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.

One thought on “May 12, 1945

  • John T Reed
    May 12, 2019, 3:59 am

    “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.” More powerful imagery from Willis here!

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