I am afraid I haven’t been too good about writing lately but maybe you will find it in your heart to forgive me when you hear my side of the story. Honestly I haven’t had time to write at all & probably won’t have much time for another week. We’ve been going to sea early in the morning and staying all day then attending classes at night. By the time class is over I’d get shot if I turned on a light as everyone sort of falls in bed & dies til reveille.
Being an A. B. G. C. does have some advantages. I won’t have to stand any more watches on the docks. I have three officers in my staff, i.e., Engineering & I don’t know for sure how many men – 36 I hear. Thank God two of my Engineer officers are engineers! I can’t yet figure out how I got the job, I hope the fellows don’t wonder too much too.
I’m glad you got to go to a ball game & I want you to go all you want. Now about the drinking you thought Jack might be making inferences…I’m innocent believe me. I haven’t been “blotto” or whatever you call it since a certain New Year’s night you remember.
We had liberty tonight is the reason I have time to write. I didn’t leave the base, went to a show here—first I’ve seen for quite a while—& am getting ready to go to bed. Guess I’m getting old but I noticed that of the seventeen men in our group that had liberty seven of us stayed in so I’m not the only one who was somewhat pooped out.
Incidentally I’m not as tired as I might have inferred in a previous letter—I had quite a dream about you the other night.
Norma, I’m very glad you feel about this business as your last letter showed, it means a lot to me. I’m proud of the part I’m playing in this war & am willing to make any personal sacrifice necessary to help preserve the kind of life we once knew.
That kind of living I want again & believe that the only way to have it is to fight for it. Fighting for it I realize can be done in many ways but I do feel that the way I’m doing it is the way I’d be of the most use. I never did feel that as a “specialist” I would ever know enough to develop enough skill at some one job to rate being considered indispensable & therefore kept away from the battle areas. I do know that thousands of young men have tried to develop themselves along certain lines merely to have something to hide behind but I don’t feel bitter about those fellows only sorry for them.
Sometimes I will admit the business of strikes etc. sorta gripes me but we can’t all let our feelings get the better of our heads. Pardon me my sermon but I had to “blow it off” to you. Maybe all our troubles will be ironed out some day.
Gee I wish I could see you, I’m kinda lonely tonight. It’s the first time I’ve had time to think in a week. It’s funny about running these boats, they take a lot of concentration especially when we are running at about twenty knots in a column no more than one boat length apart. After an hour or so of that one’s nerves gets a little frazzled. They have no brakes.
Was up about half the night last night getting one repaired. Get all new ones Monday and our crews so my worst days should be over for a while.
All my love,
I didn’t ask a thing about Janice but please keep writing about her. She’s second only to you. Incidentally, I didn’t even know it was November till today.
[We had to do a little research to clarify Red’s A. B. G. C. rating. It stands for Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (gasoline handler), signifying (we guess) completion of special training for handling gasoline or boat fuel.]
This is a mighty important letter. Red bares his soul to Norma here, expressing as best he can his motivation and sense of patriotism. I am reluctant to share such private thoughts between a man and his soul mate, but I believe Red Would approve:
“I’m proud of the part I’m playing in this war & am willing to make any personal sacrifice necessary to help preserve the kind of life we once knew…That kind of living I want again & believe that the only way to have it is to fight for it.”
I knew I’d heard another American hero express a similar sentiment. I needed a while to find it…but I did. It is the last two sentences written by E. B. Sledge in his classic, With The Old Breed:
As the troops used to say, “If the country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for.” With privilege goes responsibility.