Overseas Duty


After all preparations of packing for about eight months we are ready to go.

June 10, 1943
Left Kelley Field at 3:15 P.M. on troop train for Jackson Barracks Louisiana.

June 11, 1943
Arrived at Jackson Barracks today. This is a port of embarkation for men going overseas. Very tired but they had us set all our clothes on our beds for inspection. Very hot.

June 12, 1943
Woke early for a busy day. Took some shots and had a physical exam and had our personal things all taken care of.

June 13, 1943
We had another inspection and had new clothes replaced for ones which had ware on them. Had our dog tags checked and everything was all ready.

June 14, 1943
This morning was very busy. Our two barracks bags were packed, one marked A and one B. The B bag is one which goes on the boat and is not seen until a destination is arrived at. The A bag has things which one needs while on the boat. This bag is carried by the soldier. This afternoon we walked 3 miles to the boat. This I will never forget. A good size pack, a Carbine Rifle and a barracks bag. It was the hottest day I can remember. We went aboard the Algonquin at 6:00 P.M. We left the dock at nine oíclock and went down the Mississippi River until 2:00 AM and stopped for what I guess I will never know.

June 15, 1943
Waited last night and all day on river.

June 16, 1943
Waited today on the river. We changed our watches ahead one hour.

June 17, 1943
Out on the ocean today, beautiful day. Had some. Still not sick - ocean like lake.

June 18, 1943
Sighted sail boat at 6:30 AM must be near Key West. 7:30 P.M. Picked up a 16 ship convoy. Where they came from I donít know.

June 19, 1943
Woke up this morning and found some of the convoy gone, where I canít say. I did not sleep on deck last night because of rain. We are down in the hole of the boat, a very easy place to get sick so we all sleep on deck.

June 20, 1943 (Sunday)
Very beautiful morning. Went to church on the boat deck about 100 boys were there. About 3:00 PM we met 9 large boats which look as though they were going to join our convoy.

June 21, 1943 Longest day of year.
Woke at 6:00 this morning, some of the convoy had left us again at 1:15 PM. I could see the island of Haiti off the starboard bow. Ocean getting very rough, but none of the boys are sick yet. Haiti is a large island with some big mountains. Canít see any on it through the glasses.

June 22, 1943
Had some gun practice today. The men are putting up beams. These are to hall cargo aboard so we are going to land somewhere. Ocean getting very rough. Sub chasers look as though large waves are eating them up. At 11:00 PM we sighted light off San Juan anchored off port. We will dock tomorrow, we hope!!! All the men feel good now that we might get to walk on dry land.

June 23
Docked in San Juan in the morning. Went ashore at 2:00 PM. Marched about 3 miles to a army camp called F.T. Bucanian. Did not get to see the city, but it looks very large from docks. It has very modern homes.

June 24, 1943
They loaded and unloaded the boat until after midnight.

June 25, 1943
Most of the boys are traveling by rail. Adams is good and sick. I have not been sick yet. But it wonít be long now.

June 26, 1943
All morning the ocean has been very rough. Landed in Trinadad at 12:00 noon. Small town called Port of Spain is where the dock is.

June 27. (Sunday)
Came ashore at 6:00 PM. Went to Ft Read which is about 12 miles from Port of Spain. Had no passes for town since we came here. Had not kept up my _______since we landed here.

Monday- June 28, 1943
Went to work in the hangers at Waller Field while we are waiting [for] boat for Natal.

July 28 to June 13. Rustin Work
Went to town here. They have nothing. A good U.S.O. and thatís all. Very dirty place.

August 24, 1943
Left the field for three days. Went to the jungle with a medical officer and some other soldiers to pick up bodies of men who had crashed (C-46) a way up in the jungle. We left the field by truck and arrived at a place to enter the [jungle] at 7:30. Then we were given our rations and guns and started to walk. We had 8 guides and soldiers and a Captain Medical officer. These natives carried all the other things we needed. They had no shoes and very little clothing. Carried all things on their heads.

