SEPTEMBER 21, 1943
SOMEWHERE IN THE SOUTHWEST PACIFIC —Some of the islands I am seeing now are those where watch must be kept, but where there is little chance of attack. Under those circumstances it is hard to feel you are making a vital contribution to the war and it makes all your personal sacrifices harder to bear. I breakfasted this morning in one of the men's messes. One boy told me his wife was expecting a baby in November and you could see the longing in his eyes. Another one said, "I was just going to get married, and I write my girl I want her dressed in frills and chiffon when I get home."
After supper we went to the movies. The screen is set up outside, logs are the seats, and there is usually a pause while films are changed, when all the men get up and stretch and have a cigarette. Two movies were shown and I was introduced and said a few words, so it was 11:00 o'clock before I got back to my quarters and bed. Breakfast was at 7:45 and afterwards we started on our rounds.
The hospital came first, and they are well equipped for emergency as well as the routine work. They do much dental work, and it is needed. In the wards I found boys who had been out in this part of the world well over two years. I am glad we are now trying to rotate them more often. I hope they will be given a chance to go home for the climate is trying, even though in some places it is not unhealthy.
In addition, it is bad to be away too long when it can be avoided. Private Pete Mauer of Everett, Wash. who drove me part of the time, was just about to go on leave. His mother had died since he had been gone, and a short time ago his sister died, leaving his brother-in-law with three small children. He had sent the kids $75 and he could hardly wait to get home and see them.
The Red Cross hospital day room is well stocked with books and magazines. Mr. Cunningham, who comes from Texas, seems to be popular and to do a good job. He has stimulated interest in deep sea fishing, shell carving, and in mother of pearl work. The boys have learned some of the natives' skill in these arts, and they seem to get on well with the few natives on the island.
I visited various headquarters in the course of the morning, driven in a jeep by Corporal Gerry Coates, of Washington, D.C. With us went Corporal Charles Goodman, of Brooklyn, N.Y. who edits the camp paper and it is one of the best I've seen. We returned just in time for me to lunch with Colonel R. H. Ristine, the task force commander. After lunch he took us on a long and beautiful drive which showed us most of the island.
It finally brought us to the rest camp which he established, so men who have been out more than three months can go there on a day's outing or stay a few days to get away from the daily routine. On the way we stopped at various outposts where boys are stationed on watch. They seemed lonely little camps and in one place they were struggling with their outdoor fire and the quite evidently new and difficult task of making gravy for their pork chops. I'm certain now every boy should learn to cook and live out in the open.
We were back at our quarters before six and had supper with Lt. Col. Douglas M. Cairns, A.C. and then went to another outdoor theatre, where the natives presented me with shell and mother of pearl gifts. Later, they went up on the stage and played, sang and danced for us. I was introduced again and we saw a good movie. The movie industry is certainly doing well in supplying the troops with films. I did a little typing after I returned to quarters, then packed, chased away some disagreeable and very large red bugs that came up through the floor boards, and went to bed. Breakfast was at 6:45, I signed a few more "short snorters" and we were on the plane and off before 8:00 a.m.