MARCH 20, 1944
SOMEWHERE IN SOUTH AMERICA, Sunday—The first evening in Natal, a reception was held for the Brazilian officials and the Army and Navy officers at the U.S. base. Madame Salgado and the Senhor Interventor for the state were hosts at the dinner given at the guest house.
At ten p.m. we started out for operational headquarters. This is one of the busy spots where night can be as active as day. General Robert Walsh asked me to notice particularly that the restaurant ran all night, so that those who go through can get food at any hour. It appears that my husband was concerned about this when he visited here. Very good hamburgers were being cooked and Brazilian coffee, which is usually stronger than ours, seemed to be very popular. I am sure my husband would be entirely satisfied.
The following morning we visited our Army and Navy and the Brazilian forces. At eleven-thirty, we gathered at the naval base to attend the formal ceremonies where a Navy flying squadron was decorated for its courageous and successful achievements during the last few months. The squadron consists of a wonderful looking group of young men, and I was very happy when Vice Admiral Jonas Ingram gave me the opportunity to pin on their decorations. There was a moment when I thought that their beautifully starched uniforms were going to withstand all my efforts to get a pin through the material. I was glad when we reached a point where I could just hand them the medals without actually pinning them on.
These ceremonies are not only interesting, but very moving, and the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" takes on a special significance at an occasion of this kind. We lunched at the transient enlisted men's mess. At my table there were three men who are stationed permanently at this base. The others were all passing through. Some of the other ladies told me that at their tables there were only men who were either going out or returning.
Madame Salgado, wife of the Minister of Aviation for Brazil, and two younger Brazilian ladies were extremely popular with our men who asked a tremendous number of questions which showed a great interest in Brazil. On the drive back, we reviewed a number of Brazilian Army contingents and attended a charming double flag raising ceremony which was held at one of the Brazilian establishments.
After returning to the U. S. Army base we held a short press conference, and then, in the barracks, there was a tea for all the women that included Army nurses, USO and Red Cross workers and civilian employees.