12 January 1944

This is one for the records. We finished our long hike about 5:00 o'clock this morning. We started out at 9:00 o'clock last night and covered approximately 28 miles. I never saw anything like it. It was the most painful, trying ordeal imaginable. Our feet were so sore it was painful to stand on them, let alone walk. Every step of the endless, miserable 10 to 15 miles on the way back hurt. That after a full day of work before we took out. We carried full packs + rifles, and took turns carrying a Browning Automatic Rifle (weighing 20 pounds), - one to each squad of 12 men. But I had to carry the thing halfway back, because no one else but another fellow + 2 in our squad would or could carry it coming back. Frank Sinatra, Higher & Higher I was the more unlucky in that yesterday there were a few men from our company assigned to pit detail on one of the firing ranges - and we had to hike 10 to 12 miles out + back from the range. Maybe 38 miles in the past 24 hours. Well, anyway, the last few miles I was walking knock-kneed + bow-legged much of the time in trying to walk on the sides of my feet - they were so sore on the bottom. The men here can talk of nothing else this afternoon after our morning's sleep. We get the rest of today off. Small wonder at that; we earned it. Got 2 letters from you one after the other. The first one made me half-mad, after I got to thinking about it. No doubt you're right that I could have made smarter decisions. But there's nothing I can do about it now. Anyway, somebody has got to do the dirty work in this war; we can't all go to specialists' school + hold down safe comfortable jobs. It may be somewhat unfair, but how was I to know the Navy needed trained specialists + that the Army only needed infantry replacements. But your apologies should be sufficient + I'll forget all about it I hope in a short time. I know you didn't mean to be unkind, but what you said did sort of hurt my tender feelings. Last night the sky was clear + there was a bright moon making it possible to see things almost as clearly as in the daytime. It was moderately cold but not uncomfortable, + there was a keen, fresh northern wind. Texas is an immense, expansive area, that gives an impression of limitless space. It seems to be a bleak, barren, + wild expanse of wasteland. Today it is snowing - flakes as big as feathers. The ground is white. First snow of any consequence I've seen here. Tomorrow we are scheduled to throw live hand grenades - if the weather permits. Regarding my future: no one knows what's going to happen the next day in the Army. Chances are though I won't get to stay here after my cycle is completed. I'll probably get to go abroad - which may not be such a bad thing after all. But let me wait 'till I see you for further discussions on this point. Rooms are extremely scarce here in this area. Quite often unobtainable. If I should stay here (not to be expected though) - we'll see about your coming down here then. I saw a wonderful show the other night, "Higher + Higher" - with Frank Sinatra. It was not an overserious picture, but it was gay + romantic + filled with what struck me as fine music. It was perfect escapism. Believed I recognized some Tschaikowskian(sp) music in it. F. Sinatra isn't a bad egg, maybe, after you get to know him. Also saw - sometime ago - "Guadalcanal Diary". Told you about it. Liked it a lot. I want to see "Gung Ho", a Marine Corps picture. It's bound to be exciting. I may see a kay Kyser picture here tonight. Sounds like it would be a merry thing. Am enclosing a letter from Evelyn + one from Margaret Brosy. I was very happy to read margaret's compliments regarding the baby. It was a very cheering letter all the way. I may be home in 7 weeks to see you + the baby.
With love, Melvin