July 10, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

10 July 1945

Sarah, My Dearest Darling:

I have just finished reading your two grand letters of June 29th and July 1st. Don very graciously walked over here with your letters. I only wish you could know how glad I was to read the letters, they helped me even though I’m still a little weak and wobbly. Besides your letters, I had a letter from Wallace Connell of the 98th, Mrs. Elsie Pierce, Dolores Nelson, Major Mason’s wife and the North Shore Baptist and Guide. Helen Beaumont wrote a note on the Guide telling me she kept up on my whereabouts and activity through you. I also forgot to mention the fact that Mom wrote a very nice letter from the lake, it was dated June 27th, and from what she said, Kenyon and the Chief have been doing very well by themselves as fishermen. Poor Mom and Jen have the endless job of frying the blue gills. But Dear, little Mom said to see him happy and enjoying himself helped her no end. Such news of their trip is indeed gratifying and I’m more than happy for all of them. Jimmy and Johnny each wrote, “Hello Willis,” on the bottom of the letter and signed their name.

Of course I found in your letter of the 29th that you received the roses okay. Mom is certainly grand to help me in that way, I only wish I could do something to help her. I wanted one rose for each month. I wish there were some wonderful way that I could make you realize how much I do love you and just what a great place and change you have made in my life. I hope it won’t be too long until I can give my roses to you in person and seal the gift with a hug and a kiss.

A picture sent from home. Sarah is on the left.

I enjoyed the pictures which were enclosed in your letter of July 1st. However, the one of all of you was very much blurred. I suppose Margaret had high heels on but I was surprised to see that she is a little taller than Bob. I only have three pictures now of Margaret and it seems she looks different in each picture. I believe you said Bob had to report back to duty today. I know it must have been hard for them to part. Perhaps he will not have to go overseas.

I must try and catch up on some of your back letters. This evening I shall begin with your letter of June 8th. I cannot imagine just how thrilled Mom must have been to see those letters to Bob marked, “Returning to the United States.”

That was some anemic reply you received from Evans, the religious editor of the Tribune. If I remember correctly, Carl Henry told us in his journalism class that he was pretty weak on the religious side.

Sweetheart, you said you wonder how I stand some things such as we have to go through under combat. In plain words, “You got to take it or else.” I stayed in a small foxhole with another man during an artillery barrage for almost an hour and it was raining and the foxhole was partially full of water and we had to wait until darkness to get back to our own aid station. I think you can see what I mean when I say, “There’s no other choice.”

In your letter of June 9th you told me all about Ruth Bell and Don William’s wedding. It must have been a fine and impressive wedding. Glad you got to see Lydia Bond again. She is such a good Christian girl.

Well Dear, I would like to write you a longer letter but I’m a little weary and must lay back down. I have so many many letters to answer, I don’t know when I will ever get them answered. God bless you, my Dear. Give the folks my love.

Yours and so glad to be in the love

Of Christ Jesus our Lord,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

July 9, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

9 July 1945

Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

Well Dear, I feel much better this evening, my temperature is only a little above normal now. I perspired quite a lot for a while this morning but I’m not so bothered now. I didn’t get to sleep very early last night, but when I did, I slept until daylight without interruption. 

Just a little while ago Don was here to see me and bring me my mail and to my disappointment there were no letters from you, Dear. Well anyhow, I’ll still be hoping to hear from you tomorrow. The only letter I received was from Connie.

This morning I read some in my Goodspeed Bible and had my devotions from the Secret Place. I happened to see a copy of Bruce Barton’s book, “The Man Nobody Knows”, and I have read all of it but the last chapter. It is quite an interesting book to say the least.

Field Hospital on Okinawa.

This afternoon I had a most pleasant surprise. Who should walk in to see me but Chaplain Eilner Brayton, a good friend of mine. We were at Northern the same time. He and his wife are also good friends with Charlie and Nettie. He arrived here just four days ago. He saw his wife the last time on May 7th. He was in the Chaplin’s school class following mine and has been in the States all that time. He is with a bomb squadron. We could only visit about 20 minutes because he had to hurry along. He saw Alrik this morning and he found out through him that I was here on this island. Shortly after he left, two of the men from my battalion came to see me.

