Arose this morning and attended church services at [unreadable text]. There’s an awfully interesting chaplain over there. Name is W. Jack Lewis.1 A rangy Texan who gives a fresh interpretation to religion. Must remember to attend any service he gets to preach, now and after the war. He’s helped a lot out here. His chapel is made from palm leaves, which is spoken of elsewhere in this volume.2 Also is included a poem, giving a few of its aspects.3 This young fellow should go in for clergy work. Think we’ll hear from him in the future.4
Dropped into talk to the boys in my old outfit the 75th Bomb Squadron. A swell outfit. One of their boys accidentally shot himself in the stomach the other day while clearing the action on his .45 pistol. Tough break. One of the boys owes me money. Am wondering if I’ll ever get it. If not, it won’t be the first time. Have hopes, however.
Bought two cartoons of candy and six cartons of cigarettes today. That seldom happens out there. We also received a case of beer this afternoon.
Many of the boys are drunk tonight. Every once in awhile a mad GI runs through the barracks looking for someone to whip. Why do people get belligerent when they drink? Only a few do thank heavens! Each man seems to act differently when under the influence. Though I’m not a teetotaler, it’s a little bit disgusting.
A good many of the boys are discussing government ownership of utilities to increase government revenue and cut taxes. This is not to be taken as a socialistic trend as the men emphatically do not want that. Competitive feeling still runs high in the U.S. Army as it still does in the U.S. Rotten politics holds sway too much. Its “dog eat dog” and favoritism all the way in the Air Corps. Oh Well. Fortunes of war.
Wrote to Bonnie last night. Surely miss her with all my heart and soul. Wrote a poem day before yesterday entitled “Saga!” written one night during an interlude in the show, after glancing upward at the quiet peaceful skies and knowing we’ll soon move out to a “hot” area.
The boys are doing a wonderful job out here in this war. Well this is the size of it tonight.
Hope I dream of my wife tonight. That would make the night worthwhile.
Notes & Commentary
1 At the end of January 1945, the following appeared in a Lubbock, Texas newspaper:
W Jack Lewis, Lieutenant with the Navy and then the Marines and to be assigned to the Seabees after his leave is over is visiting his wife and three children. Patricia Lee Andres, Lyn and George Mueller in San Angelo, friends are hoping they will come here for a visit.
Before enlisting in the service, Chaplain Lewis was associate pastor of the Lubbock Presbyterian church. He has been at sea and overseas the last 20 months. After being attached to the Fleet Marine Force, the personable young man went to the Russell islands in the Solomons for a 18 months stay. When he left, he was senior chaplain and senior in service.
He designed two chapels three miles apart which natives built and which were used by the Navy, Marines, Seabees, the Army, and the natives themselves. Equipment includes two electric organs Lewis obtained in New Zealand and Australia last June. Those who knew young Jack Lewis remember he thought music a vital factor in in spring worship. One can well believe that he taught carols to natives and surprised the military group at Christmas when he had the natives sing in English.
Margaret Turner, “The Woman’s Angle.” Morning Avalanche. Lubbock, Texas. January 31, 1945, p. 4., col. 1.
2 Wayne’s Journal, April 14, 1944. (https://waynes-journal.com/2014/04/13/april-14-1944/)
There were seven Navy chapels on Banika Island.
Clifford Merrill Drury, Captain, Chaplain Corps, USNR. The History of the Chaplain Corps, United States Navy. vol. 2, 1939 – 1949. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1950. digital image. (http://www.mocavo.com/The-History-of-the-Chaplain-Corps-United-States-Navy-Volume-2/279866/9?browse=true#170 : accessed 07 July 2014) p. 148.
3 The poem, untitled:
Church on a Pacific island
Coral land from out the sea.
A chapel built without sham
An altar, oh my God, to thee.
Christian natives did build it
Brown hands did labor on it.
The Chaplain supervised it.
We worshipped thee in it.
Chaplain set it in the palms
The trees hid it from danger.
In it our men sang your psalms,
The Navy, Marines and the Ranger.
Brave men sang your psalms
Worshipped you on bended knee.
For them you presented alms,
For them you quieted the sea.
Lord! You took us home again.
In your arms we journeyed there.
We, the enemy could not maim.
Our loved ones saved their tears.
Church on a coral island.
Pacific land from out the sea.
Chapel built by Christian man
An altar, oh my God, to thee.
4 After World War II, Chaplain Lewis worked as a Presbyterian minister at the University of Texas in Austin. He came to Cornell University in 1963 where served as Director of Cornell United Religious Work until retiring in 1981. W. Jack Lewis (December 16, 1915 — June 15, 2002) may best be remembered by his daily prayer:
Today with God’s help,
I’ll do the best I can
with what I have,
where I am,
and I’ll care about others.
W. Jack Lewis. Cornell University Faculty Memorial Statement. (http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/handle/1813/17813 : accessed 07 July 2014).