Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands
19 April 1945
Sarah, My Beloved Darling:
I’m all soaked and very tired but I’m going to try and write you a long letter tonight. It so happens that we have a little blackout room here now, with some candles. By the time this letter reaches you,you will have read about the great artillery barrage that our forces threw against the enemy. I’m sure it is the greatest of the Pacific war and is undoubtedly as great as any in the European war. At dawn, some of our mighty battle wagons standing offshore gave the signal with salvo after salvo. At that signal the artillery of the Army opened up. You cannot imagine the terrific concussion and mighty roar of those belching guns. Over our heads we could hear the shells speeding to their mark. Inside of a half an hour after the barrage began, the southern end of this island was so covered with dust and smoke that it looked like the island was on fire. By 9 o’clock the rays of the sun were blotted out. Very early I managed to get up to the front and help with the wounded coming back to our aid station. While there and doing what I could to help, another chaplain came up. We introduced ourselves and busied ourselves with the men. After a lull we talked for a moment. When my mind had cleared enough to think after all we saw, I asked him if he attended William Jewell College. And he said he did. And then I said,”Did you marry Mary James of Long Beach, California.” And he said, “I certainly did.” I didn’t know her personally but I was in her parents home many times, and Dorothy Jones is her sister who leads music at the First Church. I believe I told you about her, she is such a wonderful Christian. If you will remember, she was the one who led the choir when they sang for my Christmas services at Long Beach.
While up front helping with the wounded, the enemy started a rocket attack, but we managed to get the wounded to safety and cover for ourselves. Dear, when I get back to you I will have spent so much time in bomb craters, foxholes or caves that you will think I’m a gopher or a bear.
It started to pour rain and after doing all I could I came back here for the night. The man have to dig in to hold their lines against infiltration or counterattack. We still have a terrific battle in front of us. The enemy holds the high ground, which makes it costly to capture them. The Marines had an easy time as compared to the fortifications and installments we face on this end of the island. I have seen both and they are really dug in the down here, there is only one way to get them and that is with flamethrowers and demolitions. But you can imagine how hard that would be when you remember our men have to climb the rugged terrain in the face of mortar, machine gun and sniper fire.
Just before supper I wrote Gen and Paul a v-mail letter, it isn’t as good a letter as I would like to write them but I want them to know I love them and think of them. By the time this letter reaches you, you will know that Ernie Pyle, the great war correspondent, was killed yesterday with one of the divisions in our Army. Dear, you cannot worry or become too much concerned about yourself when you see so much need about you. When they start landing and exploding you automatically dive for some kind of cover.
Darling, there are many more things, but I cannot tell you about them now. In that I have a lot of your letters to answer I will start with yours of March 14th. By the way, I just finished reading some more of your letters which arrived. They were for March 31st, April 2nd-7th-8th-9th and 11th. It is certainly wonderful to receive all of those letters. Those you addressed to the 24th Corps must have gone to the Philippines. I’m still missing several you must have sent to the 98th. I hope they come through soon. I also got a nice note from my grandmother and Connie. Your letters were such a lift to me after the grind of today. Dear, I’m glad you liked those things I sent you from Hawaii. Nothing gives me more joy than being able to give things to you as a small token of the joy which is mine in having the privilege of being yours for now and all eternity. Dear, even in eternity I will not have enough time to let you know of my joy in your love. By the way, I know the bag was too large for a purse but I thought it would make a nice knitting bag now and especially good to carry things in for our babies, you know like when we go somewhere for a day or two. What do you think, Dear? I’m glad Mom liked the things I sent. I’m still vainly searching for a souvenir or present the dear patient Chief. I’ll bet he thinks I don’t love him.
I’m sorry to know Dukey’s neck has been bothering him and I hope Dale can be operated upon so it won’t be so hard for him to breathe.
I was grateful and thankful to hear about the fine opportunity Lois Sloane has to be of service for Christ. I have always taken a real interest in Lois. I love her for her sweet Christian devotion. Be sure to give her my love and let her know I’ll remember her in prayer.
You were wondering if Captain Mason’s family are related to the Stomms. No, they are not, they are very good friends and have been for a number of years. Captain Mason’s father is a PhD from Columbia and superintendent of schools in Paterson, New Jersey. Captain Mason’s wife is a daughter of a retired Rear Admiral. Quite outstanding in service during World War I against German U-boats. I was glad to hear about Dr. Pierce’s talk in Chapel, and from what you said, I take it that he gave some fine suggestions for books to have in our library.
Darling, I’m glad you got permission to take Evangelism by correspondence. I realize it will be difficult and an extra burden for you this last quarter, but I know it will be a relief to you to have all of your required work finished for your Master’s degree. Darling, I’m so grateful for the splendid record you are establishing at Northern. I only wish I could have been as good a student and scholar.
I am happy about the opportunity you had to lead the devotions at Second Church. I would have liked to heard you, Dear. I know Miss Green and have worked with her several times in city youth work. She may have forgotten me and I suppose she doesn’t know I’m your husband.
Darling, don’t worry about the records, they may be a little longer in reaching me so we can use them here when the fighting is over and when we don’t have to worry about having a service interrupted by shelling or an air raid. And eventually I think I can get the goods to the natives.
In your last letter of April 11th, you said you had not has yet received the last pictures I sent you from Hawaii. That cost me 24 or 30 cents and I’m sure they were addressed correctly. Don sent them for me Air Mail. The pictures I took while on DS to Hawaii were to be taken care of for you by Captain Wilson, Major Ender and Don. If they haven’t forgotten or had trouble getting them, you should be receiving them soon. Some of them ought to be good. Let me know when they arrive.
