Highlights from October 1943

For those of you who have trouble keeping up with all the daily letters, here are the highlights from October 1943:

October 1, 1943

Southern California Defenses. Unpulbished image from three part series published on Jan. 15-17, 1942. Scan from original neg. The military would not allow units or locations to be identified. Photo by Paul Calvert/Los Angeles Times

Willis arrived in Long Beach, California in late September of 1943.  It took him a while to become acquainted with the men and figure out what to do with his job.  It is easy to forget that there was great fear of being attacked in 1943 by the Japanese and Willis served the men who were in charge of the anti-aircraft guns and the searchlights:

A snippet from the post:

This is as near the real thing as we have in this country. They are so camouflaged that you would never be able to find the positions. Two of the services will be held in the dugouts beside the guns. This only lacks (?) gunfire to make like the real thing up on the front lines.

Read the rest of the letter here: http://achaplainatwar.org/october-1-1943/

October 5, 1943

Fort MacArthur Military Hospital. San Pedro, California. 1943.

One area of of familiarity for many people was Willis’ love for visiting the sick in prison.  He did this with great regularity and you can see how it began in the army.  For many, this would have been a difficult process, but he truly enjoyed it.

Here is what he said:

Immediately after dinner, my assistant and I left for Fort McArthur where the men of our unit are in the hospital.We called on 23 men. What an experience. As I walk down the wards of beds looking for our men, I sometimes think I’m dreaming. As I walk by the beds of those men who are able to see, I always smile and speak and they seem to enjoy it. I often think I’d like to know their needs, but time forbids, and besides, they have two or three chaplains assigned to the hospital. All I can say is, thank you Lord for this privilege.

The full post: http://achaplainatwar.org/october-5-1943/

October 15, 1943

One of the men from the batteries after church service.

As a chaplain, Willis wasn’t required to do a tremendous amount of work that required physical exertion – but he chose to do so.  Surprisingly, he loved it and volunteered every chance he got.

From the 15th:

I picked up a part of the infantry outfit and advanced with them right up to the Douglas Airfield. I enjoyed it very much. I looked like I had been through a coal mine when I got here to Headquarters. We had advanced about 2 1/2 miles through brush, weeds, oil wells, ditches, junk piles, bean fields and almost anything you can think of, crawling on our stomachs. Advancing by the duck waddle in fields of corn etc. Our actual traveling distance was much further because we had to zig-zag and do every thing imaginable to not be observed by the guards.

Read the rest of the letter here: http://achaplainatwar.org/october-15-1943/

Willis

October  21

Willis at the Pacific shore. 1943.

Among the many responsibilities, Willis chose to visit the men in the jail.  One man in particular Willis focused on in his letters.  A man who had gone A.W.O.L. and had been captured and jailed.  Willis shares the love of Christ with the man, who accepts Jesus.  The joy in Willis’ letter is obvious:

It was wonderful and the joy that fills my heart cannot even be expressed in words. After explaining all to him and telling him the reasons for what has happened and the fact that God let this happen to him, I asked him about being a Christian. He said yes. We knelt together, he prayed his confession asked for help in understanding His word. I prayed later with him and no fooling, if heaven is like this it made me feel I surely will enjoy being there. A new soul has been born again. He said he felt different and he really looked like it. He leaves tomorrow for prison, but has promised to write to me. Dear, pray for him. God needs Christians in prison too.

The rest of the letter: http://achaplainatwar.org/october-21-1943/

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