Letters

2 January 1944

Dear Dad,
Expect I owe you a letter. You probably can't understand why I didn't write sooner, but if you were in my shoes you could better understand then. This is, there's so little of good to write about, and we're under such a constant heavy pressure of work and have so little free time to ourselves. Put it this way: You have maybe a few hours of spare time on Sunday - but you're perhaps rather unhappy and discouraged and put off writing that letter until later. And so it goes. What with homesickness and loneliness, it's a task in itself to write my wife one letter a week that doesn't reflect too much sorrow. Don't get the impression it's too bad; we get used to it to a considerable extent. We just don't think about it too much - sort of assume an attitude of "don't-give-a-damn". Also we realize how much worse it is overseas where the fighting is being carried on. Will say this as a summary of my present position: I'm now in the Infantry at Camp Wolters (one of the toughest, roughest camps in the country in the roughest branch of the service). I have finished 2 months of basic training here and have 8 weeks more to go. Then my destination is unknown but it will probably be abroad. So, at least, we are constantly reminded here at camp by officers and non-coms. The future is very unpredictable; it's impossible to say except this, that battalions of men are shipped out of this camp every short while for overseas. Haven't told Dorothy everything; only a few rather general ideas. That's the hardest part of it. However, the training here is splendid. They give you everything from jiu-jitsu to simulated battle conditions. We fire the following weapons: The Garand Rifle, the Browning Automatic Rifle, the Carbine, the light machine gun, the 60 mm mortar. Learn to take the weapon apart and put it together again. Also have work with the hand grenade, the rifle grenade, and the bayonet. We hike by the hour with full equipment, go on night patrols and infiltration tactics, run obstacle courses, assault courses, take calisthenics, practice hand-to-hand combat. Also the fancier military matters like drill, inspection, retreat ceremonies, guard duty, etc. I practically qualified as a sharpshooter with the rifle. Made 164 points, and 165 would have given me sharpshooter rating. Easily passed the score required for a marksman; which is, I think, about 120 or 130 points. In any respect, the training here is wonderful. You probably would notice some changes in me now. When this war is over, I'll bring the wife and baby to visit you. We have a most adorable, remarkable child. Healthy and strong, always looking for something to get into or mess up, and hardly ever is unhappy about anything except maybe a late meal once in a while. Perhaps I should be more optimistic. The war can't last forever, and good tidings regarding it are not impossible, you know, at anytime. Be seeing you. Forgive my delay in writing.
Your son, Melvin