Huerfano County, Colorado
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THE MEN OF MY AIR MATERIEL SQUADRON
OF THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY
OF AMERICAN LANDINGS
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OFFICE OF THE ISLAND CENSOR
APO ____ c/o Postmaster San Francisco, California
6 May 1945
SUBJECT: Censorship of Publication.
TO : HUSAFPOA, APO 958, Attention G-2, Press Censorship.
1. Request censorship of inclosed document and return to the following address:
Cpl. Crist S. Lovdjieff 37354220
/s/ Frederick E. Haynes Jr.
579th Air Materiel Squadron
72nd Air Service Group
APO 247, c/o Postmaster
San Francisco, California
FREDERICK E. HAYNES JR.
1st Lt., AUS
Island Censor, APO
2 copies document for publication
Office of the Theatre Press Censor, G-2, HUSAFPOA, 11 May 1945.
The original copy of "A Sketch of the Marianas" is herewith returned "passed for Publication" with
only minor deletions.
/s/ F. W. Tuohy
F. W. Tuohy
1st Lt., FA.,
A CERTIFIED TRUE COPY: Signature of Nate Weinstein
1st Lt., AC
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. How we got here
II. Origin, Geography, Flora, and Fauna
III. Meet the Marianas, and Thoughts About the Sea
IV. A Peep Into History and Religion
V. The Battle For The Marianas
VI. Post-Battle Conditions, and The Construction
VII. I Am the B-29
VIII. The Natives Today
IX. Somewhere in the Marianas
A. How We Live
B. The Daily Routine
D. Danger From The Enemy Today
E. Ideas and The Soldier
F. B-29 Missions Today
G. Remember Them By
H. Death in The Marianas
I. Rock Happiness
J. Final Considerations
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This book grew out of an idea to consolidate all the information I had gathered during the first weeks of overseas service about these islands, and present it to my family and to my friends in the States in a single dose, thus avoiding endless repetition in my letters. As time went on, however, I gathered more and more material so that the first draft, completed the end of January and some fifty pages in length, has been swollen to its present volume. I do not pretend that this is complete and comprehensive, or that in all instances all pertinent matters are adequately treated. Much of the story of the Marianas Islands cannot be written now for it is still incomplete and affected by the safeguarding of military information. But if this book serves to introduce these islands to my civilian friends, and it captures some of the history of our tenure here, it will surely have served its purpose.
The reader will come across numerous quotations from all types of periodicals and publications. I have used these "because of their factual nature and to avoid violating rules of censorship. Constant attention has been focused throughout the book on keeping all information within the bounds of censorship and military information security regulations. It is not my intention to publish this book except in the sense of making mimeograph copies for the men of my Air Materiel Squadron.
All matter in addition to the quoted material is an egression of my personal experiences, viewpoints, and reaction; and under no circumstances must it be construed as an official statement of military authorities on this Island, or of the War Department.
Marianas Islands C. S. L.
30 April 1945
PASSED FOR PUBLICATION
U. S. ARMY PRESS CENSOR
Somewhere in the Marianas ... a fantastic dream for a small-town Coloradoan? Hardly. You see, it's true, as true and real as the heat at noon or the ocean's salt. I am somewhere in the Marianas, and this is their story, a sketch of these white coral freckles on the face of the pinks Pacific.
Marianas Islands of Micronesia, the region of "the tiny islands." Twelve or thirteen degrees north of the equator. Fourteen hours ahead of New York City's time so that when it is Sunday noon here it is ten o'clock Saturday night there. Between five and six thousand miles from San Francisco, though none of us here can begin to guess how many miles we covered with all the zigzagging of our convoy. The strangest part of being on these islands is that one rarely stops to think how far he is from New York City or from Walsenburg by measurements of time and distance, or even by remembering how romantically all Pacific islands were portrayed in a grade school geography book or in a Hollywood travelogue. The earth is still flat in appearance here, the sky pinks, the clouds of various types and hues, the sun and moon the same we knew back in the States. There are winds and rains, dust and mud, GI mess kits and jeeps. No, the real difference, I guess, is in the presence of such unfamiliar objects as coral rock, volcanic soil, banana trees, Japanese people and the torn remnants of their civilization, and the Southern Cross in the heavens at night. It is in the acutely-felt absence of such conveniences as bars, soda fountains, theatres, libraries, restaurants, and cold, fresh milk. In one sense we are at home, the whole world is home to mankind, but in another sense we are very far from the faces and the places we have always known as our own homes.
