Sunday, March 29, 2009

Map of Camp Abbot

This map was included in the official program of the Camp Abbot Dedication on September 2, 1943. The program included 4 phases: 1. Observing the Training Activities 2. Tour of the Cantonment Area 3. Parade of the Troops 4. The Dedication Ceremony proper. Bill's sketch of the Camp is very close to this rendition, but with enough differences to imply that his map was made without reference to the Official Map

Friday, March 27, 2009

About Letter 44

The men go out on a night problem and "dig up booby traps and anti-personnel mines without the aid of any lights whatsoever." Bill says that things are looking up dispite weather at -2 degrees. The company is getting time off to go Christmas shopping in Bend. He makes a drawing of the Camp Abbot layout and of the Service Club.

Letter 44- December 14, 1944

December 14, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Hiya Folks,

Right now it’s 10:30 in the morning and believe it or not, strange as it seems, I’m loafing in the barracks. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but its sure swell. Don’t be surprised, however, if this letter has an abrupt ending.
Well, at long last life is beginning to agree with me again. I feel better and my cold seems to be breaking. The world doesn’t look so dismal anymore. ♪Yippee♪

We went out on a night problem last evening and it was really the nuts. We had to dig up booby traps and anti-personnel mines without the aid of any lights whatsoever. Nobody wants to be out there-including the officers, so once we got the hang of it we made a bee-line back to the barracks where we got cookies and hot coffee. We needed it too, although I still won’t drink coffee. Yesterday morning the maximum temperature was 35°, minimum -2 ° --and it’s still only fall. Yesterday morning we had to use pickaxes for ½ hour before we could drive a single heavy stake into the frozen ground. Yet, I seem to be getting used to the cold. The other morning I came out and thought to myself that I seem pretty warm. Then I looked at the thermometer------------16° !??
Friday afternoon the company gets a half day off in order to go Christmas shopping in Bend. I’m practically broke but I’m going anyway. We get free transportation and all that. I’ll buy myself a quart of milk, go to a show, and buy a little “sumpin” to send home, buy a steak, if such a dream is possible, and generally have a good time.
As I told you in my last letter, I’ve caught a slight sinus infection. It doesn’t bother me the least bit except that the damn thing smells and tastes as if I was beginning to rot up in my head. It’s enough to turn your stomach.
Lately I’ve been spending my money like a drunken sailor, so that money you say you’re going to send me will really come in handy. I’ve not been getting any mail from you for several days now so pretty soon I had ought to get quite a few letters. The mail clerks here are so lazy that half the Christmas mail won’t arrive on time.

P.S. Maybe my crude drawing will give you some idea of what Camp Abbot looks like. Hope you can keep mum on all the military objectives given away. You’ll notice that my favorite places are identified. I guess I’ll tell you about them. In the first place everything here is painted green like a forest rangers station or CCC camp. Our movie (theater), although it doesn’t look so hot outside is pretty nice inside—good heating, good acoustics, large stage, hard benches to sit on. Really though they’re pretty good for wooden seats. The service club is a large 2 story building. I’ll draw it for you.
(drawing here)

The floor below is covered with easychairs, radios, reading lamps and writing desks.

Oh! Oh!
gotta go now.


About Letter 43

Bill is in heaven after having discovered a quiet reading room almost directly across the street from his barracks. His 6 weeks of infantry training is over so Bill anticipates more free time to read and do other leisure activities. The men spent the previous 2 days on combat principals and map reading.

Letter 43- December 12, 1943

December 12, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mother and Dad,

What a dummy I am. I’ve been here 6 or rather 8 weeks and I never found out that almost across the street from our company is one of the nicest, quietest reading room you ever saw. Nice soft easy chairs, good light, lots of books and new magazines. The best thing about the place is, however, the fact that it doesn’t attract the noisy riffraff. Places like the battalion P.X. or the Service Club are nice, but there’s always a bunch of loudmouth dopes around to spoil it. A reading room, of course, holds no interest for them so the rest of us get a break. I’m writing this letter from the reading room right now. I’m going to spend about all the free time we get over here from now on. Now that our 6 weeks of Infantry training is over we should have an easier time of it so I can get in a little reading. I was wondering whether or not you’d send up my language books so I could do a little studying in my spare time- if any.

Boy! This has been a tough week, but with a promise of better things to come I haven’t minded it so much (I hope you’ll forgive my terrible penmanship). The other day we worked with grenades with a temperature of 0 degrees. Burr! Remember I told you we were going to throw grenades with firecrackers in them. Heh! Heh! There was TNT in them. We throw them like a football and I bet I tossed mine 200 yds. For the last 2 days we’ve had combat principles and map reading. I really shined at that.

You had better not expect any letters from me for a couple of days now because we are going on night problems both Monday and Tuesday and you know what that means.

Right now I’ve been talking to a fellow who’s almost through with his training and he says it’s pretty smooth sailing from now on. Hot dawgs! A lot more open time and all that. Some time next week we’re s’posed to get a half day off to go Christmas shopping in Bend and the word has just come through that we get Christmas day off and make it up the following Sunday. Maybe the army has a little heart after all.

I’ve noticed on our schedule for next week there’s a lot of open time. Of course, we’ll probably do something in that time, but it’ll be something that doesn’t amount to a “hellova” lot.

The only thing I dread now is our 3 week problem. It means 3 weeks of sleeping out in the snow and cold and living a rugged life. Chances are, however, that they won’t be able to have the problem here and we’ll have to go down to California for it. Oh Hell! You never can tell what’s going on here.

I’m still on the trail of A.S.T.P. and am going to keep on doing my damnedest to get it. I don’t know what my chances for O.C.S. are but I’m going to see about that too. I’m going to take all tests I can and ought to be able.

Bestus Love,

PS- It seems that when I write, it’s always the same damn mournful drivel. If there’s anything special you’d like to hear about even if it’s just the layout of the camp be sure to let me know.

Bestus Love,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

About Letter 42

Bill decides to put in for the Air Corp. He continues to get the run around about A.S.T.P. and says “it’s the only branch into which an Engineer can transfer.” The thermometer hit zero degrees yesterday and Bill would “gladly waive all pay” to be sent somewhere warm. As Sunday approaches he ponders whether to go to Bend or sleep in on his cherished day off.

Letter 42- December 10, 1943

December 10, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,
This will probably be another very short note because we have to leave pretty quick. I received a letter from you, Daddy, last night and will write more about it later. Since we’re having another of those damn night problems tonight I’m not at all sure I can get my regular letter off, but if I can I’ll write tonight.

