APO 321 Mindoro, Philippines
Philippines, Sun. Jan 7th 1945
I know that it has been what seems like ages since I’ve written to you. I might as well tell you that I haven’t felt like writing to anyone. Naturally you are the first one I am writing to now. We moved again as you can plainly see by the address. (APO 321) I really think this place is much nicer than any place we have been since this time last year.
We finally got a big shipment of mail today. I got about five letters and a swell package from you. I don’t remember if I thanked you for the nuts, they were swell. I received them at 72. We have really been jumping around in more than one way. Several places along the line we had a pretty exciting time of it. I was very lucky as was the way with most of us, and came through all OK!
I really don’t know how to say these things but I know you will understand. Darling anyplace I am anything I’m doing no matter how terrible things get you are always some place in my mind. Smiling and cheerful and waiting for me. Gosh! How could a fellow help but fall in love with you. I bet there are lots of fellows who have fallen for you. I know that when this ever ends there will never be anyone else that can take your place in the plans I have for our future. Wonderful plans darling just for you and I. I want to get as much happiness out of life while we are young as we can. Your letters have done wonders for me. Till today I didn’t care if I wrote any more letters or not. Then I got your letters and they seemed even more wonderful than ever. It is really a swell feeling to know that some one loves you that much.
You really must be having quite a time out at U of L. Honey please don’t run around so much in that kind of weather. You may get sick and I would worry myself to death. You must watch you health. All that fun and going to hospitals and service clubs is all right if you don’t do too much of it. You can hurt yourself seeing too much of certain things and people.
Glad you had such a nice Xmas. Mine was nothing to write home about but we did eat pretty good. We can’t have lights now so I will sign off now. I will write more soon.
I love you so very very much and miss you more.
My best to your Mom & Anne
- The first of the New Year found the squadron again split in two camps. The Ground Echelon celebrated New Year's eve by watching the enemy become the focal point of our ack ack on Mindoro, and the Air Echelon, crowded into the Group Area, on Leyte.
- On the 5th, five of our planes landed on Mindoro because of weather and set up operations in a jeep on Hammer Strip (Elmore). On the 6th, the remaining ships flew up and started work in their new house.
- Mindoro lies nearly due South of the central part of Luzon Island. It is 1855 mi. northwest of Darwin, the starting point in the exploits of the squadron, and camp was set up on Mindoro on the 30th of December, 1944, two years and ten months after our first tactical camp at R.A.A.F. strip, Darwin. The island itself is oval is shape about 95 by 50 miles with an area of about 3,794 square miles, the seventh largest island in the Philippines. It is very mountainous in nature, the cultivated and populated areas being along the East and West shorelines and extending ten to fifteen miles inland. The mountain range along the middle of the island from North to South produces two different types of climate in the two lowland areas.
- The unit landed at the San Jose area via Mangarin Bay on the southwest corner of the island directly exposed to the southwest seasonal monsoons from May to October but at this time of the year, a very favorable climate.
- The town of San Jose itself was the sugar-refining center of the southwest plains and contains large factory buildings with bright roofs visible from the air for many miles. It boasts a network of small gauge railroads, and the area was devoted to sugar production before the war.
- The 9th set up camp on a deserted sugar plantation about two miles from town. Our campsite was a field overgrown with weeds that were 5 to six feet tall in places. These were quickly mowed down by hand with every available cutting implement and tents were set up in fairly even rows. A small road paralleled by a small clear creek on the South ran just to the North of the area, forming a natural boundary. The motor pool was set up across the road, thus insuring a rut-free entrance to the camp itself.
- Our mess hall, 90 feet long, made from sections of portable buildings, was divided into 2 sections separated by the kitchen. The smaller of the two divisions became the Officer's mess and club. Water tanks and a pump were set up alongside the creek and showers were built - the first since Gusap, and most welcome! A volleyball court was set up and Supply Officer J. Pienezza arranged with an engineering unit to have a ball diamond leveled off in the field south of the tents. Both sport arenas are now doing yeoman service.
- Two airstrips were in operation when the 9th arrived. Elmore strip (Hammer Tower) was located about a mile from San Jose, adjacent and parallel to the Bugsanga River. Hill strip (Freeboot Tower) was about five miles South near a branch of the railroad. Operations were set up on the latter strip. It is a 6,000-foot dirt strip running North-South with a parallel taxi strip and revetment area on each side. An excellent all weather gravel road runs from the strip to within a half mile of camp, and an equally serviceable secondary road was quickly improved to reach the remainder of the way. It is dusty, but much better than the mud holes of Leyte!
- This is the dry time of the year with a few rainstorms (usually the cloudburst variety) lasting for less than an hour. The temperature during the day is fairly hot, but a constant breeze makes it bearable, and at night it falls to a comfortable "one blanket" degree. Average rainfall for the area during the winter is from 5-10 inches, but in Summer reaches 200 inches! For operational reasons it is fortunate that this is the dry season, as a heavy rain usually puts at least one of the strips out of commission.
- Our 7th Fleet, assisted by the 3rd Fleet Air arm, was softening up the Lingayen Gulf area, and the 9th flew cover over large convoys streaming Northward. Rumor had it nearly every day that we had landed on Luzon, and on the 6th of the month the Navy occupied Lingayen Gulf followed by Army landing forces January 9th. The invasion was now an actuality.
- A gift of sports equipment sent to the 9th by Capt. Ralph Wandrey from home was put to good use, although the 9th lost its first softball league game to the 7th by a score of 3-0. Volleyball also again became popular.