Monday, October 31, 2022

Post #646 - May 11, 1945 Never Have I Seen the Men More Shocked or Stricken About Anything Since I've Been in the Army


11 May 1945

Dearest Darling,

Received your typed letter of 28 April this afternoon—the one you started on the 28th that is, and completed on the 29th. It was the first one I received addressed to the new squadron, and is chock full of questions. Chippie—why do you insist on asking me things that it's almost impossible for me to give a straight answer to? Like "Is the change for the better"? - or "Will you remain in England"? - or "Do you stand a chance of getting a promotion"? The answer to all three is the same—I really don't know. I can only draw conclusions from what I read in the papers, hear on the radio, and from what is happening here. As to the latter, I can't be too specific about that, either, for two reasons: (1) Censorship, (2) You might misinterpret the meaning of what is happening, as I may have done already. Two weeks ago I was almost convinced that we were coming home—very soon—possibly in June. Since then, I have heard and read, and seen so many conflicting things that I don't know what to believe. When I told you I might have “good news for you soon" I was pretty sure that we were getting ready to go to the States. Since then, enough has transpired to make me doubt it. Yesterday, as you know, the point values for demobilization were announced. Never have I seen the men more shocked or stricken about anything since I've been in the Army. Some of the men in the service units here on the field have as much as 2-1/2 to 3 years' service overseas (with never a furlough home). Naturally, they had every right to hope they stood a good chance of going home. Imagine how they felt, then, when the lowest number of points considered eligible for discharge was announced as 85! True—the fathers in that category would qualify (and how many could there be?), but what of the poor single guy, who, say, had a year’s domestic service and three year’s overseas service to his credit? He would have only 84 points, which almost automatically puts him in the position of having to sweat it out at least another year, which is how long we have been told it will take to demobilize the 1,300,000 men they figure have 85 points or over now!" What chance, then, have my own buddies - the fellows I came overseas with? They have only served a measly 21 months overseas, with an average of about a year's domestic service, a total of 53 points for the single men and non-fathers, and 65 points for the fathers. Yet, no one could blame them for hoping that they might stand a chance, too. Surely, no one will ever convince these men that they haven't been in the service and overseas plenty long enough! However, there is another factor that is far and away the greatest source of "bitching.” The ground, as well as the combat personnel of the Fighter Sqdns. here on the base, have been authorized no less than four battle participation stars at 5 points per star, for a total of 20 points. The service units, who have worked side-by-side with the ground crews all this time, and whose men actually did the heavy maintenance and repair on the planes, get nothing! This sort of discrimination has, naturally made the men of the service units very bitter against the point system which, in itself is not at fault. Some of the situations which have arisen out of this thoughtless, hit-or-miss fashion of awarding the bronze service stars are so ridiculous that they would be funny if it weren't all so deadly serious. For instance, a clerk in headquarters, or a K.P. pusher, or a latrine orderly, who is lucky enough to be assigned to one of the 3 Fighter Sqdns, and has 65 points for service, by dint of the battle participation awards becomes eligible for discharge. The counterpart of these men assigned to the service units, and, what is more ironic, the airplane mechanics and crew chiefs who were responsible for keeping the planes in the air, but had the bad luck to be assigned to a service unit—get not a point. I've heard of some unfair and discriminatory practices in civilian life, but this one takes the cake! The injustice of it all is all the more deplorable because one doesn't expect that sort of thing from the Army. But wait—as if all this weren’t enough, the "Stars and Stripes", the servicemen’s own paper came out with a strip that was so worded that the men of the service units becomes eligible for any battle participation awards which were authorized the Group to which they were attached. Of course, the removal of this bone of dissension was hailed by all of us as being the only logical thing to do. Then, a few days later, a letter from Hq. 8th Air Force, said that the original decision (to award the stars to the AC personnel, but not to the service units) would stand! All this happened just before the War Department announced that each star had a value of 5 points. When the shocked G.I.'s of the service units had made the simple computation 4x5=20—20 points—20 months of domestic service -—10 mos. overseas service—the difference (for a great majority) between getting out of the Army soon and sweating out the Japanese campaign—well, I think you can gather what they felt! You must know how I (with my 71 points) felt! I was, and am, so damned mad about it all that I feel I'll bust if I don't let off some steam! I can well imagine, Sweet, how you must have been let down when you totalled my points and found them 14 short of the required minimum. All day today, I've been trying to find out if my year in the Enlisted Reserve will be counted towards demobilization. The papers specify “total service” but not “total active service,” so there’s just a bare chance that my total with be 83 points, although I’d hesitate to give myself hopes on that score. I’d give a lot, Chippie, to be able to give you some encouragement as to my early return home (at least temporarily) but of recent days, I’ve been so thoroughly disillusioned that, like the other fellows, I’m only ready to believe t
he worse. My innate optimism has all but disappeared, but there is still enough left, darling, to caution you against giving up hope. At the very worst, we can still hope for an early end of the war in the Pacific. With the preponderance of military might that the Allies are concentrating against the japs, it should not take long to crush them—possibly a year.—But enough of this. There are a few other things I want to talk about before I sign off: You want to know more about my job, altho’ I thought I had covered it pretty well in my recent letters. The work of processing at the Station Headquarters, I thought you understood, was of a temporary nature—until we completed checking the records of all the men. Then I returned to work in the Squadron Orderly Room, remaking and checking the organization's "Forms 20" (EM's Qualification Cards). That lasted about a week. Today I returned to Headquarters as part of the team processing the Officers' records. We should finish that day after tomorrow, after which I will resume my work on the "Forms 20." That's about all from this side of the fence, honey—except, I might mention that I ordered a Fathers Day gift thru the PX for Dad, which, however, probably won't reach him ’til about mid-July. Hope he likes it. 

The news about Jack N. didn’t surprise me at all.—I've seen it coming on. In any case, Sweet, I see no reason for you to be distressed by it. It is purely his business, and I for one, am wishing him nothing but the best. Don’t jump to conclusions, baby—who knows that they won’t be gloriously happy despite the handicaps? I expect to write to him tomorrow in your care. Not so much because I want you to see what I have written (although you might do well to take your cue from me) as because the guy has moved around so much, that I don't rightly know his present address. 

There is a possibility (I’ve just confirmed it) that henceforth we will be working a six-day week instead of seven, as formerly. This means I’ll have Sundays off. I'll give you one guess as to how I’ll utilize that time. Right! Brother Jack, Gloria, Dottie, Mom, and any other correspondents will be hearing from me once again. You may inform them, darling—

Was very glad to learn that Harry W. has good hopes of coming home soon. I'll try to get a letter off to him soon, too.

Your information about my being able to get a furlough home is, to put it bluntly, all wet. If the Group is fortunate enough to be sent home in toto before r
e-deployment I'll get to see you for about a month or forty-five days otherwise, not a chance!

You persist in feeling badly about the bracelet, altho’ it's far from worth it. I'm sorry now that I even sent it. Certainly I didn’t intend it as a source of potential aggravation for you! But if it's any comfort to you, darling, you might be interested to learn that it is repairable, Take it around to the neighborhood jeweler (maybe Eddie could do it for you) and tell him that “Acetone" can be used to repair the break so you'd never notice it. Once repaired, you can fit it to your wrist by making it supple by immersion in hot water. "

I'm almost as relieved as you are, Sweet, that the punkin has completed her shots. I hope the Dick Test proves her immune, so that all your trouble will not have been in vain.

It's very late, now, darling, and I must sign off now. Before I do, tho’, I want to ask you to continue to be of good heart—whatever the future holds for us, and to take a never ending satisfaction from the eternal love and devotion of

Your Phil

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