Thursday, February 25, 2016

9) Just Friends- Jan. 22, 1943

As I read these early letters, I'm reminded that Dad is 18 years old, writing to my mother who is only 16. It seems to me that many of the war movies I've seen depict slightly older soldiers, at least the actors who play them are older and I'm guessing the scripts are written so as not to sound too juvenile. But, when I read these early letters of my parents, I am reminded that they were just teenagers and still focused on teenage topics-- girlfriends, boyfriends, football games and the social life of the world they knew. I don't mean to imply that either of my parents were immature, just that they were young. There are still no saved letters written by my mother from this time, but oh how I'd love to have read her early ones, or the ones that Libby was writing him! Do you think Betty was offended by this letter? Notice no "love and kisses" or "XXX"'s included on this one!

Buckley Field, Colorado
Jan. 22, 1943 8:45 PM

Dear Betty,

It has occurred to me lately that you are becoming too serious in some of your letters. I don’t want to make you mad but I am sure that you will appreciate the fact that I have come straight to the point.

Betty dear, I like you ever so much and I say this sincerely, but I don’t want you to become too serious and feel bad because I am not there. I really wish I could be there to explain this to you as I never was good at expressing my self with a pen. Not that I can’t explain what I mean, but I am not sure that I can say this in a way that will not make you feel bad. Well I’ll try anyway.

You see it’s about Libby and me. We have been corresponding all along and I feel that you should know this and also that I wouldn’t want to have her think that I was receiving anything but friendly letters from you. You see I have noticed that since she has come home, her letters have become strange and seem to say between the lines of course, that she has been hearing things about you and I, which we both know are untrue. I know you wouldn’t say any thing that was the least bit untrue and especially about you and I. You are far too sweet for that.

I want you to write me just as often and more often than you have been if you find time. Maybe this letter may seem strange at first but reread it and try to understand. Make me happy by trying to understand. I don’t want any thing to break up my friendship with Libby or my friendship with you. Honestly it hurts me to write this because I think that perhaps you won’t understand. Well remember there is a soldier hoping you will understand.

Well the lights just went out so good bye.


8) Talk of OCS and Tank Destroyer Units--Jan. 1943

Buckley Field, Colorado
Tues. Jan. 5, 1943 7:35 PM

Dearest Betty,

Well first I want to thank you for keeping the old pen busy. Honestly honey it sure is swell to know that if by some chance that if I don’t get a letter today that I will surely get one tomorrow from you and believe me its swell to be able to count on it.

Honey I have decided to try to go to Officer Candidate School. Buddy Mantler tried to discourage me on this but I have made up my mind. I simply don’t want to be a nurse maid to a machine gun, for the rest of my time in the service. I really believe that I can do better than that. I am going to talk to the family about it tomorrow nite. If Buddy still don’t approve to he-- with him. However if he does it will help me a lot to have a letter of recommendation from an officer. It is what I want and no one can discourage me now that I have had some time to think it over.

I have heard a lot about the tank Destroyers and I hear O.C.S. comes quickly in that branch and besides I think I would like the fast action more than “cleaning another guys guns.”

However what ever is decided I will let you know about it but promptly. As a matter of fact you will probably already have heard from the family by the time you get this, but I wanted you to know just how I felt.

Tell Bob that I want him to take me up the next time I get to Louisville so keep flying on straight. Also, happy landings.

Honey, please keep the letters coming and don’t spare the stationary.

Love & kisses & etc. XXXXXXX


Buckley Field Training- image is my addition

  1. Officer’s Candidate School---Near the end of his life Dad, began to talk more about his personal experience in the Air Corp. He told me that he had been very interested in Officer’s Candidate School, but found out that young officers at that time were being shipped to the front lines and would be “cannon fodder." So, thinking the better of that he stopped pushing to get into O.C.S.
  2. "Buddy Mantler"- I've tried to figure out who this friend of Jack's family was.  He is mentioned here and also on the earlier (Dec. 26, 1942) letter.  It turns out that Mantler is not a very common name and I think there is strong evidence that he is a man named Marshall J. Mantler, who went by the nickname "Bud." Marshall J. Mantler (1918-2008) was born in Bridgeport, CT but later lived in Atlanta, Ga. I have few clues as to how he would have become associated with Jack's family in the early 1940s. Marshall enlisted in the Army in 1941 and eventually rose to the rank of Major, serving as a tactical aide to Gen. Patton. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has an interesting recording of Marshall J. Mantler describing when he and Gen. Patton arrived at Dachau, at the time of its liberation- Link to Mantler Recording