Still on Morotai, Wayne brings his journal up to date. Except for a brief entry on March 16, we last heard from him when he was in a hospital being treated for ear fungus.
March 21, 1945
So very little has happened; and yet so much since last writing in this chronology. Salient points were. Returned to duty from hospital and remained in the area for several days. We were given a case of beer which Jerome1 and I drank. We amused ourselves by going to the Red Cross for coffee and doughnuts one day. Wrote Bonnie a couple of letter and that’s about all.
Then we were sent to Leyte from which we returned yesterday. It’s very nice there. We went on missions covering the invasion of Zamboanga of which I only got one, a ground support job.2 Leyte would be very nice. Rained every day; but no mud such as is usually the case. A change. The mission didn’t go so badly except for the weather that had me hanging on the ropes. Seems to be no end in it; but that seems to be our job.
The [illegible] are nice, and the Filipinos nicer. They’d come around every a.m. for our laundry would do it for a peso. They appeared to be clean people though their villages have a foul odor of hogs and fowl.
We went to a village where Russ3 and I saw a cock fight which isn’t the rare sport it’s cracked up to be. The actual fight takes just a few furious seconds; while the betting and getting the cocks mad at each other takes 30 minutes. As many as 700 pesos were wagered on one of the bouts. Each chicken has razor sharp knives attached to one of their legs. The one whose knife happens to get the other first wins.
You’d die laughing at the Filipinos, baby, they gestulate and spout Visayan like a fire hose on the loose. All these people are very small, some fairly nice looking, others very ugly. More or less like any white community in the States.
Leyte is very pretty, palm trees, grassy meadows very fresh and green. The people wear the brightest clothing you ever saw, yellows, blues and reds.
While there, we were stationed at Dulag Field, a steel matting job. The mountains are very lovely and dangerous. We lost another crew4 and big Jack Hanley5 went down with it. It’s listed as missing in action. They just took off one day and not a word was heard from them. Somehow feel they’re all right, but this continued silence gets a person and how! Sorry to see the boys go. Two were particular friends of mine and over here; we’re all friends more or less. Bodrero was one.6
The ride back here [to Morotai] was horrible. Terrible weather all the way. Really sweat it out. Our wingman kept nudging us until I was nearly ready to jump out of the plane. Too very close physically when one can’t see fifty feet away. The first time I’ve ever come to getting physically sick on this airplane. Damn these ordeals.
Rotation. Nothing is new. I’ve dropped to fourth. Cathers7, Donovan and [illegible] passed me while I was on ice in the hospital. Will have to catch up as to make this month’s list. That isn’t so good either. You bet your bottom dollar.
I’m on Charge of Quarters tonight. Had to awakened an officer and Sullivan for KP. About time to trek through mud and wake the boys on detail from their dreams. Surely hate to do that but orders are orders, they tell me.
Most of them are still drunk from the beer issued yesterday. All except me, of course. We have a lot of it stacked here; and they’ve been running in all night asking me for permission to swipe a couple of cases. That’s a lot of beer. Most of them are mad because I wouldn’t give it to them. That’s tough. I can feel for them; but can’t touch them. These guys can run me down behind my back; but not to my face, which is as dishonest as asking me to let them commit thievery. Truth is a cardinal characteristic and I am greatly enamored of it!
Well baby, it’s time to bid adieu for another little while. I’ve thought a good deal of you tonight all through the lonesome night to be sure.
Incidentally, doll, I’d like you to read the book “Generation of Vipers” by Phillip Wylie8. Lots of is pure poppycock; but he does make a few good points in it. Night baby! I love you.
Notes & Commentary
1Jerome J. Donovan.
2Near the end of February, the air echelon of the 42nd Bombardment Group was moved by C-47s and B-25s from Mar Airfield at Sansapor, New Guinea to Morotai Island where it would operate while its ground echelon set up a new base at Puerto Princessa on Palawan Island. While at Morotai, the air echelon provided ground support during the landings on Zamboanga. During the landings and occupation of Zamboanga, the B-25s flew cover for PT boats which directed the B-25s to attack specific targets. The Group also flew missions against Zettelfield, San Roque and Sanga Sanga.
The ground echelon move to Puerto Princessa by LST. Six LST carrying the ground echelon weighed anchor at Sansapor on February 28 for Biak where it would join a convoy. The convoy left Biak on March 4 and was joined by yet another convoy near the Palau Islands. Now numbering 85 ships, the convoy proceeded to Leyte Gulf where the 42nd Bombardment Group’s ships broke off and proceeded to Palawan Island and Puerto Princessa. Arriving there on March 12, they proceeded to set up camp.
The air echelon arrived by C-47 and B-25 at Puerto Princessa on March 22 and 23. The first mission was dispatched on March 24.
During February and March, the 42nd Bombardment Group lost eight planes and 31 men during combat missions. The ratio of planes lost to the number of sorties flown was 1.1% for this two-month period. During that period, 780,000 lbs of general purpose, fragmentation and incendiary bombs were dropped on enemy targets. A total of 1,239,000 rounds (186 tons) of .50 cal. Ammunition was expended.
42nd Bomb Group Historical Report for June 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 5 April 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 1129 -1130.
3Probably Robert H.Russell.
4 One plane from the 100th Squadron of a formation of 28 B-25s took off from Dulag Airfield at 0517, disappeared into weather immediately after take-off and neither rejoined the formation nor was ever heard from again. The following men were listed as missing in action:
2nd Lt. Gerald A. Bright
2nd Lt. Joseph B. Rosenberg
F/O Harold W. Cooper
Pfc. John M. Hanley
S/Sgt. Glenn L. Bodrero
Cpl. Charlie D. Woodward
Standard Mission Report, Mission 41-1148. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 10 March 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1283.
5News of losses appeared daily in local newspapers. That Jack Hanley was missing in action appeared as a subhead of another story in the Oswego, New York newspaper on April 4:
John Hanley Missing
A former Oswego resident, Pfc. John M. Hanley, has been reported missing in action over Mindanao since March 10 it has been learned. Pvt. Hanley, who is the husband of Mrs. Anna Hanley of 364 Roxford Rd., Syracuse, is a graduate of St. Mary’s parochial school and Oswego High School. His family resides on the west side and he was well known in musical circles here.
Pfc. Hanley went to the Southwest Pacific in July, 1944 as a staff pianist in a special service unit and was transferred to the army air force as a radio gunner in September. He recently was awarded the air medal. His mother, Mrs. Anna Hanley, also lives at the Roxford Rd. address.
“Pfc. Ray Furniss Killed In Action With Paratroopers.” Oswego Palladium-Times, April 4, 1945, p. 4, col. 1,
6On April 2, 1945, a Salt Lake City newspaper reported Glen Bodrero missing in action:
S/Sgt. Glen Bodrero, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Bodrero, Wellsville, Cache County, has been missing in action since March 10 while on an operational flight over Mindanao in the Philippines.
Radio operator-gunner on a B-25 medium bomber, he has been in the service two years and overseas one year. He trained in North Carolina and at Lowry Field, Colo., before going overseas.
“Wellsville Flier Lost in Mindanao Area”, The Salt Lake Tribune, April 2, 1945, p. 16, col. 3.
7Horace J. Cathers.
8Philip Wylie’s Generation of Vipers was published in 1942. This book was a critique of the American way of life. The reader might find the customer reviews at Amazon.com interesting (http://www.amazon.com/Generation-Vipers-Philip-Wylie/dp/1564781461/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426792228&sr=8-1&keywords=Generation+of+Vipers), especially since some of the reviews were written by men who read it when it came out and then again in later life.