I added two letters to the 1951 list of letters from Korea: 26 April and 19 May. Walt writes to his four-year-old son, Sib, about eating right, not playing in the street, and just generally being good. Happy Father’s Day.
As I’m beginning to transcribe Walt’s letters from 1945, here’s something for readers to keep an eye out for.
Charles Garner talks about a few incidents that he and his friends experienced in his letter to Ruth after Walt’s death, and he’s writing 7-8 years after the fact, so he can be forgiven for any mis-remembering. In a recent post, I quoted him, but stopped short of what he says happened to Walt in January 1945. Here’s the entire passage from p. 4:
And then a day or two after Thanksgiving, 1944 J. J. got hit & lost a hand. Dec. 4, 1944, some few days later, I lost an ear. Around Jan 5, 1945 Frank went west—& Pitt spent a couple of days on a raft. Pitt was the only one physically able to return to flying. He did so & flew close to 200 missions.
Garner makes it sound like Franklin’s death and Walt’s time in a raft happened together, but maybe not. Ruth told me quite a few times that Walt was shot down in WWII and spent five days in a raft before being rescued. The five days seems to jive with Garner’s recollection of “a couple of days on a raft.”
There is a big gap in the letters in January between the 9th and the 24th. In fact, Walt mentions in the letter of the 9th that Franklin has been killed in a runway accident the day before. Then the letters resume on the 24th but with no mention of his having been shot down in the interval. So, Garner’s date of the 5th was a little off, but close.
Then there is this telegram sent to Walt’s parent’s address instead of to Ruth’s address:
It says Walt has been missing in action since January 10th, but the time stamp is dated February 7th. We know Walt resumed writing in late January, so he is not still missing at the time of the telegram, but the initial date may be correct. Would family notification really have been so slow?
So, keep alert for any small references to such an incident—if indeed he is allowed to mention it in a letter.
Oh, and I guess that would have been the end of the Ruth-Less plane.
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.
The January 1942 letters settle into cavalry training at Fort Riley, Kansas, beginning at around 18 January. Here are a few photos from that period, some with commentary on the back:
These next photos are mostly concerned with the uniform appearance, but you’ll notice on one that he wrote January when he meant February—as he did on a few letters that had to be moved. I see my brother had to make his mark on one of the photos, since it looked like a place to write, I guess:
- If I had a bayonet on rifle—this would be quite a pose
- A fairly good picture with summer shirt we use it for dress—The tie is Cavalry style—We have to wear it this way when we are without blouse. buttons should be buttoned—Ha.
- Me with Rifle at “Sling Rifles.” Look at those boots shine. [added later: Sib]
- Kneeling position I got the highest score in the 5 and 6th Platoon today
Jan.Feb 4. 198
I also added a few photos that were pertinent to the letter of 21 January 1942 on that page.