Friday, July 1, 2016

68) Still waiting for Christmas packages--mid Jan. 1945

APO 321 Mindoro, Philippines

Somewhere in the Philippines
Postmark is Jan 26, 1945. This must have been written between Jan. 14, 1945 and Jan 22, 1945.

My darling,

Well I have really been busy here lately but I think things have calmed down now. I actually was able to take yesterday off. Sure is good to get a day off once in a while. I’ll write you every chance I get. I haven’t received any letters from the folks but I got 1 wonderful letter from my sweetheart. She writes the most wonderful letters. In fact I really think that she’s the most wonderful gal in all this wide world. And I really mean “wide” world. I realize it more every day.

Honey! I am so glad you like U of L so much. It is really easy to learn if you like the people and the surroundings. It think that the sorority is a good thing to be in. That is if you don’t just chum around with one steady bunch all the time. It does a person good to get to know different kinds of people. It will help you get along better all through your life.

If a person hangs around with the same small crowd of people all the time their mind gets so it narrows down to just what the interests of that small group are. I believe that the variety of things that hold a persons interest, is the important thing. A person is a whole lot better individual if his mind is broadened to the point where it can understand different peoples’ various ways of thinking. (Is that understandable?)

I took my day off yesterday and went back in the hills with a couple of fellows in the squadron. We took along some grenades and got quite a few fish. They were pretty good size fish 12 to 14 inches long. On the way back we stopped at one of the many farms and bought 3 dozen ears of sweet corn from a Filipino. What a feast we had last nite. The country back there along the river is really beautiful. There are pine or fir trees and deer & wild pigs in the country around here. We want to go early some morning and get a deer.

Dearest I am getting more and more lonesome for you as the days drag by. Believe me they really drag by when I don’t get any mail. Maybe we will get a big batch of mail tomorrow or the next day. That’s what I’ve been saying for over a week now. We haven’t gotten all of our Xmas packages yet either. They are always slow coming through.

I just want a couple of 3 or 4 letters a week saying that you are happy and well and above all waiting for me. I love you all that anyone could love anyone else. Please have patience with my letter writing. I’ll try to improve.


My usual love to Anne & your Mom. Tell you Mom that I really thought hers was the nicest Xmas card that I received. Also tell Anne that I haven’t forgotten about the letter I owe her. Who don’t I owe. I’ve enclosed an article about our outfit. Maybe you read it in “Time” mag.

Below is the Time Magazine article that Jack included in this letter:

Time Magazine -- Monday, Jan. 1, 1945

"First and Foremost" 

Five days after the landings on Mindoro, U.S. fighter planes in the Philippines briskly turned their main attention to knocking out Japanese air power on the far richer target of Luzon. Joining in the fun, as usual, were the "Forty-niners," men of the Fifth Air Force's famed 49th Fighter Group, first expeditionary unit of the Army Air Forces to go overseas.

Formed in January 1941 at Selfridge Field, Mich., the Forty-niners went through the usual training in P-40s, were shipped out less than two months after war began. Under command of young, keen-eyed Major Paul B. Wurtsmith (now a brigadier general in charge of the Fifth Fighter Command), about a year later they landed in Melbourne.

Within little more than a month, they drew their first blood. Sent to protect Horn Island, one of the Forty-niners' three squadrons, the Seventh, went up one day to intercept Jap raiders, downed five without loss to themselves.

Springtime in Darwin. Picking up fugitive flyers from Bataan and Java, including the early-famed Buzz Wagner, the Eighth and Ninth squadrons followed the Seventh northward, reaching Darwin bases in time for the big Japanese raid on April 25. In that first real baptism of fire, the Forty-niners bagged 24 Jap bombers and nine fighters without suffering a single loss. By Aug. 1, six months after arriving in Australia, they had run their score to 60, had lost only three pilots. On Aug. 12 they received a Presidential unit citation, then plunged into the battle for New Guinea.

Until early 1943 the Forty-niners flew nothing but P-40s. Then they reluctantly accepted their first P-38 Lightnings. "The P-38 was strictly a truck," says one squadron's records, describing the first reaction of pilots. "Old Darwin men knew they would never see the real scramble again or . . . the close-quarter hairy old rat races above the field." But after the required 50 hours' training in P-38s, all the Forty-niners were won over.

Acid Test. The real test-battle-only confirmed their liking. On Jan. 8, a young flyer of the Ninth named Richard Bong scored the fifth kill that made him an ace. Other scores soon piled up to compete with his. Quickest to become an ace was Captain James A. Watkins, who in one week ran his total from one to eleven. But by then Dick Bong had 16.

Working as smoothly as their smooth, new planes, the Forty-niners played an important part in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. They flew over the Owen Stanley mountains, strafed and dive-bombed on missions of their own, escorted heavy bombers, gave valuable support to ground troops all up the New Guinea coast.

On to Manila. Last September the 49th's Ninth squadron was the first U.S. fighter outfit to hit the Philippines. In October the Forty-niners arrived on Leyte, to base there. They could boast of having bred most of the Southwest Pacific's fighter aces, including eleven currently in action. Their biggest continuing source of pride is Major Bong, now a roving gunnery instructor who occasionally roves with his old buddies. On a sweep over Mindoro last week, Dick Bong bagged his second Jap fighter in a week, ran his score to 40.

But the Forty-niners, now bossed by slim, pleasant-mannered Lieut. Colonel George A. Walker, need not look to their aces alone for records. In the Philippine fighting, their toughest yet, they have so far knocked down 139 planes, have lost only four of their pilots. In the entire war, they have shot down 627 Jap planes.

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