MARCH 9, 1944
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday—We left Miami early Monday morning and fortunately had a most beautiful day for the flight to Guantanamo. The sea was blue and green beneath us with little white clouds which cast their shadows in the water. It seemed no time at all before we were flying over the land again and Cuba, with its hills and valleys and rivers, lay below us.
I was interested to see the many little houses which dotted the hills, and I could not help wondering how the people made a living or ever got in to the centers of population. There seemed to be only little trails winding up and down the hills. There might be patches of green around or near the houses. I was told that most of these people have little gardens, chickens perhaps, and grow a little coffee and citrus fruit. It does not seem like a very extravagant existence.
Guantanamo is ringed by hills, and is, of course, a very finished base. The one great hardship for the men in this area is to be without their families or unable to go home on leave when they see planes flying in and out every day. The war, instead of coming closer, is receding.
Of course men are moving out and gradually most of them will get a leave at home. We in the United States can be very grateful that in this area they fought the war so well that it is no longer considered to be a very active danger zone. We must keep watch, and that watch is never relaxed day or night. Therefore those who stay need never feel that their job is not important, because this is the job that guards a great sector of our mainland. In addition, these bases draw us closer to our South American neighbors. These islands are the stepping stones which keep us in contact with our allies to the south.
In the world of tomorrow, the way our people have conducted the war in this area, the understanding they have built up with the native populations and with the representatives of the various foreign countries which are sovereign here, will mean a great deal.
A great effort is being made by the commanding officers everywhere to see that the men on duty here have as much recreation as possible. If they cannot get to the nearby towns, much is provided on the bases. I am much interested in the post exchange shops, because the American man is not concerned only with what he can buy for himself, but is much concerned with what he can send home to the ladies of his family. You can find silk stockings at $5 a pair, perfume and ladies' underwear, and many other gifts in the serviceman's post exchange.
The boys here consume large amounts of ice cream, soft drinks and candy, as they do at home. On the whole, health seems excellent. The hospital at Guantanamo had few patients. Late in the afternoon we took off and proceeded to Jamaica. At the base command here, the doctor told me proudly that he had only 16 patients. I will have to tell you more about this place tomorrow.