letters from my father – letter 0

January 18, 2012

In trying to figure out the order of a bunch of the undated letters, I ran across what looks like the first letter Dad wrote home, or “letter 0” as I’ve decided to call it. It seems like a fitting thing to post on the 3rd anniversary of Dad’s death, as it marks the beginning of the experience that, according to Dad, shaped his life more than anything else.

Dear Ganther and Granpee,

We left the station at about 5:10. This is a very tricky train. Our car is made up of eight litte compartments. Each one has a toilet and wash bowl. The boy I am staying with is 18 and is very nice. We were late getting into Chicago so we missed the Santa Fe. Our car was attached to an express. I slept well last night and was wakened up by McCormick a 6:30. We ate breakfast in a restaurant in Fort Monroe, Missouri. I just got back on the train and wrote this. At 5:30 this morning I could here somebody yelling “Poker players this way.” Some of them played poker all night. The presents we got at the station had razor blades, shaving cream, paper and pencil and candy in them. It is just now getting light. Take good care of my chickens and yourselves. I will let you know as soon as I get to San Diego.

love Truman


letters from my father – letter 6 & 7

January 15, 2012

The next batch of letters, maybe 25 or 30, are largely undated. But based on the content it appears that Dad wrote this batch from boot camp and artillery training, definitely before he left the states for the Pacific. However, I don’t know the exact order in which these were written and I’m guessing at their sequence.

Letter 6

Jan. 23, 1944

Dear Grandmother, Grampee, & Aunt J.

Today is Sunday. We were up 5:30 and made are sacks (beds) up. Which was very hard at first but I have caught on to it now. The bugle blows over a loud speaker which practically blasts you out of your bed. You then have 4-5 min. to go to the “head” (the potty) make up your sack, sweep and mop your hut & be ready to fall out. Discipline is plenty tough. You are not allowed out of your district except to go to the head. You call everybody from graduated privates & P.F.C.’s to generals sir. You have to say “Pvt. Moyer requests permission to speak to the instructor, standing at attention all the time. I cannot go to the P.X. except when accompanied by the instructor & whole platoon. There are 68 in our platoon. The food is etibale but thats all, after eating you take your trays and cups to huge troths and wash them. Are sergent, a big 6 ft. ex-boxer looking guy, said he wasn’t going to have discipline like the army, he was going to have real discipline. We were going to Church but at the last minite we had to clean out the receiving barracks. We have been sworn at & rushed by our superiors ever since we got here. I felt terrible the whole day after my shots. But things are better and I’m beggining to like it here. Our shots were the worst. They had needles the size of tire pumps & no mercy at all. We get on schedule tomorrow. Our lights go out at 10:00 no sooner no later. We were classified yesterday. I am in the infantry. When I get thru here I go to a line camp. Elliot or Pendleton Cal. & stay there from 3 to 6 months. This is the first time I’ve had any time. When you have your sea bag & are in your under cloths. They yell “Fall Out” & you drop everything & run like hell. Then they cuss you out for having your cloths on & your sea bag unpacked. It’s cold in the mornings & evenings & hot in the day. There is inspection at 9A.M. & 5P.M. & your sacks & sea bags better be in order or else. I have to get my blankets stenciled now remember my address and Print It.

Love Truman


P.S. We get a 10 day furlough when thru.

