WW II SGT Max E. Fletcher, Army Air Corps, 500 Bombardment Squadron, Pacific theater.
The following letter was read aloud on the radio after the war was over on "The Hunt Salute to Our Boys in the Armed Forces" in Fort Smith, Arkansas
I received a letter from you yesterday. As always I was very glad to hear that you were all well. Now that censorship is lifed, I can write anything I see fit. First, I'll try to tell you all the places I have been. I left the states on the last day of March and by the 16th of April I was in San Marcelino, on Luzon in the Phillipines. During these short 16 days and nights of constant travel, I stopped and visited several islands, Hawaii, Tarawa, Kwajalin, Bisk, New Guinea, Lae, Layte, Los Negroes, Guadalcanal, Nadjab, and the Christmas Islands. After arriving at San Marcelino, I learned to be a radio man. I didn't fly any there. In five weeks we moved to Clark Field and on that one I lost two very good friends, my navigator and co-pilot- Swallow and Graham. The day they went down, I had a feeling that someone on the crew would be lost. You see there were only four ships on the mission to Formosa, and that island was just one big gun. My crew was split up into all four ships: Baker in one, Swallow and Graham in one and me in the third. I knew that if any one of the planes went down it would get one of us. All of the planes picked up holes from ack ack. Swallow had just made Squadron Navigator and was flying lead ship. I was third over the target. Beker was second. I was riding in the tail strafing houses and gun positions when I spotted their plane on the ground, burning. As far as I know, no one got out, but of course, I couldn't look too good as I was covering our tail as we were leaving the target. You can imagine how I felt. I knew it was one of my crew, and I didn't know which one for several minutes. Our plane got 57 holes from ack ack. Our upper turret was blown away. The gunner had just bent down to get his flak helmet. Lucky! More than luck. It sure is hard to think of your buddies being killed every day, but we must all die sometime and we can't all die for something. After leaving Clark Field, we moved to Ie Shima. On this island, Ernie Pyle was killed. It is only a mile and a half from Okinawa, the closest of our possessions from Japan. I flew four combat missions to the Japanese sea, searching for Japanese shipping. We found it too. My plane sank several ships. In all, over two each mission. In all, I only flew five combat missions and I'm thankful I don't have to fly anymore. I will fly patrol for a while. Pray? I thought I had prayed before, but now I know I hadn't. I have received four combat stars and have been put in for the Air Medal, but it hasn't come through yet. It was to be awarded for outstanding performance. In my case it was for participating in sinking several ships. I don't see why I should get it- I didn't drop any bombs. I don't have enough points to come home just yet, but I hope it won't be too long. I think we are going to Korea. I wondered if you heard the program directly from here about our group leading the Jap planes to Ie Shima? I have some good pictures I made of them. Hope they come out okay. We worked on the point basis. When we collected one hundred points we got to go back to the states. It worked this way: For every ten hours you get three points, for fighter interception, without fighter cover, we got three points. If a plane in our flight went down, we got two points, and for holes we got one point. If we got one hundred holes we got only one point. If we got one hole, we got one point. Doesn't sound logical does it? Our losses were very high. Since I came into the squadron we have had one hundred percent losses. Thank God the Japs didn't have the atomic bomb. One bomb can do as much damage as six million infantrymen can do in four to five months. I know. I've seen what they can do. Nagasaki looks like a big black flat piece of slate. All the fellows you know that came here are alright excepting Swallow and Graham. However,there were only three crews of us and you didn't know some of the ones who went down. Jack Crossland and Jimmy are okay. Jimmy has flown one time and is still scared. He almost went to pieces. We have had several fellows blow their tops. One shot himself night before last. War is Hell! And you'll never know it until you have seen it. I must get some sleep. I have to get up very early in the morning to fly. Take care of yourselves, and I have a feeling we will all be together again before too long. There doesn't seem to be much more to write, so I'll close for now.
P.S. Why didn't you tell me Grandpa was sick before he was sent home from the hospital!
lauratealeaf, niece of Max E. Fletcher, on February 13, 2000 3:35 PM EST
Viet Nam LCpl. Roger "Butch" Cecil, USMC, KIA - Quang Tri Province, RVN, July 14, 1967.
