The next batch of letters covers the month of December 1952.
Johnny gets moved so far back to the Rear, the feel of his experience in Korea begins to shift. He writes of training and guard duty, rehearsing for a big talent show and getting a handful of showers, playing pranks on the Brass and thanking several relatives for sending packages of homemade fudge and cookies, among other things. But this respite won’t last long.
Johnny celebrates Christmas in the Korean War. It’s his first one away from home.
DECEMBER 3, 1952
This will just be a short note because it is about time for dinner. They aren’t giving us much free time, so I have to make every minute count.
There is snow on the ground and last night it was down to about 7 degrees. We finally can wear our winter garb so we are in good shape now. These boots and parkas are the warmest things I’ve ever had on.
The letter I got from you last night sure hit the spot. You just don’t know how we look forward to mail call. Mom, when you tell me about what you and Betty have done together it really makes me feel good. She thinks the world of you and Dad. I’ll certainly be glad to get home and get in on everything, but please tell me about everything and forget the idea about me feeling left out of anything. The only way I can feel that I’m there, is for you all to write me about them. We aren’t as tough as some people think. I got on Betty because she thinks I’ve lost my humor or something. She takes everything I say too seriously. I think there should be a course teaching the people at home how to read letters from us. Maybe I should learn how to write, huh?
I’m waiting impatiently for the “can” of “syrup.” I’ve had 7 cans of beans since I’ve been here. And that was sure good.
Don’t worry about me not having any money. There is no place I can spend any except for some PX rations that come once in a while. I’m trying to send everything home so we (Betty and I) can have something to start with.
– Chow –
Well, that was good, but I could have used more. I’ll be glad to get home so I can raid the ice box.
Well, I’ve got to go again. I’ll try and write tonight. Bye now.
I love ya,
DECEMBER 6, 1952
How’s everyone this cool December morning? Everything is fine over here. It snowed a little bit last night – hardly enough to speak about.
Yesterday a bunch of us went on pass to Chin-chon to practice with a band. I’m on a talent show the Regiment is having. You can imagine what kind of show it is if I’m on it. But it was good enough to keep from doing something else that isn’t much fun.
Next weekend we should move out. Some rumors have been going around that we are going back farther. I hope that is so.
Nothing else has happened around here. Just everyday routine stuff.
You should see the signs that were up on houses and in the streets of Chin-chon. Welcome Ike and all that sort of stuff. I wonder what good he can really do.
Personally I don’t believe there will be much change. He has only two drastic steps to take if he does any good – unless he does put the ROKs in. Then the UN forces will have to go up and relieve them on Chinese attacks. I hope they do get something worked out.
Well, I’ll stop for now, I’ll try and write tonight.
If you can reinforce that paint box good where it can take a lot of beating I would like for you to put it in the mail with a few canvas boards and make sure there is turpentine and linseed oil and good brushes. Just send it express, but make sure the box is reinforced good. Maybe I can get a good deal somewhere painting. I’m going to try it anyway. I asked David if he would work over the box.
Well, bye for now. Remember I love you.
DECEMBER 9, 1952
I’m sitting here by a fire getting my back warm while I’m writing. We went on a night patrol last night and these new rubber boots don’t go so well with my feet. They seem to rub them raw, so I got to stay in today. Sick call is at 9 PM, so I have to wait until tonight before I can get anything done about them. This is a good chance to catch up on my writing.
I just had breakfast – crackers, sausage, pickles and mayonnaise. Guess where I got that. No kidding, that package was terrific. Sure do thank you for it. I’m saving the ham for hard times. I bet it is really going to taste good. You didn’t have to send shaving cream and toothpaste. We get those in our PX rations. But the food and sweets are in loud demand.
Well, I was interrupted by a long interruption.
We have really been going since I began this letter. My feet didn’t get me out of anything else until today. The Regiment is giving the Battalion of Ethiopians and Turks to another Division, which means that we are going somewhere. The rumors are strong about Japan. Everyone is hoping that it’s Japan. I don’t like the idea of the one point deal, though.
I had better close and write Betty. I haven’t had a chance in almost a week. Bye now.
Remember I love you!
DECEMBER 13, 1952
Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, here it is Christmas and the first one in my life that I have spent away from home. But – it is for a good cause and I am proud that I can do my little part for it.
I just want to say that it will not be a lonely Christmas because I have had so many grand ones that they will push this one out of the picture.
I have the greatest parents in the world and when next Christmas is here I’ll be there to give them the biggest hug they ever seen or felt.
I love you – so love me too!
DECEMBER 17, 1952
I’m writing at last. I guess you wondered what has happened to my letters. Well, they are making a tight training schedule for us that includes training at night until 10 or 21 o’clock and by the time we walk back I just feel like washing my feet and falling into the sack.
I have Battalion guard tonight so I won’t have any time tonight to write. It seems that things are getting worse instead of better.
Ah, but there’s something brewing that is better. We are quite sure the Division is moving someplace, but nothing has been said yet.
The new car sounds pretty. I thought you were going to send some pictures of all of you and the car. I keep expecting to find some pictures in your letters – I’ll keep watching.
I received a package from E & JC the other day. They sent fudge, tea, and cookies. They were really good.
Well, I hate to write such short letters but I got to get ready for guard.
I love ya,
DECEMBER 20, 1952
Hello Mom & Dad,
I’ve got a little time, so here I am. I am supposed to be practicing for that show again, but I like writing more.
Mom, your letters are coming quite often and I sure enjoy them. I just received the one where you said that Betty had to decided to live over there. I’m glad to hear that. I know you two will make out just fine.
I guess you have been driving the car pretty regular lately. Don’t forget some pictures of it. And mainly of all of you. I keep expecting pictures in your letters, but I think you have forgotten them.
We have been doing the same thing around here – just training.
E and Jacie sent me some cookies and fudge the other day. I sure enjoyed them. I haven’t written to thank them yet but I will today.
Yep – I do write Betty love letters. I’ll even write you some if you wish. About the only thing the Army can’t do is control my thinking and I do that all the time. And all of it is about home and most of that is about the furlough time at home – la-de-da.
You will probably receive this a couple of days after Christmas. So I’ll wish you a Happy New Year now. Happy New Year!
It certainly doesn’t feel like Christmas. But you can’t have everything all of the time. I’ll be thinking about you – you can be sure.
Well, I had better close for now. Remember I love you, so love me too.
DECEMBER 22, 1952
Dear Mom & Dad,
How’s the home folks tonight? I’m just doing fine. We’ve had a little snow about every day, but it isn’t staying yet. It was pretty slick coming back from the hills this evening. But that breaks the dull moments when we’re walking. Also, it helps to break your back. It is really funny over here. Every time we cross a rocky brook that’s slippy we are always hoping to fall and break a leg or arm. And we say (to each other) good, then we rotate!
We really pulled a good one on the officers the other day in the field. About three of us had cameras and we were taking the officers’ pictures. They were just smiling away never knowing that we didn’t have any film. What a bunch of jackasses. We really had a good laff over it. Oh well, what they don’t know won’t hurt them.
Well, I will have to close for now. It’s getting a little late.
Remember I love you both (all three of you).
PS – Happy New Year
PPS – Give Betty a big Kiss for me on New Years