November 7, 1945

Seoul, Korea

7 November 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling Sweetheart:

Imagine my great joy in returning to Headquarters here this evening and finding two more of your wonderful letters, they were for the following days:  October 27th and 28th. I have just finished reading them over again, and they did help me so much. I’m still pretty cold and stiff from that long cold ride to that outpost and back. The roads are in terrible condition, and as a result, I also feel beaten to pieces. The new Catholic chaplain and I left here early this morning and arrived back here at Headquarters around 4:15. It will certainly be good to crawl into my good old sleeping bag tonight, for then I’m sure I will be able to thaw out some. The sleeping bag really comes in handy now. It froze some last night. The sun was just starting to peak over the mountains and the hills and we left Seoul this morning.

Japanese temple in Korea November 1945.

Not very much happened which would be of interest, for a good share of the entire day was spent driving down there and back. As we traveled along we noticed that most of the people were carrying in their bundled rice from the field and stacking it in and around those little houses. About 3 or 4 weeks ago they cut the rice by hand and shocked it up on the dirt barriers between the different patties to dry out thoroughly. Many of them were threshing it along the way. The poor folks were merely doing it by hand and others had a little threshing machine cylinder machine which was operated on the principle of treadle sewing machine. The men were doing that work, whereas the young girls and women were pouring the rice on large straw mats letting the wind drive the chaff away. There happened to be a pretty strong wind today so that helped very much. The large mats I mentioned above are made of the rice straw and really they are a wonderful piece of work when you consider the fact that they are made by hand. After the rice is allowed to be cleaned thoroughly of chaff, they let the sun dry the rice kernels further. The people who are not so well-off generally have straw roofs on their houses. And we noticed several people along the way putting another layer of rice straw on their houses preparatory for winter. The butt end of the rice straw is bound together by weaving a rice straw rope to a medium-sized handful of straw. They are very careful not to break or bend the rice straw in harvesting it, and that way it will serve many things around their homes. After they have made a strip of rice straw long enough to cover the roof, they place it on the roof in just the same manner we use in the States with tar paper. Instead of using nails they bind it to the rafters with rope which the women make from rice straw.

  And the other work we saw them doing was gathering branches, twigs and wood for the coming cold weather. In a few places we saw the men splitting the logs with crude axes. Wherever there were any trees you could expect to see women and children racking up twigs and the leaves. In the States we burn them, but they bind them into large bundles and carry them home for use this coming winter. You may think I’m exaggerating when I tell you that I saw women carrying loads of twigs and little brush on their heads twice as large as the folk’s radio. I cannot see how they do it, they walk along the road that way and never falter a bit. I don’t know how they can carry such a load without dropping it. I suppose it is something like learning to ride a bike or ice skates.

  Most of the trees have lost their leaves by now, however, there were a few along the way such as the tall stately poplars with yellow and orange leaves still clinging to the branches. And then now and then we would see an oak with red and brown leaves. Of course higher up in the mountains could be seen the evergreens and a few patches of green grass, but most of all the grass is brown now. Korea is certainly a fine country and I do believe they have a fine future, I do pray and hope that many will feel led to come here as missionaries and teachers.

  Naturally as soon as we returned and I found your letters I read them right away and how good they were after that long cold journey in the Jeep. It would certainly be wonderful if our mail kept coming in like it has been for the last week or so here. I’m sorry that one box I sent to you and Mom is taking so long to get home. I was hoping that it would get home a little faster, that’s why I sent it to you first class mail. I hope you will like the little gift I got for you too, it in no way fully shows what you mean to me, but I love you both of you and I want you to know it.

  Having had my supper I came back over here and had my devotions and then worked on my message for this evening. I used as my scripture Matthew 9:1-8. The title of my message was,       “The Joy of Forgiving Sin.”  I will not go into detail but I’m sure you can imagine how it would develop from that designated passage of scripture. There were only seventeen men in attendance and there were only twelve men in attendance at the service we drove to have today at noon. I used the same sermon down there that I gave up here this last Sunday evening.

   I’m going to make a few comments and then go to bed and warm up and try to get a good night’s sleep after that long trying trip. I’m glad the folks like the little gift which we were able to give to them. I certainly love them and appreciate everything they have ever done for us. It does mean a lot to know that they will always help me get things for my Lover when I’m so very far away.

  I hope the plan which Ray Johnson is helping North Shore Baptist Church set in operation will bear fruit. Ray is quite a fellow, I knew him pretty well when we were in Seminary. The program which the Tribune is putting over WGN sounds interesting. Thank you very much for sending the pictures out of the paper, I really enjoyed looking at them. It will be good when I can really see those friends again instead of looking at pictures.

  That was certainly nice and thoughtful of Gen and Mabel to send me boxes for Christmas. They should not have gone to all that trouble. Darling, I know you love me very very much but please don’t send me any more boxes unless I specifically request them. As long as it takes packages to come through, it is foolish for you to go to all the trouble to make them up and then I never receive them. Besides, I’m looking forward to having your own cooking sometime this coming spring.

  Lover, it is getting late and I must say good night, so God bless you and the folks richly in all things.

 Yours for all the ages of the

 ages in Christ,

 Willis

 Colossians 3:3

 PS. Enclosed find a clipping from the Corps paper about the travel and surplus. I thought you might like to read it.

November 6, 1945

Seoul, Korea

6 November 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

This has been another day which was crowded from early this morning until this very minute. I’m glad there is so much to do and so much happening, for that way it helps the time pass by that much more rapidly. It will be so good to be able to be with you again. Each day carries with it many problems and I do get pretty weary at times, but when I go to bed I can sleep and morning soon comes which only brings us closer together.

Willis Reed with his good friend Paul Wells.

  This morning I was interrupted several times to take care of situations which arose. Chaplain Wells came in to see Don and I for about half an hour, and as soon as I could get away, I went over to a place where one of the soldiers does barbering. It was do that or buy a violin case. Of course, he didn’t have to do anything on top but it was beginning to look like I was trying to grow ear muffs to keep my ears warm this winter.