It’s been very cold here for the last few days- 0 degrees yesterday. I really don’t know what I’m going to do. That kind of weather is just too much for me. I think my damn cold is going to last forever. Don’t worry though. It’s more annoying than anything else. If they would send me to some camp in California or Arizona or any place warm I’d gladly waive all pay.

There’s still a lot of talk about us moving out and I hope it’s true. From what I’ve heard they’re still undecided. I’m praying that they make the right decision. I don’t know whether I’ve told you or not but one of the cadre here that once one’s six weeks are up he can never be sure when he’s leaving or where he’s going. According to him, one day I might be training as a combat engineer and the next day I might be a clerk bound for Missouri or a baker in South Dakota. God! What a system. I never have seen such a heap of crap in my whole life as the goings on in this army. I don’t know what they’re trying to do but whatever it is they’re certainly making a mess of it. I’ve pretty well decided to put in for the Air Corps. It’s the only branch into which an Engineer can transfer. I’m not crazy about it but I know it’s better than this. As far as A.S.T.P. is concerned I’ve only got one chance to get it and that’s mighty slim. After 17 weeks I would be screened and then maybe I might be taken. The personnel officer himself doesn’t know exactly what that means. However, I’m going to do some scouting around & see if I can find anything out. Everything’s so mixed up here that no one knows what’s really going on, so as a result I can’t find out anything definite. Undoubtedly you can see how disgusting the whole damn thing is. Oh well, one’s got to be somewhat a philosopher and take what comes in this army. Otherwise you’d go batty in nothing flat.

This is turning out to be more of a letter than I thought when I started. Well, today’s Friday. Only one more day until Sunday. Daddy, you know how much Sunday means to a poor struggling soldier: sleep late, loaf, write letters, loaf, go to the show, loaf, sleep some more and loaf. Ah! If the Army was only like that all the time. Lately we haven’t been doing anything on Sundays, thank God, so maybe this Sunday I’ll go to Bend. I’d like to sleep all day, but I get almost enough sleep everyday but I never get enough recreation.

I haven’t yet received the apron but I’ll write a letter of thanks to Mr. Van Vorst as soon as I do. I still owe a letter to Grandma and Jessie, so I guess I’ll quit rambling on to you and write them a note.

Bestus Love,


P.S. Receiving my mail yet?

About Letter 41

The men are undergoing combat training. Yesterday they marched four miles to the Anti-Aircraft range and fired .22’s at moving targets. Today they will toss hand grenades loaded with firecrackers rather than T.N.T. Bill receives cookies from grandma. He wishes for more war news from home and closes airing his frustration at not knowing where he stands with “the A.S.T.P thing.”

Letter 41- December 9, 1943

December 9, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Momma and Poppa,

This is another of my post-reveille letters. I didn’t have time to write last night; and knowing how irregular the delivery of my mail has been, I thought I’d better get at it.

I been feeling pretty good for the last few days, but I’m developing a little sinus trouble and I don’t like it a bit. This damn climate sure can raise hell with a body. The number of men in the hospital is still growing, but I’ve heard nothing more about them moving the camp, worse luck.

Yesterday I received a nice box of cookies from Grandma and Jessie but they were in pretty sad condition. Good though. I’ll have to write a letter and thank them, but I threw away the wrapper to the package and I can’t seem to remember the address. Maybe, if I just put down the “Anchorage” State College, Penn. it’ll get there.¹

We’ve been marching so much and so fast lately that my feet are about worn off. Yesterday we marched about 4 miles out to the Anti-Aircraft Range at over 4 miles per, and let me tell you that’s a grind—4 miles back too. In A.A. firing we use .22’s and fire at moving targets. Its fun but I couldn’t hit anything but blank space.

Today we go to the grenade [area] and toss around some hand grenades minus the T.N.T and loaded with firecrackers.

How’s the news? As far as that’s concerned we’re still pretty much in the dark. According to the last word I heard, it looks like the big push is going to come soon. I hope so. I’m not getting so I love army life any the more as time goes by.

About the A.S.T.P. thing I’m going to get “personal” as soon as possible and find out just where I stand. Then if I don’t seem to be anywhere I’ll apply for my transfer to the Air Corps. This thing is really discouraging. You’d think they’d be a little more concerned after they get me to enlist and all that. You know that if I had accepted the Air Corp in October I wouldn’t have been even called up until January.

Bestus Love,


P.S Will write again tonight if it’s possible.
1. The Anchorage is a family run restaurant not far from the campus of Penn State University

Saturday, March 21, 2009

About Letter 40

Bill spends an unexpectedly interesting day on K.P. At midday he goes into the field to help serve lunch and gets a chance to see the surrounding countryside for the first time. It doesn’t impress him. In the evening he listens to Gabriel Heatter on the kitchen radio, catching up on the war news. He takes note of the date, the 2 year anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Letter 40- December 7, 1943

December 7, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

I’ve only time to write a short note tonight due to the fact I was on K.P. up until 9:00.

The K.P. wasn’t so bad, but it’s a rather discouraging job. Of course, that’s the Army. One thing good about it was that I got to go on a truck out into the field to serve lunch. It was a nice ride and it was the first chance I’ve had to see the surrounding country-Phooey. The lumber companies must have come thru this area like a cyclone. Nothing but stumps, stumps, and more stumps. You can’t tell it right in the camp area, however.

I got to listen to Gabriel Heatter over the radio tonight in the kitchen. Boy! It looks like big things are about to break in the Balkans and Middle East pretty quick now with Turkey edging up to the allies.¹ They may not know what they’re talking about but the officers here say this is going to be the real thing-and that it’ll wind up the war in Europe by spring. Personally I don’t think they know a bit more about it than I do. I think, however, that it’s going to be all over pretty quick now.

Notice the date-2 years. It sure doesn’t seem that long.

More and more guys are going to the damn hospital. I’ll be damned if we can keep it up much longer.

I didn’t get any mail from you today, but I got a swell package of cookies from Grandma and Jess. I’ll have to write and thank them soon.

Bestus Love,


P.S. I’ll try and write a real letter tomorrow.

P.P.S. Are you getting my letters yet? I mean the old ones.

1. Turkey’s role in the war effort was discussed at the just concluded Teheran Conference but there was no agreement and Turkey remained neutral until February 1945, when it declared war on Germany as a precondition for membership in the United Nations.

