In early November, 1943, Red Toon was still at Little Creek VA learning how to (man)handle the Navy’s landing craft before heading out to the Pacific. Sometimes he had time to write long windy letters home, and sometimes he wrote just a short note. This one was a short note, but he sent big news.
Novmber 3, 1943
Have been pretty busy this week too. Got your letter saying you made it. I’m awfully sorry I couldn’t be home when you took Janice in. Maybe it’s just another grandchild, but I bet they loved her. I had sorta dreamed about carrying her in myself to show her off to my folks. Sentimental I guess but I’m awfully proud of my family, my wife & my daughter.
I got a watch for Jack but don’t know whether he’ll like it or not. Its shock proof anti-magnetic & waterproof. Its also automatic, that is need never be wound. I don’t know what Jack will think of that. It doesn’t have a sweep second hand but I couldn’t find anything else. Notice when you get it if it’s still on correct time, I’ll set it before sending.
Now for some good news. I got a promotion of sorts. I’m now Assistant Boat Group Commander in charge of Engineering. Engineering of all things! Mr. Terry and I were the two picked from our group. I knew he would be one of the two but my getting it came as a very distinctive surprise. Its a break in a way, it means a spot promotion to Lt. j.g. when we pull out so I’m very much pleased. It also carries a lot of added responsibilities & in Engineering at least will certainly contain some headaches.
I started this letter after Taps last night & got chased to bed so am finishing this morning. Nearly time for muster. Will send M. O. for $50 probably some time today.
I’m glad you got a suit. I wish I could see you in it. I wish I could see you. I love you.
For many servicemen, especially those youngsters away from home for the first time, missing special family occasions made for hard duty. Red had already missed the birth of his first child, Janice; now he had missed her first visit to his parents’ home in Cisco, Illinois. A year or so later, somewhere far out in the Pacific, Red’s cabin mate, Joe McDevitt, would learn of the birth of his first child too. Shared experiences like that brought men close together.
So Mr. Toon and Mr. Terry became Joe McDevitt’s first Assistant Boat Group Commanders. But we’ve heard about Mr. Terry in earlier letters. He began his career with the boat group but was such an accomplished navigator that he would be transferred to their ship’s navigation team. So from November of 1943 Joe McDevitt and Red Toon worked together as a team. The Boat Group Commander led the first wave of boats to the beaches; the Assistant led the second wave. Between them, the mission was always the same: Boots on the beaches…any beach, anytime.
We searched Red Toon’s album and found one picture of Mr. Terry. He is pictured below with two other officers. They are from left to right:
Lt. (jg) Jesse Schwartz (bottom), Boat Officer & Watch Officer, Baltimore MD
Ensign Charles R. Reeve, Boat Officer & Boat Gun Officer, Winton Merced Co., Calif
Lt. (jg) Orville W. Terry (right), Asst Boat Grp. Comdr. & Boat Communications Officer