  Having had my dinner I came back over here to the office and found that I had received a bunch of letters, they were from the following ones: Arthur Mitchell, Major Mason, Wallace Connell, Sergeant Visconti, Lieutenant Erb, and Sergeant Sample. It was certainly good to hear from those men, and as soon as I answer their letters I will send them on to you to read. We finally managed to make some arrangements for one of our outfits which is a long way from here. We are going to leave here by Jeep early tomorrow morning. I know it is going to be a long trying trip, but I want to do what I can for the men and let them know that we are interested in them even though they are scattered many miles from our headquarters.

  Chaplain Vogel’s replacement arrived today so he will be leaving very shortly for the States. He has enough points to leave now, he was certainly lucky to get a replacement so soon. That will probably be one of the big things that will hold up my return to the States. I’m not going to fret about it, I’ll just keep doing my best here until I am able to leave. Just before supper I had my devotions and read some in my Bible. I had supper and I came right back here and studied the whole of the 11th chapter of John before time for our Bible class. There were only fourteen in attendance this evening. We really had a wonderful time though. We studied up to the 46 verse and then went overtime about 20 minutes. Shortly after the service the Korean minister came here to the office and asked me if I would preach for them this coming Sunday morning at 11. He said the people like my other message and were wanting me to come back and preach for them on a Sunday morning. It will make a very full day, but if it is the Lord’s will I will be glad to do anything I can to encourage and help the people. We visited for a long time and as a result it is very late. I had wanted to answer several other letters this evening but it will be impossible now for I must get some rest, for I know tomorrow will be a long trying day to say the least. I do hope it is good weather for the long trip out there and back.

  Even though it is late I want to try and make a few comments on some of your letters, I don’t want to get too far behind. Won’t it be grand when we won’t have to depend on letters to know how we feel and what we have been doing? I know from experience in trying to write you that I cannot in any sense of the word express my feelings to you. There are so many things I have in my heart I want to talk to you about. All I have on my heart centers around two things (1)  how much I love you and what you mean to me in every way, and (2)  how much joy I find in serving Christ and that each day with Him is sweeter than the day before. However, remember it will be much more than twice as sweet when we can be together again.

  I’m glad to know they are starting a mixed young people’s class now at Buena with Dr. Lundquist as the teacher. He is a very good teacher so they ought to go places. I was surprised to hear that they had dropped the young people’s class at Buena.

  I’m glad to know just what Mr. Paul has been studying and he ought to make good work in that field. A man of his talents and ability ought to be ideal in such work. Don’t worry, I’ll never mention it to anyone. When does he plan on finishing his course? And will he have a job there at the Wesley Memorial Hospital?

  Lover, it is so late that I must say good night. God bless you and all things, Darling. Be sure to give  the folks my love.

 Yours alone for all time and

  Eternity because we are one

 in Christ’s love,

 Willis

 Colossians 3:3

 P.S. Enclosed find a picture one of the men took of Don and I on October 28th. It isn’t a very good picture but I thought you might like to see it. It isn’t good of Don at all. The Eisenhower jacket and trousers tend to make everyone look heavier than they really are. We are supposed to have our trousers in our combat boots. Don hasn’t been able to get his size yet so it necessitates his wearing of a regular GI shoe. I’ve gained about 5 pounds since leaving Okinawa but I still weigh about 15 pounds less than when I came overseas. I love you more than ever, Darling. 

November 5, 1945

Seoul, Korea

5 November 1945

Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

I could hardly believe my eyes tonight when I found that there were two more letters here for me from you. There were you are as of October 25th and 26th. Now that’s what I call real service and it almost seems too good to be true. I’m not going to expect too much but I do hope that it does come through better than it did there for a while. As always, your letters helped me very much and refueled me for this evening and until the next letters arrived. I also got a nice letter from Elizabeth Riley. She tried to calling you on two different occasions. If all goes as planned, she is to be married in December sometime. As soon as I answer her letter I will send it on for you to read. I also got a good letter from my father and Beverly and Doris Reed, the daughters of Ralph and Gladys wrote a letter which my father enclosed. Gladys was operated for a goiter and at the time Beverly was doing the housework and going to school. She is now in the 8th grade. She really wrote a beautiful letter for a girl of her years. As soon as I answer their letters I will send them on to you to read. There was another letter from Louise Davis and also a letter from the mother of a soldier killed in the battle of Okinawa.

  Darling, so much has happened today that I will not go into full detail to tell you all things because it would take far too long. Shortly after arriving down here at the Chaplain’s office, the guard at the entrance of our Regimental Headquarters came in to tell me that someone was at the gate to see me. (No one is allowed to enter this area unless they are a part of the unit or have a pass).  As I walked out to the gate I recognized him as Rody Huyn (Kraft’s friend) from a picture I saw of him in their home yesterday. I shook hands with him, and sure enough, it was Rody.  He came down here to see me and we visited briefly and he urged me to come to his home Thursday evening for dinner. Normally I have Bible class that evening, but there is one very fine young Christian man in our class that I’m going to ask to lead the class that evening. Dr. Underwood is to be at Rody’s home that evening also and that is the main reason he wanted me to be there. Dr. Underwood was president of the college and returned to the States just before the war began. As soon as the war was over, he was sent by the US State Department to be the advisor to the Military Governor of Korea. I believe I told you before that Major General A.V. Arnold, our old Division Commander, was made the Military Governor.

  Immediately following that I had to leave here for the Corps Headquarters for an important meeting. By the time the meeting was over and I could get back here it was time for dinner. We had another good dinner today, roast beef, gravy, potatoes and coffee. It seems too good to be true. Undoubtedly the ships which brought in the new men must have brought us quite a few supplies, for our food has certainly been better the last 4 or 5 days.

  This afternoon we received our pay and I drew $25 in cash and the rest is being sent home to you by government check. We were paid this time for the months of September and October. The check you receive should amount to $237.10, so be on the lookout for it, Darling.

  There were several men in to see me this afternoon about problems. It seems each week will bring a new case the like of which I have never run into before. Some of them certainly makes me feel badly, to say the least.

Willis and Sarah at the church in Lexington.

