May 13, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

13 May 1945

Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

I have just had to the joy of reading your letters of May 4th and 5th. Those letters certainly helped a lot. And Dear, the pictures of you and the roses were certainly beautiful. Please don’t forget that I am always anxious to have pictures of you. You say there is nothing interesting to take pictures of, as I said before, anything of you is most interesting to me. I think you look very nice in the suit and your new hat looks very attractive also. This has been some Mother’s Day, I have thought of you a whole lot and I could not help but thank the Lord that you and I have such wonderful folks. I suppose little Mommy was as sweet as ever. It will certainly be a glorious day when all of us can be together again. I’m glad you were going to get her a gardenia corsage. I hope she liked it. I got several other letters this evening, they were from of the following people: Mil, my grandmother, Captain Wilson, John and Helen Mueller, Roy String and other official mail. By the way, I also got some more of the Bible handbooks from the Galilean class of the Vermont Avenue Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.

Sarah second from the right. Her mother is on the left. 1945.

I got up early this morning and did some studying before we had our breakfast. I didn’t have my early morning service because that particular unit was moving to a new area. I’m going to have to the service for them tomorrow morning at 7:30. As soon as we could drive to another area we had a service for the men in that outfit. There was a good number in attendance. I spoke on James 4:11-17. Using as my theme, “What is Your Life?” It is not enough to want to return to our loved ones and the States and settle down into our old ruts of sin and disregard for the needs of others. We must remember the mighty challenge of Christ which is the greatest in the Kingdom shall be servant of all. The thing that prompted me to speak on that particular subject is the fact that I have heard a lot of men say recently, “When this thing is over I’m going back to the States and settle down and do what I please.”

We arrived back here at Division Headquarters in time for the service which Chaplain Holt conducted. There was a good number in attendance, now that we are resting for a while more men were free to come to the services.

I did some more studying this afternoon and then decided to write some v-mail letters. They were to the father and mother of Captain Mason, also one to his wife, and another to the wife of Chaplain Schreyer and to our old friends the Carlsons in Nebraska. In that I have a little time I thought I would use it to good advantage, as I’ve told you before I feel that letters like that help. I also wanted to take advantage of the use this typewriter; for going out to the infantry under combat I know I will not have the opportunity to use a typewriter. As soon as this service is over in the morning I am going to come back here and get my things ready to move to the 184th Infantry. Chaplain Holt led the Vesper service this evening, then after that I read all the mail which came in for me.

Well Dear, I’m going to start with your letter of April 30th. Dear, I’m sorry you got the impression from my letters the cruise up here was unpleasant. The first two days it was very rough and quite a few on our ship were sick, but as I told you, I wasn’t bothered whatsoever. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. I suppose I would not have enjoyed it if I had been sick. As I said before, such a large convoy like ours is indeed an impressive sight upon the ocean. I will never forget how beautiful they were as they traveled in certain formations and then change their course. I think the most unusual part of the trip was the way we traveled under the cover of darkness. There was not a light to be seen but each ship held her place. One night it was storming so much that it was impossible to see the other ships but still they held their formation. I was privileged to be on the bridge several times by invitation. Not very many have the privilege. I also spent some time in the radio and chart room. Really, I have had some very interesting experiences, such as helping with the rescue of the plane that went down at sea and riding in the copilot’s place on a C-54 from Canton to Oahu. Someday I will tell you all about it. We were in flight 10 hours and 5 minutes and the entire flight over water. It was certainly impressive to see how that great plane stayed right on the beam even though we ran into a storm which lasted for almost an hour.

I’m glad to know that you had such a nice time with all of the girls at your home. From your description of the table setting, it must have been really pretty. I suppose it will be of interest for me to see the things I have sent home. I cannot imagine how it will all look together. I’ve been wondering if you received the picture back since Mom had it framed? Perhaps you told me about it in one of the letters I am missing. They are probably coming by ship. As you said, we will probably be able to have some interesting settings with those things in years to come. The way you figured the time in your letter of April 30th is correct. When it’s 11 AM there on Sunday it is 1 AM here here on Monday morning. Dear, I’m going to close tonight for I want to get a couple more v-mail letters off while I have use of this typewriter. God bless you and the folks in all things. I love you more than ever, Darling.

I am just yours for all the

ages of the ages in Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Enclosed find Mueller’s and Captain Wilson’s letter. John and Helen’s letter speaks for themselves. Isn’t it a shame about the Muscatine church? This whole thing makes me feel so badly.