About Letter 39

The camp rumor mill is “grinding away at full speed”, indicating that Camp Abbot will close in 4 weeks and move to Needles, about a five hour drive from Bill’s home in North Hollywood, California. Bill admits that this sounds too good to be true. During the day the company works with anti-personnel mines and booby traps. Bill draws a sketch portraying the action. He is scheduled for K.P. the next morning which he describes as “the lesser of 2 evils” since he will miss a 10 mile hike.

Letter 39- December 6, 1943

December 6, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

I’m really becoming concerned over your not receiving my mail. I haven’t been as regular with it as I should, but I’ve been doing better than you letters seem to indicate. I don’t know what’s wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the fault may be found right here in Camp Abbot. I certainly hope that by now you are receiving my letters regularly. I haven’t been getting mail from you the way I should but I rarely go more than 3 days without getting any and then I usually get a pile.

Well, the camp rumor mill is grinding away at full speed. According to the latest from the front, we’re moving out of Camp Abbot sometime within the next 4 weeks and packing off lock, stock, and barrel for no place less than Needles, Calif.
Boy! That would be a gift straight from heaven. Cripes! I could get 3 day passes and spend a day at home. No, I mustn’t even think about it. It’s just too good to be possible. However, even if we were sent to some place like Texas or New Mexico I’d feel a “hellova” lot better. No matter what anyone says about this climate, there’s one thing that’s a certainty. From now on our training is going to be darned limited if we stay here. In zero weather a man’s capable of just so much and no more.

Today we worked with anti-personel mines and booby traps. Of course, instead of having T.N.T attached to them there are only firecrackers but you could give yourself a nice burn with one of them. The mine that I made was so fiendishly conceived that the fellow who was supposed to put it out of action, theoretically was blown up. I put one out of action with no trouble.

Well, have to close now. I’ve got K.P. tomorrow and that means I’ve got to get to sleep early. By getting K.P. I miss a 10 mile hike so it seems I’m getting the lesser of 2 evils.

Bestus Love,


(sketch here) Me putting booby trap out of action.

Friday, March 20, 2009

About Letter 38

Bill tries to sell his special delivery stamps but gets no takers. Some sort of nasal infection is sending hordes of men to the camp hospital. It’s no wonder to Bill who says the men are injected with deadly germs, sent out into the ungodly climate and worked to exhaustion. He fixes the broken radio in the P.X. and listens to “Andre Kostolanis, the Prudential Hour, the news and several other things.” Bill’s friend, whose relatives all live in England, tells him that the British are suffering terrible war weariness and “all everyone speaks about is peace.” He says the current government there is “about as popular as Hitler.”

Letter 38- December 5, 1943

December 5, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mother and Dad,

In case you get 2 letters at the same time, this is number 2. I decided to sell my special delivery stamps or to be more exact part of them, but nobody wants them so I guess I’ll have to use them. It seems awfully plutocratic to send all my mail by special delivery air mail at 16 cents a letter, but there’s no use letting (them) sit around until they get lost or sumpin’. However, I am going to save some of them for emergencies.

It’s now 5:30 in the evening or 1730 as we are supposed to call it in the army-but don’t. Since I wrote this morning’s letter I’ve heard quite a bit more about the camp closing up. The inspectors evidently are doing everything possible to keep the camp here but things are so bad they aren’t getting anywhere. The night before last the 52nd. went out on an all night problem and after they came in the next morning 150 men went to the hospital. That’s almost 1/5 the personnel of that battalion gone in just one day. I don’t remember whether or not I told or not but almost ¼ of the 7000 or so men here are now in the hospital. It seems to be some sort of nasal infection which rapidly develops into pneumonia. Nobody is dying or anything like that but there are a hell of a lot of sick fellows around here.

Hamilton, the fellow who sleeps next to me, said one of the doctors at the hospital said he didn’t know what the War Dept. was thinking about. He says what’s really wrong with the men here is exhaustion. First, they bring men up to this ungodly climate, exercise them as if they were trained athletes, inject them with all sorts of deadly germs without giving them much needed rest, and then wonder why the hell they don’t take it. Quote-There’s two ways to do a thing-the right way and the Army way-unquote. Ne’er a truer word was spoken. Oh well! They been doin’ this sort of thing for years and I guess they’ll keep on doing it for years no matter how dumb it is.

I went over to the P.X. recreation room today and fixed their radio for them. Someone had pulled some wiring loose and even an amateur like me could handle it easily. Then I sat down for a short return to civilization. I listened to Andre Kostolanis (or whatever his name is), the Prudential Hour, the news, and several other things. You can’t imagine what a treat it was for me.

After those minor setbacks last week the war news seems to be pretty good again. Everyone here still thinks the war will be over pretty quick in Europe. I’m not as optimistic as some but it really doesn’t look as if it can last much longer.

Hamilton, who’s relatives all live in England, says that war weariness is so bad in England that all everyone speaks about is peace. I guess they’re pretty miserable. He says that they want the blackout lifted right now despite the chance of attack, and that the present govt. is about as popular as Hitler with the British people. If the Germans with all the raids, defeats, blockade, and losses don’t feel a “hellova” lot worse, they must be “supermen”.

Talking about “supermen” if I get through all this training with no nervous breakdown or physical collapse, you’ll know damn well I’m a “superman”. I’m damn proud of myself already. As one of the corporals told us, “If you can get through combat engineer training you’ll be among the toughest men in the world, and if you can’t, it’ll be no disgrace”. That’s sumpin’ in my opinion.

I’ve a lot more to write about what’s going on here, but I guess it’ll have to be later on.

Bestus Love,

“Rookie Billy”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

About Letter 37

It snowed all day yesterday so Bill decides to cancel his Sunday trip to Bend and sleep in. He gets the sad news that his friend Bill Vaughn has been killed. Rumors persist that Camp Abbot will close. He has polished off the chocolate bars from home and is anxiously awaiting a six pound fruitcake. Bill reads in the Sunday Oregonian that Leipzig has been bombed.

Letter 37- December 5, 1943

December 5, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

I sure hope you’re beginning to get my mail regularly now. There were 3 days when I was I was unable to write but I’ve been doing much better ever since. As I told you in my last letter I didn’t receive any mail from you for 4 days but now everything seems straightened out. How do you like this paper? The darn thing about it is that I didn’t know I was buying (it) even. I thought I was getting the kind with a spread eagle on it; but when I got into the barracks, this is what I found. I like it though.

Well, the rumors about us moving out of Camp Abbot are beginning to assume real proportions. There are some medical and engineering experts from Fort Leonard Wood here right now studying the mess. Right now, about 20% of all personnel of the entire camp is in the hospital with some kind of cold, flu, or pneumonia and the situation is getting worse. Even officers predict openly now that the camp will be closed by Christmas. If so we’ll probably go somewhere in Texas.

