Willis didn’t write a letter on March 1, 1944, so instead we’ll post a letter he wrote to the Muellers. They were friends from East Moline and we were fortunate enough to find a stack of letter that Willis wrote to them. Some of the details that Willis shares give a different view of the details which he shares with Sarah.
October 7, 1943
Dear John, Helen and Children:-
Undoubtedly you have been thinking that I had forgotten you, which of course is not true, because I’ve thought of you many times. John, you’ll never know how glad I was to receive your letter while still at Harvard.
I got my orders the next to the last day at Harvard by telegram, and my orders read to report to this outfit. A.A.A. means Anti-Aircraft Artillery. Our gun batteries range from the ordinary machine gun up to the 3 in Anti-Aircraft guns. Most of these positions are so well camouflaged as to not be seen. In this regiment I have 18 separate gun batteries to take care of, each battery having between 150 to 160 men. These positions are all the way from Seal Beach to Point Dune, 20 miles north of Santa Monica. We also have positions in L.A., San Pedro, Glendale, Hollywood, etc. We also have eight searchlight groups attached to this outfit.
Last Sunday I had five services. My assistant is my driver, for I have my own Jeep to get from place to place. We started at 8:30 AM from Headquarters and didn’t get back until 5:40 P.M. Each service lasted 45 minutes, the rest of the time was spent in travel. Some of the services are held in the dugouts under the guns. It is surely a great experience. Last Sunday morning I had 20 men crammed in a little hole or dugout, we had our service along with World Communion. This is as near the real thing as you could have in the country, all we lack is real shell fire, for our men are living under actual field conditions all the time.
We had two men killed in our outfit since last Thursday and as you know that involves a lot of extra work for the Chaplain. Some of the problems I’ve run into almost tear you heart out; it hardly seems that human beings could be so foolish and stupid.
I met Larry Upton while at Harvard and we talked on several different occasions.
Write to me soon, for I’m anxious to hear from you as soon as possible. I would like to be able to write more but I have a lot to do now.
With Love and Best Wishes,
P.S. If you see Harry Allen’s, tell them as soon as I have a little more time I’ll drop them a note.