Clabe and Leora was alone on New Years Day, so she wrote letters. “We were sure lonesome when Junior left,” she told Danny. “Just like when any of you are home and go so far away–will be so wonderful when you can bet at home.
They had gotten a letter from him, the one he’d written December 18th, they day after Junior had left. That’s also when a picture of little Joy arrived. They had framed it to match the ones of Richard and Leora. They were on the big console radio where they could look at them often. “They are all so cute and sturdy looking.”
Cousins Richard Scar, Joy Neal Leora Darlene Wilson
Leora had been to Edmondson’s Studio in Perry with a roll of film. The girl working there asked if they had a son in Italy and what his A.P.O. address was. When Leora said it was 520, she said, “Why, that’s my brother’s A.P.O. number.” They’d found out where he was. Leora asked if Danny knew of a place called Manduria.
Clabe had spent the day oiling the boys’ guns. Once in awhile he’d been out to get a rabbit so they wouldn’t eat their garden that summer.
Leora said Danny’s letters were wonderful. “You children’s letters are Dad’s and my brightest time of day–mail time with letters!”
End of December 1944
The 14th Fighter Group had 150 combat pilots, fifty of them in Danny Wilson’s squadron. His squadron had flown fifty-two missions during December, forty-nine of them bomber escort. Two pilots in Dan’s squadron had been seriously injured that month. One returning from a mission crashed twenty-three miles from the base. Italians rescued him and turned him—with a serious head injury–over to the British. A hut mate of Dan’s was hospitalized with third-degree burns after a crash landing at another field due to engine failure.
Comments were Dan Wilson’s.
Donald Wilson, Pacific
Donald Wilson’s carrier Hancock sailed from the break at Ulithi, with orders to attack airfields and shipping around the South China Sea. The USS Hancock was ordered into the South China Sea, sailing from Ulithi with Halsey’s Third Fleet. During the early days of the new year, they struck airfields on Formosa and the Pescadore Islands, enduring more kamikazes. One crashed onto an escort carrier, killing 158 men.
From Victoria, Texas, Junior wished his dad a happy January 7 birthday, and said that someday they’d all be back to celebrate it. “I’m sure that would be your happy day.”
January 9, 1945, Danny wrote home that just gotten three letters and a package from them and a letter from Donald. He’d read the letters over two and three times.
His mother had included a Des Moines newspaper. Danny said it showed a farmer in Italy using donkeys, like the ones where he was. In other areas they used mostly oxen.
Italy had had a good snow staring early New Year’s eve and lasting through the day, a heavy wet snow. To bring in the New Year, the guys in all the shacks “put up a small barrage” outside with their .45s. Danny had several tracers in his clip and they made long continuous streaks in the dark.
New Years day, Danny and one of his “shackmates” went on a hike, shooting at rocks and clods in the now. “Was certainly O.K. to walk around in the now, even if it wasn’t back there in Iowa where there’s a little game along with it.” They didn’t have time for an interesting all day hike they they’d go on back in Iowa.
Two of the men in his shack was from Iowa and one from Oklahoma. “The Okie can’t make out worth hell in arguments in this hut. ha. All are a bunch of damn swell buddies.” He said they had the best looking hut, inside and out, in the squadron.
Danny Wilson and John Turnbull. I think Turnbull was from Oklahoma. Harrison “Harry” Wold was an Iowan.
Haha, calling someone “sturdy” these days would probably not be taken for a compliment!
Ha! Probably depends on your age, huh!
You three cousins were just darling! I think at that time, sturdiness in a baby would have been welcomed as a sign of good health.
I would have even described Leora herself as a sturdy woman. She was short, 5 feet at most, and well sturdy.
From photographs of her, I could see that. Her forearms appear quite strong.
It felt like I went back in time. Happy New Year, Joy.
You and Richard look especially happy in those baby photos!
This sounds and feels like my grandparents description of the Homefront w boys away in WWII. And being a sturdy baby sounded exactly like my grandma’s relieved compliment of her new grandchildren.