Letter 7


I got your letter and certainly was glad to here from you. Please keep the letters coming you can’t understand how much they mean. This has been our first week on schedule and its been terrible. I and everybody else here have gotten hell from our D.I.’s (drill instructors) every time we turned around. I’ve never seen one of them even smile. We have our own rifles and bayonettes and they’re hard to clean. The Marine Corps has the strictest discipline and toughest training of any of the services. We get up at 5:30 run for 10 min eat chow have about 2 minutes to go to the John. Then we all march all morning eat lunch run obstacle course and work til 3A.M. then we have to wash cloths and take a shower. We had inspection this morning. In the evening we have to study our Marine Handbook sew up clothes, clean our rifles bayonettes and cartridge belts & shine shoes so I’m kept pretty busy, I’m supposed to be memorizing my general orders now but I wanted to write home worse. Today we had “extended orders” which is learning battle formations. We went to the boon docks and dug fox holes, charged positions, and ran til we were ready to drop. Punishments are pretty hard. Some of them are funny, but not to the party concerned! If your rifle is rusty you get thrown in the brig. if your rifle is rusty you have to exercise with it or 10 minutes. It only weighs 10lbs but after you carry it for an hour it feels like a ton. Everyones sleepy & has bad colds. If your bunk isn’t right you have to clean out the “head” (toilet). If you knock over any stacked rifles you have to clean & sleep with them. You get pretty tired taking stuff off P.F.C’s but you have to control yourself. Although our platoon Sgt. & P.F.C are tough there realy good at heart. Both have seen action. Don’t send me what I wrote as all packages are open & things confiscated. Everyone in our platoon is swell and we have a lot of fun. We won’t be able to get out of this place until 7 weeks. The sgt. said that at the end of 7 weeks 1/2 of us would be P.F.C’s. In the army this doesn’t mean much but in the Marines it’s plenty. A Marine P.F.C. has to know as much as an army sergent. Please write me & take good care of my chickens. Give my love to everybody.

love Truman

As far as I can tell, both of these letters are from boot camp and it’s as overwhelming as one would expect it to be – tons of rules, a tiring schedule, bad ass superiors, new lingo, etc. Dad speaks to that experience directly, explaining that the first week on schedule is terrible and everyone’s getting hell form the D.I.s, and indirectly in the way he wrote the letters, the sentence fragments and run on sentences, omitting periods and commas, misspelled words, writing “are” instead of “our,” repeating himself.  Things like that. He’s obviously just trying to keep his shit together.

What  jumped out at me in  letter 7 was to see Dad showing some vulnerability, which is pretty alien to me when I think of Dad, especially when it came to his family, most of whom he seemed invested in differentiating himself from. But there he is revealing the slightest bit of tenderness, saying how much it means to him to hear from people at home and ending it with sending his love to everybody. Maybe Dad was just scared and tired and just needed to find comfort where ever he could, but I also suspect there was some familial closeness that sadly devolved over years after Dad returned from WW2.

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letters from my father – letters 4 & 5

January 14, 2012

I counted up the letters my dad wrote home during WW2 in box and there are around 150. That’s kind of a books worth. We’ll see how far I get.

Letter 4

Undated, but probably Thursday, January 14th, 1944

Dear Granther and Granpee,

We are now in California. We just had breakfast and I saw palm trees for the first time. It is now 7am and about 50 degrees. It is much warmer than it was this same time in New Mexico. I sat next to a colored Coast Gaurdsman at breakfast. He was very nice and we made friends quickly. He has some ribbons and has been in a couple fights with German submarines. He said some of them sailed right up to New York harbor. The sun is now coming up over the mountains. And we are going thru a sandy, rocky, desert. We were wakened up this morning by somebody singing at the to of their lungs. It was the short, fat,  boy next to us. As he would pass by each room pillows and water cups fly out at him. The conductor said we probably wouldn’t get to San Diego till 7 or 8 o’clock.

Love, Truman

Letter 5


I arrived here Thursday night at 12. We went to bed at 2:00am & got up 5:30. Friday was hell and I was almost sorry I joined. We were on our feet from 5:30am until 10:00pm, sitting down only 4 times, 3 times for meals & once when I got sick from shots. I have my uniform & things are a little better. We are busy all day & night & I hardly have time to write. I left some things in my bag I sent home as I was rushed. Its plenty tough out here. I am completely bald after my haircut. My address is (please print it).
Truman B.Moyer RDMCB
Platoon 68, San Diego 41, California

Love, Truman

What jumps out at me most in these letters is the the change in tone. In letter 4 there’s still a sense of adventure and surprise. Dad seems boyish and kind of innocent, in a way, or maybe naive is a better word. The fat boy is still singing. Dad’s still checking out the landscape and making friends. The reference to “colored” was definitely a sign of the times.