May 12, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

12 May 1945

Sarah, My Darling:

I had hoped there would be mail this evening but none arrived. This has been a beautiful day but it would’ve been much better if there had been some mail from you, my Dear. As per usual when mail doesn’t come in I read some of your back letters over again. We have just had a beautiful sunset this evening. I know you would have enjoyed seeing it. Won’t it be grand when we can enjoy such things together again? Do you still remember the grand trip we had up into Wisconsin? If it is summertime when I return I hope we can have a trip somewhere or go somewhere for a bout a week and talk all things over and make our plans for the future. Whenever I have a moment on some occasions I try to imagine just what it will be like to be with you again. These days of being apart now seems so very long, I suppose when we are together again the time of being apart will probably vanish. The hardest separation I have endured in my life has been this time of being away from you.

Japanese Arisaka rifles with their long bayonets.

 This has been a rather hectic day and it seems very little was accomplished. Immediately following breakfast I made a box to send a Japanese rifle and a bayonet to Jack and Bertha. I thought it might be interesting to show it in their store. This evening I wrote them a v-mail letter telling them about the gun and the action it was involved in. A little thing like that maybe of a lot of interest in a town like Lexington. Don’t tell the Chief, but I have a beautiful Japanese bayonet for him, but I’m not going to send it right away because I want to get a good Japanese rifle for him also. Maybe he won’t be very much interested but I think he may appreciate it in that I haven’t been able to pick him up anything since coming overseas. Dear, do you think he would like to have something like that for a souvenir? If I can get something else I will send it to him also.

This morning there was a meeting of all the chaplains of the division. That was the first opportunity we have had to be together because of being right in the frontlines. We have been relieved for rest for a few days now. Paul Wells and I had a good visit this afternoon. It is always good to see him. Dear, you’ll note that I have a new address now. I have been transferred from Special Troops to the 184th infantry. Of course, I am still in the Seventh Division. That is something, for now Paul and I are in the same regiment. I’m sure that no two Northern chaplains are that close together anywhere in the service. From what I have been told, the Catholic chaplain is a mighty fine man, so we ought to be able to get along together very well. I’m not going to go over to my new outfit until Monday sometime. Dear, will you please notify the office (NSBC), Northern, and all my friends of the change? The only change is the fact that I am now assigned to the 184th Infantry. I think I will like this set up a much better than Special Troops. This way the men are not so widely scattered and it is much easier to become acquainted with your men. Of course, it is not going to be so easy to get acquainted during combat, but as soon as the campaign is over we will be together as a regiment.

This evening I led the vesper service, I summed up the book of Proverbs with the 31st chapter. It was quite appropriate in that tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

Washing Machine Charlie just came over and there are some more Japanese who met the Emperor. You cannot imagine without seeing it what a terrific wall of fire our anti-aircraft guns can throw up. As they say, the flak is so thick you can almost walk on it. The most dangerous part of an air raid, as far as we are concerned, is the falling shrapnel. To have any kind of protection at all you must have a good heavy overhead cover. Of course there is some danger from strafing and bombing, but our fighter screen and anti-aircraft protection is so very good that they have little chance to get in far enough to bomb or straff. Sometimes they fly very high and drop their bombs, when they do that they are extremely inaccurate, and if they do hit something and do a lot of damage, it is purely accidental.

I’m starting with your letter of April 26th. I certainly wish the missing letters for April would come soon in. It means so much to know what you have been doing from day to day even though it is a week or two old. It will be good when we don’t have to write one another to know what we have been doing. We will be doing things for Christ and His kingdom together. I’m glad the boys enjoyed the circus so much. Knowing them as I do, I know that they must have had a fine time, and I can just hear them trying to tell you all about the things they saw. I was surprised to hear about that article being printed in the Northern, I wish I would soon get a copy of it, I would like to read it. I was further surprised to hear ABPS wanted permission to use it. I wonder if they will actually print it.

I know you must have been very glad to see Claudia again. It will certainly be a wonderful day when I can see some of our good friends again. By the way, I believe I forgot to tell you that I received the book, “How to Help People” about three days ago.

Well, I will close for tonight and try to get some good rest, that is if Washing Machine Charlie doesn’t interrupt us too often. God bless you my Beloved in all things. Be sure to give my love to the folks also.

Forever yours alone in the

Love of Christ Jesus who makes us one,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Enclosed is Mom’s last letter.