Today is the most beautiful (and coldest) I’ve seen since I’ve been here. All day yesterday there was a heavy snowfall. Of course, I would have to be out on detail all day in that crap, but to get back to the point. Right now at 9:30 in the morning the ground is covered with about a foot of blinding white snow and the sky is as blue as can be. I sure wish I had a camera so I could take some pictures, it’s so beautiful. I was planning to go to Bend today but with all this snow and cold I think I’ll be better off right here. If I get cold here I can always come back to the barracks but if I get cold in that burg I can’t do a hell of a lot about it. I hope you’ll excuse my bad writing.

This morning I stayed in bed until 9:00 and it sure was swell.

I received the box of chocolate bars and finished off the last of them yesterday. I think they made me feel a lot pepier, peppier, peppyer, (take your choice). I have not as yet received the apron but am looking for it.

I was sure sorry to hear about Bill Vaughn getting killed. Wouldn’t you know that’s the way it would happen after floating around on one of those damn tankers all the time.

Mr. Hamilton must be very proud of Johnny. He must really be doing a great job over there. He always seemed like such a kid it’s hard to realize that he could accomplish such a job. I bet no one will know him when he gets back, he’ll have aged so.

Hot Dawgs! Boy! Oh, boy! A six pound fruitcake. My tongue’s hangin’ on the ground already. As I probably told about 20 times, there’s nothing in the world more important to a soldier next to mail from home than food from home. However, I certainly don’t want you to go without just so you can send me stuff. I can manage.

That Ruby sure must be a kick. Honest to god I never heard of anyone like her. I sure liked your picture, Mother. It gave me a good laugh.

I’m sure glad to hear that we’re going to get something to make up for all the headaches that Hughes clan has given us. If anyone deserves that 5% it’s you.

The trouble that Fulton Lewis has had in getting to the Army camps on the west coast has received much talk here in camp. Everyone knows that there’s something crooked right here, and it’s probably that way elsewhere. As I’ve written before, the C.O. here just happens to also own the land on which the camp’s built. He also controls the bus line here as well as half the town of Bend and all the camp P.X.’s. Nice layout, huh? I’d like to be getting what he rakes in.

I see by the “Sunday Oregonian” the only news I get all week that they really gave hell to Leipzig last night. Boy! If they keep that up there won’t be a town left in Germany.

Well, that’s about all right now.

Bestus Love,

p.s. over

Did you get my letter saying I made sharpshooter and had missed expert by only 4 points. 176 out of 180?

Monday, March 16, 2009

About Letter 36

A fellow in the barracks gets a medical discharge and gives away "everything he owns", including $3.00 worth of Special Delivery Air Mail Stamps to Bill. Food and mail continue to be high on Bill's priority list. The scuttlebutt is that everyone will have to work all day Christmas.

Letter 36- December 3, 1943

Dec. 3, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Boy! Oh Boy! I finally got some mail from you. I see by the date on your letters that the fact I haven’t received anything from you for the last four days is not your fault. It’s just the usual high efficiency of Camp Abbot Services Forces. Probably they’ve been sitting on their fannies as usual and letting all the mail stack up in the booming post-office.

I’m sending you a money-order for $50.00 as you see so you can open that account you wrote about. If I can send home some money every month, I ought to have a nice little sockful of dough when I get out of the army and start back to college.

That fruitcake you talk about in your letter sounds great. We get such odd food around here that the very mention of such delectable food just about kills us.

I saw the proofs of my pictures last night. One of them I think will be pretty good after they take the bags out of under my eyes, but in the other one I think I look like “Little Lord Jesus”. The photographer promised me it would look much better after the real print was made up so I let him make one up, but if it comes out like the proof I’m going to bury it.

How do you like the Special Delivery Air Mail Stamp. One of the fellows in this barracks got his medical discharge yesterday and then commenced to give away everything he owned. I got about $3.00 worth of these stamps. I’m dropping this letter in the box at 10:00 pm. tonight, Friday the 3rd. I wished you’d write and tell me when you receive it. If it gets to you pretty fast I’ll use the rest of them but if they don’t I’ll sell them.

Bestus Love,


P.S. I hear that we’re going to work all day on Christmas. Oh how I love this army life. Phhhtttt!!!


About Letter 35

Bill's frustration continues as he is unsuccessful getting an interview with the Company Commander. He says it's not a matter of what you know but who you know and makes his point with the sarcastic comment, "The birds who go out and get drunk with the non-coms on Saturday evening are the ones who are [made] acting corporals and so forth."

Letter 35- December 3, 1943

Dec. 3, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

As I write this it’s after reveille Friday morning so as you can probably imagine I haven’t got a hell of a lot of time, but I’m beginning to worry so I thought I’d better write. I haven’t received any mail from you for over 4 days now, so you can see the reason for my anxiety. I know I haven’t been writing regularly, but I’m going to try and get back on the old one day schedule starting right now. Not getting your mail makes me see clearly what it’s like not to get any for awhile. I know that you‘ve been writing steadily and it’s just the fault of the damned post office, but you know how it is. I just can’t help worrying.

Still nothing about my status in the god damned army. I’ve been trying to interview with the Company Commander, but my success has been nil. I’m telling you. It’s not a matter of what you know around her, but who you know. The birds who go out and get drunk with the non-coms on Saturday evening are the ones who are acting corporals and so forth. All I’m hoping for now is a transfer. Maybe if I get somewhere else I’d have a chance to get somewhere. You can’t do your best when you know it’s not going to get you a damned thing. Actually, I know damned well a lot of the cadre here and that includes officers who dislike me because on some subjects I know more than they, and I haven’t been a know it all either.

Well, write soon. I sure wish I could see you.

Best Love to the best Folks,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

About the ASTP

The Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) was established by the U.S Army in December 1942 to identify, train and educate academically-talented enlisted men as a specialized corp of Army officers during World War II. Eligibility was based on brains and previous education. Most trainees were about Bill’s age-between 18 and 21 years old and were required to score significantly higher on IQ tests than even Officer Candidate School qualifiers.

Had Bill been accepted into the program as promised by his recruiter he would have returned to his studies at UCLA and embarked on a program described as “more rigorous than those at West Point or the Naval Academy.” Designated “soldiers first, students second”, the ASTPers were under strict military discipline at all times; wore military regulation uniforms; stood all normal formations, such as reveille; were subject to Saturday morning inspections; marched to classes and meals; had lights out at 10:30 PM; and generally behaved as soldiers. The standard work week was 59 hours of supervised activity, including a minimum of 24 of classroom and lab work, 24 hours of required study, 5 hours of military instruction and 6 hours of physical instruction.