Dear, I am still a little weak but that is only natural after running a high temperature for a while like I have. My appetite is good now and I hope to be back to normal soon. As for me, the sooner I can get out of here the better I’ll feel.

Dear, I shall never forget a year and a half ago tonight. Do you remember what I have reference to? There are so many things I would like to say to you in letters but to be adequately expressed and understood we would have to be together again. You remembering our times of meditation and prayer together can understand why it is entirely impossible to put into words. Expressions and actions always tell a lot. Day after tomorrow it will be one year and a half since I’ve seen you Dear and that has seemed like an age to say the least. The first six months of this year raced by for which I am very grateful. I enjoyed my 10 months of duty on Christmas Island, but they were long long months to say the least. Unless something happens I know I still have a quite a while to serve overseas. But even now I’m beginning to look forward to coming home because I feel I’m on the last half, or in other words, the homestretch. Each new day always makes me happier for it brings us one day closer together. And I’m glad to mark off each week and oh how good it is to see another month of overseas service in. In the Army we have no definite assurance of time to serve overseas as does the Navy. But regardless of that, I feel that each day, week and month brings us closer together, whether it be 18 months or three years. And to me, that’s what counts. To be able to be with you again will be a joy the like of which will be almost impossible to describe this side of Eternity.

I didn’t come to the hospital empty-handed. I brought your letters with me, your grand pictures and stationary. So I’m going to make a few comments on your letter of June 7th. I’m glad you got yourself two new dresses and from the samples you enclosed they look very very nice. Dear, as I have so often said and I may say it again, if you need things be sure to get them. I want above all else that your needs be supplied.

Dear, I think that was nice to send a gift subscription to Paul and Gen for the Watchmen and Examiner, and further, I’m sure you know I’m in full accord with a gift to such fine Christian friends.

I was glad to hear that you had a chance to talk to one of the Coulslin sisters. When you talk to them be sure to give them my love and best wishes. I hope they’re able to eventually get custody of Dorothy.

I’m glad you had such a good talk with Myrtle Johnson. I’m sure she must be a fine girl. So NSBC is Dr. Wilson’s longest pastorate. Well, I’m going to close for tonight. God bless you, my Dear. Give the folks my love.

Just yours forever in Christ love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

July 8, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

8 July 1945

My Dearest Darling:

I have just finished reading your letter of June 26th and as always it was a blessing to my heart, especially is that true at this time. You always told me to be sure and tell you if I were ever sick, and further you promised you wouldn’t worry and I know that to be true because again and again you have assured me that you have trusted me unreservedly in God’s keeping.

Army Nurse administers vaccinations. Date unknown.

You will remember in my letter of the 6th I told you about not feeling very well. On that night, I slept very little and had a bad chill; so early yesterday morning I went to the medics and they found that I had a very high temperature, and immediately tagged me and sent me to the hospital. I arrived here at the hospital about 9 o’clock, and they have been treating me for dengue fever or sometimes called bone break fever. The doctor told me that I had the most severe case he has ever seen, but you need not worry, they have broken my fever now; it is only a little over 101 now. Because of the severe fever they have had to feed me through the vein. Since late yesterday afternoon I have been perspiring profusely. Please don’t worry Dear because I do feel better and perhaps by the time this letter reaches you I will be entirely well. I hated not being able to get a letter off to you last night, but it was entirely impossible. Don came to see me last evening and I was sleeping at the time and as a result I did not get to see him. He brought me your letter of June 30th telling me about spending our third anniversary day with Charlie and Marion. I know you must of had a good time with them. There is nothing in the world that can compare with good Christian friends. I am also glad to know that their children seem to be doing well.

One reason why I’ve asked Don to write this letter for me because I have been completely covered with two and three double Army blankets and that’s not because it’s cold. The rest of the men in this tent generally sleep in their shorts. As soon as I take the covers off I immediately start getting cold and sometimes shiver.

Paul Wells and his assistant were here just a few moments ago. I am sure you will be interested to know that they are expecting their baby around the first of August. If you get a chance to call Marjorie I’m sure she will be glad to hear from you.

Well, I believe that will be all for this time, perhaps tomorrow I’ll not be perspiring so much and can write to you myself.

God bless you Dear and give the folks my love. I am just yours forever and in the love of Christ Jesus.