Thinking of Dad on the train makes me think of all the train rides I’ve taken across the country when I wasn’t willing to fly. I can so easily remember looking out a train window and seeing the sun coming up. I understand why Dad wrote it down. It is something you feel compelled to at least mention.

In letter 5 the shine of the adventure is off. Dad sounds tired. Dead tired. He got through the first couple days and in the quip about getting his uniform and feeling a little better, it sounds a little bit like he’s trying to assure himself he’s going to be ok. It’s the start of his ordeal.


letters from my father: letters 2 & 3

January 9, 2012

Letters 2 and 3 were written on the same day.

Letter 2

Wed. Jan  13, 1944

Dear Ganther & Grampee,

I woke up this morning on the desert of New Mexico. It was covered with about 3 inches of snow all over and is twice as cold as Indianapolis. Last night we had dinner at a restaurant in Kansas. We ate with army & navy boys who were on our train. We had chicken, green beans & mashed potatoes. We also had milk, coffee, oranges and cookies and ice cream for desert. We just now had breakfast at Las Vegas. Two indians met at the train selling jewelry. For breakfast we had cereal, orange juice, oranges, eggs, bacon and fried potatoes also milk and coffee. We are going thru rocky country now and I haven’t seen a house or a person since we left Las Vegas. Our next stop is Albuquerque. I will write you again tomorrow. We expect to get in to San Diego sometime Thursday evening. I just saw some chickens that looked like my own. The short fat boy is next to us and would go singing down the hall at of the top of his lungs last night until pillows and water cups would come flying out at him. I am getting to know the other boys better now and I am having a lot of fun.

Love, Truman 

Letter 3

Wed. Jan 13, 1944

Dear Ganther & Grampee,

We just left Albuquerque and are headed for Arizona. We had oranges, milk, coffee, steak, noodles, carrots, and ice cream & coke for lunch. Some of the army boys here are from Butler University and are going to a flying field in Arizona. We went by San Felipi Indian pueblo a little while ago. All the Indians were out working and waved to us. We also went by Santa Ana pueblo. We are still in the desert but you can see mountains and red cliffs in the distance. It is getting warmer now and we have one window opened. It still is along way from being hot and is a little chilly. All the creeks and ponds are still frozen but there isn’t hardly any snow. We will probably go through Arizona tonight and get into Los Angeles tomorrow.

We met some more Marine recruits on the front of the train. They are from Detroit. 

The ground is red and all the houses are adobe. Indian girls served us our lunch in Albuquerque. Just since the time I started this letter it is getting warmer. We have been poking thru New Mexico all morning because we were behind another train. But it went on when we stopped for lunch. We are now going about 55 or 60. I will write you again tomorrow.

Love, Truman 

These letters remind me of the kinds of letters my sister and I used to write home from camp because we promised our mom we would write. It’s the accounting for things that feels so similar – “here’s what I ate, here’s what the weather’s like, and here’s a funny thing that happened with this fat boy.” Beneath all of it though, I can’t help but read a message of assurance, that “I am ok,” which would be an important thing to convey. It was 1944 and everybody knew someone who had lost somebody in the war and/or knew someone who had died or who’d been injured in the war. I would guess that Dad was assuring himself, as much as he was his family, that he was fine.

I’m curious about why Dad lists out food so much. If it’s out of boredom or it’s something neutral to write about or if everybody talked more about food because of the rationing that went on during WW2.

I love that Dad brought up his chickens. His affection for animals is one of the few things about Dad that I am intimately familiar with and I am not surprised that he could be going off to war and at times be thinking of his chickens.

I was heartened that Dad noted the solitude of the landscape, not seeing another house or person around, because it is something I also notice when I’m in a similar landscape – the lack of humans and human activity. I feel I am forever looking for the things I have in common with Dad, to prove to myself that we really were connected, and it makes me closer to him to think we could look out a train window and notice the same things.

