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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c h a p t e r t w o ........................................................... i meet my queen Letter to Mom while at sea, January 28, 1940 Gosh, I’ve been busy. I was Officer of the Day the first day out, as you know, and they also made me commanding officer of the 1st Company of soldiers down below. I’ve 91 men, and for the first two days, they were all too seasick to move. By now, half of them are able to laugh at the other half, so things aren’t so bad. My steward says this has been the roughest crossing he’s ever seen, and it really has been rough. Ever since we left Frisco, the boat has been pitching and banging around like a feather in the wind. I haven’t even had a tinge of seasickness. I’m sure lucky because over half of the first class passengers have been in bed ever since we left. The food aboard is sure swell. I haven’t missed a meal. I spend most of my time just watching the water. It is beautiful. There is a nice young Ensign in the Naval Air Service going over to duty at Pearl Harbor and two swell Army nurses aboard, and we’ve been playing quite a bit of bridge and some shuffleboard when it isn’t too rough. They have a movie every night, and the men put on boxing and wrestling matches every evening down on the after well deck where we watched them load baggage. It sure is funny to watch them because the boat bangs around so much they can hardly stand on their feet anyway, let alone when they get hit. After the entertainment is all over and everyone has gone to bed, the nurse I met and I set out on the stern balcony on the boat deck and watch the moon and the water until the moon goes out of sight. It’s really beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m even glad it’s so rough because those of us who aren’t sick are so much better friends than we would be if it was all smooth sailing. I actually like this weather. I got a radiogram yesterday with my orders in it. I am going to Hickam Field, so I guess I’ll fly bombers whether I like it or not. Oh, well! I’ll get used to it if I have to. Anyway, Hickam is a much nicer post, and it’s only two miles outside of Honolulu, so it won’t be too bad. PAGE 11 ................. 17575$ $CH2 10-14-09 12:23:32 PS I stepped off the Army transport in January 1940, onto the dock at Honolulu Harbor and into a new world. It had been a rough crossing. The ship was loaded with troops, most of them Air Corps troops on their way to the Philippines. The war in Spain had been boiling for several years; Hitler was biting off pieces of his neighbor’s property and bunching his muscles for even bigger things. And Japan, having declared its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, was beating up its neighbors in places like Nanking and Manchuria. It was an angry and dangerous world, and America was pretending that it wasn’t happening. The United States had declared its noncombatant status and hoped it would all go away. Finally, long-overdue action was being taken to strengthen places like the Philippines. Dropping a few of us off at Hawaii was incidental, but it got me to Hawaii in the midst of a rumbling and dangerous world. But to a 25-year-old bachelor, second lieutenant, arriving in the fabled and beautiful Hawaiian Islands, the rumbling over the horizon was hardly noticed. I was glad to get off the boat. My new squadron commander was there to meet me as I stepped off the gangplank. So was my friend Ercell Hart. When I was a teenager growing up in Santa Monica, California, I belonged to Sea Scout Ship 16. There were about 20 of us. We were all Eagle Scouts; we did things together and were very close. We sailed together; we were patrol leaders at Emerald Bay, the Scout Camp on Catalina Island, in the summers; and we all went to high school together. We were a group of Depression kids with a special feeling for each other. One of the members...


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