Willis

Col. 3:3

July 6, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

6 July 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

I have just now finished reading your grand letters of June 27th and 28th. Your letter of June 26th is missing but perhaps it will show up in a day or so. By the way, your letter of May 13th has never arrived but I still have hopes that it will arrive. Every one of your letters are precious to me and I hate missing a single one. Your work with the VCS sounds very interesting, and considering all things, I believe you are having a splendid attendance. However, the weatherman seems to be against you as well as the mumps epidemic. If you had not had those things to contend with, I have a feeling you would have had an average of attendance of over 150.

I spent part of the morning down at the Chaplin’s tent studying and writing to two men in the 98th. I felt so bad that I came back to my tent and arranged a few things and then rested until about suppertime. Please don’t worry Sweetheart, I’m all right and I will be careful. After eating, Don came up with your precious letters. Don is such a grand fellow and I’m so thankful to God that he was able to come on out here to me. I’m sure God must have been in it, for the chances of getting a man transferred from one division to another is indeed difficult, let alone from one theater of operation to another. I wish he would tell you what he told me but one of the things he did say was this, the only reason he wanted to come was because he liked to work with me. He had worked for five different chaplains previous to the time when he became my assistant back in Oahu and then was working for another chaplain who followed me into my old place in the 98th Division.

Soldiers trying to protect themselves from the enemy. Mosquitos.

The mosquitoes are very very thick this evening. In fact, they are so bad I am sitting here with a net completely over my head writing this letter to you. We had a most beautiful sunrise and sunset here today. I love to get up early. It is always so nice and quiet and fresh early in the morning. And the Pacific Ocean from here is indeed a sight to behold. I’m generally up a half hour to hour before anyone else around here. They often kid me about throwing away the best sleep time, (it is nice and cool and fresh for sleeping I admit), but as for me, I would rather get up, shave and wash up and enjoy the quiet and the promise of the new day.

I believe you told me in one of your former letters that Maurice and Edith will leave for Berkeley around the middle of August. I’ve been thinking that it might be good for you to talk to them about what the possibilities are for you and I coming out there while I get my A.B. and work for a Master’s degree in Theology. If there could be some kind of arrangement whereby I could work on the weekends, it would help tide us over. I only wish I had an A.B. but what I do have I worked for. Dear, in all things I have this desire to be my best for Christ and you. I’m not trying to make a decision now. There is plenty of time. I wish you would pray earnestly about the whole thing. My aim is, and always shall be, “I would rather be a sermon anytime than ever preach one.” And “God’s Man in God’s Place.”

Well, Dear, I have enough time so I’m going to make a few comments on your letter of June 6th.

Dear, it certainly means a lot to know you have been praying for me and trusting me to His keeping. I’m glad mail is coming through so well to you. Mail makes good time to me so I know just how much it helps. And you always write such interesting letters. My letters are not the best, but I mean every word I say and you grow more precious all the time.

I imagine you and Mom fixed the dress up nicely for Lois’ wedding. Yes, I certainly remember your green net dress. I think it is sweet what you are planning on doing with it.

I have always been interested in Bacone College and I’m more than grateful to hear about their fine work. That was certainly thoughtful of Mr. Kraft to invite all of them to such a good dinner. I was interested in the statement which Frank Gering made about the work at Great Lakes. That is true practically wherever you go in the Armed services.

Well Dear, I must close for now. God bless you and the folks in all things.

I am yours alone for the ages of the ages, in Christ

Who is our life,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

July 5, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

5 July 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

Darling, late this afternoon that I had the joy of receiving your letter of June 24th, and as always your letter was a great blessing to me. I only wish you knew how much I love you. Constantly I am reminded and inspired with the very thought of your love.

This has been a hectic day and I have apparently accomplished very little. I spent the entire morning answering more inquiries from those who have lost loved ones in this campaign as well as in the Philippines. Right now I am in the process of getting all my follow-up letters ready, but they will be temporarily held off until I receive Dr. Dana’s pamphlet, “When young men die.” I want to enclose it in my follow-up letter.

