MARCH 13, 1944
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Sunday—In St. Thomas, which is one of the Virgin Islands, we were met by the acting governor, Mr. Morris F. de Castro and his wife, and Army, Navy and Marine Corps officers. I spoke to the Marines, Coast Guard and Navy men, then stopped at the hospital, and then drove through the submarine base and into town, going to the Army establishment where Puerto Rican soldiers are now stationed.
I went to the Red Cross and to Captain Balsley's home, where the civilian officials and the press met me. Then back to the Marine Corps Base where we lunched in the men's mess, and I moved from one table to another in order to meet as many men as possible.
Back in Puerto Rico, we landed at a naval base, visited some of the personnel and buildings, and then drove through the Army base, which is still under construction. We visited another camp on the way back to La Fortaleza and stopped at the USO in Caguas, where I was impressed by a young Puerto Rican woman who seemed particularly energetic. She showed me around the whole building and told me she taught in high school six hours a day, spent an hour at noon at the USO and returned there from 3:30 to 5 and from 7 to 11 p.m.
In this USO I met two discharged veterans. One was in a hospital in Fiji last August when I went through, and I saw him there. The other one was injured in Africa. Fortunately, both men seemed to be getting well and strong again.
In one of the camps, I was fortunate enough to see Private Richard F. Thomas who was brought over to see me as I mentioned to one of the officers that I had a letter from his sister asking me to see him if possible. He had no idea why he was brought over, and seemed very much surprised when he was introduced to me and I asked him how he was so I could send word to his sister. He assured me he was quite well, and I saw him later at the USO in Caguas. He must have travelled fairly quickly to get there before we did.
After our return to La Fortaleza, I had a last short interview with the press and we managed to be ready at 7:15 to go to the USO which is in the center of the town. It is a very beautiful building which was once "The Puerto Rican Club." We were invited to be the guests of the servicemen. Selected men from the various groups sat at the table with us and our food was excellent. The boys all remarked on how good it was, and said they enjoyed trying something different.
At least once a week, sometimes oftener, they have dances with a floor show which features some distinctly Puerto Rican dancer or singer. The Coast Guard and the Air Force bands played and we watched the dancing for a little while. At dinner and during the dancing I think I signed my name several hundred times on a variety of bills, papers and ladies' fans.
This ends our stay in Puerto Rico. Of course we have not seen all the men who are stationed here but I think we have done as much as it was possible to do in the time allowed.