September 13, 1943 Monday
Not much has happened since that trip in the jungle till today. We were woke up at 4 AM this morning. Went to trucks which took us to the station at Fort Read. Took the train from there to Port of Spain. Went aboard a ship called the U.S.S. Monterey No (1). We went aboard at 8:00 AM. We had some sandwiches and cookies at noon, left the dock at 3:00 PM and Sailed all night.

September 14, 1943 Tuesday.
It has been three months since we left New Orleans on our first boat ride. This boat is much better than the first one. We have much better sleeping quarters although we are packed in like sardines. We are happy to be out of the hole and above water for a change. We have about 30 ships in the convoy. Blimps and planes are with us all day. Sea is rough and food is fair. None of the boy sick yet.

September 15, 1943 Wednesday, Second Day:
Ocean is very rough, some of the boys are sick. Woke up early. Most beautiful moon last night I have ever seen. Last night boys sat up last night and sang songs till 11:00 PM. Everything blacked out.

September 16, 1943 Third Day.
Woke up at 600 AM on deck. Went out on deck after breakfast till noon. About 2:00 PM one of our destroyers must have seen something because they dropped some depth charges.

Sept 17, 1943 4th Day
We were called to do some painting on the boat. We did good because we had our meals with the crew. About 9:00 AM I saw a turtle. The largest I have ever seen (500). Went to sunset services. Some Chaplin gives a talk every night.

Sept 18, 1943 Saturday
When we woke this morning we were told to set our watches 1 hour ahead. The sun is getting strong, must be neat the equator. Barton still as funny as ever (Door on boat). Sang on the boat in a show we had. A large crowd was there.

Sunday. Sept 19, 1943
Went to Mass at 9:00 AM. Should cross the equator some time today. Chicken for supper.

Sept 20, 1943. Monday.
At 4:00 AM we crossed the Equator. They had a big time on the boat deck. We must have seen something because the sub chasers shot some ash cans in the distance.

September 21, 1943. Tuesday (7 Day)
Today is Corporal Burnsí birthday. Not many men can celebrate their birthday on the ocean. By the way this is his pen. The water is very rough today. We were told we were to wear certain clothes today. We must be getting off somewhere soon. I was picked to be initiated for crossing the equator. It is quite a thing.

Wednesday. Sept 22, 1943 8th Day
We layed out in the harbor of Belem all night. We are hoping of getting to shore. fear but it donít look too good now.

Sept 23. 1943 9th Day
Stayed in harbor all night last night while they unloaded the boat and reloaded it again. No shore leave.

Sept 24. 1943 10 Day
Left at 6:30 AM. Must go back out the Para River to the ocean. No convoy with us now.

Saturday Sept 25. 11 day
Ocean very rough today. Some of the boys getting [sick]. I had a good breakfast, still holding it down.

Sunday- Sept 26. 1943
Went to rosery on the boat deck. Still did not get sick but would like to set foot on some hard ground.

Sept 27. 1943 14th day
We docked outside Natal this morning, all the boys ready to get off. We pulled up to the dock and just sitting on our baggage. The city looks very clean, what we can see of it. We are going to set our watches ahead again tonight. Unloaded on the trucks and taken to the field.

Sept 28. 1943
Paramonium Field, nice place. Must wait in line a mile long for a beer or a coke.

Sept. 29
On regular flight duty.

Oct. 14, 1943
Not much interesting has been happening but much work. Had a real treat today. Ice cream and Coke.

October 29 to Nov. 15
Duty took us many places, so many that day and dates might not be correct. I did not bring my diary along.