May 11, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

11 May 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

16 months ago tonight I was on El Capitan racing for the west coast. Those have certainly been a long 16 months but I am most thankful to know that we are that much nearer the day where we can be together in the work which we love the most. To make a good conclusion to this day I received your letter of May 3rd. As per usual, the letter helped me very much. I’m still missing six of your letters for April, one of them is for the third, I do hope that it soon comes through. It was either lost or is coming out here by ship. Besides your letter, I had one from my Connie. It wasn’t long but it was good to hear from them. I will enclose the letter in here so you can read it.

I got up early and read my devotional material before eating breakfast. After breakfast Chaplain Holt and I went to our Division Cemetery. While up that way I got to see Chaplain Schreyer for a few minutes, it was certainly good to see him. He is such a fine chaplain. Far above the average Protestant chaplain. On the way back we stopped by to visit a couple of our units in the rear areas.

When we returned to Division Headquarters, I received some word which made me very glad. I don’t know whether I told you or not but about two weeks ago they sent a radiogram requesting my old assistance’s transfer to this division as my assistant. And Darling, much to my surprise, it was approved and I wouldn’t be surprised if Don is already on his way. I only wish you could know how happy that makes me, for he is certainly the ideal assistant. His life is a constant testimony of what Christ does for those who really trust him. And besides that, he is a good musician and able to carry on with whatever maybe part of our responsibilities. I do hope it won’t be too long before he gets here for there is so much we can do together.

And right at dinner time Paul Wells came up to Division Headquarters and had his dinner with us. We visited for almost half an hour, then he took a bath. He didn’t have any means to wash his fatigues so I washed them for him and gave him a clean pair of mine which have shrunk so much that I am unable to wear them. Later Paul and I went to one of the hospitals to visit some of the men. And by the time I returned there was a man here to see me. I had been able to help him with a difficult problem he had. It worked out as we had hoped and prayed. And he came up to Division Headquarters to thank me for all that had happened. That was certainly thoughtful of him. I wrote his wife a letter last week to tell her about her husband. That takes a lot of extra time but I think it helps those back home. In the last year I have written to many pastors, wives and parents of men in this service. And you would be surprised how much the men appreciate it. Just three or four days ago a man came to see me and said, “Chaplain, I hear you write to folks back home.” He said, “My mother is very seriously ill in St. Paul, she is a good Christian and I think she would be glad to hear from my chaplain.” He said he had already written his mother about me. I thought that was very thoughtful of him and I was certainly glad to do so. Chaplain Holt led our vesper service this evening. And then I came back here and read your very sweet letter. I’m certainly glad that our men have been taken out of the front lines for a while, they certainly needed a rest.

I’m going to start with your letter of April 25th. It is good to hear that the Youth for Christ movement is collecting clothing for the children of Europe. Something practical like that will help their work very much and will be of a greater blessing to them. From what you said in that letter, I take it that Captain Wilson must have sent the pictures that we took while on our final days on the Island of Hawaii. Yes, the girl standing between Major Ender and I was a Red Cross worker. She was a worker assigned to the rest camp over on Hawaii.

It was interesting to hear that the seniors were able to help those young people on their sneak day. I was glad to hear that the Chief is reading the book, “Abundant Living.” I think it will prove helpful to him. I was glad to know that Dr. Hepburn received the letter I wrote him. He is a fine Christian man and the kind we need more of. I was hardly able to recognize my past life by the report that the reporter wrote up. Well, be that as it may, I didn’t think he would write it up. I was interested to hear that Muriel Anderson’s husband was home, I know she must have been happy.

Well my Dear, it is getting late and I am tired so I’m going to close for tonight. God bless you and the folks in all things.

I’m yours alone, for always-in Christ’s love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

May 10, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

10 May 1945

My Beloved Darling Sarah:

What a grand conclusion to this day, I had three letters this evening. They were yours of May 1st and 2nd; and the other was from Mom. Her letter was so very sweet, she is such a good mother and I love her so very much, she has taught me the beauty and wonder of true mother love. Darling, your letters were just like water to my thirsty soul. Honestly, your letters do more to help me than any other thing or combination of things.

Crashed Japanese Zero on the Philippine Islands. “Washing Machine Charlie.”

