70 years ago – Reunions and Danger on Guam

When J.B. wrote these missives, he was 59 years old and part of the U.S. Marine invasion force to retake Guam and determine friend from foe. These are his exact words although I have corrected some spellings and any additions/clarifications I have added will be italicized.

5 Aug.

My sweetheart. Found Rosa, lying on the ground, a mere shadow – picked her up in my arms, carried her in the lines, got a stretcher and had her taken to field hospital. I rubbed her ankles, massaged her shoulders, said “Rosa, remember how you used to do this for Mrs. Cooke.” Her face lit up, said she as she clasped her hands, “Oh Oh, Mrs. Cooooke”. I’ll try and see her each day. June and Maria were with Rosa. Illena is dead. Found Mrs. Buttler and Mrs. Elliot barefooted and in rags. Found B.J. Bordall’s wife ditto. Have all of them in camp with me. In fact, I have 7500 with me. Some kissed me. A lot of them cried and laughed. All of the movie people got me and all of the correspondents interviewed me. Had my picture taken with Gen. Holland Smith and Gen. Geiger, Admiral Hoover and Gen. Larson. Am still attached to Assault forces. Expect to report back to Gen. Larson soon.

The other day wrote that I had gotten as far as the cemetery. Found out later that I was ahead of our lines. I heard shells whizzing over my head, but none came very close – Dead Japs are everywhere. The odor isn’t like geraniums. The picture enclosed is a still they took when making the newsreel. The boys are the 1st Chamoi to come through the lines.

I think I told you the nearest I came to being hit, was one that hit a tree right at my foxhole. Well I don’t know whether one came closer or not but I had a patrol in the hills and snipers were shooting at us. I saw one in a bush not 25 yards away. I fired and when I did two appeared. One an officer. As soon as I fired, a marine started firing with an automatic rifle, both fell. I claimed one of them. Anyhow I have his sword, briefcase and pistol. We buried them where they fell. They are just sneaks, They try to slip up on you and if they can’t they don’t know what to do. A lot of our men are lost by unnecessary exposures.

One morning we were bothered by considerable shell fire. Out of curiosity I took my glasses and tried to see where it was coming from. I spotted the gun, looked like at least a twenty inch (found out later it was 5 inch). Then I saw it fire and the shell whistled away up but dropped and exploded about 150 yards away. It came form a cave on the west side of Orote. Savvy’s old ship spotted it and opened fire. Later McCarthy and I went up and that is where we spotted the sixty dead Japs. Savvy’s boat did wonderful work from the 1st day. How fine she looked and how proud I was. I am so proud of our men. I tell you honey I don’t believe anybody in our forces are afraid. Death is so common nobody takes time out to recognize it. They say our boys never die.

More tomorrow, you lovely lady. I love you all the time.

Your devoted Daddy.

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