October 29
Left Natal for the Ascencion Island. This island is 5 miles wide and 7 long. From the air it is a pin point. Out navigator hit it right on the nose. We stayed over night in tents and left the next morning for Dacar, West Africa. Stayed here one day and headed for Cairo. Landed in an aux. field because of some trouble with the supercharger. Made our way to Cairo and headed for New Delhi, India. While in New Delhi met some WACS from USA. Also saw some of the great Indian temples including the Mahanaga. Most beautiful thing in India. Something on plan on Washington Mt. in Washington. Made the return trip in a C54 to Natal. But went across the Arabian Sea to Aden.

Nov. 27
Not much since the last trip. Now another good break. At 3:00 AM woke and found we were to fly to Rio all the boys in our flight [are] very happy. As we fly over the city it looks just like a horseshoe. The city (is the horseshoe) and the water between. Our landing strip looks like a chalk line in the water. Very beautiful city, much better than anything in the states. Stayed at the Oceanside Hotel right on Cape Ahoria Beach. Things very expensive, stayed 5 days and spent $80.00.

December 25, 1943
Christmas day went to Mass and had a fine Christmas dinner.

May 25, 1944
B24 Crashed and burned on end of runway. All crew was saved. Nothing of the plane left.

May 28
C-46 crashed in woods on edge of runway. One killed, all the rest just hurt a little.

June 3, 1944
B-25 crashed on approach to runway, was coming in on one engine. Sgt. Cline is hurt bad but is getting along good. Co-Pilot and Pilot dead.

June 19, 1944
Are going to leave this morning to fly some men up the Amazon to salvage a plane.

July 31, 1944 Monday
Went aboard a C-47 at Natal 10:00 AM on my three day pass. Arrived in Fortalazo at 11:15. Went to town and stayed at the Excelsior Hotel. This is a much better town than Natal.

August 1, 1944
One of my days has gone. Last night 1st Sgt. Casanova, Szala, Barker, and a man Rhu, works for Pan Air by the name of Strickland, did the town up brown. He comes from Warren Pa.

August 2
Went to the U.S.O. dance last night. Very nice place, right out on the ocean front.

August 18, 1944
Natal. Well things are popping. This is the fourth day since we found out we were leaving. Barton says the states. I say the South Pacific. All kinds of rumors are going around. Tony Profenno has been transferred to the 78th. We received our packs today. They are cleaning our guns, [getting] ready to issue them to us.

Aug. 23
Yesterday we had clothing inspection and had a personal inspection by a 2 Star General Wooten. He gave a nice talk and told us we was going into a different theatre of operations.

August 28, Monday
All kinds of rumors have been going around. Makis and Wake have been our Coordinate number.

Sept 1, 1944
Tragedy has stuck the 15th. Sgt. Szala, Culpeper and Sgt. Patrick and Ed Solhide and Bright turned over in a jeep on the way to town! Culpeper was hurt the most, he lost his right eye. Ed Solhide has a bad cut on his leg and a broken bone in his shoulder the rest were just shook up.

Flash.

Sept 9, 1944
Today is the day. We are all set. The bags are packed and we are ready to go. Loaded on trucks at 5:00 PM. Went to Natal and went aboard a ship called the State of Virginia. Small boat, but alright so far. Georgeís gift from the Wonder has came along side in a row boat with two small native boys wishing him goodbye. All the boys had a big laugh. Left the dock about nine oíclock and when we got out into the ocean the ship started to do tricks. Most of the boys got sick.

Sept 10
The living quarters are sort of cold but I have a fair place to stay. I am near a door.

Sept 11
Stay up on deck most of the time. All the boys are letting their beards grow.

Sept 12, 1944
Went to see Ed Solhide today. He is getting along good. We could not bring Culpeper along. He is going back to the states by plane. He has lost his eye.

Sept 13, 1944
Routine day aboard. No fresh water, must wash out of our helmets.

Sept 14
Had to wear a shirt, my back is getting a little warm. I thought I had enough back in Natal, but I guess not. Fifteen months since we left U.S.

Sept 15
Passed over the equator. Found out we can write letters today so sent one to Mom and Alice.

Sept 16, 1944
Another hot day at sea. Food has been very good for a boat.

