Pt. 11: Last Letter From Ensign Red Toon, Little Creek, Virginia, 1943

The postmark on this envelope is so faded that we cannot determine the date it was mailed. But the letter was written on a Saturday and Sunday, probably some time in October or November of 1943. This is our last letter written by Red before he completed his amphibious training at Little Creek, Virginia. Then on to advanced training at Ft. Pierce FL.

Amphibious Training Base

Little Creek, Virginia


Has seemed like Sunday here for some reason. Had inspections this morning and not too much to do all day except stand-by. Scuttle-butt has it that the big papers tomorrow will carry articles about this force and this base. You might look if you get a chance.

Tomorrow a large force of reporters etc. from magazines such as Life are to be on hand along with newsreel photographers to further advertise amphibious. Our Flotilla is supposed to put on some sort of exhibition for them. We got an Excellent on both our Personnel, officers and men, and barracks on this morning’s inspection so our Flot. Comm. Mr. Miller is in great spirits. Have an engineering class tonight & there’s a show on here at the base that I’d like to see. Maybe it can be worked or worked out.

Listen you dope, you know I don’t care how much you spend for clothes, in fact it pleases me to know that you are giving yourself something for yourself.


What a day! It’s now about 11 P. M. & I’ve really been on the go for a change. Got up at six with a slight cold and a very sore throat. The press it seems was here in force. Life magazine took pictures in color for some sort of big show & we had to march for them, run the obstacle course (enlisted only) & also run a ship to shore.

At noon we were given the glad tidings that we had finally officially taken over our boats & it was the duty of the engineering department to see that they were ready to go to sea in the morning! It also was the duty of the Duty Officer to see that this was done. I’m the Duty Officer!! What a life. I’ve been running all over everywhere ever since. I had finished checking my boats at about eight tonight & left the docks for my watch here at H – 3 when I received the news that the dock watch was to refuel all  the boats. The dock watch is made up of three officers and twelve men. The twelve men had never had a foot in a boat before. Well to cut a long story short we’ve finally managed to scrape up enough fellows to run the “shuttle” from our pier to the refueling pier, about a half-mile away, so we will get it done – maybe. Am I ever P. O.’d though.

I wondered this afternoon how in the world the engineering officers of the other two groups could get their work done so soon & get out of here…& now tonight I find that a good half of our boats won’t run. I’ve been down on the docks most of the night trying to get them going and finally decided to get another boat & tow them over. At least they’ll be fueled. I expect to be up all night but don’t have to go to sea tomorrow with the rest of the outfit so I can catch up then. There are sure a lot of simple details that make this a sort of a pain, but it’s also kinda exciting and therefore fun.

Isn’t it a beautiful night! I was wondering a while ago if maybe you weren’t somewhere looking at the same moon.

Pay day tomorrow.

Got a letter from H. holen (sp?), he expects to be a private in the Army any day now. He may be at that.

Won’t have room in this for Loratta’s letter so I’ll just have to tease you a little and hang on to it—besides it was addressed to me—three typewritten pages too. She says if that baby isn’t red headed I should do some checking on you. How is she now? How much does she weigh & does she laugh much? Did she laugh or yell the other night when we were talking?

Gee Honey it’s swell to hear you & her. I love you both so very very much.

                                                                                                                          All my love,


                                                                                                                     Dad?? (Loretta says)

This is the second letter in which Red complains about fellow officers who aren’t meeting his expectations. He doesn’t cut them much slack, does he? What is it he told Norma in the previous letter…”A fellow told me today that in some of the other groups the Assistants got quite a lot of liberty. I don’t see how they do it unless they just fail to take care of their job which is I’m afraid what happens too often. That always makes me hot. We’ve got too dam many people that can’t yet realize there’s such a thing as one’s duty to his country and fellow man…”

The buck always stops somewhere, and—on that particular day back in 1943—if the dock crew didn’t know how to refuel the boats, then Engineering Assistant, Duty Officer, and former high school science teacher Red Toon would darn well make sure the boats were refueled, even if he had to stay up all night.

Whose boat group would you choose?