66: When Men Like That Are Moved.

28 April

Dear Howard,[1]

These are a couple of installments on young Howard’s–or will it be Billy’s–stamp collection.[2] It’s stored away now but Mother will get it out any time you think the kids are ready for it. Tell them to file these in a special category, for their cousin didn’t get them through any of the usual channels–over the counter at Scott’s. Notice the blue one–it is a view of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Interestingly enough, one of the few Jap prisoners that we took, a lance corporal, said “Well you may have taken Kwajalein, but you still haven’t gotten Pearl Harbor and the California coast back yet!” Sounds almost unbelievable, doesn’t it?[3]

souvenirstamps

We’re in a beautiful spot now–not the average Marine’s idea of good liberty because there are no large towns on the island, but the tropical beauty is fabulous. Exotic, strange plants, every native girl wears an orchid in her hair–though they need more that that to make them as pretty as the Stateside girls–steep blue mountains hanging over the sea.

You and Martha must make this your vacationland after the war, at least once. It will really be possible, too, by air.

Decorations were awarded in the Fourth Division yesterday for the Kwajalein show. Admiral Nimitz presented them at a formal parade. No Congressional Medals were awarded, but six Navy Crosses were–the next highest honor. Two of these went to the commanding officers, and out of the four left, three were presented to men in A Company–think of it, there are about 65 companies in a division, and ours got three of them. And to top it all off, two of them were in my platoon. That was a pretty big moment, Howard–I’m damn fond of those boys–got them when they were boots and trained them all the way through; they justified all my work and made the whole thing worthwhile.[4] One of them, a tough little hard-boiled corporal, told me afterward that he almost burst into tears. Tucker and Ervin–when men like that are moved so deeply, you can see what it means to them.

I’ve got to go to chow now, but write once in a while Howard–letters mean an awful lot to us out here.

Love to you all,
Phil

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FOOTNOTES:
[1] Letter addressed to Howard Rapp.
[2] Enclosed with this letter are several Japanese stamps, souvenirs of Namur.
[3] Similar statements were reported elsewhere on Kwajalein; evidently the lower-ranking Japanese truly believed this was the case.
[4] Phil is exaggerating a little bit here, having received both Tucker and Ervin into his platoon as NCOs.

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