Sept 17, 1944
We are all looking for Trinidad. We expect to be there tonight.

Sept 18
Woke up this morning and found we had docked outside the harbor last night. Went ashore at 9:00. Went to the PX and bought a few things. Weíre back to the ship at eleven. Oiled and received water. Left at 8:00 for destination unknown.

Sept 19
Out on sea again. Water very calm. Oh yes, last night two of the crew members almost missed the boat. The ship had just left the dock when two came running down the wharf. One jumped in the water and was pulled up. The other grabbed a rope and swung aboard. The army just donít wait.

Sept. 20, 1944
Slept on board top side last night. Today we are passing some large islands. We have passed Cuancao Island. Were so close we could see the large oil storage tanks from the ship. They say this Island and Aruba Island have some of the largest oil fields in the world. We have passed many ships with yellow and white markings on them. They did not fly any flags. Saw some sharks today. They are the first fish we have seen outside of a few flying fish.

September 21, 1944
Well today is Corporal Burns birthday again and it is the second year he has spent it onboard ship the ocean is just like a lake all day. The sailors had some gun practice today and are very good. The 15th band has played almost every night on boat deck. They are getting very good. Ed Solhide was up on top to listen to them tonight. Might sleep out on deck tonight. Hope to arrive at destination soon.

Sept 22. 1944
Today we saw small islands and some large ones. We docked outside the nets outside the Canal Zone. Soon the pilot came out and took us in to the dock. We went aboard trucks and came out to march Field. Colon is the name of the town. This is the best bed I have had in over 16 months. Place looks ok.

Sept 24, Sunday:
Went to church and then went to town met some people name Rios. [They] took me to their house. She said she would write you a letter.

Sept 25, 1944 1st day
We were awakened at 3:30AM and loaded in trucks. Taken to the dock where two LST (Number 715) men [were] waiting for us. These ships are a landing tank craft. Which are used in the invasion. They bring troops right up to the shore and drop them on the beach. The quarters are swell and the food is delicious. They even have fresh water hot showers. We have passed through the Panama Canal, the most beautiful piece of engineering I have ever seen. It took us eight hours to go through. First lock you go up when it fills up. Second lock you go down. Third one down over two stories. We were not held up at all. The sailors are nice. Met a fellow from Spain named ďKing.Ē This Pacific is just like a lake. Saw some fish today in a school.

September 26, 1944 2nd day
Today the ocean is again very peaceful. We are sitting around under an LCT. These are ships which are cut in sections and are sitting up on the deck. They are pieced together and the men get in and they are used to land in. The bottom is large for a heck of a lot of stuff (equipment).

Sept. 27, 3rd day
Well I had a good night sleep last night. Today we just sat around and slept on the deck. There is not much room on deck with the landing crafts. Had beans for breakfast. Steak and Eggs and wonderful apple pie. The food has been wonderful. Hope to sleep well tonight. It is cold almost all day.

The Panama Canal

Gatun Lake



Gatun Lake is an artificial body of water, formed by the building of Gatun Dam four miles above where the Chaynes River flows into the Caribbean Sea. The dam flooded 165 square miles of lowlands adjacent to the river to a height of 85 feet above sea level. Ships coming from the Atlantic are raised to the lake level at Gatun Locks. Steam through the deep central portion of the lake and through Calebra Cut to Pedro Miguel Lock where they are forwarded to Minaflones Lake and from that level to the Pacific waters at Minaflones Locks. Except for the canal installations the lake is inhabited. Gatun Lake shores are covered with wild life. In many places growths spring up like bunker hills on golf courses. As the pilot of the big ships says right 5 or 10 or rudder mid ship and the sound of the man at the wheel saying rudders amid ship sir. Soon the last lock and the mighty Pacific Ocean.

Sept. 28, 4th day
Woke up at 5:45 AM. They blow a horn and everyone gets up. We had French toast and good bacon for breakfast. Pork chops for dinner and cream chicken for supper. We are just sitting around playing cards tonight. Donít feel too bad today, although the ocean has been rough. Saw more than 500 fish in a school today. Spent most of the day out on deck.

