Fifteen letters
[ Fifteen Letters ][ Introduction ]
1954: [ June 5 ][ June 15 ][ June 26 ][ July 10 ][ July 27 ][ Aug. 1 ][ Aug. 11 ]
[ Sept. 18 ][ Sept. 30 ][ Oct. 29 ][ Nov. 3 ][ Nov. 11 ][ Dec. 13 ]
1955: [ Jan. 23 ][ Feb. 20 ]
[ Epilogue ]

29 Oct 54

Dear Everyone and Mom especially

Many events here, but first a very sincere apology. It hit like a bolt when in a letter from A.R. I read "and Mom's birthday," and then I knew, and it hurt no little bit, either. Gee, I'm sorry I missed it, and I was right in Japan where I could have called home, too. But the golden opportunity has passed and I can only wish you a very happy year, Mom.

I was very glad to get those pictures. Color sure is marvelous stuff. The begonias truly are lovely and the barn in its new coat of paint is also in fine shape. But, did a trimming hand miss a spot or two? And the honey locust, too, needs a haircut. Nonetheless, they are lovely pictures and I was happy to see the J.D. wheels of progress rolling on with Wholey's in the background under a lovely New England sky. Gad, what muscles on that vehicle operator! And I will add those pictures to my collection of "memory-stirrers."

Got a letter from Barbette. Sounds like she's having fun and learning a lot of many various things. How I'd like to drop in on her someday. Maybe next year if I don't go to Japan.

View from the train to PusanI said much has happened. And it has. R&R to Japan. Wonderful, to sum it up. I last wrote two weeks ago tonite. I had the next day off and spent the AM taking pictures of Seoul. That noon an R&R drop to Hakata (Southern Japan on the Jap. Sea near Fukuoka) came down and by 4PM, Bob Lutz and I were hustling about out at K-16 (air base) trying to get a flight to Japan. We missed, after nearly sweating blood in our hurry to get there at flight time. So we hung around until 10PM and then rode out to the RTO (Rail Transportation Office) at Yongdung Po. We arrived, the truck departed, we picked up our orders, and we waited. 10:30, 11, 11:30, 12, 12:30, 1 :30, 2:30, 3AM, spending time in the MP shack (Korean) or in the railroad workman's shanty while they slept.

View from train to PusanFinally at 3 the 11:30 train pulled in and we got on, got comfortable (ha! ha! ha!) and tried to sleep despite the shivering. From there we chugged and clikity-clacked out and over the Korean countryside soon running into dawn and then pickity-pockity-pickity-pockityed along while I alternately took snapshots, played cards and slept. Two C-ration meals later as the sun began to grow weary and yearn for rest, we arrived at Pusan, were loaded on open "cattle cars" (trailer trucks) and rode thru the drab, squalid, but now not-so-horrible-as-when-I-arrived poverty that is named Pusan to the R&R depot.

LST in harborAfter a hearty meal there we were transported in the semi-dark to a waiting LST in the harbor. Roll-called onto the ship, and then leaving our luggage below we went topside to bid a brief fairwell to the stench that is Korea. And away gently out to sea leaving behind the few twinkling lights of Pusan, and then to sleep on a gently rolling ride to heaven.

Japanese fishing boatArrival the next morning with camera snapping and the busy activities of our Japanese crew bringing us in to dock. Then roll-called off and into busses, whisked away to Camp Hakata, a beautiful Camp situated on a peninsula of land and equipped with every conceivable recreation possibility.

Then a meal with ------------------- MILK ! ! ! !

Cute Japanese waitresses, no trays to carry, service, good food, and those beautiful, heart-melting smiles of Japanese angels in waitress garb. A visit to the snack bar to drown ourselves in milk. True it is recombined from milk solids etc. but it tasted genuine and so we drank, plain, chocolate, in sodas, sundaes, milk-shakes and any other way possible. From there a quick bit of processing and we were free as birds. Into Fukuoka to see the sites. Shopped with our eyes -- being too poor to shop otherwise: Bob was broke and I split a hundred with him whereas most guys go on R&R with $150 each or thereabouts. We wandered around fighting off (verbally) the pimp boys and hotel-sellers. Then finally we got a hotel room and, leaving our equipment there, we went to a caberet to dance, listen to music, enjoy friendly company and relax. At 11 :30, feeling quite content and slightly convivial, Bob and I bade farewell our attractive little hostesses, and returned to our hotel rooms to enjoy a sleep on nice soft beds.

