17 February 1944

Expect you are rather impatient by now for a letter from me. It's been some time now since I've had time to write. We're back from the field now. The last one, Hell's Bottom lived up to its name in all particulars except one - it was cold and wet. That one was a series of problems with the purpose of battle conditioning. You'd be amazed to see what lengths they go to to train + prepare us. Jumping into a foxhole at Camp Wolters training Just one example - the infiltration course - when you get down + crawl on your belly for 80 yards, rolling over on your back to work your way through double-apron barbed wire fences (4 of them in all), with the lowest stands on the ground + with dynamite charges blowing up all around you - And machines guns firing over you continuously, the projectiles just over your head. You had to keep low or get shot. In pushing aside the barbed wire you dare not raise your elbows off the ground. (One fellow had two fingers shot off by two successive machine gun bullets.) I came through all the various problems in pretty good shape. To enumerate a few of them at Hell's Bottom: grenade course, bayonet course, village fighting, tactics of the squad, booby traps, close combat firing, final protective line in action, + the platoon in the attack. Most of these problems we used live ammunition. The last-named problem I fired 48 rounds with my rifle myself. There were machine-guns firing from our flanks + overhead. It was quite a show. Everything was pretty rough, with lots of running, crawling, + hitting the ground. What griped me was the constant rush + haste. No time to yourself at all. Meals before daybreak + after dark more work. We slept in a downpour of rain one night, with our blankets getting very damp + wet. It was fairly cold most of the time out there. Not even time to wash our hands before meals. After sleeping on the ground so much it's surely a pleasure to sleep in warm, dry beds again. And the constant walking we do here. Miles + miles every day. Out to these various areas, + to different sectors of an area after we get to one. Today we had the long- dreaded 16 mile speed hike. It had been condemned + removed from our training schedule as being too strenuous; but it was suddenly reinstated for some peculiar reason. We walked (ran, I should say, about a 1/3 of the way), much of the time through ankle-deep mud left by last night's rain, the 16 miles in exactly 3 hrs + 50 minutes carrying 60 to 70 lbs. of equipment too. Barbed Wire Entanglement Training at Camp Wolters, TX Think about it a while. Yesterday we set up positions for a final defensive line, + watched machine guns, anti tank guns, mortars, + artillery firing over our heads at the assumed enemy to our front. The artillery + mortar shells exploded at a distance as close as 200 yards to the front. That brings us up to date more ore less on the events of the past week or two. I could write indefinitely regarding these things, but enough's enough. I was very glad to get your letters. The valentine was surely nice. I thought of getting a valentine for you, but had no chance to do so. I can easily believe our baby is a darling. I can hardly wait to see her. Bet she's lovable just like a little puppy dog. What about getting off a week when I come home? Can you manage it? Maybe get a substitute teacher. I'm worried about Dad. Evidently it's T.B. of the kidneys. I don't just know how serious that is, but it sounds bad. It may be I should see him when I'm home. Will enclose a letter from Allie. Also a letter from O.K. By the way, when I get home I intend to do some plain + fancy eating. Items highest on the list of things wanted are pancakes with syrup + butter (I dream of pancakes), fried eggs + bacon, brown bread toast, + real coffee with real cream. Tell Tony + Clella thanks a lot for taking care of you + the baby. Also, you might ask Tony to buy me a couple pints of rum, or something - since you can't get whiskey. I'll pay him for it of course. Maybe 1 pint would do. Sorry, but I lost both of those letters. O.K. said that he + Loty sure would like to have us down again for one of those good old gabs. Of course Loty has lots of small talk on her mind, _ Orv. + I could drink coffee + talk too. He said that Delbart called in a State worker again to help catch up the case load again. He's up to Sept. '43 + Art's up to Dec. '43 (so Art says). That's twice now he's had to have help. Surely can't blame the second one on me, can they? Allie said Dad was pretty blue. It's T.B. of the kidneys, (the rest of the letter missing)