This has been a hectic day in more ways than one and I am very tired this evening, so this letter may not be as long and as well-written as I would like to have it. The first thing, our sleep was interrupted several times during the night because of Washing Machine Charlie. By the way, an enemy plane came over this morning flying at very  high altitude. Evidently he thought we didn’t have a plane that would be able to climb that high in time to get him. But one of our flyers got up there and got on his tail, and as he pressed the button to fire his machine guns into the enemy plane but because of the great altitude and the extreme cold his guns froze and wouldn’t fire. But evidently he made up his mind that Japanese wasn’t going to get back home so he pressed in and chewed the tale of the plane so badly that the enemy ship went out of control (I mean it was his propeller that chewed the tail up). Naturally it damaged the propeller beyond repair, but in spite of being out at sea a long way, he managed to get back to one of our bases. I certainly think that man deserves a medal of some kind. That plane was so high that we could only see his vapor trail.

I washed the communion clothes again in luke warm water to see if I could get them to look any better. I left them out in the sunshine all day and by evening they begin to look more like they used to look. I also washed out two suits of shorts and fatigues. Just before supper I took a good shower and it really made me feel a lot better. I led the vesper service this evening. I always love to have such a service at the close of the day. I cannot sing the hymns without thinking of Lake Geneva or East Bay.

Immediately following that I had a conference with one of the men about a program we are going to have. That took about a half an hour, so right after that I read your precious letters. Before I started this letter to you, I wrote to Norman, Larson’s, my father and Emma Lehman. I cannot find Emma’s address so I will enclose her letter in this letter and you can give it to her when you see her. You can read it, Dear. Emma is a wonderful woman and we are so blessed with good friends, Dear.

I’m going to start with your letter of April 21st. You were wondering if the men are more concerned under battle conditions. Now that is rather difficult to answer. However, some do show a genuine interest whereas others are gripped with fear and seek an escape mechanism for the fear that is theirs. And then there are those who show very little concern, but I think that is because it isn’t visible through actions or appearance. And then there are those who absolutely disregard God or it may be that they never knew God, be that as it may I have heard men profane and blaspheme the name of our Lord in the heat of battle. It is most difficult to make any concrete observations, but of this I am sure. Those who do know must be better trained that we may have harvesters who can go out into the fields and win men. Real Christian men here, as well as other places, have opened the eyes of men by their godly lives and their love for Christ. It is appalling how little the average individual knows about God. There are many who proclaim a faith of some kind in some kind of God. In other words, they think there is a God but they haven’t taken the time to learn more about him. I pick up the Reader’s Digest and see an article about the number of lives which are being cut short because of cancer, they plead for funds to help that cause and justifiably so. But men ought also to spend time and effort to know the Creator and Sustainer of our lives. Every plane which takes to the air is thoroughly checked from propeller to tail and wingtip to wingtip to make sure that it will be safe in the air and with the proper handling it will return. Bit in so  important an affair as our souls, men will plunder and plod along and then wonder why God doesn’t do something. Is our industrial, medical, and scientific engineers took as little interest in any one of those fields we would still be living as the people of 100 years ago. Just so must men in the religious realm lead and thus many shall be blessed. Let us therefore pray for men of God to lead in the years ahead. And by that I mean men who know God experimentally.

I certainly hope NSBC gets out of the rut of self glory. Honestly, it is distressing to me and so indicative of spiritual weakness. The church that is doing her job and doing it well will not have to have a press agent and a staff to spread the news of their own greatness. You can be sure of my prayer for both the church, the people and the pastor.

Darling, it is late and I must close, God bless you and the folks in all things.

Forever yours alone in the love of Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Enclosed is something I found in a wastebasket. This is the kind of literature placed in their men’s hands. This is for your edification. You will need this to clarify your study of Church History. And then they talk of tolerance. 

May 9, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

9 May 1945

Sarah, My Dearest Darling:

I was pleasantly surprised with the arrival of one of your letters this evening, it was yours of April 30th. It was very good to have it but I was hoping for two or three anyhow. Your letter of the 30th was short but just the same it was very good to have it and I have just finished reading it again for the umpteenth time. Besides your letter I got a very nice letter from Kittie with her picture closed. It is really very good and I like it very much. When you talk to her be sure to thank her for the grand picture. Then there was Paul’s letter of March 18th. It was old, but it was certainly good to hear from him. And the sweetest letter from Uncle Charlie and Aunt Annie of Stanford. Also enclosed in their letter was a very good picture. I think it is grand and they looked just as sweet as ever. Long shall I remember the good times we have had when in their home. Isn’t it grand to know such wonderful devoted Christians? Just think, they are going on their 56th wedding anniversary. You know Darling, I love people old and young alike. I can sit by the hours and listen to men like Uncle Charlie relate the experiences of their lives. Oft times in talking or listening to the things older folks tell I learn things. Dear, I would even go further, I have yet to meet a person from whom I failed to learn some things. Even where what had to be put up with was most displeasing or hard to bear. Deep within my heart is a desire to be a blessing to all men because of all Christ has done for us. It means so very much for a man to have a wife who is such a sweet Christian and loves you in spite of all your weaknesses and shortcomings. The unmerited love which I know is forever mine because you have so assured me, is a constant source of inspiration and power to me in the times of need. Dear, I only wish you could realize how often your assured love has tided me over some most unpleasant and trying experiences.