The following letter was written to a friend of the family's grandmother, and is dated June 23, 1967
Dear Mrs. Fletcher,
A few lines to let you know I still exist in the world. But, believe me, I am in a different world. Mrs. Fletcher, I didn't know the Lord could change your life in 10 minutes. But he can. If you ever held somebody that was dying you would understand. I don't guess anybody really knows what war is until they're right in the middle of it. Mrs Fletcher, since I've been here, I've seen about 13 or 14 marines die and many more wounded. When we get into a fire fight with the enemy, I look around and see dead people not two feet from me and thank God I am still alive. And I say," he was alive only five minutes ago." The Lord can take your life so fast. If I ever get back to the states you will never catch me out of Sunday School and church. I'm just thankful that God has spared my life this long. I've had nothing cold since I got here, all the water is hot. Not a bath in three weeks. People don't know what you go through in war. Well, so much for that. Oh, yes. Every time you take a drink of cold water, think of me. Because, when we're on patrol the only way we get water is to find a creek or river. Sometimes, we do without water for a day and a half. It's about 130 degrees. You are really hurting for water. We're out on operations and patrol 28 days out of the month. Well, guess I'd better go. By the way, how is your family doing? Hope ok. Well write soon,
lauratealeaf, friend of Butch Cecil's, on February 20, 2000 4:50 PM EST
WW II Lt. Jack Emery, July 6, 1944
KIA July 9, 1944. Shot down over Burma
Gee Iím happy today. I got a very sweet letter from the girl I love and also 2 wonderful pictures of her. Honestly dear I think the pics are terrific. I got another very sweet letter from you about four days ago but this is the first chance Iíve had to answer any letters in the past week. As you probably noticed I am back in India again. Actually thereís not very much difference between being in Burma or India except that here living conditions are better and we donít fly quite as much...
Last night I saw a very amazing thing. About 8:30 p.m. we were just sitting around talking when one of the boys looked to the north and saw of all things a rainbow. It was at least an hour after sundown so how a rainbow could form without sunlight Ė donít know but there it was. It was a very beautiful sight.
Iím very happy to here that you are liking your camp life better now. I like the ďout-of-doorsĒ myself but after having lived that way for the past year Iíll gladly settle for good old Milwaukee for awhile.
The past 3 nights Iíve stayed up till about 1 or 2 oíclock just sitting outside talking with a few of my better friends. I like to sit up these warm bright nights and watch the white clouds and dark shadows move in the night. On the nights that I sit up alone I can feel you very close to me. Sometimes we sit and talk and sometimes we pretend we are just sitting there with our arms about each other with our hearts beating as one. Best I donít dwell on the subject now cause I miss you so much right now it seems as though my heart is going to burst.
Iíd better close now, dear. Thanks again honey for the two lovely pictures and I hope that by now you have received both the ring and the pictures I sent several weeks ago.
I Love You, Jack
Shenandoah, on May 26, 2000 01:50 PM EST
WW I Lt. Robert Mitchell, October 6, 1918
KIA October 17, 1918. Somewhere in France
Sitting on head of cot, map case on knee and head ducked beneath canvas leanto against side of company officerís wagon, smoldering fire and dirty dishes in immedieate front with orderly (likewise dirty) prowling around in imitation of a working man.. Lt. DeLessquaurís tent beyond fire with nothing but his feet sticking out, and an occasional drizzle Ė Picture this and you have the ideal gypsy outfit which we resemble.
I got back to the company and for a solid day read five weeks accumulated mail Ė about fifty letters with six or seven from you. I never received so much mail at one time before in my life. It certainly was a red-letter day and make no mistake.
I discovered this was Sunday by bumping into an open air Mass conducted by our chaplain, a prince of a fellow and as sincere and straightforward a priest as they make them....
The war news continues to be the best ever. We have just received word of Germany, Austria and Turkey asking for armistice to discuss peace on basis of President Wilsonís fourteen proposals. I donít believe they will get an armistice anymore than Bulgaria did, tho the Allies may allow them to discuss the question. All this will be history when you receive this letter.
At any rate weíre licking the tar out of the Germans and Iím a live part of it. Still thatís not saying much because things are lively everywhere now. The spirit of the boys is great and they are brimming over with confidence. On the other hand I believe the morale of the enemy to be lower than at any previous stage of the war. These are stirring times and regardless of my personal outcome Iím glad to be here...
Iím feeling fine and fit to fight Ė one reason being that Iíve had a bath three weeks later than anyone in the company. Note Iím not mentioning when! Pardon the allusion. We reckon history from one of them to another.
Shenandoah, on May 26, 2000 11:16 AM EST