Found these photos of Walt and his friends in one pic and their partners in the other, dated 13 June 1943. This would have been prior to the timeline set out by Walt’s friend Garner in the previous post that begins in September 1943. So, I don’t know where they are.
In between transcribing the letters from 1944-45, now that I have that ton of 1942 letters behind me, I look around the site and make little changes that need to be done to keep all pages on the site up to date. I see that I’ve declared in some places that I have no plans to transcribe some letters from friends, but I’ve changed my mind about that. I just won’t do it until all of Walt’s and Ruth’s letters are done.
One of those is the long letter from Charles Garner. I started rereading it, and he actually gives a little timeline about Walt’s training and location in 1943. For example:
Pitt & I first met in September, 1943 at Dale Malory Field, Tallahassee, Fla. I was just newly married & if I remember correctly, you & he had not been married too long.
We went from Tallahassee to Thomasville, Ga. & from there back to Tallahassee. It was not until this second trip to Tallahassee that I became close to Pitt. There—Pitt, I , Rule, Conny Fagerland, DuBost, Franklin, & Marty—separated ourselves into one group & drew cards against other groups to see if we could go overseas. There were six groups of seven apiece & all wanted to go. But—we won or lost—as the case may be & were sent to Meridian, Miss. There the seven of us became as one. We drank, cussed, fussed, fought, gambled, flew & studied as one. Call it “Esprit De Corps” or by any other name, but whatever it was, we seven had it. And, we enjoyed ourselves. We were all young then, both in age & experience. Those of us left are now young in age. I have a picture of us taken at Meridian which I look at every so often & recall the times we had. This picture fairly glows with youth & eagerness.
. . . .
From Meridian we went to Savannah, Ga.
. . . .
From Savannah we seven went to Camp Stoneman, Calif.
. . . .
From Stoneman, we seven went to Hamilton Field at San Francisco & there Rule, Marty & Fagerland left ahead of us & went to a different Sqdn.
There’s more; it’s a long letter, and I will quote from it again before it is all transcribed, but these excerpts help fill in where Walt went for stateside flight training in 1943. From Ruth herself, I remember hearing something about Florida and California, but stories were not really a part of our lives; she kept most of it to herself. I lived in Georgia from 1997-99, but never heard Ruth say anything about her or Walt having been there. But she did leave the letters.
There are only 37 letters for all of 1944, with a big gap in the middle of the year, and as I’ve said before, no letters for 1943. Thirty-seven doesn’t seem like very many for a whole year, even considering that it was wartime, for someone who had previously written almost every day and sometimes twice a day.
In the first letter for 1944, written on 23 January, Walt apologizes for not having time to write recently (suggesting I am missing letters), and also states that he has been wherever he is for 7 months, which would go back to the summer of 1943. He also talks about “making ‘First'”—first Lieutenant?—adding that he’s “been in since the 1st of Nov.” You might recall that the little diary in a recent post ended in March 1943, when he and Ruth left for Cimarron Field in Oklahoma, but I don’t know what happened after that up to the first letter in 1944.
Maybe I’ll find something else that suggests where he did his flight training and where and when he was deployed overseas, but I may just have to guess when Ruth had to return to Youngstown. Still, if she returned any time in 1943, why are there no letters? And why the big gap in the middle of 1944? I don’t think I’ll be able to answer these questions.
When I think about it, though, it’s a wonder that the hundreds of letters I have made it this far.
I never had much interest in Walt’s little spiral notebook/diary because not much of it is filled, and it mostly seemed like a dull recording of ordinary daily tasks, but the ending, which I never read before, tells a lot of the missing story at the end of 1942. It continues a little into 1943 ending on 20 March. [Turns out I had read the ending of the journal and even posted about it, but then forgot ::slaps forehead::]
It appears that Ruth did stay with Walt in Texas, and then followed him to Oklahoma for more training. That’s as far as the diary goes.
Here are those last pages followed by a transcript:
Sent to San Antonio Texas on 16th Nov—arrived 17 Nov. for Air Cadets.
Nov. 20th. Had some drill today. —Perplexed as to how Ruth and I are going to get married.
N. 21. to Dec. 10—Passed tests, etc.—expecting to go to preflight soon. Am really perplexed now about Marriage. Looks impossible at the present time. I feel sorry for Ruth, I’m always sorry for myself. I hope it turns out O.K. She is my Honey.
Dec 17—I’m supposed to get a 3 day pass over Xmas. telegraphed Ruth to come. I’m still trusting everything turns out O.K.
Dec. 22. Ruth should be in San Antone today, maybe tommorrow. Hip, Hip—Hooray—She’s my Honey.
Dec. 23—Ruth called me today—I sure was glad to hear her voice again
Dec. 24. Had some trouble getting pass but finally got it signed. Met Ruth—she is beautiful—We were married at 3:00 today—I am one lucky guy. Everything is going to turn out O.K. I’m sure.
Dec. 25, 26 [illegible cross out]—A very short Honeymoon. I am glad I got some time off. I think Ruth will more then fulfill all expectations.
Dec. 27.—Cold this morning—I hated to leave Ruth. She came to visited me this afternoon—She was almost froze.
Dec. 28. [can’t make out first one or two words] floor this morning—Ruth is going to look for work this afternoon—Hope she can stay. I’ll be glad to have her near me.
Dec. 29—Ruth came to the Post tonight—A shame I get to town. I’m more then glad she can come out tho.
Dec. 30—Ruth came out again—She is sweet. Guess she is having quite a vacation—Hope she is happy—She sure is a good sport. I love her.
Dec. 31—Ruth came out.
Jan 1. New Years—funny New Years. Ruth was out. A couple of “shots”
Jan 2.—Ruth out.
Jan 3—Sun—Ruth out all day—A walk in the Cactus—Ha.—Very windy.
Jan. 4. Dear Diary—this is important I believe.—I don’t know how I should feel—but I feel good—If you don’t know what I mean you’ll have to guess—wow!
Jan 5—Ruth visited me—gas chamber today.
16 16—Entered Pre-flight ( Rough tough) Hard day,—Ruth came out in evening—Don’t like it at all so far
Jan Mar. 18. Went thru Preflight O.K.—Saw Ruth almost every nite had 4 Open Posts 2 passes.—tough but not too tough.
Mar. 19—Ruth left for Okla. City—She’s a real girl (wife)
Mar. 20—Left at 1:45 for Okla. City.
Mar 21. Arrived at Cimarron Field for Primary—Have contacted Ruth—So far every thing is O.K.—but I damn sure don’t like it.