In between the cases, I did get a little studying done and also wrote a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Ray H. Ricketts of Lexington, Illinois. Their son Myron was drowned in Austria the later part of July. Jean Claggett wrote and told me about it. Mrs. Ricketts is Mrs. Garrett’s sister. I think you met Myron that time you stayed with the Garretts when you came down to Lexington. He was a fine Christian, full of pep, nice looking and had red hair. I wrote them a letter expressing our sympathy and also enclosed a copy of, “When Young Men Die.”

  After coming over from supper I had intended on studying for a little while and then write some letters. I wrote a letter to Grandma Norman by hand and then typed off a note to Edith and Wesley. After that, I started a letter to the Hollys when two soldiers came in to see me about trouble. That took a long time and as a result it is very late. I finished the Hollys letter and now I’m writing to the one I will always only truly love. Sweetheart, I just wish you knew how good it is to have a good Christian wife like you are to me in every way.

  It is so good to know that Margie is getting better. I hope that by the time this letter reaches you that she will be back to full strength and that all will be going well. I’m sorry to hear that she lost her job, but under the conditions, she describes I think she ought to thank the Lord that she is out of such a setup. If that other woman is such a worker of trouble, it is no telling what she might do if she caused some very serious trouble and Margie was still working there. Under such circumstances, I can’t help but believe that it is for the best.

  I would like to try and answer some of your back letters but I’m so tired and weary I think I will say goodnight and see if I can do better tomorrow evening. God bless you my Dear in all things and be sure to convey my love to the folks.

 Ever just yours in Christ’s love,

 Your tweetheart,

  Willis

 Colossians 3:3

 P.S. Enclosed find the Hollys letter. You are so very sweet and I love you more than ever.

Your “Willie”

November 4, 1945

Seoul, Korea

4 November 1945

My Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

This has certainly been one very full day and I’m really tired and weary tonight. I got up very early and came down to the office and studied my sermon over again. Don and I got everything ready for our service. There were only 74 in attendance at our service this morning. But that was to be expected after all the changes of yesterday and today. I’m going to enclose the programs we had this morning, I think you might like to read it over. I used the idea in the sermon that man almost automatically feels sorry for someone who is physically deformed. But I used the idea that anyone who does not take Christ into consideration in their lives are morally and spiritually deformed. And from that I presented the way and the plan of salvation in Christ.

 

Willis in his Jeep visiting his men. Christmas Island 1944.

My friend Dr. Yong was in again to attend our service this morning. We visited for about half an hour and then left for his home. His wife is feeling better now and their baby boy is coming along fine.

  Just before noon a soldier came in to see me and that took time. I hurried from here to get up to our officer’s mess in time to have dinner. I was surprised to find that we had french fried potatoes and a piece of good steak. It was almost like a dream. I think the ship which took men home yesterday must have brought it in for us.

  Shortly after having dinner I returned to the office and Don, a Jeep driver and I left here to see if we could find Rody Huyn,  the Kraft’s friend.  We drove out to the college. There are two sections, one for girls called Ewha Women’s College, and the boys section called Underwood College. Together they are known as the Chosen Christian College. We stopped first to see the girls college and then I met Dr. Helen Kim who is the president of the girls college and also met Miss Kim, a graduate of Juilliard Music School in New York. I asked her if she knew Rody and of course she did because actually he is the head of the music department and he is considered Korea’s most outstanding musician. She very graciously went with us in our Jeep to Rody’s home but he is gone most of the time during the day so I didn’t get to see him. However, I did have the joy of meeting his wife and two of his daughters. They have 5 children, four daughters and one son. Rody’s wife speaks very little English and doesn’t understand so well but Miss Kim (music teacher at Ewha) explained to her very well. Darling, I wish you could meet her, she is so very lovely. We came back to Ewha  College and Miss Kim invited me to come in for a few minutes. Dr. Kim (President) and Miss Kim and Mr. Sim and I visited for about 1/2 hour over a cup of tea with they insisted I have. By the way, Dr. Kim and Miss Kim are not related, that name like Smith and Jones is very common in Korea. I showed them the picture (the one we had taken together at Mandels just before coming overseas),  you know what they said? They thought we looked like brother and sister. Poor you, but Dear, I wish you could know how happy that made me. I just kind of shed a few happy tears inside of me. For after all, I know of no one I would want to look like except you, Darling. It certainly means everything to have such a wonderful wife as you are.

Dr. Kim was wondering if I could get you over here right away, for they could use you in the department of Christian education. As it is now, they don’t have anyone. She was wondering if  I could get out of the Army as a Chaplain and become a teacher in the boys part of the college and then preach in one of the churches here in Seoul.  Darling, I like Korea very much and I know there is a wonderful opportunity for service over here. I certainly wish the Northern Baptist had some work over here. The Presbyterian Church has certainly done some magnificent work over here even under very trying conditions. Darling, I think you would like Korea very much if you could see and realize the possibilities for service over here. You know, I’m quite sure if the Baptist had a set up over here and you were willing and felt it the Lord’s will, I wouldn’t hesitate one moment to volunteer for service as a missionary over here. When I see all these people over here my heart just yearns for them to know the joy and peace which comes in knowing Christ. Darling, enclosed find a series of pictures which appeared in the Korean paper (Corps Headquarters) of Ewha College. Those buildings are beautiful indeed. We don’t have a building as nice at Northern. Some of the other buildings not shown in the picture the Japanese used to store ammunition and Ordinance supplies. Note Dr. Kim’s picture, she is a PhD from Columbia. I’m also enclosing another series of pictures which I thought we might save for our scrapbook of official celebration of Korea’s Liberation October 20th.

  We drove back here and there was a soldier here to see me about marital trouble, by the time he left it was time to eat. Having had my supper, I was on my way over here when I was detained to help with a very sad situation. I cannot go into detail now. Suffice it to say it just about broke my heart.

  I went over for our evening service. They were 19 in attendance. I spoke on Luke 2:42-50. “What’s Your Business?”  I had planned on coming right over here but another soldier asked to see me.  He accepted the Lord just before we left Okinawa and has been coming along beautifully in the growth and knowledge of Christ. He has been having family trouble – there is a wife and two children. Pray that his wife may come to know the Lord also. We talked for quite some time and I had a special prayer for them and will remember them in my own devotion and prayer time.

 Sweetheart, as a result it is very late and I’m so tired I must close for tonight. God bless you my Lover in all things.

