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 ]

Saturday evening
June 26

Hi Jeannie

Guess will start this by answering the back mail. Gosh, poor Bob Scholes. On May 12 he was in his 4th week of 14, you said. Now he was be on about 10. He's over the hump, but my bad memories are his present unendurable existence and my sympathies are his. It's not easy in Basic -- second only to actual combat in, well almost horribleness.

That letter hit me when I debarked at Pusan. I smiled to think how far the Japanese writing paper traveled, just to get from Japan to Korea. As bad as the Teddy Bear Jean W. gave me, which was made in Japan also. It went to Virginia, back home, round trip to Texas, and then over here. If only it could talk.

 Compound of Medical Battalion, 2nd Infantry DivisionLet me take time to describe what I see from my chair here. The side of the tent in front of me is rolled up and thru the chicken-wire screen I see -- another tent. Around the corner of the tent, I see, about 300 feet away, a Jamesway (a canvas quonset) used as a hospital and with a great red cross stretching over it. Behind it is a bit of the side hill. Thru the open door I see a Hq. tent and right behind it a little hill. The hillside is bright green with a dense brushiness about five feet high which makes travel almost impossible.

Higher up are larger trees, the size of the black walnut in front of the house. The razor-back top of the hill is a broken line of trees thru which a darkening sky is peeping as the sun sets behind it. And out the other side of the tent I see concertina wire, more tents, the ever-present urinal and barrels of sand and water for fire protection. The ground in the compound is stony and dust dry, sifting in everywhere, making everything gritty and dirty. But despite the difficulties, I'm still far happier than I was either in Virginia or Texas, except for specific instances -- in Virginia Thanksgiving and my other visit to D.C., and in Texas my trip to Corpus Christi.

You ask what I'd like to have. I can think of nothing, since a piano is rather difficult to send quite this far. We have plenty of reading material, and more than enough food, especially with my laborious clerking job.

I envy your psychic abilities. They are some I wish I had. I believe you have my share also. Did the letter you predicted arrive.

A.R. forwarded to me your letter describing New Orleans. It sounded like a wonderful foreign country within our own boundaries. However, I suspect that Americana has left it's mark even there.

And what have we done for Korea. Looking at it in a long range view, I can't believe we did a thing because I believe that should communism sweep the entire world, within a decade, an autocratic pseudo-communistic state would crumble. However, the bloodshed and devastation visited upon this little bit of home to so many people may help prevent a similar plight to the whole world. For the rest of mankind, the Korean war may be a help, but to Koreans I don't know.

From an amoral, strictly scientific viewpoint it may help. The population was reduced; measures of sanitation and disease control were introduced to alleviate physical and resulting mental agony, and much of the land was put out of production and allowed a couple of years or three in which to rejuvenate itself a bit. However this was more than counteracted by the devastation visited upon the (darn, the same words used twice, no likey) natural vegetation, especially on the lower hills.

And we have seen numerous villages with only the lower part of the stone and straw mortar walls that surrounded each home remaining. And looking at the 1953 engineer map (which is confidential -- I have clearance since clerk), I see numerous, in this area the majority, of the villages with one word in parentheses beneath the name (destroyed). And the people that once lived here. Where are they? Either occupying great community burial trenches or the community living morgues of Pusan.

And yet we can hardly say this was worse than communist dictation. Physically I believe it was, but spiritually and mentally, well how about the 20,000 Chinese that came over. They are a terrific testimonial to the horror of China because to surrender is, in modern warfare, to gamble heavily against life. How many offered to surrender and paid with their life. God knows, I'd shoot and ask questions later, and I'm no more a killer than the average G.I. In war you don't ask if Joe Chink has a family; he's got a weapon that is far more important to you. If 20,000 risked their lives and made it, I'll bet between 40,000 and 60,000 tried.

If we hit Indo-China, it too will be ripped from one end to the other, and maybe China proper with it. Then what will be next, and eventually will it all be churned up peice-meal?

I'm afraid we hurt Korea more than we helped it, but did so for the benefit of the rest of the world.

Totman's bunkThe military machine never ceases to amaze me. Hear we are by the thousands and thousands, 10,000 miles from home or thereabouts and have as many conveniences as home altho they may be more crude. Electricity, radios, studies, cameras, photography developing outfits, excellent food, telephones, phonographs with fine music in the PX -- classical, semi-classical -- the best on L.P. records, modern and complete medical and dental care, entertainment, a rest center with a beautiful lake, up-to-the-minute news, and fairly comfortable beds.

Do many, many men treated so well so far from home under such conditions with hardly ever a mix-up or hardship created to a single one of them.

I have always believed that the army was a mess of red tape, but after clerking for a while, I begin to realize, with my traveling as a guide, what an intricate and tremendous machine this is. As intricate as Mark II or any calculating machine, and "operatable" despite human frailty. A begrudging respect for the army is slowly growing within me.

Drawing of artillery practiceLast night the artillery boys were practicing down the road (just as I started this sentance I heard beautiful and strange music -- some nurses from 44th Med. Hosp. were down - I heard women's voices and stepped out to see them, and instead saw a lovely display of parachute flares beyond hills several miles away. The heat generated by the flares causes an updraft under the parachute that holds them up. (Science is very clever.) For about 10 minutes they burned and lighted up the hills altho they were the other side so it was dark here) but anyway; as the artillery boys practiced, they heaved colored flares into the sky and they were more beautiful than fireworks glowing brilliant dark red or bright green. They fell quite rapidly and burned out in about 30 seconds but were lovely while they lasted. There beauty offset the disturbance caused by the noise and concussion of the artillery.

As I search for things to say I come up with morbid thoughts on the evil of war. In particular I was thinking of the shock-case and his attendant at the movie the other night -- how suddenly during the show he jumped up and said, "We've got to spread out, this group is too much of a target, let's get back to the trenches," so his attendant agreed and the two dispersed -- back to the ward. The price of freedom is high. God, knows, it's worth it if we can keep it, but that doesn't alter the price one iota.

Oh, yes, that reminds me of a statement I saw in a Collier's article on the typewriter. Within 4000 yards of the front line, the army has more typewriters than heavy and medium artillery pieces combined. I've got one of them here. It's old, cranky, and as eccentric as a mule, but it works, once you master the thing.

That letter you admired so overmuch. I was glad to hear it was worth reading. It was one of the occasional ones that I write, and as I write it, feel it's a good one. If I could lay claim to a psychic sense, it would be when I get that feeling -- that the right words are coming out on a worthwhile subject.

But the Imemyself game has to stop and give you a rest. If you got this far, thank you.

Well, goodnight now