The first letter reads kind of disjointed. Maybe he wrote it in little spurts. I was thrown off by the mention of Las Vegas, because I was thinking Vegas, as in the Hangover Vegas or Bugsy Siegel’s Vegas, which didn’t make any sense geographically, since the train left Kansas and he woke up in New Mexico. But a little internet research turned up a Las Vegas, New Mexico a couple hours south east of Albuquerque.

The mention of Las Vegas and my faulty assumption that Dad was referring to Las Vegas, NV reminds me how easy it is to get things wrong when reading back through time. In 1944, gambling had been legalized for about 10 years in Las Vegas, but the major development that was happening in and around Vegas was about accommodating all the people and the work on the Manhattan project. So, if Las Vegas, Nevada had entered the collective consciousness, it was likely for different reasons than we think of it today.

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letters from my father – letter 1

January 7, 2012

Undated but guessing sometime in early January, 1944 (Dad was inducted into the Marines on January 17th)

Dear Ganther and Grampee,

We are now going thru Kansas. We stopped at Kansas City, Missouri for lunch. A navy shore patrol met us at the station and took us to a restaurant. McCormick gave them our meal ticket. First they gave us orange juice, then salad, then coffee and milk. For the main course they gave us steak, mashed potatoes and green beans, for dessert we got cake, ice cream and an apple. We were served at a big long table. When we came back our car was attached to a troop train. We have gone strait thru so far at a good fast rate. I gave the S.P. my letters to mail. I also have written to aunt J. and Mr. Burrows. A navy boy just came back and he said he never got such good treatment. Nobody has been loud or misbehaved. When we left the station Sargent Hall said that if we were army and navy men she would give us a lecture, but because we were Marines just behave like Marines and we wouldn’t have any trouble. Everyone has been very good to me everywhere we’ve been. I will tell you where to write me as soon as I know.

Love, Truman

I’m guessing that this is one of the earliest letters Dad wrote home, as Kansas City is not all that far from Indianapolis or Chicago (I’m not sure from where his train departed, but those are the most likely places). Dad regularly wrote to his grandparents and to his aunts. His grandparents adopted him after his mom died when he was 9 and for all practical purposes, Dad was estranged from his own father, who must have given up custody when Dad’s parent divorced.

What strikes me most in this letter, which is a pretty brief and banal accounting of his trip so far, is that he sounds young, which he was. He’d just turned 18 on January 2nd. And he also sounds bored and nervous. He’s writing letters and he’s looking around for cues and clues on how to behave and what to expect and he’s trying to figure out what it means that he is becoming a Marine. It’s like he’s at the start of a long rite of passage to adulthood.



with the old breed

November 12, 2011

My father served as Marine in WWII. He was in the artillery – G Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Division. I don’t know military speak, so I’m not sure if I’m saying that right. The 1st Marine Division is known as the Old Breed. My understanding is that they are stoic and bad ass group. I borrowed the title of this post from a book, a memoir actually, that was written by an Old Breed vet, Eugene Sledge. If you want to know what combat was like in the Pacific, read this book.

Dad’s platoon was sent in as replacements on Pelalu, where the the 1st Division suffered a 65% casualty rate, and after that he was sent in on front lines at Okinawa, where over 250,00 people total lost their lives. The following is an except from a letter Dad wrote me about his experience.

The night before Easter Sun we stopped within sight of Okinawa. You could see the flashes of the shelling and bombing ashore. I was leaning over the rail and someone came up to me and said, “Tomorrow may be your last day alive.” Somehow he didn’t really bother me, but I spent the night cleaning my rifle and making sure I had ammo in all my pouches. Nervous but not really afraid (I was 18 years old). Most of us were in our teens or early 20’s. Some people with us were in their 40’s.