 Yours and yours alone in Christ’s love,

 Willis

 Colossians 3:3

 P.S. Also find enclosed a snapshot of poor Sad Sack. That’s just the way I felt on that night. It was a nightmare to say the least.

By the way Dear, the boys part of the college is not open as yet and unless the girls section can obtain coal by Christmas time they will have to close because it is far too cold to try and conduct classes in zero weather. There are over 900 girls in attendance at the girls college now.

November 3, 1945

Seoul, Korea

3 November 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling Sweetheart:

This has been one very full day and it is quite late now and I still want to do some studying on my message for tomorrow morning so I want to write this letter to you now. Just before Bible class the mailman brought in two more of your letters. They were yours of October 23rd and 24th. That is the best mail service we have had since coming up here. It will certainly be wonderful if our mail keeps up like that, it almost seems too good to be true so I’m not going to hope for too much in that respect. As soon as Bible class was over I came right over here to the office and read your precious letters. Darling, this may sound strange but it even makes me feel better to see the envelope of your precious letters. The letters were so good Darling and I can assure you that I am all refueled now. I got three other letters besides yours, they were from the following people:  Hollys, Raymond Cox, and a letter from the mother of a young man lost in the battle of Okinawa.

  Well, this morning we finally had the joy of seeing a large number of our high point men pull out for the States. You never saw so much joy in your life. And I can fully imagine how they must have felt for I know how I would have felt if I had been in their place. If all goes well, they ought to be in the States sometime at the end of this month. There were several from Illinois. Jack Lilja attended Moody for a while and said he would call you when he gets into Chicago sometime. Steve Stipanuk is from Kenosha, Wisconsin. He is one of the man I baptized while down on Okinawa. Jack and Steve are pretty close friends. I told them that if they were ever in Chicago to call you and drop out to the house if they could. I’m sure you would like to know them. Jack has an impediment of speech but gets along okay. I sought to help him in that respect and I think we gained a little ground. By the way, Jack’s folks live in Nebraska so that helped to make our contact a little more interesting. However, we didn’t know that we were both born in Nebraska for quite a long while. I will certainly miss some of those men in our services, but I’m very happy to see them on their way, for the sooner they get out the sooner we will have a chance to get out.

  I had just bid a lot of my friends goodbye and had come in here to prepare the order of services for tomorrow when the Division Chaplain (Catholic) called up and said they had a soldier there who was ready for burial and there wasn’t any Chaplain to take the service. The man was from some other outfit and they had waited for over an hour then, I took care of the situation. Naturally, that took quite some time and by the time I got back I only had about an hour before dinner. I got the program ready and Don cut the stencil while I did some studying.

  After dinner I came back to the office hoping to do some studying and having my devotions, but low and behold who should come in but Dr. Yong, (the man’s wife who made you the present).  He had two friends with him who wanted to see me. I talked with him for about an hour, and in the meantime, another Korean minister came in to see me. Upon becoming acquainted with him I found out he was from a graduate of McCormick Seminary and had his membership in Buena and knows Dr. Hepburn very well. I showed him the latest pictures of you and also the pictures I have of Dr. Hepburn. He was so happy that he is well and still carrying on at Buena. He also remembers Teacher. And several others that I mentioned. Showing him a program of Buena and Dr. Hepburn’s picture brought back many happy memories. He asked me to especially remember him to Dr. Hepburn, he said he is sure Dr. Hepburn will remember him. His name is Rev. Kyu Yong Lee and he served a church at Genzan, Korea. His home address while in Chicago was Wonsan, Korea.  If you will note a map, you will see that Genzan is north of the 38th parallel and as a result in the Russian area. Darling, some of the things he told me about the Russians made my blood run cold. And to think we call such a bunch of thieves and robbers our allies. I realize there is stealing going on among our people and soldier personnel, but up there it is sanctioned and in fact they are shipping what they steal from the Koreans back to Russia. They even went so far as to take the cross off of their church. Reverend Lee had his pocket watch, fountain and best suit of clothes taken by them, and his dear wife had all her fine hand work and blankets taken by them, and they are only one of many hundreds and thousands more. About two weeks ago he and his unmarried daughter made their way from Genzan (Sea of Japan side of Korea) to Seoul by foot and rail. They had molested other young girls and for her sake, and everything in general, he thought it best to get out. His married daughter and her husband arrived this last weekend with what little belongings they could carry. Reverend Lee is planning on going back there in about 2 weeks and get his dear wife and another child and carry out what things he can with them. Just imagine walking about 170 miles in cold November weather over rough mountainous country with what little belongings you can carry. He has a little work here in Seoul now as an interpreter. Darling, I could tell you enough about the rottenness of Russia to make your heart sick, but I must be careful or I’ll be considered an enemy of peace and a fire brand. It’s about time we quit making all kinds of concessions to her and set our foot down. You wait and see, we will find out that Russia will cause us more trouble in keeping peace than any other one nation. During the war years there were far too many secret agreements which remain unbeknownst to us, and now we are going to reap the whirlwind. Darling, it is hard to say what I really think knowing all I do from actual contact, but please ask people to pray for a revival in the United States, beginning with each one of us as individuals. This business of talking about peace among men and nations when men have not made peace with God is utter idle speech. How can God grant peace when men and nations are living like a bunch of bandits and do not trust one another out of each other’s sight? We have all kinds of intelligence and counterintelligence in secret services without number. By the way, Reverend Lee wrote his Master’s degree of Christian Education under Dr. Norman Richardson. He also knew Dr. Harms who used to teach Christian Education at Northern before Dr. Smith took over. Be sure to contact Dr. Hepburn right away by phone, for I’m sure he will be interested to know about our meeting. And he asks the same question, how soon do Presbyterians plan to send money and help in the form of missionaries and teachers to Korea? I agree with him fully that Korea is white unto the harvest. He told me he is desirous of seeing 3 million Koreans turn to Christ in the next 5 years.

  By the way, Dr. Yong and his friends brought Don and I about 100 eggs and two quarts of honey. I cannot get over such great kindness. Eggs are very rare and very expensive in Korea. That many eggs would cost you between $18 and $20 downtown. And I have no idea how much the honey would cost. I cannot get over such kindness on his behalf. Again today he said please tell the people in the United States to send the missionaries soon. By the way Darling, I sent the present which his wife made for you this morning. I sent it by Air Mail so you ought to get it in pretty good time. I think you will like it very much, especially knowing that she made it especially for you, Sweetheart.

