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It ought to be a lot of fun

26 Nov

November 25, 1943

Camp Irwin, California

Hello Bill

How you coming along? I got your letter and I would have answered sooner but we keep pretty busy out here on the desert. We’re out all day and I usually go right to bed after supper I’m so tired. We have to fire on Monday and Tuesday and then we’ll start back to Haan. We’re going on a problem on the way back. Another outfit is on its 5 day problem and we’re going to attack them and try to take over their gun positions. It ought to be a lot of fun.

You say you want to take a night hike when I get home, well all I got to say is heck with you, by golly! I got enough hiking without you wanting me to go hiking.

Helen sent me a copy of the Jefferson News and it sure was fun looking at it. Makes me kind of homesick though, reading about everything going on around school. I sure would like to be back there.

So long for now, Tom


We are on ‘C’ rations

28 Oct







October 24, 1943

Camp Irwin, California

Hello there Zoot,

I am looking out for that box you all fixed. If I get it while I’m out on our next field problem it will come in good because we are on ‘C’ rations. I got a box of 24 candy bars to take and they will keep me from getting hungry. These problems are really tough. We had to dig in our gun three times last week and we don’t get much sleep.

We will be leaving for Haan before long and I sure will be glad to get back. The night are cold now and sleeping in pup tents is very uncomfortable.  I’ll write again when we get back from the next field problem.

So long for now, Pvt. “Zoot”












Hoping the war will be over before long and we’ll live like civilized people

28 Oct

October 23, 1943

Camp Irwin, California

Dear Mom

The nights are awfully cold here now and it’s not so hot in the daytime. Our next field problem will start Monday. I dread it and I’ll be glad when it’s over. We’ll be going back to Haan then. It will be good to sleep in a bed again. We’ve been sleeping out here on the ground for more than a month now and I’m getting awfully tired of it. It gets dark about the time we finish our work and I have to do all my writing by the light of my flashlight.

I don’t know what we’ll do when we finish our training but I hope we will be shipped back east. I don’t hardly think we’ll be shipped across because we don’t know as much about this business as we should. Our training has been rushed through so fast.

I’m hoping the war will be over before long and we’ll all get home again and live like civilized people. This kind of life isn’t fit for any man to live. I guess I’ll make out alright though, I’m getting so I can take anything. But it would be much nicer if I could be back home and have my car to run around in and get to see my gal once in awhile.

Love to all, Tom

All we do is set up guns as fast as we can

24 Oct

October 16, 1943

Camp Irwin, California

Hello Hiker,

I heard about your blistered feet and dad’s. They ought to have you two in the army.

About that army equipment you wanted to know about. I can get those sleeping bags for $10 but you wouldn’t hardly use it much because it’s too big to carry on your back. If there is anything else you should want, let me know, I can probably get it for you. But of course, if you should want a 40 millimeter AA gun or a 50 caliber machine gun it may take a little time to get it.

You say you’re in charge of drilling in the troop now, what kind of movements do you give? “Left flank”, “to da rear”, “right oblique”, “left oblique” etc? We don’t get any drill anymore. This AA isn’t much like the Infantry; we don’t take exercise or drill and while we’re out here on the desert we don’t even stand retreat. All we do is set up guns as fast as we can. They call that artillery drill. Out here we set the guns up along a line in holes and fire on the target all day. Most of the targets are pulled by planes. We have ground targets pulled by trucks and rockets that fly through the air real fast.

Guess I’ll close for now.

So long, Tom

Bombed (with flour sacks) from their planes

24 Oct

October 15, 1943

Camp Irwin, California

Dear Mom

I haven’t had much time to write this week, we’ve been doing some firing at night and it takes up about all our spare time. The reason my letters are postmarked a day or two after I write them is because they have to go to Camp Irwin then to Camp Haan before they’re sent out.

I’ve got a pretty good idea I’ll be home in December. We have three or four more weeks out here and two weeks training back at Haan then this period is over and we will be due to get 15 day furloughs.

Helen sent me two of the leaves that had turned and it sure was good to see them. I wish I could be back there and see all the trees and grass again. These bushes around here are turning greener since we’ve had some rain and the desert looks entirely different. The only thing that grows here is a bush about four feet high and a few weeds. Around here there’s nothing but sand and those bushes as far as you can see. Except the mountains make some pretty formations and they are especially pretty in the sunset.

Talking about the way you all imagined Barstow and these little towns to be, well they don’t have hitching posts but the sheriff in Barstow is a big, fat guy and he wears one of those ten gallon hats and looks right much like the sheriffs in the movies. Victorville has the most cowboys in it. I saw several guys there who were wearing guns, and it reminds you a lot of one of those western towns. All our targets are towed by planes from that air corps station there and on our field problems we will be bombed (with flour sacks) from their planes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill M. isn’t one of those guys that flies around here.

We had a pretty good joke on the British who were here. They were tracking the plane instead of the tow target and by mistake they started firing at the plane and the pilot left the range and didn’t come back.

I guess I’ll close for tonight. I miss you all an awful lot and I pray every night that it won’t be so long before I’ll be back with you. By the news it looks like my prayers are being answered. The war can’t last forever anyhow.

Love to all, Tom