70 years ago – Conditions 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. 7th

Hello, darling.

Things are getting better all the time. My feet murder me but I’m not as bad off as a lot of others and I’m not complaining. The condition of the natives is deplorable. The Japs confiscated everything they owned. We had to practically destroy Agaña, Agat, Piti, Sumay, Asan, Agaña, all destroyed. The natives had all gone to the hills and very few were killed. The Japs executed quite a number before we came. Mrs. Sawada is still hiding. Shinihara had his restaurant in the Elks’ Club. He sure played the wrong horse. Mrs. Dejima was good to the natives and they are for her 100%. Shimizu was fine. His boys were terrible.

Found J.M. Torres. He looks terrible. Rosa is doing fine. Malnutrition is the only thing wrong. She is happy beyond words. Wants you. Ben Herera is with me. Teddy, our cook, is with me, a skeleton. Your washerwoman threw her arms around me. Wanted all my dirty clothes. Wants to wash for me for nothing. “Tello” Torres from Yigo, my old alligator-pear man, had a chicken he cooked it and brought to me. The first thing I had to eat not canned or dehydrated since landing. My belly has been upset, but I really think it remarkable how my health has held up. You know I am going on to 60.

I have been in the Marianas campaign since June 4th and since the 21st of July have been living on K, C, D, and 10-in-1 rations. Sometimes we only had captured Jap rations, pretty good too. Am living a little better now. Have a cot, but no mattress or pillow. Lots of rain. I get my baths in the rain. Oh for one of those hot baths.

I can’t realize ending my career in the trenches and with the marines. [J.B. had been in the U. S. Navy from at least 1905 until retirement in 1936, but recalled into service in 1941. He retired (again) in May of 1945, having served nearly 35 years total.] In Ham’s interview he said “None of that beach stuff for me”. It is tough. I came over the ship’s side climbing down a cargo net. Go in an L.C. [an amphibious landing craft] then on amphib. We hit the reef, weathered the waves, then hit a big rock sideways. Got a good soaking and just about ruined my pictures. Am enclosing a dollar bill I had with me. Save it. Also enclosed is a menu that comes in the 10-in-1 ration box. Good stuff, but I’ve been eating stuff like that too long. What I need now is some red meat and some loving.

You, my darling, are always in my thoughts. You sustain me and keep me. You are just a wonderful woman and I love you.

Your devoted Daddy

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