Homesickness? Let me say here at the beginning that the desire to return home is more deeply rooted and felt than one is likely to realize if he never leaves home. I myself used to minimize the importance of this feeling until I stepped on the gang-plank. Then for a long while I found it almost difficult to think as hard or feel as deeply as I once did about politics, education, racial and other social problems. Though I have overcome that lethargy to some extent, and I am snapping out of it to a greater degree every day, even at its worst, neither I nor any man I know was so prone to daydream of home that his work suffered. Instead, even then men were thinking of more than the war in this part of the world, of more than the occupations of the moment. All of us are deeply concerned with the post-war era, what we are headed for, what we shall do. Some of us have wives and families and definite jobs or farms to return to. Others of us will return to school, and the rest are wondering and sometimes worrying. All of us manage to keep busy, filling the swiftly-passing days with work on our particular jobs and with whatever leisure-time activities we arrange for ourselves.
This may lead you to suspect that the Marianas hold no special interest for us, that in our preoccupation with work and the daily routine we never have time to look around at these islands. You may think we do not care for them, that they are glamorless, colorless, if not downright dull and ugly, and you probably feel mighty grateful that you are snuggled in that comfortable chair in the middle of the U.S. 7000 miles away. If such is your suspicion, then you'd better get this straight. The Marianas are not drab and colorless, and living here is not a bleak and dreary experience. None of us can begin to complain about these islands as other men in this Pacific Ocean Area can gripe about theirs. To give you an idea of the reasons for this conviction is one of my purposes in putting together this book.
First of all, the Marianas Islands--the few we have seen--looked absolutely good to us after those first weeks of overseas service spent in coming here aboard a troopship. We will understand this better if we consider first that trip. Our safe arrival and our landing on the last days of 1944 concluded one of the most miserable and exasperating experiences any of us have undergone. We made two stops enroute, one of them at Hawaii where we were promptly disillusioned about Hollywood's Technicolor for the verdure of the island set against, an ocean whose pinks was of a richness and beauty we had never seen evade capture. These stops were probably the only thing which kept most of us
from going completely insane. The seasickness, the packed tiers of bunks in the hot stinking holds of the ship, the endless rocking, nauseating odors, and inescapable greasy grime of that transport, the monotony of the menu and the tastelessness of the food, and the maddening lack of privacy combined to make that voyage nothing short of a nightmare. How we had "abandon ship" drills, and "stand to's" on top deck at dawn and at twilighthours when the submarine danger is greatest; how we dry-heaved and vomited and wished we could die; how we walked on and over each other at every turn we made, "grateful to the sardines when they moved over to make more room," "pitying the two ants that suffocated while trying to cross the deck," these are troopship experiences we are struggling to forget. Though we were always hungry, the moment we passed through the engine room and the steaming galley our appetites vanished. There was aching thirst, but the foul-tasting water would not quench it.
Day after day the loudspeakers scattered throughout the ship carried announcements such as these:
"Lieutenant Kaser report to the Chaplain's office, and bring your accordion.
"Sergeant Giccone p-1-e-a-s-e report to the Chaplain's office.
"There will be an inspection of the ship at 1100. All hands will remain top-side until after inspection. That is all, I repeat, that is all.
"All cooks and KP's assigned to duty in the mess hall today take up your stations immediately.
"All troops fall top-side for morning muster.
"Now hear this, secure for morning alert. Black-out has been lifted; smoking lamp is lit.
"Hatch Number 3 will be cleared immediately for policing. Deck officers take note.
"4418-B hit the chow line.
"All men having books out of the ship's library for over two days return same immediately.
"Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert please report to transport headquarters, please.
"Attention please. Captain Striecher report to Major Kroeber at once.
"This is the morning news broadcast from Hotel U.S. ATS Sea Dolphin with your latest news. Announcements: There will be a glee club practice for the singing of Christmas carols at 1300 today in the officers' hold. Movies tonight in hatches one and three. In The Navy with Abbot and Costello at 1930 in hatch one, and Powers Girl with Carol Landis at 2030 in hatch three. Bingo in hatch two at 2000. The library will be open from 1300 to 2100.
"Prepare to clear the decks for fire drill.
"Corporal Pratt's PX detail report to the hold immediately.
"Detail X report to officers' hold at once.
"Will the First Sergeant of 83266-JJ report to the chow line to identify your men. (This was the colored unit!)
"Stand by for evening alert. All hands report top-side immediately. Black-out-is now in effect. There will be no more smoking on the weather deck. Every man is responsible for his own porthole. (None of us had to worry about port-holes.)
"Attention, garbage detail. You may dump your garbage now."
