of beauty of our flight.

Received a letter from you, dearest, which I answered as well as the ones from Dad and Mom. Kept me busy all afternoon. Oh yes, bought this pen at the PX yesterday for 96 cents. The Waldorf Canteen. What a name for a Post Exchange.

It’s very cool and nice today. Enjoy it very much. The wind blew like the devil last night after we went to bed! The canvas top on the theatre whipped and popped like a gun. Very pleasant and quite dreamily!

The picture last night was the Glass Key2 interesting show to be sure. In writing my letter to you, it took so long I asked one the boys to save me a seat. A warrant officer came along and popped his fat posterior on it. When the boy told him it was saved, the guy looked down his nose at him, grunted and continued to sit. Nice people some guys! Oh well! To be expected!

Darling I miss you! And now it’s time for bed, so goodnight. Sleep tight my love! Amen!

Notes & Commentary:

1 “Button” was the World War II codename for a the massive naval base established on Espiritu Santos in the New Hebrides. See http://www.pacificwrecks.com/people/visitors/hinz/hebrides.html. Stewart Island is also known as Sikaiana Atoll.

2 The Glass Key, a story of a crooked politician and gangsters, was release in 1942 by Paramount Pictures. It starred Brian Donlevy, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd and William Bendix. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034798/fullcredits?ref_=ttco_ql_1.

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