By Christmas 1943 some 140,000 men were on campuses across the nation. This proved to be the program’s high point. On February 18, 1944, the War Department unexpectedly announced that 110,000 ASTPers would be returned to line duty. Bill’s dream of returning to UCLA was dashed. Most of the ASTP student-soldiers were assigned to the infantry, thus providing critically needed ground forces for the impending invasion of Europe. These men were aptly described as “Scholars in Foxholes.”

About Letter 34

Bill is still down in the dumps. He pulls nighttime guard duty during a snowstorm. It appears that he’s “all washed up” as far as the ASTP program is concerned. He has not received mail he expects. In the evening he hears the Great Northern train heading south. This adds to his homesickness. On the positive side, Bill receives his back pay of $65.30. The War news seems good. At the P.X. he hears a radio broadcast that says "the Germans are already trying to make peace."

Letter 34- December 1, 1943

Dec. 1, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Gee, I sure feel blue today. I don’t know why except for this A.S.T.P. It looks as if I’m washed up as far as that’s concerned. The thing that hurts the most is that after they got me to enlist for that damn thing and after I turned down an appointment to the Air Corps for it, they don’t have the decency to let me know why I didn’t make it. I’ve decided to find out what my chances are for a transfer as soon as possible. I may not be the smartest guy the world has ever seen, but I know damn well I’ve got more ability than anyone I’ve seen in this company; and whatever ability I have will never get a chance to show itself here. The trouble is that I have no interest or ability as the engineering is concerned. I really think I’d be better off if I were even in the infantry. Although I’m not letting it get me down too much and I don’t say anything to anyone about it I’m beginning to detest both engineering and Camp Abbot. I know it’s homesickness more than anything else, but nevertheless that’s how I feel. After a person has been around a place like this for a while he gets so he can only see the inefficiency and graft and that’s all. I ain’t never gonna like this lousy war. I sure hope the European part of the war is over soon. I was fortunate enough the other night to hear a news broadcast on the radio over at the P.X. and according to it the Germans are already trying to make peace. I suppose it’s too good to be true, but it’s heartening anyway.

I didn’t receive any mail from you last night, but I suppose I shouldn’t complain. I haven’t been able to get off nearly as many letters as I wanted to send, and I guess you’re having the same trouble. Like a sap I’ve meant to thank you in my last 3 letters for the swell chocolate you sent me. They sure are good on a cold night.

That reminds me. I pulled Guard Duty again last night-3 hours in the snow. Now do you wonder why I have colds? For the last 2 nights I haven’t got over 5 hours sleep per night, and tonight it looks like we’re going to have a night problem, which means I probably won’t get to bed again until the crack of down.

Well, I finally got my pay-$65.30 I’m sending $50.00 home as soon as I can get to the post-office and send a money order. You may get the money order before you get this letter and again you may not.

There was something else important I wanted to tell you or ask you, but now I can’t seem to think of whom or what it’s about.

Today I’m barracks orderly and that’s the main reason that I’ve got enough time to write this letter. From now on I should have more time to write, but I can’t be sure around here.

Boy! What I wouldn’t give to come home. If I could only see you now and then this training wouldn’t be so bad, but to be doing something with little or no hope of ever getting anywhere with it and then being so homesick on top of it all is pretty bad. Sometimes in the evening I can hear the Great Northern heading south and it pretty near knocks me out.

Well, if I don’t stop that moaning this letter is going to start sounding like a dirge.

I’m beginning to believe more and more that we’ll move out of this camp as soon as the snow really gets deep. More and more fellows are going to the hospital every day and literally everyone has a bad cold-me especially.

I was supposed to go over and get the proofs to my pictures last night but the guard duty and this night problem will keep me from getting them until Thursday at least. They say it’ll take 10 days to get the finished pictures after that. So they should reach you not later than Dec. 15. That doesn’t give you a hell of a lot of time to mail out the little pictures, but it’s the best I can do.

Write soon and write a lot. It may not seem like much to you but when you’re up in a hole like this even the goings on in the Valley Times is interesting.

All the love in the
Whole darned


Friday, March 13, 2009

About Letter 33

The Company is beginning demolition training. They start with explosives. Bill says they don’t use dynamite as it is too dangerous. Instead they use “Nitro Starch" and a putty-like stuff called ‘Composition C’.” He complains about his meager pay and the lack of free time saying, “they don’t give a damn about you here.” The men get new bayonets. Bill draws a sketch entitled “Beautiful day at Camp Abbot.

Letter 33- November 29, 1943

Nov. 29, 1943
Dear Folks,

I just received your letter, Daddy concerning that god damned house. What a pain in the neck that thing’s been. I sure hope you’ll be all through with the “jernt” by the time you receive this letter. I hope you make a little profit out of the thing too.

I just happened to think tonight that I never heard anything from the University concerning my credits. Did you ever find out about it?

Tomorrow is payday and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to get another ten bucks. They don’t give a damn about you here. That reminds me. If Col. Higgins is right about the army being honorbound to give the Sunday guard another day off, then the Camp Abbot Engineers aren’t part of the army. That wouldn’t surprise me either. Anyway we didn’t get the day off. They’ve been working us like dogs around here and it’s getting us all down. My cold is no help either. It doesn’t get any worse, but it doesn’t get any better. I guess it’s the climate here. One fellow to whom I talked at the Service Club the other night told me he’s had one for almost 4 months.

Tonight at the P.X. I picked up a copy of “Life” and saw an article on Los Angeles. It sure made me homesick. When I get back home I’ll never roam.

We had demolition work today and to tell you the truth I was scared to death at first, but the army uses the safest explosives known and if a person has any brains at all he can’t get hurt. We don’t use any dynamite at all because it’s considered too dangerous. All we use is Nitro Starch and a putty like stuff called “Composition C”. It’s 3 times as powerful as T.N.T. but it’s almost impossible to set off. The most dangerous things we have to handle are the caps. We made all sorts of things, but mainly we worked on primers.

Tonight we turned in our old 14 inch bayonets and were issued the new 10 inch type. The scabbard has a sharpening devise inside so that taking the bayonet in and out of the thing automatically hones the blade.

Keep sending the news. I find out almost “nottinks” here.

I’ll write more tomorrow if I don’t get guard duty. *&%^#*%#!

“Yardbird” (my mental condition)

P.S. Rain, Sleet, Snow, Slush- Oh god, why this hole?

