Saturday, October 4, 2014

13. 'I can’t even conceive being in your arms again'

Dad at home in Connecticut with Bonnie, fall 1945
The soldier’s lament “Hurry up and wait” certainly must have occurred to my father during his last weeks in the Philippines. But in fact, he was lucky. Many men waited months, some more than a year, to go home. I’m not sure when Dad shipped out to San Francisco from Replacement Depot 21 in Manila Harbor, but it was probably in early September. It may even have been Sept. 2, 1945, the day the Japanese formally surrendered in Tokyo Bay.

Nearly four months after Dad’s last letter home, 4,000 soldiers in Manila appeared at the same Depot 21 on Christmas day with a banner that read, “We Want Ships!” These soldiers demonstrated twice more. In Guam, 3,500 troops waged a hunger strike to press for faster demobilization.

By then Dad was long gone. He had pulled strings, as he wrote, but he had also earned his homecoming. A soldier overseas needed 85 point to qualify for a ticket home. Soldiers received one point for each month of service and one more for each month overseas, 12 points for a dependent child under 18 and five points for a combat award or battle star. After V-J Day the point total for a ticket home was reduced to 80.

Dad landed at Leyte in October 1944 and was wounded soon after. This AP photograph of the Leyte landing
is one of many from the U.S. Pacific campaign that you can see here.
Dad had been in the service for 31 months and overseas for 17 for a total of 48 points. Fatherhood was worth 12 more for 60. The rest came from medals and battle stars. In addition to the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing three drowning men, Dad won  the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

In another of his last letters from Manila, Dad referred to men dying while American officials decided what to do with Hirohito, the Japanese emperor. American troops were indeed killed during these few days. No doubt some were also killed in the drunken, shoot-’em-up celebrations of war’s end that Dad wrote home about.

Mostly these letters reflected Dad’s excitement about going home, relief at having survived the war, love of his wife Bern and desire to be with her – and how!

                                                                                                 Aug. 11, 1945

Darling Bern & Bonnie,

What glorious news tonight. People are going crazy, dancing in the streets, firing live ammunition all over. I am honestly considering digging a fox-hole. I’m nervous. The bulletts are flying fast and furious.

I can’t seem to get in the spirit of it all somehow. I just can’t conceive it being true. I think I’ll wait until tomorrow and then if it’s really true, I’ll celebrate. It’s wonderful darling to have this feeling of hope. We’ll all be home soon it’s true and I sure am praying for it, and I know you are too. I love you.

How did the people take the news back home? I’ll bet they went crazy too. I’d sure like to have been there.

I have a bad cold. I am pretty miserable with it but I’ll be as good as new in a few days. It’s in my throat, nose and chest. I am sweating so much. I guess I took a cold shower once when I was too hot.
We had a little excitement here tonight. A G.I. tried to steal a jeep from my pool and the guards chased another jeep firing like mad. The jeep finally went into a pole and the guy ran into some sailors barracks and the guards followed, still firing. They shot the crook through the stomach and also shot a poor sleeping sailor through the leg. He (the crook) is in critical condition. Maybe now there wont be so many stolen jeeps. At present I have 16 gone with no chance of recovery.

Guess that’s it – keep your fingers crossed. I love you with all my heart. Bonnie too – kisses.

                                                                                             Your very own

                                                                                             Aug. 12, 1945
Darling Bern & Bonnie,

The town is going wild again today. I am very happy about the whole thing but I feel sorry for the boys who are up front getting killed while the U.S. trys to decide what to do with Hirohito. I still think I’ll be home for Thanksgiving dinner so you’d better be ready for me. Wow!!

Got a couple of nice letters from you today. So you have been down to see Tish again. Hope you had fun. She sure is cute. I’d feel a lot better, I guess, if I knew her too. Enclosed find those pictures. Gee I love you.

My cold is worse, one of those N.Y. poultry show specials. My nose if really running, and it makes me madder than hell and miserable too. Wish I were near you so you could console me.

Hope you received those money orders O.K. Let me know what the total is. It is another hot day today. It is now about 7:30 P.M. I am going to bed as soon as I finish this and try to sweat out this cold. Hope I can.

Your pop wrote me a letter while you were away. Bonnie seems to have behaved herself and is quite a little help-mate. She surely must be the cutest little kid in the world and I can hardly wait to see her. I hope we can start in right where we left off and hope you will always love me as I love you.

