letters from my father – letter 10 (still in basic training)

February 14, 2012


Dear Granther & Granpee,
I received your letters & enjoyed them very much. Next week will be our last one before we go to the rifle range. I went to church this morning. This week has been pretty good and I have had a lot of fun. We have had alot of bayonet practice this week. We were instructed by a captain back from Gaudalcanal who taught us all the latest tricks. We went thru the gas chamber Friday afternoon. We wore gas masks inside and then took them off.  Our eyes watered and noses stung but we were all right a few minutes after we got out. We had a rifle inspection by the colonel Friday morning and our platoon did very well. We were out on the Boondocks twice this week. We had another shot Saturday and will get one every Saturday we are here. The Tetnus will be the last. Things will be better at the rifle range as we can go to the P.X. any time out there. We were told this week that we could receive candy by mail so I would appreciate some. But make it enough so I can pass it out to the hut. There are 21 in a hut. Some of the other guys have received packages. We went to the movies Monday & Wed nights. They are outdoors and its pretty cold. We had a lecture on the Reising sub-machine gun Wednesday. Our D.I.s have been better this week. all except Sgt. Chaney but he’s an old veteran. He has been in the Marines 8 years and has fought with the Japs. Our uniforms are very nice. Our overcoats & overseas caps & trousers are very good but our shirts & ties aren’t so hot. We don’t get a blouse(coat) and barracks cap until the last week. If we want Dress blues we have to buy them in town after we get out of here. Don’t send me money because I can’t spend it & will just probably lose it. Don’t come out here because I want to come home just as soon as I’m thru here. Everybody in our platoon is seriously religious which surprised me. Most of them have bibles & prayer books & use them a lot. Keep the chickens & yourselves well, & keep the letters coming.

Love Truman

It’s clear here that Dad’s adapting to the routine of boot camo and figuring out how to be part of the platoon (getting enough candy for everybody). He talks about his day nonchalantly as though going to a gas chamber or practicing with a bayonette is normal stuff and as though the reader knows about D.I.’s and boondocks and submachine guns.

The two two things I want to point out that I know will be a theme are 1) church and religion, which is going to come up during the entire course of his service, and 2) the idea of a furlough, seeing his family and or going home, which will continue to come up while he’s stateside.

After this letter I’m going to have to go back and do some sorting so I can try to get a bunch of undated letters in order. There are thread to follow and clues that can place one letter close to another, but Dad also talks about the same things over and over again. Plus, I think some days he wrote more than one letter.

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letters from my father – letter 9

February 13, 2012

Dad’s platoon


Dear Granther & Granpee,
I received yours Aunt J’s & Uncle Harrys letters. Tomorrow we have rifle inspection by the Colonel. This has been a very busy week but much better than last week. I’m begining to like the Marines a lot now. I have gotten used to being bawled out, so I don’t mind that any more. We have been having bayonet practice this week and more “extended orders.” We were running up a hill with our rifles and I hit the ground so hard on the signal that I cut my hand. While we lay there we have to sight another foxhole and run for it. We have also been practicing security on the march.” I was one of the rear guard. So far I have never had a dirty rifle & I hope it keeps up. We had to get all dressed up in our “greens” today and go to Company parade with transport packs. We marched with the Band & the Colonel received us, then we had inspection of packs & display of equipment. I had another haircut today. All clippers. Next week is our last one before we go to the rifle range which is about 20 miles away. We get gaurd duty next week. We are now doing the marching manual of arms. If I get a 10 day shore leave don’t come out here because I want to get home if just for an hour it would be worth it to see Indianapolis and everything back there, The chaplains aren’t very popular with the D.I.s and don’t have any assistants. If our platoon breaks up at the end of the month we get 30 days mess duty. But it will break up in the middle & we will probably get a few days gaurd duty instead. Don’t send me money as there is nothing I can buy & would only loose it. Everybody in our platoon is swell and we have had lot of fun being together. The quarters are crowded but you don’t mind it much. You can’t find Camp Pendleton & Camp Elliot on the map as they are only Marine Corp Camps out in the desert about 25 or 30 miles from town. I am sending you our platoon picture. Give my love to everyone.

love Truman

Dad is standing at the left end of the second row. He looks young, a little bit pudgy. He’s squinting into the sun. He’s wearing his cap straight down on his head, and not tipped to the side. For some reason that makes him seem like more of kid to me, a kid with gun and bayonette and one who’s learning how to run from foxhole to foxhole.

I like it when Dad says “give my love.” It’s more sentimental or emotional then I’ve ever thought of him as being. It’s like he’s revealing his tender heartedness. Or I just want to find that tender hearted part of him.

I have to get my brain wrapped back around this project. I’ve been heads down writing a couple other pieces and working on a web project and doing yard work and going on walk in town and in the woods with RU.

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