29: A Secret – A Real One.

(July 20, 1943)[1]

Dear Girls,

At last I feel military and in the swing of things! I too have a secret–a real one this time. This week I’ve been going to this special school–a new secret weapon, hasn’t even been fully developed yet–you’ll probably read about it in the papers in a couple of months.[2] I was the one officer in the Battalion picked to go to the school and bring the dope back to the rest of them.[3] And I went back to the Tent Camp last night to put on a demonstration of my mortars before a couple of Generals and a flock of Colonels–I’m beginning to feel like King Tut around here, and the boys did well last night, too.

Oh Mother–will you send the watch back as is–no repairs because they’ve suddenly decided to recall them all–I’ll have to buy back my own, which I sold to one of my squad leaders. I got the boots, thankee, but haven’t worn them yet because I want to get hobnails put on them–they’ll wear forever that way–oh and could you send me one set of enlargements, “master” size, of those pictures, plus another set, same size of those ones of the house–for Rusty. I wrote her again yesterday, though there have been no letters between us for two months. I don’t know what I’m doing as far as Rusty is concerned, except that I’m reacting rather than acting, and just hoping that it leads me in the right direction. I’m out at sea–no matter how much I worry and think about it I get nowhere–don’t know what I want or where she stands, and probably won’t know until I see her again.

You know, I didn’t get any letters from you all for a whole week. At the end of it I felt lost. You have no idea how much those letters mean to me–anywhere–but especially out here in the wilderness. I don’t think I realized it myself fully until I didn’t get them. But they all came finally–they were over at 14 QBI and the address is 16 QB4–we’ve moved barracks.

Finally finished off my mess bill–totaled $150 for the two months–or that’s what I paid in two months, the bill was for four. I’ll be able to start sending you some of that in the next 10 days. I haven’t been on liberty for the last three weeks, but I’m going this time–with a very nice pretty thing from Pomona–to LA. The Torch Singer, I found, was burnt out.[4]

[Letter unsigned]


Postmarked July 22, 1943
[2] Phil is referring to the development of rocket artillery systems. The 5-inch “automatic artillery” systems would be deployed by the Navy in support of landings, and by the Marines in specially designed trucks crewed by trained “Buck Rogers Men.” The concept was undergoing extensive testing at Camp Pendleton in the summer of 1943.
[3] Phil’s service record notes: “12 July–21 July, Rocket Indoctrination Course, Tent Camp #3.”
[4] A “torch song” is a sentimental song about a lost or unrequited love. Phil half-jokingly refers to himself as “the Torch Singer” a handful of times. In this case he’s burnt out from too many dates, or from being too maudlin over Rusty.

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