7 January 1944

Have a command rest today. We were out on a night problem again last night. Never got so cold that I can remember. Lying on the damp ground in defensive positions for several hours, waiting for the "enemy" attack. There was a lot of fireworks for awhile-we were firing blanks at each other, + the gun flashes can be seen for several hundred yards at night. But did i shiver. Fired the light machine-gun this past week. Did better than average on it, but probably none too good either, as we had badly-worn guns. Starting the first part of February we will be out in the field all the time. For 21 days. Hells Bottom, Camp Wolters In what are known as Baker's Hollow, Dry Valley, + Hell's Bottom. Sleep on the ground, eat out of mess-kits or c ration cans; it'll be field conditions + the most intensive kind of training. I sort of dread it, but men who have been through it tell me the time passes fast. That'll be the wind-up of the 17 weeks B, trng. That's when most of the men will get their 7-day furloughs. Some time probably the first of March. I'm so desperately wanting to go home, I often times think of nothing else. This homesickness seems to have a cumulative effect: each day you want to go home just that much more. Funny that a couple of months should seem so long. In another way the time has passed very quickly. I can't exercise much influence on a furlough. You're lucky to get one in this man's Army, + you have to take it when you can get it. If I get one the last of February or first of March, it means I'll be going from this camp to a port of embarkation or to a division somewhere in the U.S. The latter possibility is not so good as there are no new divisions being formed, + replacements for home divisions are not needed much. If I stay, it'll be for I don't know what-maybe to get training in the Clerk's School (but so far no word of it and they're pretty well filled up there too) or for one or another possibilities. The fact is nearly all the "good" jobs in the Army are filled. I imagine I would have done a helluva lotbetter in the Navy-in a promotional aspect. But few people would understand that. But, for goodness sakes, don't be worried about me. I'm not myself; and I firmly believe everything will work out all right in the end. I know my letters are not so cheerful. It's virtually impossible for me to be really happy + I can't write anything but what I feel. But this won't last forever, + I have confidence in myself as far as being a soldier is concerned. Then there are many odds that I won't get as far as the fighting front. There are a lot of things wrong in this world now-specifically in American civilian life + in the Army itself. A lot of corners cut. Many of the less dangerous positions being held by blankety-blank no-goods, etc. Then the strikes. Some of those $20 a day men ought to have had to lie out on that cold ground and freeze their xxxxxx! asses like I did last night for $50 a month. Don't take this as an all-inclusive indictment of anything. There are plenty of good men in the Army for that matter who are willing to face literal hell if need be for their country. When I get out of this I will consider that I've had a deeper education than I'd hardly thought possible. But all-in-all I'm not worried nor bitter over anything. I just want to come home. The days pass in dreary, wearisome succession. Think I'll go to a show tonight. Maybe I can get a pass to Ft. Worth the week-end after this one. The war news is continuing good.Things seem to be stepping up to a faster tempo. When I get to see you I can talk over many of these things in greater detail and believe I could better set your mind at ease. Enjoyed your descriptions of our daughter, the fair Elaine. Glad we've got that much money. Tell me the new figure as soon as you can. Wrote Dad a letter the other day. Fairly long letter. Will write Gus soon. Send me some clean rags (cotton) if you can. I need them desperately sometimes for cleaning my rifle, etc. Don't send any food, at least not now. I've still got some left over from Christmas. Could use more handkerchiefs. Got the cards you sent the same time as the air-mail letter. Air-mail must not be so good to this point. Love, Melvin