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Hefner Family Papers: Transcripts - MS 858

Correspondence from Eugene Hefner

December 27, 1945

Thur Dec 27 [1945] Manila

Dear Mom,

Its now 3:30 in the afternoon and I've just got back from the communications shack. We reported there this morning to find out what we do. The officer & teck/sgt. in charge went over a few things with us. They told us about the procedure, charts and other stuff like that. We were introduced to the old operator. They certainly seem to be a nice bunch of fellows. We also took a little code to see how sharp we were. Boy to my amazement I can still copy the stuff after being away from it for 3 months. The officer said we'd take a couple of pigee back rides with the old men here and get the hang of things. After that we'll go out in a plane on our own.

We went out this morning and looked over the c-46. Thats the only type they use here. Its a spacious thing inside. The R.O. has his seat right behind the pilot. The only thing that I could see wrong was the inconvenient place they had the liason transmitter located. Its practically at the bottom of the ship and right at the bottom of you're feet. Its hard as all heck to get into or change a tuning unit but I guess its possible.

They claim that this outfit may get some new ships. From what I've heard they expect them to be c-54. Thats one of those big transports that they President rised around. I surely hope that it comes true. Id sure like to ride on one of those babies.

I dont know whether the news over there had that incident in it about where the soldiers staged a big showing here in Manila in front of the C.O.'s or headquarters here. I think it was the 21st Rifle Depot. The colonel came out and told the men that they weren't working for General Motors but they were still in the Army. It had something to do with the reassignment of a ship that was to bring them home to another outfil. You can hardly blame the boys.

Today we had another good dinner. Country friend chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. They certainly do eat well here in these permanent bases. Just so it stays that way.

I wrote a letter last night to Stanley. I had to send it to his home address. If he's still in the Army his folks can send it on. If I get his address I'll send it to you in case you care to write him. I think I'll try to get a letter off to Hickey. Id like to know what he's doing.

Well theres not much more to say so I guess that I'll be signing off. Don't forget to send me that serviceman's strip from the newspaper. Also let me know either Tom's base address or where there living. So much for now.

Love,
Gene

February 8, 1946

Friday Feb. 8 Manila

Dear Mom,

Heres that letter I promised you in the note I sent last night. I went to communications this morning and got a radio kit. They issued one to each operator. It contains a Q signal book, radio facility chart and flight report, logs & scratch paper. Its much better this way because we dont have to depend on the pilot to bring one in his navigation kit.

I stayed at Okinawa one night but didn't get to see if I could find Harvey. I looked at the map of the airfield & vicinity and found where it was at. If I could have gotten some sort of transportation I would have went over.

We left Oki. early the morning of the 5th hopeing to go to Atsugi and back to Oki the same day. We arrived around 12 noon but couldn't get a clearance to leave the field. By orders of G.H.Q we had to stay there. I went to the town of Atsugi (Its 36 miles from Tokyo get a map & see if you can find it) during the afternoon and picked up a few things. I got the girls some sort of silk negligee or something like that and a little silk. I send it to you and you can do what you want with it. I also got a few hankies and a pair of chops sticks. Picked up a table cloth which I thought you'd surely like.

The next morning we took off and started to go back to but one of the gas tank caps came off so we landed to fix it. Took off again and went to 12,500 feet but still wasn't then the overcast so we had to come back down. We didn't have any oxygen or masks so we couldn't go any higher. This weathered us in so I went to town again. I picked up a few more Hankies and a little more silk.

I promosed Norman Id get him something so I dont think I be sending any hankies home until another trip.

We took off the 7th and came all the way back to Manila. We landed here about and hr or so after dark. But it was good to be back to a warm place again. If I came home now I dont think I could stand the cold.

At last the mail has caught up with me. I got around 6 letters all send to 19788. I suppose there are more but give them time. It seems funny reading a letter postmarked the 16 of Nov.

I got a letter dated Jan 29 & a Valentines card. Thanks a lot and Im sorry that Im not able to send some back in return. But just the same you know how I feel. Im glad that you think Ruth is better. I can't figure her out either. And of course I know that Mrs Spayd dont give a hoot either. What difference does it make to her its no skin off her teeth.