  Darling, I had a few minutes after Rev. Lee left before supper so I decided to make a little box and send the field glasses home to you. I’ve had clearance on them for some time now but just haven’t had the time to mail them to you. The case they are in did not come with the glasses. I got the glasses from a Japanese Captain killed on our drive to Fern Hill in the battle of Okinawa. I got the case up here in Korea along with a strap which we can fix to carry them with. I have a copy of the clearance slip here with me and I attached one to the glasses on the outside of the field glass case so I think and HOPE it comes through all right. I sent it first class hoping that it would have a better chance. Be sure to let me know as soon as you receive them. I do hope that you have received the gifts which I sent you and Mom about three weeks ago. I sent that first class also. I will tell you more about the circumstances surrounding the glasses when I get home. I think I can explain it better then.

  Lover, there were 11 in attendance at our Bible class this evening and we had a good time. We went about 20 minutes overtime and were able to finish the 10th chapter. Dear, I would like to make a few comments on some of your last letters but it is so late and I’m quite tired so I think I will close for tonight. God bless you and remember I love you more than ever all the time. Be sure to give the folks my love.

 Always and forever just yours

 in Christ’s Love because we are always one in Him,

 Willis

 Colossians 3:3

Seoul, Korea 

3 November 1945

Dearest Darling:

Enclosed find the Korean dress which Dr. Yong’s wife made for you and which he gave to me for you, “in Jesus name.”

  The Korean women tie the skirt just below their breasts and over that they wear a little jacket over a slip which looks more like a slip over nightgown.

  I really think this is beautiful and I’m sure you will like it, especially since it was made for you by Dr. Yong’s wife.  By the way, the straps on the jacket are used to make a bow.

 I love you more than ever, Darling.

 Yours forever in Christ’s wonderful love,

Your “Willie”

 Colossians 3:3

November 3, 1945

Seoul, Korea

3 November 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling Sweetheart:

This has been one very full day and it is quite late now and I still want to do some studying on my message for tomorrow morning so I want to write this letter to you now. Just before Bible class the mailman brought in two more of your letters. They were yours of October 23rd and 24th. That is the best mail service we have had since coming up here. It will certainly be wonderful if our mail keeps up like that, it almost seems too good to be true so I’m not going to hope for too much in that respect. As soon as Bible class was over I came right over here to the office and read your precious letters. Darling, this may sound strange but it even makes me feel better to see the envelope of your precious letters. The letters were so good Darling and I can assure you that I am all refueled now. I got three other letters besides yours, they were from the following people:  Hollys, Raymond Cox, and a letter from the mother of a young man lost in the battle of Okinawa.

Willis conducting baptisms on Okinawa. 1945

Well, this morning we finally had the joy of seeing a large number of our high point men pull out for the States. You never saw so much joy in your life. And I can fully imagine how they must have felt for I know how I would have felt if I had been in their place. If all goes well, they ought to be in the States sometime at the end of this month. There were several from Illinois. Jack Lilja attended Moody for a while and said he would call you when he gets into Chicago sometime. Steve Stipanuk is from Kenosha, Wisconsin. He is one of the man I baptized while down on Okinawa. Jack and Steve are pretty close friends. I told them that if they were ever in Chicago to call you and drop out to the house if they could. I’m sure you would like to know them. Jack has an impediment of speech but gets along okay. I sought to help him in that respect and I think we gained a little ground. By the way, Jack’s folks live in Nebraska so that helped to make our contact a little more interesting. However, we didn’t know that we were both born in Nebraska for quite a long while. I will certainly miss some of those men in our services, but I’m very happy to see them on their way, for the sooner they get out the sooner we will have a chance to get out.

  I had just bid a lot of my friends goodbye and had come in here to prepare the order of services for tomorrow when the Division Chaplain (Catholic) called up and said they had a soldier there who was ready for burial and there wasn’t any Chaplain to take the service. The man was from some other outfit and they had waited for over an hour then, I took care of the situation. Naturally, that took quite some time and by the time I got back I only had about an hour before dinner. I got the program ready and Don cut the stencil while I did some studying.

  After dinner I came back to the office hoping to do some studying and having my devotions, but low and behold who should come in but Dr. Yong, (the man’s wife who made you the present).  He had two friends with him who wanted to see me. I talked with him for about an hour, and in the meantime, another Korean minister came in to see me. Upon becoming acquainted with him I found out he was from a graduate of McCormick Seminary and had his membership in Buena and knows Dr. Hepburn very well. I showed him the latest pictures of you and also the pictures I have of Dr. Hepburn. He was so happy that he is well and still carrying on at Buena. He also remembers Teacher. And several others that I mentioned. Showing him a program of Buena and Dr. Hepburn’s picture brought back many happy memories. He asked me to especially remember him to Dr. Hepburn, he said he is sure Dr. Hepburn will remember him. His name is Rev. Kyu Yong Lee and he served a church at Genzan, Korea. His home address while in Chicago was Wonsan, Korea.  If you will note a map, you will see that Genzan is north of the 38th parallel and as a result in the Russian area. Darling, some of the things he told me about the Russians made my blood run cold. And to think we call such a bunch of thieves and robbers our allies. I realize there is stealing going on among our people and soldier personnel, but up there it is sanctioned and in fact they are shipping what they steal from the Koreans back to Russia. They even went so far as to take the cross off of their church. Reverend Lee had his pocket watch, fountain and best suit of clothes taken by them, and his dear wife had all her fine hand work and blankets taken by them, and they are only one of many hundreds and thousands more. About two weeks ago he and his unmarried daughter made their way from Genzan (Sea of Japan side of Korea) to Seoul by foot and rail. They had molested other young girls and for her sake, and everything in general, he thought it best to get out. His married daughter and her husband arrived this last weekend with what little belongings they could carry. Reverend Lee is planning on going back there in about 2 weeks and get his dear wife and another child and carry out what things he can with them. Just imagine walking about 170 miles in cold November weather over rough mountainous country with what little belongings you can carry. He has a little work here in Seoul now as an interpreter. Darling, I could tell you enough about the rottenness of Russia to make your heart sick, but I must be careful or I’ll be considered an enemy of peace and a fire brand. It’s about time we quit making all kinds of concessions to her and set our foot down. You wait and see, we will find out that Russia will cause us more trouble in keeping peace than any other one nation. During the war years there were far too many secret agreements which remain unbeknownst to us, and now we are going to reap the whirlwind. Darling, it is hard to say what I really think knowing all I do from actual contact, but please ask people to pray for a revival in the United States, beginning with each one of us as individuals. This business of talking about peace among men and nations when men have not made peace with God is utter idle speech. How can God grant peace when men and nations are living like a bunch of bandits and do not trust one another out of each other’s sight? We have all kinds of intelligence and counterintelligence in secret services without number. By the way, Reverend Lee wrote his Master’s degree of Christian Education under Dr. Norman Richardson. He also knew Dr. Harms who used to teach Christian Education at Northern before Dr. Smith took over. Be sure to contact Dr. Hepburn right away by phone, for I’m sure he will be interested to know about our meeting. And he asks the same question, how soon do Presbyterians plan to send money and help in the form of missionaries and teachers to Korea? I agree with him fully that Korea is white unto the harvest. He told me he is desirous of seeing 3 million Koreans turn to Christ in the next 5 years.

