MARCH 27, 1944
BALBOA, Canal Zone, Sunday—On our arrival in Panama, we were met by the President and Mrs. de la Guardia and various officials of Panama, as well as our own Army and Navy officials. We went at once to supper with the enlisted men of a troop carrier squadron. I happened to notice the clever, Walt Disney-like illustration on the barracks sign and found that a young Chinese, who was sitting on my left at supper, had not only drawn that but had also drawn many other things. His home was in San Francisco, Cal. The table, as a whole, was representative of different groups within the squadron and of a great variety of states.
After supper we drove to the home of Governor and Mrs. Edgerton, where we had just time to change before going to call on President and Mrs. de la Guardia at 7:30 p.m. The entrance to the Presidencia has a fountain with water flowing over into a basin which gives the whole patio a cool feeling even on a warm evening.
We talked over various reforms which the President is trying to put through, such as control of tuberculosis, an asylum for children which I gathered was really to be a hospital, and other improvements which are all contemplated as soon as building materials are available.
After this visit we went to the USO where a regular visiting show was being put on. I became part of the show for a few minutes, and spoke to the audience, which was most responsive and in the best possible spirits. I don't wonder that the people who go to camp shows tell me that the soldiers and sailors are the best audience in the world. They certainly respond as no audience in the United States would to any effort to entertain them. That ended my first day in Panama.
We started off the next morning at 7:45 and attended an orientation class conducted by the enlisted men themselves. The discussion was on "What Shall We Do With Germany After the War?" As boy after boy got up to comment on various proposals which were put forth as possibilities by Sergeant Joseph Klein, I was interested to notice that many of our Army men still speak with an accent which denotes background from another country, but they think as Americans. The young man who led the discussion, Private Warren Dempsey, did a very good job. The young lieutenant, Dan Herr, who sponsors these courses, went to the Army school in Virginia and is a veteran of the New Guinea campaign.
From there we went to Fort Clayton Army Hospital. Then we drove through Corozal Military Cemetery. The older part of it has trees and looks very well cared for, but it has had to be enlarged since the war. The new part is less attractive. This will change with time, however.