(sketch here) Beautiful day at Camp Abbot

Thursday, March 12, 2009

About Letter 32

Bill gets the news about the RAF night bombing of Berlin and exclaims “hot dogs!” Thanksgiving Day starts with a 7 mile hike in full field dress and ends with a traditional dinner with all the fixings. On the rifle range Bill qualifies as a Sharpshooter missing Expert by only 4 points out of 180. He draws a sketch of the medal he receives. Bill has his picture taken and is buying a complete set for $14.00. He continues to pursue his options regarding ASTP and in closing mentions that he finally visited Bend, saying “it’s bigger that everyone around here has let on.”

Letter 32- November 28, 1943

November 28, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Well, you must be about ready to murder me for not writing sooner, but I’ll be damned if I had the time. Today, however, is Sunday –ah! This morning out of force of habit I jumped out of bed at 5:30, but when I remembered what it was, I jumped right back in. I finally did get up about 8:30.

I hadn’t heard any news about the bombing of Berlin until I received your letter. Even then I didn’t think much about it, but this morning when I bought the Portland paper I really got a pleasant jolt: “1/3 of Berlin in ruins”, “500,000 Berliners homeless”, “13,000 Berliners killed”. Hot dogs! By the time you receive this letter Berlin will be just a “use to was”. ¹

We sure had some Thanksgiving here this year. We worked like dogs. I don’t think I ever did so damn much marching in my whole life. We ended up the day with a 7 mile hike with full field equipment. Daddy, you know what that consists of- steel helmet, rifle, cartridge belt with canteen, gas mask, and full field pack with bayonet- all in all about 70 pounds. It wasn’t bad until we had to march a mile or so with our gas masks on. I couldn’t get enough air and I thought I was going to pass out. We did get a good dinner, however. We had turkey with dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, salad, cottage cheese, celery with cheese, olives, pumpkin pie, ice cream, cake, candy, apples, and oranges. We also had music with the meal, pretty good, huh? You should get a load of the crap we’ve had ever since to make up for it. Turkey hash, goat stew, horse croquettes-ptui!

Well, I guess what you really want to talk about is what happened on Friday. That was record day for rifle marksmanship. it sure was a heartbreaker. Out of 180 points to qualify as Experts Rifleman I made 176. I missed by only 4 points. That hurts. I made sharpshooter with 11 points to spare. When we got out on the range about 8:00 in the morning it was so cold that I couldn’t shoot worth a tinkers damn. In my first 2 positions I didn’t even qualify at all. That didn’t my nerves or my score any good. A bit later, however it warmed up and I went to town. On the 300 yard rapid fire shoot I made 8 bulls eyes and 1 four out of 9 shots; 44 points out of 45. if that one shot had been ½ inch to the left I would have had a “possible”. That would have meant $5.00 and a 3 day pass.

Here’s what we fired- from the 200 yd. line 4 shots kneeling and 4 shots standing- also 9 shots sitting rapid fire: from the 300 yd. line 4 shots prone and 4 shots sitting- also 9 shots prone rapid fire; from the 500 yd. line 8 shots prone. It took all day because of the number of men firing.

(sketch of medal here)
Here’s a crude representation of what my medal will look like. A marksman’s medal is the same without the bullseye. An expert’s medal is the same except the cross is a bit smaller and is surrounded by a wreath. I don’t know when I’ll get the damned medal; some fellows have had to wait as long as a month.

Well, (I start off with too many wells) today I had my picture taken. I borrowed a garrison cap and went over to the portrait studio. The way they’ve got it fixed over there it costs almost as much to get 4 pictures as it does for 14. It sounds terrible doesn’t it? To get two large oils would cost me $10.00 plus 2 small pictures would total $13.00, but 2 large oils and 12 small ones cost $14.00. I told the bird it was too much, but I was informed that I could take it or leave it; I took it. I guess you’ll be able to give a picture of me to everyone in the family. They’ll be in 2 poses and for that price they’ll either be good or Camp Abbot will be minus a photographer. Fourteen pictures-god, I always did think I was nuts. You can give one to Mrs. Feber and maybe she’ll send me something.

I talked to my lieutenant last night about A-12 or A.S.T.P. it doesn’t look so good. From the Engineers one can go into only 2 branches of A.S.T.P. - engineering or languages. I haven’t had enough math for engineering and a new ruling says that for languages one must be able to speak one foreign language fluently. I really don’t know what to do now, but I’m going to keep on trying. I’ll see the Co. Commander and if necessary I’ll go down to “personnel” and find out what the score really, really is. In some ways I’m getting awfully tired of this army.

That house of Jesse’s sure is a pain in the neck, isn’t it? Boy! I wish I’d never heard of the whole gang.

I sure hope something comes up so you can get those gas coupons. Last night I went to Bend and found out it’s bigger than everyone around here has let on. It’s no metropolis but it’s not quite a Podunk. Also if you could get to Klamath Falls I believe I could get down there over a weekend.

Bestus Love,


1. This refers to the opening phase of the Battle of Berlin, a series of RAF nighttime bombing raids over Berlin from November 1943-March 1944. Bill’s statistics are somewhat overstated and the allied military objective of winning the war by bombing Berlin into submission failed to be achieved. Still, the raids caused immense devastation and loss of life in Berlin. It is estimated that 4,000 were killed, 10,000 injured and 450,000 made homeless by the attacks.

Monday, March 9, 2009

About Letter 31

Bill describes being charged by a tank. The trick he says is to roll out of the way, not run. The doctor says his nose isn’t broken but Bill notes that it has healed “a little crooked.” When he is asked in a letter from home what he would like for Christmas, Bill replies “food, gadgets, clothing.”

Letter 31- November 23, 1943

November 23, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)
Dear Folks,

Well, today I received two swell letters from you. They really made me feel good. I hope you will understand about my not writing regularly of late, but if you could see my schedule for this and last week, I’m sure that you would forgive me. I had guard duty during my supposedly free weekend, and this week we’ve got night problems. I don’t know how long they intend to keep it up, but almost everyone’s beginning to get to the end of his rope. I’m not doing so bad but I’m getting a little irritable, and a lot of the fellows are getting downright nasty.

In my last letter I said that I would tell you about being chased by tanks. It’s quite an experience. A foot soldier rolls out of the way when charged by a tank, and we all had to try it out. We’re marching along an open road when suddenly we get the signal for tanks. Boy did we scatter! At first we couldn’t see the damn thing but could only hear it. Then over the hill he came, about 20 miles per hour. Then for about 10 minutes he charges up and down as if he was trying to run over us. If a fellow doesn’t lose his head and he rolls, it’s impossible for the tank to hit him even if the driver wants to. However, several fellows got up and ran-the worst thing they could do-so the tank chased them until they dropped over exhausted.