  By the way, Dr. Yong and his friends brought Don and I about 100 eggs and two quarts of honey. I cannot get over such great kindness. Eggs are very rare and very expensive in Korea. That many eggs would cost you between $18 and $20 downtown. And I have no idea how much the honey would cost. I cannot get over such kindness on his behalf. Again today he said please tell the people in the United States to send the missionaries soon. By the way Darling, I sent the present which his wife made for you this morning. I sent it by Air Mail so you ought to get it in pretty good time. I think you will like it very much, especially knowing that she made it especially for you, Sweetheart.

  Darling, I had a few minutes after Rev. Lee left before supper so I decided to make a little box and send the field glasses home to you. I’ve had clearance on them for some time now but just haven’t had the time to mail them to you. The case they are in did not come with the glasses. I got the glasses from a Japanese Captain killed on our drive to Fern Hill in the battle of Okinawa. I got the case up here in Korea along with a strap which we can fix to carry them with. I have a copy of the clearance slip here with me and I attached one to the glasses on the outside of the field glass case so I think and HOPE it comes through all right. I sent it first class hoping that it would have a better chance. Be sure to let me know as soon as you receive them. I do hope that you have received the gifts which I sent you and Mom about three weeks ago. I sent that first class also. I will tell you more about the circumstances surrounding the glasses when I get home. I think I can explain it better then.

  Lover, there were 11 in attendance at our Bible class this evening and we had a good time. We went about 20 minutes overtime and were able to finish the 10th chapter. Dear, I would like to make a few comments on some of your last letters but it is so late and I’m quite tired so I think I will close for tonight. God bless you and remember I love you more than ever all the time. Be sure to give the folks my love.

 Always and forever just yours

 in Christ’s Love because we are always one in Him,

 Willis

 Colossians 3:3

Seoul, Korea 

3 November 1945

Dearest Darling:

Enclosed find the Korean dress which Dr. Yong’s wife made for you and which he gave to me for you, “in Jesus name.”

  The Korean women tie the skirt just below their breasts and over that they wear a little jacket over a slip which looks more like a slip over nightgown.

  I really think this is beautiful and I’m sure you will like it, especially since it was made for you by Dr. Yong’s wife.  By the way, the straps on the jacket are used to make a bow.

 I love you more than ever, Darling.

 Yours forever in Christ’s wonderful love,

Your “Willie”

 Colossians 3:3

November 2, 1945

Keijo (Seoul), Korea

2 November 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

I had just put this sheet of paper in the carriage of the typewriter when the mail orderly walked in and said I have a letter for you. And much to my joy and delight it turned out to be your wonderful letter of October 22nd. I wish there were some way to tell you just how much your good letters help me along.

  This has been a very topsy-turvy day. This morning it took quite some time to arrange for the funeral which I had this afternoon. With a case like this one, there is always a lot of red tape and I spent 3/4 of the morning trying to get everything organized. A couple of men came in to see me and of course that took time, and before I knew it, noon was here and I had a bite to eat and then I came right back to the Chaplain’s office and worked on my message. I got one of the fine Christian men to sing two songs for this funeral this afternoon. He sang, “The Glory of His Presence” and “Beyond the Sunset”. I spoke on the theme, “For What is Your Life?”  Before we left here, another soldier came in to see me about trouble and problems at home. That took some time. However, I had time to help because the service wasn’t due to begin until about 3 o’clock. Part of the service was delayed because one of the trucks had a flat tire. All the men of the man’s company attended it. It was very cold this afternoon, and as a result, it was very trying in the wind to conduct the service. By the time we got back here again it was just a few minutes before 5 and about time to eat. So Don and I went over to eat. As soon as we were through eating, I came back here and studied and I had my devotions. We had 16 in our Bible class tonight. We went about half an hour over this time, and as a result, we were able to finish the 9th chapter of John. There have been so many interruptions this week that I’ll have to try and study tomorrow morning for my message on Sunday. Don made the cover for our bulletin this morning while I was making all the arrangements for the funeral this afternoon. It is certainly cold here tonight.

Willis with his father Earl in the early 50s. They are holding Mark Reed and Daniel Reed – the next generation.

  Before starting this letter to you, I wrote a letter to my father and also wished him a very happy birthday. You may be interested to know that his birthday is November 18th. He’ll be 53 years old. As I’ve said before, I try to get a letter off to him every week. Sometimes they are not so very long but at least he knows I’m thinking of him and try to keep him informed.

  Darling, I’m sorry I have caused you so much trouble trying to find that grammar book. Just forget it. Don’t look any further because I will probably have plenty to do from now on until I leave here. Besides, I want you to be my teacher. I know you will be a good one.

