70 years ago – Rescue 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.

Aug. 6th

My Precious wife –

Soon after my last letter, I received an order to the effect that there were a number of natives stranded in the Mt. Tenjo area. I took a marine patrol and two natives for a look see. Result, killed 4 Japs, rescued 40 natives, found a large cache of Jap stores. The Japs threw hand grenades but nobody hurt. Just my feet. Oh, me! Mt. Tenjo had been a Jap stronghold. We got one Jap flag, but one of the marines got it first and I told him to keep it. I ran across this among a marine’s effects. “Where He may guide me, No want shall turn me back; my Shepard is beside me, and nothing can I lack.” Sounds like C.S. to me. It was typed along with other things being sent to his home. He is here with us, sleeping on a hillside overlooking the Sea. Too many are there. The Japs are fiends. They went out of their way to torture people. I told “Shinny” that he would get a fair trail, something that his people didn’t give the Chamorros. For trivial offenses natives were made to dig a grave kneel beside it to have their heads chopped off.

Today 4 letters came from you up to July 27th. Yes, darling, I am alright and I’m not afraid. My fear of being shot here has not been nearly so great as being up in the Sespe at the opening of the deer season. I am very much tanned, my lips are badly cracked, my feet are terrible. I nurse them as much as possible. Last night I had a fire built, heated water in a Jap pot, filled two helmets and put a foot in each. What a life!! Am I going to love sitting by that fireplace? I am I can tell my grand children, and I’ll love you, my lovely wife, whose tender, comprehending, and considerate love never relapses, varies, or fails to act. I am going to enjoy life in peace and quiet but unselfishly. I want to do things to make life better for others.

Sometimes my letters may seem disconnected, It is because I’m interrupted so many times. I think of something nice to say to you and then here comes somebody and it slips my mind and I have to think of something else. It isn’t hard to think of nice things to say but getting words in their proper order, to convey a particular thought requires concentration and when the words come they must be put down lest they drift away.

I look at your picture with “Mickey” [Ham’s daughter] I thought of part of an old song the [negroes] used to sing in Arkansas. Here it is. “De stars like de ladies eyes – all around the world dey flies – to give a little light when de moon don’t rise”. Yours are the “Eyes that shine at night looking into mine when the moon is bright”. All of the natives who know you comment on how young you look. So say I. The nights are getting quieter although there is considerable intermittent shooting. Just an occasional zoom where we are. We have a fine breeze where I am but what rain. I sleep with a poncho over me. Today I tried a can of Jap beef stew, very good.

Extra!! Mrs. Notley just got in. She cried and cried, threw her arms around me telling me that I was a Saviour. Tonight I will have them for chow in my tent. Her daughter Patsy is in S.F. [San Francisco] I want you to see her – address 456 Post St. S.F. c/o Mrs. Gertrude Nicholson. Tell her that her Mother is well and I am taking care of her. She can give you a letter to her Mother for you to enclose with yours. More tomorrow, my angel. Your daddy loves you

– Your devoted Daddy

How about starting a “Bundles for Guam: I need clothes of all kinds.

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