Day after day we heard those cries, over and over again. Yet as choice as such literary droppings may be, even in an endless barrage, they were nothing beside the biggest and most frightful horror: the food. Hardly ever was there quantity and variety sufficient to give you a feeling of having eaten to your fill. Inevitably all the meals were boiled or steamed, starchy and unseasoned. Who among us can forget the sight of bluish boiled potatoes with powdered eggs for breakfast? It is true that the bread we hadbaked on the shipwas the best item on the menu, but all too soon we learned the literal meaning of "man lives not by bread alone" even when it sports a dab of butter every now and then.
The personnel other than troops this included navy gunners, ship's crew, and the ship's complement (men of the Transportation Corps) ate in a separate mess hall. It was up in the super-structure. Ours was down in a hold. Whenever we walked by that dining hall on the starboard side of the ship we would look in through the open port-holes and feast our eyes on all that the Chinese and the colored cooks had prepared. The aroma alone was enough to make our stomachs turn somersaults. We would behold tables laden with a number of condiments, jelly, sugar, buttered toast, lettuce and tomato salads, apples, oranges, and even salt, pepper, plates, and silver. And those guys sat at tables for meals; we stood and ate ours with our life-preservers on. While we picked over corned beef and boiled potatoes for breakfast, the menu upstairs boasted rather casually of bacon and eggs to order, and hot cakes with butter and syrup, halves of fresh grapefruit, and cold, fresh milk. All my life the odor of canned milk has turned my stomach. The troopship did not help that either for with our cooked cereal of oatmeal, cornmeal, or wheat meal, we were served condensed milk. The men who liked it had one hell of a tine trying to find a can which wasn't empty.
Although troop transports normally serve but two meals a day (to troops, that is), our ship, under pressure I am told, served an additional mid-day snack. This caused no end of griping by the big fat slob who was the ship's steward. Cooks and galley chiefs complained during the entire voyage how we consumed more grub than any group of soldiers they had brought overseas. Yet all they served us extra was a half canteen cupful of so-called soup and a slice of bread. Seconds at any meal were rare. But did the cooks and the steward starve themselves? Not they. They dined in style upstairs, away from the closeness, confusion, and steamy temperatures of 120° in our mess hall. Or if they ate in the galley they did it at night, by stealth, when they could prepare themselves steaks, hamburgers, and such-like treats.
There were several outlets for our feelings. For one, we talked of food. No matter with whom we found ourselves, or where we happened to park along the deck, what the hour of day or night, always the chief topic of conversation revolved around food. We dreamed food, re-living even the humblest snacks we used to have at home, or the hamburgers and torta we had back in Walker. We kicked ourselves in the pants every time we remembered that big spread which Mom put together on our last three-day-pass, and which we could not touch because of a tooth-ache. We talked about real bargains at eating houses, and we yearned for Mom's chicken noodle soup, Aunt Esther's cakes, or for Mrs. Ulery's pot roasts and pies. We beat ourselves at the numerous memories of times we passed up a plain hot dog and coke. When we reached the mess hall, determined to stuff ourselves no matter what, the hash or stew suddenly convinced us we were not very hungry after all.
We did anything to take our minds off our misery. The PX supplies of root beer (a brand called Yosemite), coca cola, candy, peanuts, and cookies gave out early in the voyage. So we read, for one thing, if we were not too dizzy from seasickness, or we batted the breeze, or simply watched the endless movement of waves, ships, and clouds. When we managed to get our sea legs, usually after initiation in the galley's "clipper", we turned to letter-writing and to gambling to pass the time. Most of the movies shown were old-timers, and a pretty sad lot they were. The best was shown while we were in Hawaii, Rosemarie with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.
Another diversion was beard-growing and weird hair-cuts. These provided endless material for wise-cracks. Shaving could hardly be considered a part of everyone's daily routine. Men's appearance, like his speech, is largely conditioned by the presence of women. That voyage was no exception; we did not give a damn how we looked. Moreover, the sea water in the showers and wash basins was hardly inviting, so hard and salty was it.
Then there were sleeve-less shirts and leg-less trousers which appeared in increasing numbers as the ship entered the tropics. Knives graced a few belts and hips. Add to that our hot, smelly life-preservers and you can well visualize the spectacle of hundreds of men swarming over the deck in the daily promenade and search for a
One of the incidentals of that voyage was the navy lingo we picked up. We learned that floors are not floors,
but decks, and that walls are bulkheads. Latrines are heads, and mess halls, galleys. Starboard is right, and port is a ship's left side. On both ocean vessels and aircraft the running lights are the same colors, red for port and left wing, green for starboard and right wing. You never speak of smoke-stacks on a ship, they're funnels. Our ship was able to cover about 21 miles an hour, but speed isn't reckoned like that in the navy. No sir, our ship's top speed was around 19 knots! (By the-way, for the benefit of you men who have not yet looked it up, a knot is a "nautical mile, i.e., 6085 feet.")
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