  I’m going to take just a few moments to try and catch up on some of your back letters. From what you said in one of your letters about going to see Dr. Mason, I take it that you must have changed your mind about what you are going to use for your thesis, is that correct? I’m certainly sorry you have to write your thesis under him. I wish it were someone like Dr. Mantey or Dr. Stiansen.

Darling, I agree with you about your thesis, I have felt for a long time there is something much more worthwhile that could be done in its place. I’m sure you know that many seminaries do not require a thesis for degrees. I’m almost sure that most of the liberal schools don’t require them anymore.

  I was sorry to hear about Paul’s mother thinking of coming into Chicago to have an operation. I think that is entirely too much of her to expect to leave Donna with Paul and Gen while she is in the hospital. Well, we shall see. Perhaps it won’t materialize, at least I hope not.

  You said you had a nice talk with Sherry and that she was thankful for her experience with John. I’m sure she probably learned things. Well, from my experience I find the Navy officer personnel just a little more refined. You said that Army life to you is vague. Sweetheart, as for me I would rather have it be that way for you. I’ll tell you all I can, I don’t care for you to learn from the contact side of Army life.

  It really makes me feel badly about Grandma Norman. I’m so anxious to know how the operation comes out. I do hope that it isn’t too serious. I will continue to pray for her and will drop her another letter as soon as I can get a few moments. From what you said in your letter, Adele does have a very complicated schedule. I hope everything comes out all right. I think that was very sweet and thoughtful of you to write Edith the note and the poem.

  Yes, tell Mr. Swartwout we have the records and they are helping very much with our work now and the men do enjoy them. They came up here in perfect condition in spite of the fact that many of our boxes were broken into on our trip from Okinawa.

  Lover, I’m going to say goodnight and Beloved, remember I love you more than ever I have before. Be sure to give the folks my love.

 Yours only in the love

of our Lord Jesus Christ,

  Willis

 Colossians 3:3

 P.S. Enclosed find Jeanne’s letter. 

November 1, 1945

Keijo (Seoul), Korea

1 November 1945

Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

There was very little mail today for our whole Regiment. And fortunately, among that small bundle of letters was yours of October 20th. Now I have all of your letters up to October 21st with the exception of your letter for August 22nd. When I got up this morning, it was raining and did  so until about 10 o’clock this morning. It cleared up late this evening and now it is really getting cold. If it would have been this cold this morning, it would have probably been snowing instead of rain.

  Most all of my morning was spent taking care of a problem case and two follow up letters to ones who lost loved ones in the battle of Okinawa. And then just before dinner another court-martial case came up for me to look into. All I can say is, “What a mixed-up mess.”

 

News from November 1, 1945.

Shortly after eating my dinner, I came back over this way and stopped in on one of the barracks to visit with the men. I had not been there more than a minute when I was notified of a very serious incident in the next building. I will not go into detail now. That took a long time and certainly threw everything out of gear for a long while this afternoon. As soon as I could get away, I left here for the Division stockade to see a certain soldier. It was almost 4 o’clock before I got back here. I had my devotions and read some of my Bible. Shortly after that, Don and I left here to eat our evening meal. As soon as supper was over I came over here and studied for Bible class. There were 15 in class this evening. We finished our study of the 8th chapter and are now ready to begin the 9th chapter tomorrow evening in our study.

  Before starting this letter to you I wrote a letter to Jeanne.  She is certainly fine girl and I want to do all I can to encourage her. I’m afraid it wasn’t such a good letter because of being so tired and weary, but anyhow, she will know I care a little. I don’t suppose you will see her now before Christmas.

  I want to take a few moments and make some comments on some of your letters which I received recently. You certainly had some experience that night at the mission with the folks from Buena. I was thankful to hear about the four men who asked for prayer. I only hope they go straight now. It is good to know you were able to help them out in their emergency.

  It is good to know that Gen is gaining weight and also that Dale is looking better. Of course the boys are getting a little larger and they can take take care of themselves a little bit more, and of course it doesn’t call for her constant attention just to them. I will be so glad to see all of them again.

  I was very sorry to hear about the kind of camp Kay attended. I had hoped that it would be a strong Christian camp and one which would help her, for she certainly needs to grow spiritually. She doesn’t attend the Baptist Church in Val does she? If not, with church does she attend?

  It must have been wonderful to talk to the Scheus again. I know I will be very glad to see them again. What is Scheu’s address now? I will not be able to write them until I receive their new address.

  I know you must have had some session with Dr. Rodeheuer in charge. I was sorry to hear about the death of Stebbins.  We certainly do need some more good strong writers in this day. The last 100 years certainly gave to Christendom at large some very fine men in the field of music.

  I will be so glad when you can give me another of your good rubbings. There have been a lot of times when I would have given almost anything for one of your good rubbings. I want to be able to give you a good rubbing also. I know I couldn’t do as well as you could but I would try my best.

  In that I’m so tired I think I will close for tonight and write more to you tomorrow evening. Darling, I love you so much more than ever.

 Forever yours Dearest because we are

 one in Christ’s love,

 Your “Willie”

 Colossians 3:3

 P.S. Our typewriter is in use so I had to write this by hand. I love you more all the time, Dear. 

October 31, 1945

Keijo (Seoul), Korea

31 October 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

At last we have come to the end of another month and we are at least one month nearer to the time when we can be together again. There wasn’t any mail today and naturally I didn’t expect any after the feast we have had on mail the last 3 or 4 days. A couple of times during the day I read some of your last letters over to refuel me. Your letters do refuel me but they cannot compare with the wonderful refueling you always provided when we were together. It will be so good to pray, talk and plan together again. No matter how hard I try, there are always things which you cannot talk over in the letter very satisfactorily. Always one of the greatest joys of loving and being yours was the joy of talking over things nearest our hearts.

  This has been another nightmare of a day. I lost track of how many times I was interrupted sometime before 10 o’clock, and since then gave up in despair. I prepared that headache of a  report for the month of October and will have it ready to start through channels early in the morning. You may be interested to know that our Bible class averaged a little over 15 for October. And the services for both morning and evening on Sunday averaged 91. The morning service is always much larger. So that isn’t too bad with our men scattered as they are. This coming month will probably be worse than ever with all the proposed changes coming up. Things are in such a constant change that you cannot possibly plan ahead with any of your work.