Bob Lutz at Brady FieldThe next morning at crack of dawn (I mean 8:30) we were up and away to Brady Field. There we got reservations on a Tokyo flight at 2PM. Relax again and enjoy the unknown comforts which the flyboys are unable to appreciate. More milk and a cheezeburger and gazing at a busy airbase.

Then at 1 PM roll call, wait expectantly until 2PM for flight. Then the call and up with several other waiting servicemen and out with our Awol bags to the strip. But this was not a civilian flight. A reliable C-54. We were given Mae Wests and put them on, instructed on their use, and put aboard. Next the parachute.

Brady Field View of Japan from a C-54Unhitch the buckles, now slip your arms into it, Snug it up, hitch your chest strap, now pull the leg straps around and hitch them, adjust yourself so you're comfortable, don't pinch needlessly and now undo your chest strach, the Mae West may inflate and we don't want any cracked ribs. If you've not had a 'chute before, the "ripcord" is by your left shoulder. Give it a steady pull with both hands. 3 buzzes means something is wrong, one long buzz means hit it, and you'll start with you over there, up that side and from you over there, up that side until you're all out. When you jump, keep your legs together, count three, and then pull hard and steady. If you land in water, you'll want to lose the chute. Use these release levers by your shoulders. Pull down, up and down again, and you're free. You already know about your Mae West's. Any questions? Okeh, now tighten your safety belts, no smoking until we reach altitude. Don't wander all over the plane. The relief tube is in the rear of the plane. Use it one at a time. 3 hours and we'll be at Tachikawa field one hours ride from Tokyo.

And 3 rather uncomfortable hours later we were at Tachi. Got an auto ride (free) to Tokyo and spent six days there. The return to Korea was the same in reverse order.

When we got back here, Bob had made Corporal, and I had made 15 more days in the Army, and each one enjoyable.

Tokyo Lawn maintenance crew, Rikugien Gardens, Tokyo So much happened in Tokyo that the chronological order is forever lost. We spent our nights at the Finance Building. It is a monstrous building of six floors containing the main Tokyo PX, numerous civil-military offices and 3 floors of EM quarters, one for R&R personnel. Shoe shines a nickel, a fine inexpensive (steak dinner 85¢) restaurant, bowling alley, and what-not to drive one insane. We got into borrowed civilian clothes and were off, I with my camera, he with his memory. Streets, people, fine autos, fine movie houses, great department stores, broad sidewalks, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely women, cafes, cabarets, libraries, bookstores, oh, such a wealth of things. Busses, electric railways, excellent subways, very helpful people, bustling, hustling, polite and kind, parks and gardens, shrines and temples, neon signs to shame the very best on broadway, attractions of all sorts, and still those lovely girls.

Tour guide Imperial palaceIn a bicycle ricksha a ride around the Imperial Palace with my thirsty camera feeding as I tried my best to satisfy it's insatiable desire to record for the future. Uphill and down dale, trying to see all, trying to understand the driver as he too was trying to make me understand, admiring, marveling at the beauty of the Palace grounds, and gasping at the accuracy of American bombers. On one side of the street only a weed covered plot of ground denoted the former German embassy, on the other side was the ageless Palace. The war department building was leveled and the neighboring Diet Building left unscratched. Uncle Sam planned well to thus destroy an Empire and save a people, lose an enemy and gain a friend; a friend who today can stand as proud as his former conqueror.

We ate sukiyaki and danced Japanese dances. We became used to vehicles going always the wrong way on the right side of the road. And we danced and we dined, relaxed and recuperated, slept late in the morning and were happy.

National Diet building Totman in borrowed civies We even saw a farm exhibit similar to the county fair farm displays. Equipment of all sorts. Garden tractors, rice threshers, corn cutters, earth tillers, sheading machines, grinders, milling machines, dusters like we used at the 78th PMC, explosion-type scare crows and gee I can't remember what-all. If only the pictures come out.

We saw Japanese movies, American movies, we ate several times at the WAC detachment mess hall. It is all a jumble now, but a wonderful jumble. I forgot all about Korea, about entomology, and about letter writing and enjoyed every minute as if it were my last.

LST before return to KoreaBut the end came, the return was made, and here I am back to the old grind, broke with four days to go. It was worth every penny. We almost acted human again. Memories of Japan, of relaxing, of dancing, of lazy days and lovely days, of pictures and of dreams.

Someday I'll go back, for a week? a month? a year? But now I must

answer all this mail.

To be truthful, this is my first letter since I got back. It'll be my best account of R&R so if it is any good or interesting, maybe A.R. or someone might enjoy it - and then maybe not.

However, hope you'll write soon and 5 months are done, not that they weren't good ones, but they are done. So, for now

Bye and Much Love
your Son, Connie