Im going to write a letter to her as soon as I finish this one. Maybe it will help maybe it won't. What kind of souviner would you like to have from this place or Japan. In Japan I saw some pretty loud komonas & those thin negligees and I didnt think you'd like them. Please let me know if there any thing you've heard of from over here & would like to have.

You know that if you have to blow off steam you can always depend on me to read it. Go ahead and do it all you like. It makes one feel better & it may give me something to write about. I guess Ive done enough myself so Id better be signing off.

Love
Gene

P.S. In one of your very earliest letters you mentioned something about having some mincemeat. If you get ahold of some & send it to me it sure would be fine. Also anything else in that line you may think of.

Gene

June 5, 1946

Wednesday June 5 Guam

Dear Mom,

I left Manila yesterday to come here for the T.D.Y. deal but no one knows whats going on. This morning I went to the communications shop to see if they new any thing. The officer didnt but was glad see an operator. They've only got one of them here. I then went to the orderly room but they didnt know what the score was either. In the morning I'm going in to see the executive officer. I guess he'll find out for me.

This place don't seem so bad. Its all covered with palm trees and seems so peaceful. You'd never know there was a war here at one time.

You know when I went to the 54th TCU to weigh in for the trip here they tagged by baggage for Hawaii and manifested me for Guam. Naturally I had to rescue my baggage before they took off for Hawaii. I would have really been up a creek without a paddle. You know this was supposed to start out as a trip to Tarawa and fly between there and Hawaii. I would carry a graves registration party for the purpose of seeing that men were returned to the states for burial.

It got pretty dark last night before I could write any more. The lights here are very widely scattered and I happen to be in a spot where there isnt a light.

From all indications I will make my first flight with this outfit tomorrow. It will go to Iwo Jima. They dont fly like the 6th. 3 trips to Iwo and a ship a day to. Siapan which is only an hour away.

I haven't any more to report now so will sign off for the time being. I wont get any mail for awhile so will try to keep you informed.

Love,
Gene

June 7, 1946

Friday June 7 Guam

Dear Mom,

A few more lines today to let you know that I'm okay. So far things are just about the same. This place is a little disappointing. The Sqdn. I mean. I've never seen a setup like this before. I guess the old 6th is just about the best.

Somethings been on my mind the last couple of days but I just havent written it down. You'll remember when I was home I gave Earl a few things of mine. A couple of radio schematics and a couple of books. Will you see if they were ever returned and if not find out about them.

I guess this deal is too go on thru. The sqdn. got a cable gram stating they (the 54th wing) had sent me here. Tomorrow we are going to start out on the first leg of the trip. If the weather is okay well go.

This laying around gets on my mind quite a bid here lately. I guess you can stand it just so long and then something has got to be done. Yesterday I went out and watched a couple of other fellows put on new antennas on a ship. They were doing a good job so I didn't help although I was willing to. It will be good to get back to flying. At least theres something to do once in a while.

Today it rained practically all day. I was caught without a raincoat. I hope I get to some place where I can get one. Maybe if we get to Hawaii I can get some other stuff to. Milk I hope.

You know Norman is in Hawaii. He's about 5 mi. from Hickam Field. If we get there Im going to try to look him up again.

Well Ive got nothing more for now so will sign off. I haven't any envelopes or stamps at present so will have to put this away till I do. So much for now.

Love,
Gene

June 12, 1946

Wednesday June 12 [1946] Tarawa

Dear Mom,

I haven't had any paper these last few days so I couldn't write. I've got 2 other letters here with me but I still haven't got any stamps yet. Any how they send a reefer from this place about once a week so they'll probably all get there at once. I don't have address here so you'll have to still write me at the old address. That way when I get back Ill still get mail. No wait, don't write any more letters at all to me. The old outfit is going to move back to Oki this month and when I get back to the Sqdn. I can give you the right address. Tell the rest of the family this also. So much for that.

On the trip down here every thing went very good. I didn't have any trouble at all. In fact I think I possibly learnt a few things new. Well we stopped over at Eniwetak which is about 180 miles from Bikini the place where they are going to have the A-bomb test. Its run entirely by the navy. We slept in navy barracks and ate their chow. I thought maybe it was just because it was so isolated that things were poor but I think different now.

