Archive | July, 2011

A little moonlight stroll

28 Jul

July 28, 1943

Camp Haan, California

Dear Mom,

We took a little stroll in the moonlight the other night. That’s what we called it. It was an eight mile hike with full pack and two gas attacks with real tear gas. We went to bed about 1 o’clock and they pulled me out about 4 o’clock to stand guard. I didn’t feel any bad effects from it except my feet hurt.

I have gotten a letter from Bill, and I got one from Aunt Hila too. She gave me two dollars for a graduation present. I got the letter from Ruth and I am getting mail from Helen now.

I’m getting use to it here now. Also, I have been assigned to a gun section rather than the truck. I think I will like working with the gun better.

Love, Tom


Crash!! Sabotage!?

26 Jul

July 26, 1943

Camp Haan, California

Dear Pop

We really had an exciting time around here today. I saw a Liberator crash right before my eyes. There were eight more that crashed in this vicinity today. Three of them right in Camp Haan within 45 minutes. It is probably sabotage. I hope there aren’t anymore because a lot of fellows have been killed today.

About one o’clock I was up in the kitchen with the mess sergeant and a friend of mine who is a cook. We saw an airplane going over with its motor on fire. The three of us ran out and got in the jeep they keep at the kitchen and started out to follow it. While we were going along I saw another plane with its motor on fire. It looked like it was coming right toward us and I yelled to the sergeant to get the jeep out of the way. The plane passed over us and its wing caught on a telephone pole about 200 yards from the road. When it hit it was pretty much on fire and it scattered all over the place. A machine gun was thrown almost to the road. One man came out alive out of a crew of eight. I hope I never see anything like that again.

The news is pretty good lately. I was glad to see Mussolini get kicked out and so was everybody else in the camp. We started singing “The Yanks are Coming Over Here” instead of over there. Some people seem to think the hardest part of the war will be with Japan but I think that if we get Germany, it won’t take so much to beat Japan.

I got another shot in the arm today and it was the worst one yet. I’ve had so many I’m getting used to it. We are going on an overnight hike tomorrow. We only have to hike 5 miles then camp and hike back the next day. I hope it’s cooler tomorrow, it’s been hotter than everything the last two days. Guess I’ll close for now.

Love  to all, Tom

Right next to March Field

25 Jul

July 25, 1943

Camp Haan, California

Hello Squirt! (Bill)

How do you like it at camp? I like it ok. We have an hour in the morning for drilling and an hour in the afternoon for exercise. The rest is just class room work on working on the guns. I have to get up at six o’clock every morning. I don’t like that much but I’m getting used to it. I went to town last night, to Riverside, a pretty good sized town. Had a pretty good time.

I see a lot of planes out here as we are right next to March Field. They have almost every kind of plane over there. They have some captured Jap zeros too. I am going to be put on an anti-aircraft gun crew. We go out on the desert in about two weeks to fire the guns.

Well, I don’t have time to write anymore for tonight.


110 degrees in the shade!

25 Jul

July 25, 1943

Camp Haan, California

Dear Mom,

We are having a little hot weather today. The temperature is 110 degrees in the shade. It’s about the hottest it’s been since I got here.

I got your package yesterday. Thanks a lot. Whenever you send another box I wish you would put in my yello-bole pipe and a New Testament. Don’t send my Bible because I’m afraid I will lose it or it will get torn up. If you all happen to come across another extra shoe ration stamp, I wish you all would get me a pair of shoes.

I went to Riverside last night. It was the first time I’ve gotten out of camp since I got here. Riverside is really a nice little town. We will be able to get passes most any time we want them now. If I can get a weekend pass I am going to Hollywood next week.

I did my washing and went to church this morning and I’ve been writing letters most of the afternoon. I guess I’ll close for now.

Love to all, Tommy

P.S. We just heard about Mussolini. Maybe that will make some changes in the war.

Army training

22 Jul

July 22, 1943

Camp Haan, California

Dear Mom,

I sure would like to see some Virginia rain. It hasn’t even been cloudy since I got here. I have been serving on guard duty today and last night but I am off now.

We have been learning the guns for the last week. We are getting first aid classes and they emphasize protection against gas attacks here. We will have to go through gas chambers next week. We have an hour of drilling in the morning and an hour of exercise in the afternoon. The rest is just classes. We go on the desert then we will learn more about the guns and get to fire them. We stay out there for 21 days. It’s going to be pretty tough out there.

Tell Bill that we use airplanes like he made at school to train us to recognize the planes of different countries.

Guess I’ll be getting to bed early tonight. One advantage of this camp over Camp Lee is that here we don’t have to get up until 6 o’clock, back there it was 5:30.

Love to all, Tommy

Battery “C” 567th AAA (MBL)

18 Jul

July 18, 1943

Camp Haan, California

Dear Mom,

Tommy Hawkins is in the same battery as I am and there are lots more from Roanoke here. Vincent Hazel, however, is not here. I think he was on the same train but on the last two cars which were unhooked somewhere along the route. Mr. James Dowdy is in the same hut as I am. He lives in Roanoke. He is about 30 years old but he’s a pretty good fellow. We went to church together this morning. He said to tell you he would take good care of me. His wife’s phone number is 4087 in case you would like to call her.

I’m glad you all got to see that Demonstration Battalion from Camp Lee. You see how I live now. About the Chaplains and church, they sure do help a lot. When you get this far away from home you get awfully homesick and you think about home a lot. Church helps a lot.

You wanted to know what my address meant. Well it is Battery “C” 567th Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion, (Mobile). Mobile means that we have enough trucks to pick up and move anytime. Our main gun is like the one pictured at the top of the page. We also have a new type machine gun. They asked us not to say what size the guns are or how many each Battery has. But I can tell you this, we are pretty well protected.

Love to all, Tommy

I want to go home

16 Jul

July 16, 1943      Camp Haan, California

Dear Mom,

How are all you folks at home? I sure wish I was back there. I’m getting along pretty good out here. We took a six mile hike Tuesday and our exercises are pretty tough but I haven’t been sick any.

I stay homesick pretty much of the time. I can’t help thinking about home and being so far away makes it worse. I guess I’ll live through. I’m broke but I don’t really need any money cause we won’t be able to leave the camp until after July 31st. The shots they gave us cause us to be quarantined for so long.

I like it ok here but on the whole I don’t like the army. The only thing I don’t like is being away from home. It is pretty hard on a young fellow who likes his home. Two people have gone crazy and one tried to commit suicide in this Battalion. The change of life is too much for some people. I sure will be glad when the war is over and we can all go home.

Love to all, Tommy