Discharge Documents Add to Walt’s Timeline

An envelope containing a few service and discharge documents fill in some dates of when and where Walt served in the Army up to 1947. An odd bunch of documents that Walt and Ruth would have had to hold up to a mirror to read, they look like they might be photos of film negatives—in reverse. I’m guessing it had something to do with how the Army was storing the glut of documents it must have had during the war. Today, it’s easy to scan the documents and flip them to be able to read them, but here’s an idea of what the originals look like:

There are two honorable discharge documents, one from 1943 and the second from 1947. They suggest that Walt had to be discharged in September 1943 (perhaps at the end of his flight training?), and then reenlist in October 1943 to begin another stage of training (I’m guessing here). Altogether, Walt served from 12 January 1942 to 7 January 1947. Here are the discharge documents:

There are two additional documents, an enlisted record dated 30 September 1943 and a separation document that also entails the particulars of his service. That document doesn’t appear to have a date other then his official date of separation of 7 January 1947 :

From the enlisted record, we learn that Walt received training in 1943 from March through September at San Antonio, TX, Oklahoma City, OK, Winfield, KS, and Eagle Pass, TX.

It’s that second separation document that holds interesting information in the section called military history:

  • Occupational Specialty: Tactical reconnaissance pilot
  • Battles and Campaigns: Philippine Islands, Southern Philippines, Luzon, New Guinea, Ryukyus, China Offensive Air Offensive Japan
  • Decorations and Citations: Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal w/3 oak leaf clusters; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/7 bronze service stars; American Theater Campaign Medal; Victory Medal; Philippine Liberation Medal w/2 bronze service stars
  • Service Outside Continental US and Return: Departed 20 June 1944 for the South Pacific, arriving 23 June 1944; Departed 22 October 1945 for the USA, arriving 1 November 1945.

One more document, in a different envelope, shows that Walt didn’t stay out of the service very long. He completed an Air Force Aircraft Controllers Course in July 1949 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, FL:

San Antonio after the War

The August 1945 letters ended abruptly when the Japanese surrender was announced, and while I don’t know how long it took for Walt’s group to wrap up and return to the states, it must have required some time, including travel. Maybe on hearing the news, Ruth started packing and planning to return to San Antonio to meet Walt. I don’t know when they finally met up, but we know that they remained in San Antonio until at least the end of 1946, as their first child was born there in November.

During their stay, I have evidence that they tried to enjoy postwar life. There are three photos in souvenir folders, at least one of them taken by Truesdell Night Club Photography. It is the only dated photo, dated April 13, 1946. The tables and chairs in that photo differ from the other two, which are marked as from Club Sevenoaks.

Here’s a closer look at the photos. This is the one from April:

These two are undated, but seem to be from two different outings, as evidenced by Ruth’s hairstyles:

What’s After the Letters?

Currently, there are 402 pages on this site. The blog itself is one continuous page, and then there are title pages and resource pages, and so on.

Three hundred fifty-nine of those pages are letters from Walt—359!

::deafening applause::

But that’s not the end. I still have those packs of Ruth’s letters to be sorted and scanned and transcribed. They are without their envelopes, so I am hoping each one is dated, and that maybe they were returned in order. I will start by scanning and posting them before I do any transcribing, though.

There are other items that might be of interest, such as Walt’s pilot’s log book, and of course documents from the government following his death.

Stay tuned to the blog for updates about where the site goes from here.

August 1945 Letters Transcribed ✅

The letters from August 1945 have been transcribed, and that marks the end of the letters from World War II. August begins with Walt’s squadron moving to the Ryukyu/Okinawa Islands and ends with the Japanese surrender after we dropped the atomic bombs. At the end, Walt is a little lost, probably wondering what he will do now that this 4-year period of service is coming to an end.

July 1945 Letters Transcribed ✅

There are only seven letters in July 1945, but they begin with the long waited for news of Walt’s promotion to Captain. He gets a chance to visit the front line with the infantry, but by the end of the month, his squadron is headed out for another location, where he expects to be pretty busy.