We left Eniwetak the next morning and headed for Kwajaleim. We were going to come all the way thru that day but the field wouldn't clear so we stayed overnight there. Again we slept in a navy place and this is were it "P"'d me off. It's just too bad to say much about but there wasn't any water and the food was bad. It was really nice to get out of there.

On Monday we left and came to Tacawa. When we landed the fellows here got a big disappointment. They though we were bringing replacements for them. The tour of duty here is just 6 months and then there ready to go to either Hawaii or Stateside. Any how the purpose we came here for has already left. It was the grave registration party. Now they dont know what to do with us. I only hope we get to go some place like Australia or Hawaii. I dont like to think of spending 60 days on this coral reef.

Today we took the ship up for about on hour. We buzzed the island and the surrounding islands for awhile and then came back. At least it was doing something which kept me occupied for the time being.

Tomorrow I think were going over to a neighboring island and help the British celebrate the birthday of King George. It will last all day tomorrow and were supposed to come back the following morning. I'll let you know what its like.

The food they've got here is pretty good. About fifty men to cook for and the cooks go a good job. Its about the best Ive ever tasted in the army. Especially the chicken. It seemed cleaned and didnt have that usual odd odor to it.

When I left the sqdn I think I had just made Sgt. It had came out in orders yet although it was in the Orderly Room. Heres hoping it went through.

Well I have nothing more for now so will sign off. By the way I sent a box the other day with a couple of mattress covers in it. So much for now.

Love,
Gene

September 10, 1946

Tuesday Sept. 10 Okinawa

Dear Mom,

I guess its about time I got another letter off to you. As you can very plainly see I have at last served my Tdy and am back with the 6th again. We left Tar on Sept 5 and went to Kwaj. We stayed overnight and got off the next morning pretty early. In fact it was 0800 am when we got off into the blue.

It was a long & tiresome flight from Kwah to Guam. We were in the air for 8:15. Thats not to bad though. The Loran wouldn't work so the navigator had quite a time of it. But myself things went very smoothly. I had very little trouble at all.

Since we were going with time we arrived at Guam around 0200. We took our baggage off the ship & went to find quarters. When at last we were fixed up we went back to the orderly room. There I found that things were pretty messed up on my order so I started sweating getting a ship to Manila.

The next morning, Sept 7, I went back and found I may get to ride on 403rd T.C.G. ship. After about 4 or 5 hrs of waiting I found I could go a an extra crew member. So at 0900 PM or 2100 I was on the ship and ready to go. Its an 8 hr flight so I layed down for a nice sleep. At last we arrived in Manila about 0330 Am.

I took my baggage & started for the A.T.C. terminal when I saw one of our ships getting loaded. So I set my bag down and went over to see the flight clerk. It was one of the fellows I happened to know. I asked him if I could get on the ship. He said it was OK by him if it was OK by the pilot. I went to the pilot and he also was one that Id flown with before. He was more than glad to let me go. So I put my bag on board & was ready for another 5 hr hop. I wasn't on the ground more than an hour.

We got back just in time for the noon chow here. There were a lot of fellows here I know but more so that I didn't. If you remember the old proverb "Absense makes the heart grow fonder" you might say they were glad to see me again. You never realized how many friends you have until you go away for awhile. Even the officers were very friendly & asked what I did & how I liked the trip.

From what I hear I wont have to fly any more for the outfit though. I guess its because Im so close to going home. I hope maybe to be on a boat by the first of the month.

Most of my old buddys are leaving for the boat tomorrow. I guess its luck that I got back. Only one of them isnt going. He got caught by the C.I.D selling cigs in Japan. I think he'll bust the rap & get home on the next boat. At least I hope he does.

I was hoping to have all my back mail here waiting for me but the mail man sent it all back. So Im hoping you write me a nice big juicy letter telling me all thats happened in the last 3 months.

From what I hear the area is going to be moved into a place where they have quonset huts. The place at present is a bunch of tents built upon wooden floors.

Ive got a couple of clippings Im going to send you which are about the sqdn. I wasn't here when it all happened but just the same its my outfit so I guess its alright.

Oh yes, I almost forgot it can now be told. I made Sgt. in June but I didn't know for sure. Its really official now.

I haven't any more to say for now so I'll be signing off. Don't for get that letter. So much for now and give my regards to everyone.

Love,
Gene

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