I got up early this morning and studied for a little bit. After that I cleaned my gun and before I had finished a soldier came to see me about the most complicated problem. I talked to him for over an hour and a half and went down to the Red Cross field director and did all that can be done to help such a case. By the time I was through with that case, I had some more things to take care of. Immediately following the dinner hour Chaplain Holt and I went to the hospital. Later we went up to the front to see some of our men. By the way, we had a beautiful sunshiny day today. By mid afternoon the mud was like glue, so you can see how hard it was for the foot soldier to trench through it. In some places it was all the Jeep could do to get through. We arrived back here shortly before time to eat. As soon as we had our evening meal we had our evening vesper service. Chaplain Holt led on the 28th chapter of Proverbs.

Magazine from May 7, 1945

After the service I picked up a Time magazine and read most of the articles of interest. And then I wrote a v-mail letter to Kittie, Paul and Gen and Uncle Charlie and Aunt Annie.

I’m going to start with your letter of April 20th tonight. I was glad to hear that Joe Guthrie is alright in France. I know all those who have loved ones in Europe must be thankful that it is over over there. But we men over here cannot be very much stirred up about it because all around us we see the shocking evidence that there is a mighty struggle here and before us.

It is good to know that Gen is getting along well with her piano lessons. She is certainly a darling and such a wonderful mother. Dear, I know you will be just as fine a mother. I know that Lois Sloan must be very glad to go west. I certainly hope everything works out alright for her. She is such a fine girl, I have always loved and thought she had real possibilities.

Dear, concerning the pictures, send all you can. You said it was hard to take interesting pictures. Do you not know by now that any picture of you is most interesting to me? Darling, you are the dearest in all this world to me, so don’t worry about interest just keep the pictures of YOU coming this way.

Dear, it is late and I am tired so I will close for tonight. God richly bless you and the folks in all things.

Yours alone for always because we

Are one in the love of Christ Jesus,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Enclosed find Kittie’s, Paul’s and Uncle Charlie and Aunt Annie’s letters. Also find their picture enclosed.

May 8, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

8 May 1945

Sarah, My Dearest Darling:

Again General Mud took over today, and as a result, we did not move ahead. In weather like this it is about all you can do to hold the front lines. Such weather is always the most miserable for the troops in the forward areas. I had so hoped there would be mail from you but none came in at all. Dear, it is always a brighter day when mail comes in no matter how dreary or tiring it may be. However, I do have your back letters and I have read some of them over again. Thank you Dear for being such a wonderful Christian wife.

I didn’t leave here at all today because of the weather conditions. I studied for a while this morning and then I wrote a v-mail letter to Jeanne Wychoff, Harold and Buena, Mr. and Mr. Zude, Nettie and my old assistant.

After dinner I wrote all the letters of condolence to those who have lost loved ones. That took most of the afternoon. What time I had left before supper I did some more Bible study. As soon as we had supper we had our evening vespers. I led the service, we studied the 27th chapter of Proverbs.

V-E Day!

Of course the big news today is the unconditional surrender of Germany. I hope the people will wake up to the fact that there is a terrific battle still to be fought over here. The European war has held in the spotlight for a long time. Soon many will see what a wonderful job McArthur and his men have done with limited supplies and the fact that they have had to fight in the jungles and disease infested lands. It is very disgusting to most of the men over here to hear about the way people are celebrating and caring on back in the States when before us is the possible bloody war with the Japanese. Even if the whole thing was over I cannot see this business of celebrating, rather than gulping down so much bottled spirits, men ought to rededicate their lives to the cause of peace and freedom by consecrating their lives to the way of salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. Every cemetery with their crosses row on row is a constant reminder of the fact that peace comes from righteous living. Why is it that man thinks of celebrating by eating or drinking instead of realizing that true dedication and blessing coming from spiritual eating and drinking of the bread and water of life provided for us by the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m going to start with your letter of April 19th. I was surprised to hear that Warren hasn’t been writing very regularly. When I was up there to see him he wasn’t doing very much, just standing around and visiting with some of the men. He works in the personnel section and by his own admission he said his job was a snap. As I told you before Dear, I will try and get a letter off to you every day unless it is entirely impossible. Darling, I realize how much your letters mean to me and I’m going to do my very best to keep letters coming to you. Sometimes because of limitations it is hard to write an interesting letter, but at least it is a letter.

