Saturday, February 27, 2016

13) Map of Locations

Here is a link to a customized Google Map of the locations important in this collection of letters.

Jack & Betty Locations Link (click here)

Many thanks to Ken Clark and others for their extensive information on posted on

12) Permanent Assignment and Voyage to the South Pacific

From March 9, 1943 to Sept 13, 1943 I have no saved letters.

Jack’s grandfather, Clarence Merriman, died on April 5, 1943. I know that Jack had not been sent overseas at that time and was allowed a short leave to come back to Louisville for the funeral. I assume he was still stationed in California at the time, perhaps still at Hammer Field.

Sometime between early April of 1943 and the next letter dated Sept. 13, 1943 he was assigned to the 9th Fighter Squadron (The Flying Knights) of the 49th Fighter Group in the 5th Army, and sent to the South Pacific. He told me that the sea voyage across the Pacific from California was horrendous. He was seasick for most of the time and ended up sleeping in a jeep on deck (I assume for the fresh air) for much of the voyage. The trip probably took between 20 to 40 days.

Jack was assigned to the supply department of the 9th squadron and by the end of the war had the rank of Sergeant.

Logo of the "Flying Knights"

  1. The 9th Fighter Squadron was activated as the 9th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 15 January 1941 at Selfridge Field, Michigan. Redesignated as the 9th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942, the unit saw combat throughout the Southwest Pacific campaign during World War II, earning four Distinguished Unit Citations and two Presidential Unit Citations during the war.
  2. The 9th Squadron had the distinction of being the first Air Force unit to land and operate from the Philippine Islands following the Japanese occupation of that country, and was selected as the Honor Guard at the start of the occupation of Japan. Fourteen aces served with the 9th during WWII, including Major Richard Bong, the top American ace of the war.
  3. Clarence E. Merriman (1872-1943)-- Jack's beloved grandfather had engaged in several business ventures in Louisville, KY including: The Central Furniture Company and the Phoenix Cafeteria.  He owned a number of properties in Louisville, which after his death were managed by his daughters Avery (Jack's mom) and Lillian (Jack's aunt).  After the war Jack joined his mother and aunt in business, and for the rest of his life was in partnership with them, managing the properties and also building and remodeling homes. It is clear that Jack's Merriman grandparents were a very stabilizing presence for Jack, who grew up in a family in which the alcohol addictions  of his parents took its toll.
The Courier Journal- Tuesday, April 6, 1943

Clarence E. Merriman

These photos of Jack were likely taken during the short leave he was granted in April 1943, to attend his beloved grandfather's funeral in Louisville, KY.

11) Deeply in love with Libby- March 1943

Hammer Field, (Fresno, CA)
March 9, 1943 Tue. 9 PM

Dear Betty,

I am just dropping you this short note and I hope you are not mad because I have not written anything to you for some time. Honestly I have been very busy lately but not really too busy to write. I have been neglecting to write because I thought I would ship at any time. But as yet I haven’t been on a shipping list. I hope I get on one tomorrow though.

I have been getting your letters and have so enjoyed them a lot. You have been kept pretty busy yourself lately I understand. How is it you don’t tell me anything about Bobby and Billy anymore?

Last nite 20 of us guarded some “Flying Fortresses: (B-17E) here on the filed. From 12 Midnite till 8 AM

It has been raining here for a week “Sunny California”.

Please excuse the haste and length of this letter. I wish you would write me every thing that happens there so I can keep up on things. Libby and I are sure getting along fine. I really do love her deeply. I know you understand… try to … You are so sweet about every thing.

Please write me soon

My love


  1. Boeing B-17E "Flying Fortress"--During World War II, no aircraft epitomized American air power more than the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. With 10 machine guns for self-defense and capable of carrying a two-ton bomb load for 2,000 miles, the B-17E became the first truly combat-capable model of this type.
  2. "Bobby" & "Billy"-- Bob and Bill Giltner are Betty's 1st cousins and also high school friends of Jack's.

Boeing B-17E