In the morning (they did feed us) you had to eat on deck. The first thing  I saw were two planes with big red balls on the wings (the rising sun) not 50 feet above us. The sky was full of black smoke puffs from anti aircraft guns. We had to go in the “hold” and got in “ducks” small landing boats.

When we reached the beach I saw my first dead people. About three of them near the beach. The water was dyed red around them. It wasn’t like John Wayne movies. After a while you were indifferent to death and corpses. It was like going by a dead squirrel or cat in the road. There was always the smell and the maggots, but it became a way of life? You didn’t make close friends because in the next minute they could be “scrambled eggs” (dead or worse). 

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and then i wake up

February 14, 2011

A week ago or so, I had the worst dream about my dad. He was alive. He hadn’t actually died in the fire two years ago, but he’d let us believe that he had. And all this time he’d been hiding from us. On purpose.

Somehow my mom  found out – maybe he finally called her or maybe she just caught wind of it. I don’t know. In my dream, it wasn’t important how she knew, just that somehow she did and she was going with me to see him because she knew where he lived. He’d moved into an apartment complex that looked pretty similar to the complex where Mom lives now.

When we pulled up Dad was getting out of this 90’s sedan, something like a Cutlass supreme from the 1990’s. This detail struck me as significant, because for so, so long my dad drove a truck. He was a carpenter, so it made sense. Anyway, in the dream, he gets out of this car, goes around to the back, opens the trunk and starts rummaging through a couple trash bags he’s using to carry around his stuff. He pulls out some clothes and puts them aside and then he holds up a couple books. And all the time I’m saying something to him like, “How could you do this to us?”  “Do you know what you put us through?” “Do you care what it was like?” But he doesn’t say anything; he just keeps pulling things out of the trash bags that he wants to take in the apartment.

Then all of the sudden Mom and I are standing inside the door of Dad’s apartment. It’s pretty bare inside, like it would be after losing so much of his stuff in the fire. There’s a couple folding chairs, some TV trays for side tables, and an open hide-a bed couch, which he immediately goes over and sits on. I look around and see there’s a few stacks of books on the floor and a couple more trash bags of  his stuff.  He starts thumbing through some books he had left sitting out on the sofa bed and I’m still talking about how I don’t get it – how he could have left us to clean up his mess. He looks up at me and shrugs his shoulders. I notice a couple bathrobes hanging from some hooks on the bedroom door and I ask him if he’s living with these two women from his church. (In real life, these are the women this insensitive priest told me were just like daughter’s to my dad.). And Dad tells me no, but they know he’s alive and they come over and check on him every few days or so.

And  then I wake up.

Ever since my dad died, I’ve wanted to dream about him. As much as I hate to admit it, deep down I’ve wanted to get some kind of sign from him that though it never seemed like it, he thought about me and my sister all the time and that he really loved us – with all his heart he loved us. He knew our birthdays and color of our eyes.

But that’s not the dream I got and the one I did dream says volumes about all this shit that is unresolved in my heart. I thought because I was able to put the shitty dad thing aside 12 years ago, so I could get to know him as a person, and because we’d had a relationship in the last 12 years, that I was over the shitty dad thing. And I’m a little shocked to find out that I’m not over it.

One of the most bittersweet things I learned about my dad after he died is that he was a really good and loyal friend and that he was cherished by people, including a step daughter. In so many ways, he gave up on ever being that to me or my sister. We never go to cherish him or be cherished by him. At last not in a pragmatic way that made any real difference in every day life. In my brain I know better than to take it personally, but it appears that my heart is not a reasonable partner to my head.

So when I talk about my dad’s death, which I do a fair amount here on my blog (a feed of which I pull into Facebook) it’s as much about trying to work through how it’s kind of fucked up to be his child, as it is about his dying. And for some reason it works for me to do it in this format.

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everything and nothing at all

January 29, 2011

A week ago I couldn’t stop humming hymns. I don’t know how it started, but it was like someone pushed a button in my brain and out came all these old, wonderful songs that I grew up listening to and singing. I never thought about it at the time, but looking back I’d say that there were some very sweet and catchy tunes in the old hymnal. If any of you have been to an Episcopal church you know what I mean. This week I’m quite taken with a Sharon Van Etten song, One Day. It almost makes me want to cry a little bit.

