letters from dad – letter 12 (probably the first one from the rilfe range)

May 30, 2012


Dear Granther & Granpee,

I went to church today. It was held outdoors in the amptetheater. We are now at the rifle range. Its about 10 miles from the base and is the second biggest in the United States. We live and eat out here for 3 weeks. My address however is the same. We had another inspection last Friday and out platoon was complemented which is going to make things here easier. Out here we go to the P.X. at any time and anything we want. Our bunks are always made down and we only have to shave every other day and also were issued an extra blanket, so we feel as if we were living in luxury. However we have to use our own mess gear and get up at 5:00A.M. We got to sleep late today. We didn’t have to get up until 6:00 oclock AM. We were also issued shooting pads to sew on our dungaree jackets. I received my razor and was glad to get it. We had a lecture on hand grenades & the B.A.R.(Browning Automatic Rifle) last week. We had a little map reading also last week. Our D.I.s are really very smart. The Marine Corps has the best non-commissioned officers in the world. To be a sergent you have to go to officers school. Our sergent knows algebra, trigonometry and many other things. Unfortunately a few college V12 officers have come into the Corps but they don’t have any place in it. One of them inspected us and he was seriously criticized by our D.I.s. All our D.I.s are stacked with ribbons & shooting medals. We learn the nomenclature of our M1 this afternoon. There is a lot more to shooting then just pulling the trigger Also we were told to be courteous to civilians and to say please when you want something passed is an order. We were told not to whistle at anybody when we came out here. You can be court marshalled for cursing or being drunk. I can see  the reasons for a lot of things I couldn’t see before. We can buy candy out here but they never have it at the P.X. Because when it gets hot you will get sick at your stomach and one day in sick bay and your out of the platoon. the fruits of strict discipline are Tarawa and Gaudalcanal. The Marines have the best disciplined and trained men of any service in the world. We get chicken at chow today. When we are in our last week we were issued Blouses, dress shoes and barracks caps (the kind with trills). I appreciate your letters keep them coming. Tell me how my chickens & John & the new baby are. Give my love to everybody.

Love Truman

Re-reading this letter, I think it probably was written before the previous one I posted, letter 11. I’ve tried a couple times to sort through all these undated letters to try to determine the sequence in which they were written, but it ends up a being pretty impossible task and kind of a rabbit hole that gets in the way of the actual reading and transcribing process.

Like the last letter, Dad makes a number of comments that say to me he is getting indoctrinated into the Marines, such as when he says that the Marines have best non-commissioned officers and Tarawa and Guadalcanal are the fruits of strict discipline. I was curious about the disdain he expressed for the college educated officers. Mom told me that even when Dad, himself, went to college he expressed disdain for other college guys, often calling them Joe College. I did a little research and I think the real issue is not college so much as the difference between the Commissioned Officer (CO) and the Non-Commissioned Officer, (NCO). The NCO’s, like the Drill Sergeants, work their way up through the ranks and have more combat experience and more interaction with the lower ranks. The CO’s bypass a lot of this and may go into combat with a lot less battlefield experience. From perspective, it’s easy to see where the disdain came from.

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