That boy that stole the jeep will live, thank god, but he wont be stealing for awhile yet – guess that’s it. I love you with all my heart & soul. Bonnie too. Kisses Pappy.


                                                                                                  Aug. 15, 1945
Darling Bern & Bonnie,

I guess it’s really over at last thank god. Now all we want to do is get home to our loved ones. I can hardly wait. Rumors are flying thick and fast. I’m just going to sit tight and sweat it out.

There sure are a lot of drunks around town today. I can’t see it myself but then I never was too much of a drinking man, was I darling? I wonder how long they will celebrate. I honestly hate to see all of the sailors and soldiers so drunk and throwing their money away. I’m saving mine. I’m still a tight wad darling – I love you.

The heat is really something. It knocks me for a loop. Last night and this morning we had a tropical storm. It was a lulu. This morning the streets were under a foot of water. They just dont seem to fool around when they have a storm here.

Guess I’ll work again tonight. I expect trouble with all these guys drunk again. It sort of breaks up the monotony of things anyhow. I put in 90 promotions for my men. I hope they come in this week. The boys sure deserve them and I sure like to give them out. I love you.

Wish there was something new to write about, like I was coming home of something – maybe I will be writing that soon. I sure hope so. Guess that’s it for today. I love you and miss you with all my heart. Bonnie too.


                                                                                                  August 21, 1945

Darling Bern & Bonnie,

Well here it is. I wasn’t going to tell you but I am bursting with it. I may come home in Sept. I’ve been pulling a lot of strings and they tell me my orders are now being cut for early Sept. All air transportation is frozen, but I’ll be only too too happy to catch a boat. I’ll probably be sent to my old outfit at the 21st depot to be sent back, so I know I wont stay there too long. Keep your fingers crossed and don’t get too excited (like me) about it, cause anything can happen. I’ll know for sure by the 1st of Sept. I love you.

I am really all keyed up about it. I can’t even conceive being in your arms again, can you? I can’t wait darling. I’ll be shaking like a leaf when they hand me those golden orders. There are some poor guys over here 40 months and who have over 100 pts that have to stay because they are essential. I got them to declare me surplus. I had to give them “Hearts and Flowers,” but I dood it. I feel a little guilty about it, but I guess it’s every man for himself from now on, and I’d like to get back to my best gal.

Let’s not say anything to the folks about it darling. We’ll keep it out secret. I wouldn’t want anyone else to be disappointed. That’s all I can write about or think about. I’m as happy as a lark. When I stop writing you’ll know I’m on my way. Don’t go anywhere until you know for sure. If I make it I’ll wire from Frisco and you can meet me in N.Y. Oh my back! There I go shaking again when I think of that meeting. I love you with all my heart and soul. Bonnie too – kisses. Pappy.

Still doing OK at poker. Too nervous from now on though.
                                                                                          I love you.

This should be quite a nice anniversary surprise [Mom and Dad married on Sept. 2, 1940.]

                                                                                           22 Aug 1945
Darling Bern & Bonnie,

Well here it is darling. I have my orders in my hand. I report to the 21st [Replacement Depot] on the 25th and [will] probably be on my way home within a week. I am coming by boat. I’m shaking all over. Just think I may be home by Bonnie’s second birthday [Sept. 19]. What a break. I’m so happy I’ll burst. You might as well quit writing because I wont be here. Happy day!! I’ll have you in my arms and then –

When I stop writing will be the day I leave. I can’t even write a sensible sentence. Just think, no more letters to write. I’ll wire you from Frisco. I hope I can be allowed to fly home. I don’t mind paying for that one bit. I’ll let you know. Gee I love you –

I’d hate to tell you, or better still I will tell you when I get home how close I came to not being here to get these orders. I really sweat it out too. I would have needed O.D.’s.

By the way get my winter uniforms and some civilian suits ready. Air them like mad. Get them all pressed and ready for poppy. Maybe I’ll have to stay in the army in the U.S. Do you think you’ll want to go with me? I’m ducking – Try, go ahead and try to get away. I’ll never never be apart from my lover –

Guess I’ll sneak out to the 21st tomorrow A.M. and make all of the necessary arrangements to get out of there in a hurry. I’ll live like a king there too – I’ve really had it nice for the last couple of months. I am really happy. Nothing can make me mad – I love you. Bonnie too – kisses Pappy

                                                                                               Aug 23, 1945

Darling Bern & Bonnie,

I’m all enrolled out at the 21st. My name is on the list, and with any luck I should be on my way home before the 1st of Sept. I am being relieved here tomorrow night. All I do then is sweat out a boat. I can’t wait darling.