I just finished watching he HBO mini-series, The Pacific, hoping to understand my dad better. And in some strange way hoping to be closer to him. I’ve cried a lot while watching it and wished desperately that I knew if my dad had kept his dress blues or his Marines dog tags, I would have spent more time in that horror show of his burnt out and trashed house searching for them if I’d known they were there.

Last night RU and I went to the Portland Art Museum to hear Catherine Opie give a lecture about, well, really her whole body of work. It was interesting and we were joined by an interesting mix of queers, museum patrons, folks looking for some intellectual stimulation, and maybe some folks feeling kinda nostalgic for the 90’s. Not that those are mutually exclusive groups.

I hate to admit it but I only heard of Cathy 3 or 4 years ago; for a big chunk of the 1990’s I wasn’t really paying attention to art. But I did see her retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2008. I think Cathy’s early series of portraits, which pretty much made her as an artist, are powerful, and I’m glad i saw them in person. Because the slides don’t convey the power of them. You have to be confronted by them in person. The photos in those series are big and aggressive and put into technicolor something that Mapplethorpe started. Those photos are like “boom,  mother fucker. We’re are here and we are fucking queer.”

I don’t think she’s done anything as powerful or as moving since those portraits. For for more intimate portraiture, I’d pick Nan Goldin. For social commentary, I’d pick Robert Frank or Lee Friedlander. Off the top of my head, I can’t say who I really like for  landscape, but I don’t find Cathy’s landscapes particularly compelling, except for the ice house series.  But I was still fascinated with listening to her talk about her work. In part because she’s funny and she’s smart enough to know how to work the crowd. Also, I have a certain personal affection and admiration for her because she’s unabashedly butch and talks about it like it’s absolutely no big deal.

But the landscapes aren’t really that interesting and overall are pretty forgettable. It’s her narrative about them that gives them meaning – what she was thinking or doing when she took the photos, the camera she used, the stories about her travels and sometimes what she was trying to accomplish by framing them the way she did. There was a lot of cliche in what she said, which I didn’t care so much about except that she tried to present it as a unique perspective, like taking a photo of the back of sunflowers and how that goes against expectation. The other thing that was interesting was just listening to the language of talking about art – pieces in conversation with other artist’s work, and football fields and strip malls as social landscapes, witnessing personal experience through portraiture. it was kind of like the performance of intellectualism.

I’m still an Opie fan though.

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some things are permanent

January 18, 2011

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my dad’s death. I had to look at the calendar on my watch yesterday to remind myself. I didn’t want to miss it or miss thinking about him today. I wish I could talk to him again. Not that we ever talked very much, except when I went home and then I had to make a special plan to meet him at Starbucks or go out for Indian food or something like. He was a shitty dad, but a good friend to a lot of people and by shitty I mean that he was absent, not malicious. Anyway, there are a bunch of questions I want to ask him about growing up and the war and meeting his 3rd wife and this girl he loved in China.

I imagine that in the upcoming years I will forget to remember that January 17th is the day my dad died. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust I guess. Still, there is a part of my metaphorical heart that has always been hollowed out by his absence and even if I forget the date he, the  part that’s missing will always be there.

Rest in peace.


veterans day 2010

November 12, 2010

Of course Kurt Vonnegut’s birthday is on Veterans Day. I’d never put that together until now. Wow.

Kurt Vonnegut went to Shortridge High School, the same high school my dad went to, but Dad is 4 years younger than KV so they didn’t really know each other. I’ve heard a family story, though, that KV might have based a character in one of his books on an older cousin of Dad’s, named Mig. It’s plausible and I imagine Mig cut quite the figure in her high school days. Listening to KV give interviews in the last  couple years of his life always made me thing of Dad. I don’t know if it was something in his voice and his tone or his humor and his dark perspective, or all of the above. There was definitely some old veteran thing going on. Or I think there was. I don’t know for sure, of course, but that’s how it seemed and it made me like Kurt Vonnegut disproportionate to liking anything he wrote or anything he said. Happy birthday Kurt Vonnegut. It never feels right to me to say happy Veteran’s Day, but I don’t know what to say instead.  Maybe just salute.