After dinner there were two different men who came in to see me about problems. That took some time to take care of them. And after that I studied for a while. I wrote some letters to people to thank them for providing some worthwhile Christian literature. And just before supper I wrote a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Mason, the father and mother of Major Mason. After eating I came right back here and wanted to get this letter started to you. I got one free letter ready to send to you with some letters to read and just as I started this two more men came in to see me. They didn’t have anything in particular to see me about, I wanted to finish this letter but I felt it worthwhile to visit with them and try to make some real contacts.

By the way, I got two more letters from men who used to be with me in the 98th Division. And I got a nice v-mail a letter from Phyllis’ boyfriend in Italy. As soon as I answer the letter I will send it on into you to read.

Darling, I found a little cartoon which I’m going to enclose in this letter. Many times while talking to the men of my ear has been on the alert for an approaching enemy shell. I believe I’ve told you before, but it was a standing rule in my services if men heard anything which sounded like danger they were to take cover without even a word from me. But thank God in this last campaign I never had a single service interrupted because of enemy action. I was never sniped at during a service, but have had the sniper bullets flying around on other occasions.

In your letter of June 5th you will wondering if I still remembered how we used to say, “I love you more than ever forever and ever,” and many other such things. Dear, how could I ever forget those days and those things? I have been pretty busy at times but I have never been so busy as to not have enough time to have those precious memories linger in my mind for a few moments. Remember this Dear, I mean it much more now than I ever did. The dawn of each new day find me loving you more and thanking God more for the privilege which is mine in being your husband. I’ll be so glad when those days come again and we will be able to talk to one another as we used to do. No matter how long a letter maybe or how well-written, there are so many things that cannot be satisfactorily expressed in writing.

I was glad to know that you enjoyed the opportunity to teach at Buena on June 5th. As you said in your letter, Mrs. Textor’s type are few and far between. We need more like her in our church schoolwork. I was also glad to hear that you had the privilege of meeting with the chaplain’s wife from New Caledonia. It must have been good to see all of your old friends down at Buena.

I fully agree with you about the survey which NSBC had last summer, it takes more than just finding out things, above all else a real follow-up program is needed, and from all you have told me from time to time, it seems they failed miserably on that score.

Willis wearing his sunglasses on Hawaii.

Dear, please don’t worry about sending me things, the things I have now are a problem to carry along. In the near future when I can I’m going to send some more things home. Day before yesterday I got my duffel bag which had been in the rear area, but everything of any value whatsoever had been taken. It just made me sick, as the saying goes out here, “They’ll steal you blind.” We men up in the front lines of necessity have to leave our things behind. It really makes me disgusted. Those who got into my bag didn’t even bother to open it from the top, they took a knife or some sharp object and cut the side of the bag open. The only thing which I found was a couple of pair of my old fatigues and two old pair of shoes. One of the things I hated to lose the most was that good pair of sunglasses which I bought while in Hawaii. You will remember that I paid sixteen and a half dollars for them. I haven’t received my bedroll as yet, but I’m just a bit concerned about it. The most valuable thing I have in it is my sleeping bag. Some of the men in the rear areas take the attitude on such things, “Well, he’s up to the front and he maybe killed and we might as well be the first to pick up any valuables.” And then another reason why they break into such bags, (mainly officer’s bags), is because they think they may be able to find some whiskey. It is certainly disgusting how far men will go when they want some of that lousy stuff.

Well, Darling, I will have to close for now. God bless you and the folks in all things. I love you more than ever, Dear.

Just yours now and forever in the 

love of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

July 5, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

Early 5 July 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

Well, here it is early morning again, I’m sorry I didn’t get this letter written to you last night but by the time I could write it it was so late and dark that it was impossible to do so. I also spent about an hour studying and preparing the message which I used for last evening’s service. Yesterday being the 4th of July, I used the title,”The Declaration of Independence”. The scripture was Deuteronomy 18:19-24 and 19:3-8. I used the idea that the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta, or in other words, all the great documents insuring men’s freedom, springs from God’s word to Moses, and that to be fully free we must remember Christ’s own words, “Know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” And then I presented the Truth in the way and necessity of salvation. Don said he thought it was very fine but I didn’t have as much time to prepare it as I had hoped have. I have an outline which I hope to enlarge upon someday. There were only 22 men in attendance, but that was pretty good considering the fact that we are still scattered all over and still in the process of trying to get our areas and things organized. After the service, several men talked to me and then Don and I talked for a long time about the Lord’s work and many other things which are dear to our hearts. As you can be sure we talked about you a lot and Don is very anxious to meet you. Again Dear, I want to thank you for being such a wonderful Christian wife to me.