One of my men is flying home tonight on an emergency furlough. I told him to send you a telegram saying I’ll be home before Oct. 1st. Hope it doesn’t upset you. I told him to sign my name. I’ll bet if you get it before my letter you’ll think I’m home.

I have so much to tell you, mostly how I love you and miss you. I want you in my arms so badly darling, it hurts. I am still too dazed to believe it. Leave it to pappy, right? I’ll tell you all about it when I get home darling.

I think if the people will move out of our flat you should fix it up. We’ll want to move in Oct. 1 if we can. I am quite sure I’ll be a civilian. Even if not we’ll have a lot of fun living there for awhile. I can hardly wait darling. I love you.

I am right in the dough again with my pay and what I made in poker. I should have $600.00 in my jeans when you meet me. I’d give that and more to be in your arms this instant. Gee god is good to us. I’ll have near 17 mos. [overseas] when I get home. I told you I’d make it by 18. I am surprised myself though. I love you.

I am packing up my foot locker tonight. It goes first as “hold luggage.” It has to be censored tomorrow. My hand luggage will be inspected right before I go. I am also sweating out getting some shots. I don’t think I need any but maybe they’ve invented a new one. Maybe they’ll give me some just in case.

It sure will be a beautiful time of year to get home too. I think I’ll look funny breezing in with khakis on but you don’t care how funny I’ll look do you darling. Besides I wont have them on long. Ahem –

I’ll be glad to get rid of this damned prickly heat too. I am not going to move out to the disposition center physically. I’m going to stay in town with my comforts and call out there twice a day. They have my number in case also, so I wont miss a trick. I like to feel important behind this desk anyhow. I really have a lot to teach this new guy too –

Guess I’ll quit – with all my love I love you. Bonnie too. Kisses –


                                                                                                   Aug. 24, 1945
Darling Bern & Bonnie,

Well here I am behind my desk officially for the last night. It feels and looks mighty bare without my darlings pictures under the glass. My foot locker is all packed and has already passed the censor. I had to then lock it and have it at the disposition center. It will come on the same ship as I do. I hope it gets there OK. I have all of my souvenirs for the family in it. Yours too. I had no room in my val pac. I am packing it full of clean clothes because I have no idea how long I’ll have to live out of it. I love you darling.

I imagine shipping will soon be rolling again. They got quite a few out today. With any luck I should be on my way before the first of Sept. I sure am bucking for it.

Here is my big paper again so you will get only one sheet, but don’t feel badly darling. I’ll soon be in your arms and then I can tell you things I can’t put on paper. I am going to bed early so time will fly. I am as impatient as mad. This waiting is rough. I guess that’s it – please drop [a line to] Anna Louise [his aunt, who lived in California with his uncle Booger McCarthy, a Hollywood stunt rider] and tell her I’m on my way. I didn’t answer her last letter – I love you darling. Bonnie too. Kisses. Charlie

                                                                                                       Aug. 28, 1945

Darling Bern & Bonnie,  

Didn’t write yesterday because I simply didn’t feel like it, so there!! My real excuse is that the power was down and there were no lights, no foolin!!! I’m still here honey, and I have a hunch I’ll be on my way within two days. I heard my sailing orders were being cut this afternoon. Oh boy, look out, you!!!!!

Hope you get the five hundred bucks in money orders I sent the other day. I have all of the receipts. We’ll check in when I get home, right darling. That ain’t all we’ll do, right darling. Hope you can meet me in N.Y. Maybe you should get a room in a good hotel and I can meet you there. I’ll see. Supposing we let it go until I get to San Fran, and I’ll wire you. I love you.

The new motor officer is sick with a strep throat so I’m sitting in his place until I go. I hope it’s soon too – maybe tomorrow or the next day. I want my mamma, and how - - - - -

Everything is O.K. and I’m sleeping until 9 every morning and it feels wonderful. You’d better be “in the mood.” I love you with all my heart. Bonnie too. Kisses. See you soon – Pappy

Next: 'Her life was early spent'

I was born in 1946. That's me on the left and Bonnie on the right sitting in Dad's lap in 1948.

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