Dear Girls: The Letters of Philip Emerson Wood, Jr.

I sat over my hatful of letters for an hour and a half–reading every word and thinking of the memories evoked by every phrase, chuckling, then laughing aloud. There is nothing like it for pure pleasure and to realize just how much I love my family.

– Philip E. Wood, Jr., 24 February 1944.

The discovery of Phil Wood’s letters was the catalyst that led to years of research into the history of 1/24.

When a missive from their boy in the Marines arrived, the Dear Girls – mother Margaretta and sister Gretchen – would stop everything to read the sheets of notepaper or V-Mail with Phil’s distinctive scrawl. Letters would be saved, bundled, and transported to family events, where the extended clan would gather around and hear a family member’s views on the War. And when the awful Western Union telegram arrived, it brought with it a hurt that would never be mended.



P1. Someone Whispers, “Almost On The Lines.”
P2. The Heroes
P3. They Will Make An Actor Out Of Me Yet.
P4. Love. Love. Love!

 To Do My Best For You:
Yale, 1941–1942

1. By The Skin Of My Teeth.
2. The End Of Much Of The World That We Knew.
3. I Guess Hirohito Just Couldn’t Wait.

I Have Never Worked So Hard:
Officer Candidates’ Class, 1942

4. “Well, You Dumb Sons Of Bitches…”
5. Difficult As The Devil.
6. Running Awfully Close To The Wind.
7. Stupid Inflexibility.
8. Postcard From Quantico.

Your Son & Brother Is An Officer Now:
Reserve Officers’ Class, 1942

9. Meet Lt. Wood, U. S. Marine Corps!
10. Law School Had Nothing On This.
11. I Long For Peace.
12. Love In Wartime.

Spanish Moss & Black Water:
New River, 1942-1943

13. Dungarees And Boots.
14. All As Green As Grass.
15. They Joined The Outfit To Fight.
16. Love, The Legal Eagle.
17. The Glories Of The Marine Corps.
18. Too Bad About Al.
19. Still Alive, But Just Barely.

I Really Like This Life:
Camp Pendleton, 1943

20. What It Means To Be An American.
21. So Many Things, All Calculated To Make Me Wise.
22. She Answered Yes, Darling, Yes.
23. I Don’t Understand It And It Drives Me Wild.
24. Tired With The Feeling Of Hopelessness.
25. The Hell With It–All Of It!
26. All Sorts Of Rumors.
27. This Really Is A Rugged Life.
28. First Looie.
29. A Secret–A Real One.
30. Off Again On Maneuvers.
31. Get Better Quickly, For All Our Sakes.
32. Exactitude In All Things Military.
33. The Captain Let Me Run The Company.
34. A Damn Good Battalion Problem.
35. What Daddy Did During The War.
36. A Series Of Headaches.
37. I Always Subconsciously Feel The Gap.
38. This Is A Crack Outfit.
39. Nervous Apprehension, Poignant Nostalgia.
40. At A Time Like This.

Not Afraid Of Pain Or Death, Only The Lack Of Living:
Operation Flintlock, 1944

41. Where We’re Going, There’s Going To Be Action.
42. I Have Acquired A “Fighting Spirit.”
43. A Lot Of Living In Those Two Days.
44. Touched By War.

Cut Away Another Inhibition:
Camp Maui, 1944

45. What A Wonderful Feeling It Is.
46. Victors, Drunk On Their Spoils.
47. This Damn V-Mail.
48. Expect To Go, Sooner Or Later.
49. My Thoughts Are With You, Mother.
50. Poker Was My Game!
51. Many Ideas, All Of Them Fantastic.
52. The “Daring Dozen.”
53. This Group Of Servicemen.
54. Naturally Suspicious Of Marines.
55. The Ripe Old Age Of 23.
56. Much Nicer Girls.
57. Absolutely Cold Blooded.
58. They Don’t Come Any Finer Than Harry.
59. God, But I Get Homesick.
60. Lay Bare A Few More Nerves.
61. A Good Leader.
62. Why Do I Rave So About This Island?
63. Going Out In The Field.
64. The Selfsame Bud.
65. I Felt Pretty Damn Proud.
66. When Men Like That Are Moved.
67. I’m Glad He’s Happy.
68. Known For A Gung-Ho Spirit.
69. It Isn’t Often Done, Speaking Of The Dangers.
70. All Tangled Up In Memories.
71. Telling The Tale Of The Next One.
72. That WAC Business.

Before I See It All Again:
Operation Forager, 1944

73. By Next Summer, It Must Be.
74. Scrambled And A Little Blurred.
75. It Was The Moon That Did It.
76. This War May Be Over In Our Time.

Your Son’s Splendid Record:
Letters Of Condolence, 1944–1945

77. A Source Of Profound Regret.
78. Hot Stuff In A Ravine.
79. First In Combat, First In Leadership, First To Die.
80. Tell My Mother And Sister.
81. All Who Knew Him Will Be Finer Men.
82. The Days & The Laughter Of The Past.
83. Such Strong Faith In People.
84. Phil Would Want You To Have Fun.
85. In The Hearts Of All That Knew Him.

In Memory:
Ceremonies & Monuments, 1946–2015

 View Gallery
Phil, Margaretta, and Gretchen Wood.

2 thoughts on “Dear Girls: The Letters of Philip Emerson Wood, Jr.

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