From what you said in your letter, Bob’s Marguerite’s brother must be a very fine young man. I’m certainly glad to know that they are such fine people; Bob certainly ought to be thankful unto the Lord for that. I suppose Bob will soon be on his way home, at least I hope so. I can imagine Mom and Margaret are really looking forward to his coming. Everybody around here has been speculating about how soon it will be over over here. The census of opinion seems to be that it will be over sometime this fall. Many even went so far as to say they thought we will be home by Christmas this year. However, I cannot be that optimistic at least right now. If I can be back in the States a year from now I will be very glad. I don’t expect to be out of the Army altogether much before the fall of 1946. It would certainly be grand to be home by this Christmas this year. It may be that Japan may see the hand writing on the wall, so it could be over by this fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if they would be willing to settle the whole thing if they could keep Manchuria, that is, I mean they would be willing to give up the rest. But I doubt if the allies would accept such a proposal in that they have said they will accept nothing less than unconditional surrender. As for me, I would be glad to start on my way home tonight.

Well, my Dear, it is getting late and I’m tired so I’ll close for tonight hoping there will be mail tomorrow.

I’m just yours for the ages of the

Ages and the love of Christ Jesus,

Willis

P.S. Chaplain Holt just gave me four little pictures which he took, they’re small but I’m sure you will be glad to have them. Two of them are not so clear but you can make them out.

May 7, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

7 May 1945

My Beloved Darling Sweetheart:

Right now it is raining on our little black out tent. It started to rain about 4 o’clock this afternoon. Fortunately, I have a good shelter for the night. This morning I spent some time studying and then wrote a letter to the wife of a soldier. I also took the time to write a v-mail letter to Dolores. I also took care of some official letters. At about 11 o’clock I left for the front to visit one of my outfits. I stayed up there for about two hours, then I came back and visited those who have been injured the last few days. If men have anything more than minor wounds, they are immediately evacuated to the rear areas, some of them are taken right back to the States. As a result, it is hard to be able to see some of the men who are injured because they leave here so soon. There are so many other things to do, that about the best way to see the men at all is to stay in the aid station right behind the front lines.

Some of the rough terrain on Okinawa. From Sarah Reed’s scrapbook. April 1945.

While up there I found a soldier who is very much broken up over something that happened. I talked to him for about 20 minutes and I also had prayer with him in a foxhole. He seemed to feel much relieved and thanked me for helping him. This evening we had our evening vespers service and we had a very fine discussion. Dear, I hardly know how to say it, but the more I study the Bible and the more I lead discussions the more I think I would like to be a teacher. I may not be good enough to be a teacher in a seminary or college, but in our next church I want to have several different kinds of classes that will mean better trained Christians. Personally, I think well planned and taught classes will do much to develop real Christian leaders and will undoubtedly lead to some consecrating their lives to full-time service.

My Dear, there are many things I would like to talk to you about. Every day I feel a greater challenge to the work that is before us together. Letters are so inadequate when it comes to trying to discuss things or tell of the things nearest to our hearts. From all the wonderful experience and training you have had you will be able to help me in many ways. I feel confident that you will be able to teach me many new things. Darling, I only wish you could realize how much you mean to me and how much it means to have a fine Christian wife whose life is wholly yielded to Christ. And the most beautiful and blessed thing to me is the fact that we are one now and forever in Christ Jesus.

Of course you already know there wasn’t any mail today or I would have mentioned it long before this. I had so hoped that there would be some. It is always a brighter day, no matter how stormy or miserable, if I have mail from you, Dear. This evening I’m going to start with your letter of April 18th. Darling, it meant a lot to me to know how many are praying for me. If you could see some of the places I have been you would understand what I mean. I covet their prayer for to be an effective servant of the Lord out here, you need strength and power other than your own.