Late yesterday afternoon your grand letter of June 5th reached me and I only wish you knew how much it meant to have that fine letter. I’m so sorry it rained for the opening day of VCS. And then I’m sorry there is the epidemic of mumps going around that will undoubtedly cut down your attendance. I have been praying for you especially Dear, and I feel confident that your work will accomplish some worthwhile results.

Mom and The Chief at North Shore. 1944.

I’m going to try and comment on your letters June 3rd and 4th . I was certainly glad to hear about the fine sermons Maurice Jackson preached and I’m wholeheartedly in accord with everything he said. I only wish they had more of that kind of preaching at NSBC. There are such wonderful possibilities at that church if more of that kind of preaching and teaching were emphasized. There is no reason in the world why there shouldn’t be 500 young people regularly attending that church, that is I mean BYF. I believe some would say that is over optimistic, but I believe that is entirely possible in and through Christ. I know that His arm is not shortened. Actually, it seems to me they are only coasting along. In other words, a lot of motion but very little movement. I was certainly glad to hear about Barbara Brown and Hellen Braydon dedicating their lives to full-time Christian service. And then I’m glad to hear about Helen’s brother Earl who is in your class. I think it is a shame that more young people do not go into the field of full-time Christian service, but basically it seems to me it is our own fault. Too often we sit back and think the Lord will do the calling, but I think we find the seed thought for this in Isaiah the sixth chapter. When he saw the Lord he at the same time saw the need and when the Lord said, “Who will go for us?” Isaiah responded, “Here am I, send me.” In other words, I think too often young people are only more or less entertained in programs and services rather than challenged. More and more I feel a personal challenge to be a young peoples leader of some kind or other, I probably do not possess the qualifications but I am willing to do that which is according to the Lord’s will. A work like that at NSBC is really challenging to me, but don’t misunderstand me, I’m willing and ready to go to a place like Montana, the Dakotas or Utah and start from scratch; and I know you are also which means a lot. Large fields like NSBC but I’m willing to go anywhere. Don, is very gracious in some of his statements, but on several occasions he has told me that he would like to see me as a president of some college or school like Wheaton. He has said why but I hesitate to write it to you in a letter, I would rather have him tell you. I know I do not have the necessary qualifications, but again I say I’m willing to do what the Lord wants me to do.

I got a kick out of Ted Eckstrom’s statement about the Men’s Class even receiving Swedes as members. That sounds just like him. I always get a good laugh out of him. He is certainly a spark plug in that men’s class.

Dear, I took an article out of Time magazine in the religious section which I thought you would like to see. Of course, this Chaplain was talking to his own church but basically it applies to all of Protestantism. Especially note the blocked in section.

Well, Beloved, I will have to close for now. God bless you and the folks in all things.

Forever yours alone because we are

One in Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

July 4, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

4 July 1945

My Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

I wanted to write to you last night but something came up which made it impossible to do so. I had just finished a letter to the Chief and M`om when I was interrupted. Is certainly isn’t easy to do all the things you would like to do because there are so many things that can change your plans in a moments notice. As for the highlight of the day it was the arrival of your letters for June 21st, 22nd and 23rd. Those letters were really grand and I will read them again today if I can find the time. I also got another nice letter from Mom. I only wish she knew how much I appreciate her wonderful letters. Besides those letters I got from the following: Wayne Soliday, Hollys, Louise Davis, Pfc. Gifford of the 98th, Dennis Carlson of my old outfit of the Seventh Division ,(thirteenth engineers), Lieut. Erb of the 98th, Captain Mason’s father, and two other nice letters from mothers who have lost their sons in this campaign.

General Stilwell on Okinawa examining a map. 1945.