I was sorry to hear about Mary Alice’s mother being killed. Mary Alice is a splendid Christian girl and I hope everything works out alright for her. Darling, what Wayne Van Kirk told Joe is true, for I’ve seen it again and again and it is true beyond doubt. Do you know what engineer outfit he is with? As a Special Troops Chaplain I have Combat Engineers to take care of. We have some fine men in Special Troops. I also have several other companies to take care of. Your work as a Special Troops Chaplain is more difficult because your men are scattered so far in carrying out their respective responsibilities under combat conditions.
Darling, I’m going to skip to your last letter of the 11th of April because it was written on the day of your birthday. I’m glad you liked the roses, Mom is so sweet in carrying out my wishes. Be sure to tell her how much I appreciate that help. I love her and the Chief so much. I’m glad they were deep red roses, for that is the kind I wanted. I may not be paid for quite a while so tell her I’ll send the money when I’m paid. The folks, as well as others, were very kind to you on your birthday. I hope I can celebrate your next birthday with you, my Dear. That was nice of Mom to have the painting framed for you, I will be anxious to see it when it is finished. Tell Estel Heinz if I were in his position, knowing what I know now, I would choose the mission field because of the importance of leading those people to Christ and explaining to them the reasons why supposedly civilized nations are worrying to the death and destruction of human lives and invaluable property.
I was interested in what Dr. Mason said about invitations. I heartily agree with all he said.
Mrs. Melberger must have been shocked and I extend my heartfelt sympathy to Claudia, John and Mrs. Melberger.
Another reason I’m answering your letter of the 11th is to give you a clearcut idea of what I said to the War Correspondent who interviewed me while in the Philippines. He came to me because he said he had heard about me and wanted to interview me. He asked me all kinds of questions and answered them, but I never realized it would be a news release.
I’m a little puzzled to that statement about a small parsonage as you said it stated. What I did say was this, “I believe the small churches are often neglected and not nurtured in the gospel of Christ; they too can be of important as a Riverside Church or a Tremont Temple. And it is our (meaning us) supreme aim and purpose to serve in the place where God wants us, wether in a small church in a little hamlet or a large church in the city. The statement about men not being naturally bad is only part of what I said. I think you have heard me make this statement in sermons before or our own discussions. “The nations, be they white, yellow, red or black, they all unknowingly are seeking for security in money, pleasures, good health, industry, labor the farmer, the magistrate or whoever he may be, but we are admonished by Christ, the captain of our salvation, to seek first the kingdom of God.” I further stated that man may spend a whole lifetime seeking anyone of these things and then come to the twilight years realizing he has not deposited things in heaven. Man is not really aiming for the dissatisfaction he has in later years when he realizes earthly riches are not all, but that is where Christ comes in, for we cannot philosophize our way out of man’s bent toward sinning. In brief, a man cannot lift himself by his bootstraps, he needs power from above, and that moral, saving spiritual power is in Christ. He asked me about child delinquency and I said I didn’t think it was properly termed, it ought to be adult delinquency. And then I made a statement to the effect that parents exert a profound influence on their children by their own lives and the type of people they have in their circle of friends. While asking me questions, he only jotted down notes now and then so it looks like he ran those two statements together and left out important things in between. And about dogmas and confessions of faith, I made this statement, “Churches and church bodies are often more concerned about them than they are about the person and the power of Christ, which is the only lifting power for this age or the ages to come.” The only timeless message and plan we have is the word of God, for we have His own statement – “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall never pass away.” Christ is ahead of us, Church history is important, but it’s importance lies in the realization that we need Christ, not political maneuvering for worldly favor. That is the essence in brief of my statements. From what you told me, I can easily see some of the brethren thinking the chaplaincy has made me a heretic.
And I also want to mention this from all the information Paul Allen told me, I am not in favor of the New Society even though I cannot agree with the old in some things, and I know there are many fine individuals in the new group but some of their tactics cannot be classed as a Christian or Christ-like. In brief, I always remember the statement, “Why abandon ship because rats are on board.” We, or I, should say our forebearers had everything to do with the establishment of fine institutions and mission stations all over the world, why give them up to lesser aims or ideals than those we have in Christ, for that is what our forefathers wanted us to hold high until He comes again. I have been to conventions, state and national, and seen some brethren idly talking in hotel lobbies or parts of the church building when important matters or issues were to be voted upon. If it didn’t go like they thought it ought to, immediately you heard the cry modernist, liberal or many other such remarks. But when they could have done something, they were interested in themselves and their friends. At every national and state convention, Paul Allen, Dr. Mantey and I, or well as a host of others, have asked these individuals to vote, many you could never find at the time when important matters were to be decided. Then we hear them cry underhanded, unfair or unchristian; when to me they are the ones to blame. Concern for souls is most important, but issues upon which decide our course and aim as a national body is important also, because our aspirations and aims are expressed in our national voice for the NBC is so organized. I think how miserably we would be able to hold out against our enemy here on this island if various units said, “I don’t like the orders of the General of the 10th Army. We are going to pull out or not do anything, we will just hold what we got.” You know what would happen, we, everyone would eventually be annihilated or captured by a greater foe. Oneness in Christ is the only power which conquers Satan and his cohorts.
Darling, I must close now, God bless you and the folks in all things.
Yours forever and ever in the
Love of Christ Jesus,