28: First Looie.

Camp Pendleton, California
July 16, 1943[1]

Dear girls,

Out in the field again and somehow we have a few hours off–the training is coming pretty fast now, cramming an awful lot into each day. We are actually working almost steadily; of course on the whole I more or less enjoy the work so that the days pass quickly–it’s just that at times I get to feeling that it’s all pretty sterile–plowing a field of dry sand. Not because we are not going to put this training to good use–we certainly will. Nothing is a greater test, a bigger and more thorough examination of knowledge than battle. Most of my life has been that, you know–learning, then pulling all you know together for an exam. Only this time my success will depend as much on how well I have taught as on how well I have learned.

Finally made me First Looie yesterday.[2] Not a big promotion, but a welcome one. Only twelve of the 2nd Lts. in the Battalion made it, but all 3 of us in Co. A did. Mother, you should remember that you met 4 2nd Lts. in the company including me–well Ed Keyes was transferred Monday to San Diego. Unsatisfactory fitness report–the monthly reports turned in by the Captain on our capabilities, etc. Too bad, because I really liked Ed. Sort of a big dumb Irishman in a lot of ways, but easy to get along with–I’ll miss palling around with him. [3]

Got a cute letter from Kitsy and an Uncly one from Uncle Dud, and another from Aunt Kit.[4]

It’s really very pleasant out here. Right now I’m sitting in a grove of enormous sycamore beside a gurgling little stream–smooth brown grass hills all around. The valley, polka-dotted with olive green bushes–clear blue sky, warm sunshine, and a fresh breeze. Really, Mother, you missed the best part of California, because I never took you out tramping in these hills. This is the distinctive beauty rather than the cities. This is what I will always think of California, this and our house at Laguna. The brilliant blue-green water, the rocks, and the curve of the shore up to Long Beach.

Chow call. We’re going out all night and tomorrow morning–every letter is read a half a dozen times. I carry them around in the field and read them in rest periods.




[1] Postmark date on envelope. May have been written over the span of several days, or mailed late due to the busy training schedule.
[2] Phil Wood was promoted to First Lieutenant effective 22 June 1943, and formally accepted the new rank on 7 July.
[3] Edwin Keyes transferred out effective June 30, 1943. He would later acquit himself very well as a platoon leader in the First Marine Raider Battalion.
[4] “Uncle Dud” is Dudley Summers, a bosom buddy of Philip Wood Sr. and lifelong family friend.

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