Dear, I got a kick out of your description of Dr. Stiansen’s haircut. Long shall I remember him, he is so very different and I love everything about him. He is indeed a wonderful Christian. I’m glad to know you have had the privilege of having Rev. Turnbull for your teacher. Knowing him as I do, I know he is a fine Christian gentleman and a real leader.

It is nice to know that your graduating class decided to give the new pulpit for the chapel. I think that is a very lovely gift. That was certainly nice of Antie Skaggs to want to give us some of her antique furniture. Be sure to give her my love and tell her it means everything to know she is praying for our work out here.

Darling, my heart is filled with mixed emotions tonight and my heart really aches. Sometimes in the night I will awaken and think of you, and my Dear there are tears on some occasions. Please don’t worry about me for I am alright. But remember, it is impossible to love someone as deeply and dearly as I love you without having moments of inward pain because of this time of separation. Darling, it is a pain that is very intense at times, but as I’ve said before, it is a pain that I am glad to have for it makes me realize just how dear you are to me. Since November 1, 1940 I have, through you, learned the mighty depths and beauty of true love. My one prayer as far as our love is concerned is this, “Oh! To be worthy of a love such as yours.” Well Dear, I’m tired and weary so I will close for tonight and may Our Heavenly Father richly bless you and the folks in all things.

Yours for the ages of the ages in the Love

Which grows sweeter with the passing of each

Day. Isn’t it good to be one in Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Enclosed is Dolores’ last letter.

May 6, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

6 May 1945

My Beloved Darling Sweetheart:

Well, another Lord’s Day is past and we are that much nearer the time when we can be together. I will certainly be glad when we can be together on that day. I always enjoyed those days together. It meant a lot to see you in the congregation. I was up very early this morning and started up to the front for my first service. It was some service, I cannot go into detail now, but someday I will tell you about it. I had three officers serve the communion. There were a mighty fine bunch of men in attendance. It is something to have a service with men gathered with their guns at their sides or slung on the shoulders. It was a beautiful morning and appropriate for services in spite of a lot of things that tended to interrupt the service. I had another service later and then came back here to Division Headquarters and helped Chaplain Holt with his service. There were a fine group of men in attendance at the last service. And then of course we had our evening vespers service which was very well attended.

Willis’ friend Captain Mason. 1945

This afternoon I studied for quite a while and then wrote several letters. I wrote to men in my old outfit and Captain Mason. I also took the time to write to the mother of one of our fine men. She has been ill and worrying about her son, so I thought it might help if I drop her a few lines. I have done that a lot since I’ve been in the service and I find the dividends are well worthwhile, even though it takes a lot of time, especially when there is so much other to do. I also talked to two different soldiers about some problems they had. I always enjoy the privilege and opportunity to help men with problems they may have.

I had hoped to receive some mail from you today but I will be hoping for some tomorrow. It certainly means everything to have your wonderful letters. I often look back over your letters and read them. I did receive one box of the cloth you sent for the natives, I’m going to try and get it on the way to them tomorrow. I also got the Baptist Leader for April.

Dear, I’m going to start with your letter of April 17th. I was glad to hear about Chaplain White speaking in chapel, I was interested to hear what he said about Patton and the Chaplain. I was certainly sorry to hear about Dr. Snively’s passing. As you said, he must have been a very fine Christian man. We need more doctors like him. I know Dr. Ladd will miss him greatly.

Leora Gilder will probably have a fine summer at Green Lake. She is certainly fortunate to have the privilege of working with and under Mrs. Starrett. By the way, that makes me think Dear, I’m wondering if your working at North Shore will interfere in any way with you attending Lawsonia for a week some time this summer. You could pick the week you would like to be there. I would like to be able to give you that as a special treat from me to you. It might be a nice vacation for Mom also. I would also like to see Paul, Gen and the children and you spend a week out at the Dunes. I suppose they wouldn’t want to do that but we could make up Paul’s salary for one week. What do you think Dear and have you talked to them about an apartment at Koller Hall?

I’m so thankful unto the Lord for the wonderful work Stan and Lee are doing. I have always felt they would be real servants of the Lord and I’m glad that I encouraged them to go into full-time Christian service, and what little you and I have been able to give them is going to be a real investment in the Lord’s work. It is hard to tell how much it will do. Isn’t it a blessed privilege to be trustees of the things that God blesses us?

That taking a bath in the ocean that the Chief suggested isn’t so good for several reasons. You may lay your self open for trouble. I cannot go into the reasons why now. By the way, Washing Machine Charlie was over again last night and didn’t give us a very good nights sleep. I’m afraid most of them met the Emperor in short order. Our night fighters and anti-aircraft are doing very well in protecting us from the air.