I’ve gone all over camp and have had several fellows try to get me some of the Engineer pins but with no luck. I guess I’ll have to go to Bend myself and try to get them. I haven’t gone there myself yet because from all reports a person can have more fun in camp than in Bend.

I’m sure glad to hear that the candy is on the way and also the apron. I’m sure going to like both.

I’d sure like to be home right now so that I could get by that fire. The temp. is so low here that I hate to think about it.

I don’t know how these birds manage to get leaves. After 6 weeks, 8 weeks. Hell! It just about takes an act of Congress to get a furlough around here.

You asked me whether my K.P. was regular detail or otherwise. Don’t worry. I’m not in trouble.

No, I haven’t fired for record yet. We get that the 26th. Wish me luck. I’m doing okay in practice. The only thing that can mess me up is the cold. My hands get stiff and I’m not so hot.

About my nose, I’ve rather hated to tell you. When I went to the hospital the “Doc” (horse doctor) told me it wasn’t broken and gave me the brush-off. It’s healed now, but it’s just a little crooked. If I ever see that so called doctor after the war, he’s going to be the one with the busted snozzle. It doesn’t bother me, however.

Your talk about hamburgers damn near moidered me. I haven’t had one since I left home. We are going to have turkey for Thanksgiving, but we’re going to have work all day and have a night problem. Damn white of them isn’t it?

You ask what I’d like for Christmas. Well, here’s what I’d like in order of importance; food, gadgets, clothing. I’m regaining the weight I lost pretty fast now.

I’m trying to get some snapshots and am going to Bend as soon as possible to see about having some pictures made. They’re very strict about taking snapshots here for some ungodly reason. It’s almost lights out soooo.

Good night and all
My love,


About Letter 30

Bill writes from the guard house where he is pulling graveyard duty. Despite the cold and drizzle of a miserable night he says it’s not so bad because as a sentinel he was able to stop an officer and make him show his pass. “It made me feel good to give him the orders.” Mother writes that despite Bill’s warning she and dad plan to come to visit him at Camp Abbot. Bill gets paid, “a grand total of $10.oo." In training, his company is chased by tanks. Bill promises to write more about this in his next letter.

Letter 30- November 21, 1943

November 21, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

I am writing this letter from the Guard House. Don’t worry! I’m not an inmate of the jernt I’m only on guard duty. Two hours on and four off it’s really the nuts. One tour was from 2:00 A.M. till 4:00 on a lonely post in a heavy but drizzily rain. There’s only one compensation for the misery of Guard Duty and that’s the authority that the sentinel has on his post. I stopped an officer and made him show his pass, etc. It made me feel good to give him the orders.

I hope you’ll excuse my not writing for the last several days. I know how it is, but there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. We work from 6:00 in the morning till 10:00 at night with hardly any time to crap, and then over the weekend when we’re supposed to get a day off we draw Guard Duty-24 hours straight. After Sunday Guard Duty we should get a week day off-but we should live so long.

I see according to your letter Mother that in spite of my warning you intend to come see me. I really am glad. For awhile I was afraid I really might stop you from coming. But let me say again!! Do everything in advance or you won’t be able to get near the camp.

You asked me in several of your recent letters about my pay. Yes, I was paid several days ago. The grand total of $10.00. I don’t know when I’ll get the rest, but I will send most of it home in the form of a money order when I do. I gorge myself with ice cream, candy, malts, and Sundaes, whenever I get the chance, and yet I still seem to have more money than I know what to do with. Of the money you gave me when I first came into the Army I’ve still got $9.50.

The other day we did something very interesting. We had TANKS chase us. It’s almost chow time so I’ll have to tell you about it later. If I can I’ll write more this afternoon or tonight.

Bestus Love,
“guardhouse Bill”

Friday, March 6, 2009

About Letter 29

Bill spends a rare evening at the P.X. where he gets some ice cream and listens to the “March of Time”. He comments on an apparent story about trouble at a Japanese internment camp in California. His remark is blunt and no doubt reflects the prevailing attitude in the country at the time. Bill is finally out of quarantine. He has been doing well in his marksmanship practice and hopes to qualify for a medal when he shoots for the record.

Letter 29- November 18, 1943

November 18, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

My morale has taken an upward turn this evening. I had not received any mail from you for 3 days, but tonight I got a letter from Daddy. It was really interesting and made me feel good. You have no idea how much mail means to us fellows in camp. I can’t explain it, but a letter means more to most soldiers than a 3 day pass.

I’ve not been able to write very regularly for the last few days, but believe me, I just haven’t had the time. Tonight, however, was different. (I) got time enough to go over to the battalion rec. and P.X., get some ice cream and listen to the “March of Time”. By the way, why are those Japs down in Calif. getting away with so much murder? If the fellows here in camp got to guard them for awhile the trouble would be over.

Now to answer Daddy’s letter. Yes, now I’m out of quarantine. I’ve got the run of the camp. It’s really not too bad. It’s 18 miles from the camp to Bend. I could get into Bend on the weekends, but it’s better at camp from all reports. I guess Bend is all right though.

I haven’t got any interviews or anything yet and I am beginning to get disgusted. The A.S.T.P. sounds pretty good according to your book but I don’t really know what the score is. I’m going to find out though even if it takes a month of Sundays. About the camouflage division, I know very little but tomorrow afternoon we’re going to get some experience with it so I’ll tell you about it in my next letter. My chances for getting a medal in rifle marksmanship seem pretty good. In practice I’ve qualified either expert or sharpshooter every day. A lot depends on the weather, however. I can’t shoot when my hands are cold.

As you know by now I did get my packages and they were really swell. Nearly everybody in the co. drew guard duty Saturday night and Sunday, but they missed me.

My cold still is hanging on but it’s getting better. Keep writing all the neighborhood and world news. It means a lot.

Bestus Love,

Letter 28- November 16, 1943

November 16, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon

Dear Mother and Dad,

You’re going to or already have received some pretty messed up mail from me for a few days. It seems that I printed the “free” on my letters so the damned post office returned them saying that the “free” had to be on my own handwriting. How petty! If they’d spend the time getting the mail through instead of this kind of horsing around, we might get somewhere.

I just got off K.P. about 10 minutes ago. It is 9:45 P.M. and I have been on my feet since 5:00 A.M. For this reason this letter will be very short. Also “lights out” in about 5 minutes.

