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Talking It Over -- Praying for a safe return

Last year at Christmas, each member of my family received a special gift. When we were sorting through our parents' stuff before their auction, we ran across a box of letters my dad had sent to mom when he was in the service. My sister took the letters and gave us each a book that included a typed copy of each letter. It is a priceless gift.

As I started reading the book, I couldn't help but think that a lot of it would be worth sharing with my readers. I did this last year in the Hancock paper and had so many wonderful comments that I decided to run them this winter in the Morris paper. If any of you happen to read both, you may want to re-read the columns because I plan to change them up just a bit and maybe add a few more items.

For a little background, I will explain that my parents were married in April of 1942 and dad was inducted to serve in World War II in late May. His letters begin shortly after he arrived at Fort Sill, Okla. I will select a few to share of the letters or excerpts from them through his over two years of service. The striking differences between the men who served in those days compared to these days is very evident but yet there are a lot of similarities.

June 2, 1942

Dear Sweetheart,

All I did is write cards so far so I figured I better write a letter once. I'll tell you what I did so far. Monday, May 25 We got in Pipestone about 11:30 and ate dinner there. I didn't see anybody I knew. We got to Ft. Crook about 6:30. Awful tired and homesick already. Supper not so good. Tuesday, May 26 - I was examined today. Had to get up at 4 o'clock. I came out okay. Kind of a crooked business, I thought. About 20 out of 40 Nebraska boys rejected. I met up with Fred Nieuwboer. I was sure surprised. He was rejected for high blood pressure. We were sworn into the army about 8:30 o'clock and left for the train. We had to sleep on the train. When we woke up we were in Fort Crook. We had to take some tests to see what we were best suited for. I got a pretty good grade.

Wednesday, May 27 - We had to answer some more questions and I was passed as blacksmith and mechanic. They asked me what I would like to be in and I told them Coast Artillery. Took out insurance, $5000 dollars worth so if I get killed, you will have a nice little wad. I don't think I'm worth that much, do you? We got our clothes and had two vaccinations. One hurt to beat the dickens for a day or so. Good care and meals but do I ever miss my wife.

Thursday, May 28 - We all got a job today. I had to help new guys get dressed and fit clothes. About all I did. Friday, May 29 - I didn't do much all day. A little odds and ends.

Saturday, May 30, Decoration Day - We got a few lectures in the morning. How to act and how to behave. In the afternoon, we packed our clothes and at five o'clock left Ft. Leavenworth. Thinking all day how much fun you were having at home. I was in misery all day wishing I could be with you. We left on the train at about 6:30. We had coaches this time. Sleepers from Ft. Crook. We couldn't lay down so we had to sit up all night. We ate sack lunches for breakfast. Terrible.

Sunday, May 31 - We got to Fort Sill, Oklahoma about 10:30 this morning. We were taken to the Field Artillery headquarters and moved into tents. We had to take some more tests today and they put me in the signal corps. Kind of a dangerous job, I think. They told me you go ahead of everything. It's telephone and telegraph work. You don't get much gun training. Mostly classroom work. In the army, Sunday is just like any other day.

Monday, June 1 - We moved to our barracks today and here I sit writing. (If you send letters you better write Jacob because that is how I am on record here.) I like the work part of it alright. So far all it has been is hurry - stand and wait. This place is terrible hot. They call it Hell on earth. We are in the southwestern part of Oklahoma, 30 miles from the Texas border. the nearest town is Lawson.

Your Old Man

P.S. I think they're feeding us saltpeter in our meals. You know what that's for. Ha, Ha.