Letters

7 August 1943

Dearest Dorothy,
You can write to me now! Things go on in a big way around here and things happen fast sometimes. I'm now a corporal! What do you think of that? Of course, I can't get a corporal's pay until I've finished a minimum period of 4 months (I think). But I get to wear the stripes, have some authority, get certain priveleges (such as week-end passes, I think) eat at mess-hall #2 which is for non-coms only. (And do they eat beautifully there). Everything's so damned confusing and new. I feel awfully green much of the time. It's a mess it seems to me, in looking at some of the things I'll have to learn. But everyone is that way at first, they tell me. I'm now stationed at an adjunct to the Reception Center. It's called the Special Training Unit, and I will be here as an instructor, handling reading, writing, and orientation courses. At the same time I will be given the regular course of basic training, only in shortened form perhaps. The reason why no one could write me before was that my position at Fort Leavenworth was temporary. We're "received", "processed", shifted from one group of barracks or company to another. The second and usually last place of shelter is the "shipping" barracks. After from one to three or more days here you're put on shipping orders and may be shipped out at any time; so when on shipping orders you're pretty closely confined to the barracks and if you are let out for a few hours at night you can't leave camp. In fact today was the first day I could leave camp and I went down to the town of Leavenworth for a few minutes. Boy, the immensity and complexity of the workings of the army amazes me. A continual stream of men coming in here and buses and trains-full of men leaving much of the time. These outgoing men go in groups to their designated camps for training. I better not say too much here on this topic as troop movements is information valuable to the enemy and we are under restriction on what we say or write, you know. Boy, is it hot down here. Today's the worst yet though. I never saw any place so terribly hot before. I'm just flowing sweat right now. There's so darned much to write about, I hardly know what to put down. I don't like army life, but I can stand it I guess. We are not alone. Many of the officers are quite nice. Yet there's an iron discipline, personal discomfort of many kinds, loneliness, hard onerous work, etc. But so far so good. I had that K.P. yesterday: it was a killer; but even then the hours of our group were only 14 (mess hall #2) instead of the 17 or 18 on mess hall #3. Had 1 typhoid and 1 tetanus shot - both at once - one in each arm, a doctor on each side and both jabbing needles. Need 2 more of each. Well, write now, I need something for my morale. I've got a tough course ahead of me. Address it:

Cpl. Melvin W. Johnson
#37,483,507
Special Training Unit
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

I almost got into a translator - interpretor classification, but the need was much greater for teachers and you're practically told what to do, at least in most respects. My letter is quite jumbled, but I'm hot and tired. Gee, I miss you. Wish I could get home for a week-end, even though I've only been here since the morning of the 3rd. Not enclosed duplicates on life insurance ($10,000) and S.D. allotment. The allotment won't come right away. I believe it's effective from the first of the month following induction. Speaking of food, we had T-Bone steaks for dinner, and stewed meat for supper. (At the non-com's mess). In general, you can say we have meat twice; more likely 3 times a day. And what meals. There're really good. And big. And I really eat too. Yesterday noon we had roast beef (I was on K.P. that day), meat balls for supper, and hamburger gravy on toast for breakfast. I won't have detail now, I don't believe. I hardly know anything here for certain it seems. How's everything? How's that darling baby? Gee I miss you two. You might send me a 5-spot if you will. I honestly have been spending little money foolishly. There's a lot of things I have to buy. A lot of little things I mean. Well, this is long enough. How's the operation coming. Write! Love, MWJ.