Early yesterday morning Chaplain Wells, Chaplain Vogel and I left here for Division Headquarters for the meeting of chaplains of this division. While there I got to see my good friend Chaplain Lowe. After the meeting was over, we decided to go to another division headquarters to see a friend of his, the chaplain I told you I ran into under fire in the early part of this campaign who is the husband of the Jones family of the First Church of Long Beach. We had a very good visit and we also had dinner with him. We talked over many of our old experiences as well as friends we knew. I wish I had the time to write you some of the things we talked about, even if I did it would be far from satisfactory in a letter. By the way, you may be interested to know that I had the privilege of meeting Gen. Stillwell yesterday. He is certainly the foot soldiers friend. Everybody seems to be very happy that he is our new Army Commanding General. Buckner was well-liked, but in that he was killed, most of the men feel that Stillwell was the very best man that could have taken his place.

We arrived back here in about the middle of the afternoon and then I spent more time trying to get things straightened out around our chaplain’s tent. Don worked all the time I was gone trying to clean up and salvage some of the things that were ruined in the shipment up here.

Dear, this isn’t such a very good letter but I must be on my way, I’ll try to write to you a better letter this evening. God bless you my Dear in all things. Be sure to give the folks my deepest love.

Yours alone in the love of

Christ Jesus our Lord,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

July 2, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

2 July 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

Well, it is almost dark, but I do want to get this letter started before it is impossible to see. Since the early morning we have been on the go preparing to move back to our permanent area. After dinner, Don, Paul Wells and the Catholic chaplain and I spent the whole afternoon getting our chaplain’s tent in order. (Our offices will be together, we sleep and eat with our battalion.) We will all be in one tent. Don and I opened up more boxes of equipment and supplies. And they were all water soaked and some damaged beyond usability and it was mainly because of poor packing. The events of this day were most insignificant but we have been on the go all the time. Just before starting this letter to you I took a bath and put on clean fatigues, socks and shorts. That is certainly a treat after being unable to have a bath and clean clothes for so long. It was really hot today but we did have a breeze off the Pacific which helped a lot. By the way, we certainly do have a nice view of the Pacific ocean from our new area. I know you would enjoy this view. Having had the privilege of seeing several of the places where our troops have fought the Japanese, I can readily see that this Island was the worst for offensive warfare. The terrain was definitely in favor of the enemy. Our great artillery, airstrikes and timing and coordination were the things that speeded defeat for the enemy. Our patrols are still rounding up enemy soldiers after searching and ferreting out the enemy as our troops have it would seem impossible that such would be the case, but there are so many caves and crevices, both natural and man-made that it is a difficult job to get them. I imagine we will even be rounding up a few stragglers six months from now.

 I’m going to make a few comments on your letter of June 2nd. I’m glad the Secret Place helped you so much for that day. Darling, I know your prayer has helped me greatly through some of the days which have just gone by. As I’ve told you before on several occasions, I was very much aware of power and strength other than my own. It means a lot to a man to know that his wife has completely trusted him into God’s keeping. Sweetheart, never shall I forget those wonderful days we’ve spent together, and above all else, that is one of the things I look forward to the most on my return to you, my Dear. It is so dark I can hardly see so I’ll have to finish this letter in the morning. Good night, Sweetheart.

-Willis

Early Morning 3 July 1945

Good Morning Sweetheart:-

It is certainly grand to know you are able to call Paul and Gen every so often as well as an occasional opportunity to drop out and see them. I got a good laugh out of Dale saying, “I love you too,” and then later asking Gen who was that.

Glad to hear about Flay’s Catholic friend, I do hope she continues to go and I will certainly remember her in prayer. Does she ever come to NSBC?

Willis with the Division chaplains at Division Headquarters.

I really slept last night, it was my first night on a folding cot. I had one blanket and my mosquito bar. Last night was the first time I was able to sleep with my shoes and trousers off for a long time. It was really a treat. Well Dear, I must hurry and get ready for I have to go back to Division Headquarters for a chaplain’s meeting. God bless you and the folks, my Dear.

I’m just yours Darling, for all the ages

Of the ages in Christ, our Lord

Willis

Colossians 3:3

July 1, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

1 July 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

This is supposed to be my regular typewriter, but it is so stiff and rusty it is going to take a long time before it will limber up enough to work even fairly well. When Don and I opened the box in which it was shipped from the Philippines, it was filled with mold and all kinds of dirt, and besides that, it wasn’t packed at all properly. As you will note, when you use caps the carriage does not automatically drop back to the proper position for small letters. As a result, I have to pull it back. Well, perhaps after some use and some patience it will get to the place where it will work a little better. I just almost dread opening the other boxes of Chaplain’s equipment which the former chaplains of this Division had, for if this one today is a gauge of the conditions of the others I’m afraid there will be a lot of things ruined beyond use. Correction, I should say Regiment not Division. Don and I will not open the other things until we get back to our permanent area, the reason we tried to get a hold of the typewriter today was because Don wanted to finish typing up my monthly report for June.