Like Kurt Vonnegut, Dad’s cousin LeRoy, or Little Roy as I’ve always heard him called, fought at the Battle of the Bulge. Unlike KV, Little Roy was killed there. It happened after Dad had already shipped out to the Pacific. I’ve tried, but I can’t imagine how Dad must have felt when he heard the news. Little Roy and he were like brothers and I don’t know how Dad could manage that loss while being in combat himself.

Dad served in an artillery battalion in the 1st Marine Division. If you’ve ever heard anyone talk about the “Old Breed” they are talking about the 1st Marines . It’s the most decorated unit of its size in the Corps and its battalions were on the front lines of some of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific, including Peleliu and Okinawa, which is where Dad fought. For a long time I thought Dad fought on Guadalcanal too, but I’m thinking now that I was just confused by the 1st Marine patch he wore on his National Guard uniform.

On Okinawa Dad became a forward observer. All the other observers had been killed and his highers ups were looking for volunteers who could read instruments. Dad said he jumped at the chance. The observer serves as the eyes of the gunners, going out with the infantry and directing artillery fire and close air support onto enemy positions. According to Wikipedia Artillery observers are considered high-priority targets by enemy forces, as they control a great amount of firepower, are within visual range of the enemy, and are often located deep within enemy territory. Dad said he loved the excitement, danger and adventure of it, even though he knows that loving it was bad side effect of war.

I have a box of letters that Dad wrote home to his grandparents and they cover the duration of his enlistment, from the train trip to San Diego, where he went to basic training, to the 35 day voyage back to the states from China, which is where his division was stationed after Japan surrendered. There must be more than 50 letters in that box, but there’s only one letter where Dad talks about being in combat. It’s pretty painful in parts and someone in his family typed it up, made copies and passed around among the clan, as Dad called his family. I’ve got 2 copies and I’ve seen another copy at a cousin’s house.

Dad’s tone is so detached in the letter and at times or in parts, it almost sounds touristy. When I read it I remind myself that he was only 19 and I don’t think he knew how or what to tell his family about what he was experiencing. He’s filtered out all the horrible stuff in all the other letters and I don’t know what got him to turn filter off to write this one. I can guess, but I don’t want to do arm chair analysis right now. What I want to do is include part of that letter here in my blog. I’m so sorry my dad suffered for so long with some of the horrible things he saw and did and I guess I want to witness that for him even though he’s dead now. And I also want to remember that even though we’re in a different war, people are still suffering over the same horrible stuff, which is just insane really and I wish we had it in us to make this insanity stop.

From my dad: One morning we found a woman who had tied her kids to her and then cut her throat. When we found her she was still alive and the kids were screaming and crying. After we got the kids still they were just sobbing instead of screaming. The doctor gave the woman some morphine and they carried her away. She was the worst mess I’ve ever seen. Her hair was stuck in her wound and she was gasping and carrying on and the blood was squirting out of her throat like a fountain. That particular incident upset me more than anything else I saw during the whole shellings.

One day a fellow lost his leg and some other people got hurt which was too bad. The next place was where we got rained out so much I finally gave up trying to stay dry and went around barefoot with just a pair of shorts or nothing on at all. We went through Naha on a rainy day and you could see arms and legs sticking out of buildings. The whole place smelt so bad it nearly knocked you out. There was was one nice little gruesome sight. There was a dead Jap buried underneath mud and water except for his arm. His hand had turned yellow and all the veins stuck out. When we set up outside Naha some sniper would shoot at us when we went to the head, he never hit anybody, but he was harassing to say the least.

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