Sept. 29, 1944 5th Day
Woke this morning at 5:45 with some loud bell. Had beans for Breakfast and had boiled eggs. Talked with Lt. McGonigle for about an hour or so, read till dinner. Had a good dinner and supper and went to bed early. This ship sure rocks.

Sept 30, 1944 6th Day
Woke up early this morning. You just canít sleep after the horn goes off. Had good chow today. Rained a little today. I am going to bed early.

October 1, 1944 7th Day
Woke with the bell and horns at 6:00 AM. Today is Sunday. There is no Chaplin on this ship so we could not go to church. Read most of the day. Played cards this afternoon. Had some good chicken for dinner. Ocean still rough but I still feel good. I am going to bed early tonight.

Oct. 2, 1944 8th day
Routine Day

October 3, 1944 9th Day
Routine day - still good food.

October 4th, 1944 10th day
Set out watches one hour back last night. This morning went for a swim with a few sailors. In the front of this LST there is a small place in which the water comes in through a crack in the bow. It runs in and then out the side. The water is waist deep. We just paddle around to keep cool. Today is the first day of the World Series and we heard the game over the loud speaker. The Browns won 2 to 1. I hope they have the game on tomorrow.

October 5, 1944 11th Day
Routine day aboard LST 715. Sun did not shine till late afternoon. Listened to the ball game. The Cards won 3 to 2 in the second game. Sat out on fantail and played the harmonica till after bedtime.

October 6, 1944 12th Day
Sun did not shine till late today but got some windburn from yesterday. Listened to the ball game. The Browns won 6 - 2 in 3rd game. Talked with Mr. Mc. till it was time to go to bed. It is cool in our quarters tonight.

October 7, 1944 13th Day
Listened to the World Series today. 4th game. Cards won 3 - 1.

October 8, 1944 14th Day
Listened to the ball game again today. The Cards won 2 Ė 0. Mort Cooper and Gailhouse pitched [and] made the series record of 23 strike outs recorded for both pitchers.

October 9, 1944
Heard the final game of the World Series. The Cards won with a score 3 to 1. Beautiful day over in St. Louis. Also very hot here in the Pacific.

Oct 10 -1944 16 Day
Nothing much has been going on since the World Series. Had good chow. Chicken for dinner and steak for supper. Read most of the day. Set our watches back 1 hour today.

Oct 11, 1944 17th Day
Woke up and found out I was to fill all the drinks such as coffee and tea. All the army boys help with the mess work. Passed a big tanker today at noon. Some of the boys wish they were on it on the way to the states. My tan is pealing. I donít seem to be able to get black.

October 12, 1944 18th Day
Routine day. Read and sat in the sun most of the day. Ocean very rough tonight.

Oct 13, 1944 19th Day
Sighted land but it is still a question. Played cards most of the day. We got our bags back today it looks like landing tomorrow.

Hawaii

Capital Honolulu



Hawaii is the crossroads of the Pacific. The islands, 20 in number and two thousand miles from the nearest main land. The group extends for 390 miles from northwest to southwest comprising of 6,454 square miles of which 4,021 are in Hawaii. All the islands are mountainous and volcanic in origin, filled with extinct craters. Haleakala on the island where my brother Ed is, is the largest volcano in the world.

Honolulu



This city has a population over two hundred thousand a very modern place. The famous Waikiki Beach is but a short trip from the main part of town. Since the attack on Pearl Harbor there has been many more people coming and going and coming. There is still evidence of Peal Harbor at Hickam Field in the barracks.

Today while I am still here at John Rodgers working on B-29s. While listening to the news at noon today, April 12, 1945, we received word of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It sure is a shock to all the men who serve under him. He died at 4:00 PM at Warm Springs, Georgia. We received the news here at 12:30 PM.