Willis leading Vesper Service at Division Headquarters.

All of our companies and headquarters with the exception of our headquarters were on the move so I was only able to have one service and that was at 9 o’clock this morning. There were only 43 in attendance but that was pretty good because there were three details out from our headquarters back at our rest area setting up tents and preparing generally for our return. I spoke on the theme, “Scared to Death.” My scripture was Numbers 13:26-33. I got the idea for my message from the expression I have often heard since we started this campaign, and yesterday while reading the Secret Place for that day I found the scripture which applied very well to the message which I had been thinking about for sometime.

Following the service, Don and I took care of several things and then we hitchhiked back to the engineers. Major Wilhelm is leaving for a 45 day leave to the States soon and he invited me down to have dinner with him before leaving. He is certainly a fine man, and although our visit was short, (during meal time) it was good to see him. I surely miss being with the Engineers, they were a mighty fine bunch of men. Of course these are good men, but I did like the Engineers better as a whole. But I am ready and willing to work anywhere and I will always seek to do my best under all circumstances. Major Wilhelm is naturally very happy about the whole thing, I can imagine just how I would feel if I were notified to get ready to leave for the States. After I had visited with some of the other officers and men, Don and I went to our rear area dump and found this typewriter. And you can not imagine what a job it was to find it in that tremendous pile and then to find it so poorly packed and cared for was discouraging to say the least.

Dear, it is almost supper time so I will close for now and write more after eating my evening meal. Immediately following supper I had an evening service for the men. There were 23 present. I spoke on Paul’s sermon on Mar’s Hill. With thing so mixed up with all the moving and changing it is hard to have any kind of service at all. This morning we had a most beautiful sunrise and this evening’s sunset was also beautiful. Well, at noon today 1945 was half over. I would be glad if the last half of this year finished this war up and we can start planning on going home.

By the way, I got another nice letter from Captain Wilkinson. In your letter of June 1st you were wondering if he had ever been in combat. No, he was never in combat but he is undoubtedly the finest surgeon I have ever met since being in the Army. He takes a real interest in every patient. Captain Wilkinson didn’t quite understand about Mitchell attending the Passover service. When I answer Mitchell’s letter I’ll send it on to you and then you will be able to see in his own words how he feels. He is much concerned about reaching his own people. I certainly wish I could be near him to help him in the Christian life. It isn’t easy for anyone to live a Christian life under Army conditions at best, and for Arthur it is even more difficult as I’m sure you will understand from his national background. With the right kind of help and instruction, I am convinced that he will probably go places.

So far I haven’t had an occasion to run into a snake and I hope I never do, several have run into them though. I have had one bad scare with a snake in the night but nothing happened.

I was glad to know that you had such a very nice visit with Grandma Norman. Isn’t she a dear? I’m anxious to get your letter following Lois Norman’s wedding. I suppose it was very nice. I only wish I could have been there. I’m not going to ask any questions now for I’m sure you will give me all the details in your letter. It is good to know that Warren Larson is writing to his folks much more regularly. Dear, I think it was grand of you to get a check for Paul and Gen. My Dear, always remember, whatever you feel led to do with our money in the Lord’s work is entirely all right with me. Dear, I was rather disappointed in not receiving mail today, perhaps they will bring us some tomorrow. Well Dear, it is about dark so I will close for tonight. God bless you, my Dear.