  For a while this afternoon I studied and then took care of a couple of court-martial cases, and then a couple more problem cases came up so the afternoon was gone before I could realize it. After having something to eat, I came over to the office and studied a few moments prior to time for our midweek service. I used as my scripture: Acts 20:28-35. The title of my sermon was, “Out of Control.”  I’ll tell you about it sometime, Beloved. For some reason or other I’m so tired and weary tonight and I can hardly keep going but I want to write you some kind of a letter. Please forgive me for my poor letters when they come through, sometimes I’m pretty tired when I write them. Remember, don’t say cut them short, for after all I don’t want to be deprived of loving you and writing to you is the only way I can express my love to you in this time of our separation.

 Immediately following the services this evening, I came over here and was interrupted for a long time. But I wanted to write a letter to the Hollys thanking them for their present. It wasn’t such a good letter but I wanted them to know that I received their gift and appreciated their love and thoughtfulness.

The Muellers (John and Sherry) from East Moline.

Now to make a few comments on some of your letters. It was nice that you got to see John and Sherry while they were in Chicago on their way to West Coast. I do hope they get to meet the Hollys when they are out there. It is rather difficult to find out for sure if Alrik is here in Korea yet. If he is, I’m afraid it is clear down at Fusan, which is over two hundred and some miles south of here. With 12 points for their baby he will have more points than I have, even though I have been overseas longer and have had much more combat with frontline troops. In fact, Alrik had no combat experience with frontline troops. I think he may have a chance to leave before I do because they are breaking up a lot of the hospital units, I don’t know whether his will be but there is a possibility and it will mean he may have an opportunity to go home pretty soon.

Darling, you’ve been having a time with your boy’s class. But I’m quite sure you are giving them something very much worthwhile. You would probably be surprised to know just how much they are learning. Darling, you know you can always be assured of my prayer in your behalf as you work for the Lord. It will be so good when we can work together again and pray together again.

  Doesn’t Bob and Margie ever go to church? If they have, you have never mentioned it in any of your letters so far. I’m sorry they are neglecting such things as they start out on their married life together. Perhaps you’ve just failed to mention it in your letters. However, I have a feeling they have been neglecting spiritual things a bit, and I am going to pray that they don’t put off too long going to some kind of services at least once or twice a week.

  Sweetheart, your little Willie will just have to say good night for this night. God bless you in all things, and remember, I love you more than ever.

With all of my love in Christ’s

 Abiding love,

 Willie

 Colossians 3:3

October 30, 1945

Keijo (Seoul), Korea

30 October 1945

Sarah, My Darling:

Again this evening I was pleasantly surprised with the arrival of more mail. There were your letters of October 18th and 21st. And also a letter from Jean Claggett in 3 from ones who lost loved ones in the Okinawa campaign. The letters were so very very good and I was happy to have them. They help so very much but I’m so lonesome and anxious to be with you again. As things are now, I have all of your letters to the present time with the exception of yours for August 22nd and October 20th. After looking back over that sentence, I see that I didn’t make it very clear. I mean I have all of your letters now up through the 21st of October.

Seoul, Korea. 1945.

  This has been a long tiresome day. Early this morning I received a call from our Division Chaplain to go with him to attend a very important meeting at Corps Headquarters. It lasted until 3 this afternoon. Darling, I cannot go into detail now but it took a long time discussing some of the religious problems here in Korea. The Federal Council of Churches are supposed to have two or three representatives here sometime in the near future, and I was one of the chaplains picked by the Corp to give a report of some of my observations with the soldiers and also the state of religious life here in the Korea. And then they also tried to encourage me to change my NO to YES and be promoted to a Major and become Division Chaplain or go up to Corps as an Assistant Corps Chaplain. I told our Corp Chaplain that I appreciated all his kind remarks and being thought of it, but definitely I felt led to say NO and not continue my Army career any longer than the Lord lead under my present status as a chaplain in Army. Don’t worry my Darling, I’m not changing my mind. Even if you could be with me after having signed up for further service, I do not think it would be the best. And that even feeling deep in my heart that nothing on this side of heaven can or will be better than being with you again in the work which we enjoy the most. I only hope that I’ll be able to start back to you sometime in February or March.

  According to your last letter, Margie has certainly been very sick with that miserable cold. I do hope that she is better by now. I hope having the doctor helped and that she will soon be well. Immediately following supper I came over here to the chaplain’s office and studied until the time for Bible class. There were 15 in attendance at our class this evening and we certainly had a very fine discussion. We got down through the 33rd verse of the 8th chapter. These classes have certainly been very helpful to me. I wish you could be in them Dear, for I feel sure that you could contribute some very fine food for thought in our discussions.

  I wanted to get this started immediately following Bible class but three different men came in to see me that took a long time. You can never know when someone will be in to see you. In fact, your time is not your own, many times it seems to belong to someone else. Don’t misunderstand me because I do like to be busy for it helps the time slip by that much faster and I can be with you then. I always want to be available and helpful for the men whenever they need or want to see me for any reason whatsoever.

  Dear, don’t you ever worry about me having trouble finding it hard to get used to civilian life. I get rather disgusted with some of the articles I’ve read about how one soldier ought to be treated when he returns. I say it humbly, I’ve never found it too hard to get along in any different situation or circumstance I’ve ever been in and I take no credit for it, but all that I am or ever hope to be I owe to Christ and to you, my darling wife. I’m not at all worried about the transition from Army to civilian life.

  Margie being so sick is probably a great strain on poor Mom. I hope everything is alright by the time this letter reaches you. When I come back I will do my best to get things going so we won’t make it hard on the folks. I certainly don’t want to be a burden or worry to them. I do hope I shall never give to dear Mom or the Chief cause to wonder or worry about us. You can be assured that I’ll do my best to make it easy for them when I return. You can always be assured that I’ll pray for Bob and Margie. I thought Bob would be probably much more settled after having been in the Army this long. Now that he has a regular job it will probably help him settle down.

  Darling, it is very late and I’m so tired even though I didn’t work hard or do much today. God bless you and be sure to give the folks my love.

 I’m always just yours in Christ’s

 love for we are one in Him,

 Willis

 Colossians 3:3

 P.S. Enclosed find the last letter from Mil.