Well good night. I wrote this because I believe you want to hear from me even when I can’t write much.

Bestus Love,


Letter 27- November 15, 1943

Nov. 15, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Am I a sap. I forgot to put the clipping in the other letter.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

About Letter 26

Bill is getting some attention from his superiors. He is made guidon [flag] carrier for the day and the sergeant calls him out to lead exercises. He runs “smack dab” into a private in full German Army uniform, carrying a Mauser. The rumor persists that the war in Europe is almost over and may end by the first of the year. The men are learning Judo and Bill brags that he can “kill a guy in 50 different ways (all dirty).” The hospital is full of cold, flu, and pneumonia cases. Bill depicts the scene with a sketch.

Letter 26- November 15, 1943

November 15, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Well, I haven’t got anything to do tonight so I can get off a pretty good letter. Everybody else has guard duty tomorrow, but I’ve got K.P. Kitchen Police sounds bad, but around here nobody minds it because it’s easier than training. Today was pretty soft, however, because we went to the show about 4 times for training and orientation films (orientation is another word for propaganda). The Lieutenant asked who could carry a guidon today and I said I could although I had my doubts. I came out all right though because I could remember enough of what my guidon carrier at Harvard did to get by. This morning with a smirk on his face the Sgt. called me out to lead the exercises. This is considered one of the toughest ways of drilling an outfit, but it was just my meat. I think the impression I made on the Lt. & Sgt. was pretty damn good. We had boxing but I wouldn’t do it because of my broken snozzle. That’s why I got the phys. Tr. But it was good to give a few commands instead of taking them-and with the officers present-well.

Today I walked around the corner, and ran “smack dab” into a private in the German Army—gray-green uniform—coal scuttle helmet and the whole outfit including a Mauser rifle. For a moment I was stunned and I almost beat him over the head with my Garand. Then I realized that he was one of my corporals. There were several of them wandering around the camp to show the soldiers what a German uniform looks like and to find out what the reaction of the troops would be. The corporal said that 99% of them thought the uniform was British (what jerks.)

I don’t know if it means anything or not but the rumor that the war in Europe is almost over continues to gain momentum around here. One fellow in our barracks got a letter from his brother in Italy saying that he would be very surprised if the war lasted until the 1st.of the year. I saw the letter myself. I’m sending you a clipping from a San Francisco paper. Has the news been along this line generally, lately? (bad English)

We’re learning “Judo” up here right now. I already know how to kill a guy in 50 different ways (all dirty) and can throw a man over my head with a flick of the wrist. (pleasant, huh?)

According to weather reports a cold wave is going to hit this region tonight sometime. The weather’s been beautiful for over a week and I was afraid it couldn’t last. Even with the nice weather colds have been terrible. The hospital is full of pneumonia, flu, and cold cases and now the mess halls are handing out hot lemonade every night. I’ll bet this camp folds up the by the first of the year. One thing that makes us think the war is almost over is the number of medical discharges that are coming through now. Men are getting CDD’s without having a hell of a lot wrong with them. Of course, that doesn’t mean a hell of a lot.

I haven’t heard anything about the A.S.T.P., but I’m going to get an interview with Capt. O’Grady about it as soon as I’ve made a good enough impression.

I’m sure glad my cold’s breaking up now. The ambulance is down at number one barracks right now dragging off a flu or pneumonia case. It’s the regular guidon bearer. Looks as if I may have his job for quite some time now. What a “jernt”. If this keeps up, there’ll be so few in the Company they’ll have to make me a non-com.

Best Love to the
Best folks in the World,

(sketch here)

Monday, March 2, 2009

About Letter 25

It’s Sunday and Bill sleeps in until 8:30 am. At 10:00 am. he hits the Service Club for a hearty .60¢ breakfast, which he can use as he has lost 20 pounds since reporting for duty. Rumors continue to circulate that Camp Abbot is closing for the winter. Bill expresses the political view that most of the soldiers in camp “would like to see Roosevelt get licked in the coming election.”

Letter 25- November 14, 1943

November 14, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mother and Dad,

Well, at last I’m getting another letter off. Don’t think that I don’t want to write everyday as I promised over the phone, but they’re running the very tails off us here right now. As a result I hardly have time to crap much less write. Nevertheless, I’m going to keep trying to write every night.

Today is Sunday and that’s one reason I’m able to get this off without undue and undeserved trouble. I didn’t get up this morning until 8:30—ah wonderful! I didn’t even bother to get up for chow. About 10:00, however, I did go down to the Service Club and bought myself a 60 cent breakfast. I had grapefruit juice, cereal, bacon, two fried eggs, and toast with butter and jam. I underlined the “fried” because those eggs were the first fried ones I’ve had since I’ve been in the Army. I wore the scarf and sweater this morning and they really are swell. I also received the box with the sox last night. They’re so warm that even in the cold this morning and with my low shoes my feet were perfectly warm.

Yesterday the 54th. had to keep score on the range for the 53rd. They were firing for the record. As usual, we had to get out there in the middle of the night and then wait for the blooming sun to come up.

There’s more talk all the time about this camp closing up for the winter. Yesterday we damn near froze on the range and the weather’s been pretty good lately. How’s it going to be later on? Even on a cold day now it’s impossible to get much done. God damn this lousy pen anyway! (ink spill here) Some officers were overheard by the fellow that sleeps next to me betting we’d move out of here by January first. It may be bull but it’s plausible.

How would you like some pictures of me for a Christmas present? We’ve got a portrait studio here and although they hold you up a little, you can get some pretty nice pictures.

Some of the fellows went into Bend today and I told one of them to get some of those pins. I hope he remembers.

I don’t think you’d recognize me now. I’ve lost almost 20 lbs. and I’m only now beginning to gain it back.

Talking about politics, it’s interesting to know how all the fellows here feel. Most of them are really down on the administration and would like to see Roosevelt get licked in the coming election. Up here it’s obvious that the army’s getting too damn big and that the draft is being continued only as a club over the public’s head. As Engineers we get more and better equipment than probably any other branch of the service excluding the Air Corps, but even then there is a terrific shortage, especially in food and such. It’s utterly ridiculous that we should be spending money training some of the men we have here. Some or rather most of them will never be worth a damn to the army- fellows with only one eye-bad feet-deformed backs. Hamilton- the fellow from “Cal” that sleeps next to me has 20/100 vision and even thick glasses can’t do much for him.

Well, better close here. May write more tonight.

All the Love in the World,