Yours alone in the love of Christ Jesus,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

June 30, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

30 June 1945

Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

I’m sure I need not tell you what I thought about many times today. Naturally, from the time I woke up until now I have thought about three years ago today. That was the most important day of my whole life because we promised publicly to all gathered that we were going to give our whole lives unreservedly to Christ and His kingdom. Every hour and day since then as your husband and companion has grown sweeter and more precious. I only wish words were adequate to express my deep heartfelt joy. Being together and able to talk and pray as we used to do would help some, but this I know right well, only in eternity will I be able to adequately express my love for you, Dear. It would certainly be nice if we could be together for our next anniversary. I hope the flowers arrived okay. They are a very small token of my great love for you. Mom is certainly sweet to help me on the days when I want to call to your remembrance my unending love for you. No man could ever want or hope to have a finer Christian wife than you are to me. To me you shall always be, “God’s little girl and a most important part of my salvation.” Remember this Dear, having you to love and cherish has made me a better man and filled me with a greater determination to be nothing less than my best for Christ. I suppose the folks are not home yet from their fishing trip. I do hope they had a good time.

I spent part of the morning getting my monthly report ready for June and then studied until just before time to eat. In the few moments before dinner I wrote Captain Wilson a v-mail letter. Immediately following dinner, I left for Division Headquarters in a jeep I got permission to use for about two hours. While back there I took care of several things for some of the men. I also had the rifle packed back at Division and started on its way to you. It ought to get there in about the same time as the one I mailed to the Chief. It isn’t wrapped very well but it ought to come through okay. I didn’t have the time to make a good box because I wanted to get it off today. When they come through be sure to let me know. While back there I cashed the express money order you sent me. I’m glad for that because I can take care of a little debt that I owe one man. My money had all been spent on postage for letters of condolence and the boxes which I have sent home to you. Don’t worry Dear, if I need money I let you know. They will probably make some kind of arrangement to pay us soon. Just before supper a little mail came in, a letter from Captain Wilkinson, Roy String’s wife, and a mother and a wife of a man lost in this campaign. I had hoped for a letter from you my Dear, especially on this day, but perhaps there will be one tomorrow. At least I’m hoping so.

I believe I have enough time to make a few comments on your letter of May 30th and 31st. Your description of the Youth for Christ service at Soldier’s Field sounded very good. It is too bad but often that is what happens with a program like that, they turn out to be just a little too long. The picture you enclosed of men carrying back a wounded man was a marine photo. Generally, it will help you to identify pictures if you will note Army photo service. I don’t believe there was ever a picture taken of us. The terrain over which we had to travel was miserable. It was filled with all kinds of rocky caves and crevices.

Willis leading service on Okinawa. 1945.

Concerning the large communion service I had, it was held on a slope of a hill. I stood at the bottom of a flat smooth place. After preaching, I conducted the communion service as follows. As you realize, serving such a large group of men would be a problem individually so this is what I did. I took the center part of my communion tray out and filled it with wafers. That left 24 glasses. So I filled the glasses with wine and requested each man to take a wafer and dip it in the wine and partake of it as the tray was passed on. Having such a large number made it difficult to try and pass the one tray to them up the side of the hill, so I had 25 come down at a time to the flat place and kneel while I passed it to them. As soon as I served them, they returned and a new group came up for communion. While I was passing the elements and the men were partaking of them, I softly quoted many of Christ’s “I ams,” as well as His own words concerning the Last Supper with His disciples.

The article in the Tribune about the Youth for Christ rally was certainly disgusting and many of those I’ve showed it to think it is very unfair and most indicative of a deep prejudice.

That was certainly very nice of Mrs. Swartwout to give you the cup of brown sugar to make chocolate chip cookies. When you see her thank her very much and tell her how very much they mean to me. Also thank Mrs. Ekstrom for the chocolate chips. People are certainly thoughtful.

No, I haven’t seen Alrik for quite some time now, being with Island Garrison force push him away back there. When I saw him the first time we were only a few miles apart, but in our drive against the enemy we have now been separated by a good many miles. And then transportation isn’t too easy to obtain which means it will probably be hard to see him for a while. I want to go back to our cemetery and look up on my men’s graves so I can tell the loved ones left behind in my follow-up letter that I saw their son or husband’s grave. In my follow-up letter I’m going to send them Dr. Dana’s article,  “When Young Men Die,” and Mr. Holly’s poem, “God Remembers His Own.” And then a letter containing the fact that I have visited their loved ones grave and further pointing them to Christ our Redeemer and Lord.

Well, my Dear, I must close for now. God bless you and the folks in all things.

I am just yours for always in Christ’s love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3