Well Dear, I’m very tired and I want to get a better night sleep tonight, that is if Washing Machine Charlie doesn’t get through. God bless you and the folks in all things, be sure to give them my love. 

Just yours forever in the love of Christ Jesus,

All my love,

Your husband,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. I used the typewriter in the Division Chaplain’s office to write this letter. I wish I had a typewriter of my own. Also enclosed in this letter you will find the letters I received from Don, Sgt. Visconti, Sgt. Sample and Captain Mason. I thought you might like to read them. I love you more than ever, Darling.

May 5, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

5 May 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

I had hoped that there might be some mail today from you, but nothing came in. However, I did receive three letters from old friends in the 98th  Division. They were from Captain Mason, Sgt. Sample and Don McClintock. As soon as I answer them I’ll send them on to you to read and keep if you like. In Don’s letter he enclosed some pictures which were taken the morning I left. You will remember I had very little time to get my things ready for my departure for the Philippines.

Early this morning Chaplain Walt and I went to the hospital to see some of the men. Later we decided to go up to the front to see some of our men. We were pinned down with sniper fire for some time, but eventually we worked our way back to safety. As a result, we didn’t get to see the men we started out to see.

After dinner I visited some of the scattered units and made all preparations for tomorrow’s services. I got back here just before supper and took the opportunity to take a bath. I feel much better now.

After supper I led the evening vesper service. There were 13 present. After that I came here to our blackout room and wrote to the following ones, a soldier’s wife, Louise Davis, Gail, Hollys and Charlie Mosher.

In that I am tired I probably won’t write you such a long letter because I want to be well rested for tomorrow’s services. Many things can happened to hinder our sleep as so often they have since our landings here.

Darling, I love you more than I ever have before and may God richly bless you and the folks in all things.

Just yours forever in love

Of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Darling, I got a letter today from the Chief of Chaplains saying they never received my picture. I cannot understand it. You said they wrote you also about a picture; did you send one? If so, let me know as soon as possible. I believe you said they promised to return the picture.

Also enclosed find the letter from Hollys and the pictures.

May 4, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

4 May 1945

Dearest Darling Sarah:

I’m very tired and weary tonight. Last night we had a lot of excitement around here, and as a result, very little sleep was had by anybody. Today I have been on the go since early morning and I am so tired I can hardly see straight. Your letter of April 26th just arrived, it was short but very sweet and more helpful than you can fully realize. I just finished writing a letter to the Chief and Mom. I am so thankful for such wonderful parents and I only wish they knew how much I love them.

Dear, there were other things which took place today but I will have to forget about them. I’m sure you know more from the newspapers and radio than I can tell you so there is no use for me to try and tell you the events.

Your letter contained two pictures and I certainly loved them, one of you in your chair looking at your corsage and the other of all three of you in front of the church. You all really look good and I’m so lonesome for all of you.

By the way Dear, I got a very nice letter from a Sgt. in my old outfit today. As soon as I answer it I’ll send it to you to read.

Dear, I’m going to start with your letter of April 16th. Darling, I’m glad you were so glad to get my first letter from this Island. I think that was very thoughtful of you to make the carbon copies and send them out to our friends. I don’t suppose they were very well written but if you could know the circumstances, I think you would understand.

Thank you for calling my grandmother and Connie. I only hope we will be able to be used in leading them closer to fellowship in Christ. Darling, in your visits with them do you see any indication of a more earnest desire to follow Christ?

Yes, Darling what you read about the Chaplains is true. As an example, the head of the Chaplain of the Corps talked to me about it three or four nights ago. He said he had checked my records and was going to recommend me for regular service. But don’t worry, I have no intentions of staying in if I can do anything about it. As far as I know, now we can get out if we want to after six months after the cessation of hostilities.

We couldn’t write until the fourth after our landing because our Division was not identified. We were identified over a week before other Divisions here were named and that was because we were the first outfit to cut the island in half, or other words, cut the Southern troops off from the Northern troops.

My Dear, I must close now and try to get some rest. God bless you and be sure to give my deepest love to the folks.

Just yours now and forever,

In Christ’s uniting love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. I’m enclosing Mom’s letter, be sure to save it. I treasure such letters. Enclosed you will also find a poem written by one of the men in my units. It is very descriptive and true. I struck out two words which I didn’t like and are not fitting.