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JERRY BROOKS: THE BUILDING OF A WORLD WAR TWO UNITED STATES MARINE:

 

Click to Enlarge see note 1 belowJerry Brooks never forgot what the Japanese did to the Chinese people during the 1930s.  It started when he was 12 years old, a newly minted Boy Scout, sitting in the dark before the Saturday afternoon movie matinees in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, watching newsreels showing Japan's 1938 Rape of Nanking, China.  Struck by how proud those solders appeared to be and how they never got punished for their atrocities, young Jerry concluded that they filmed their evil to 'show the world how powerful Japan's military was'.  This Jerry never forgot.  He was 15 when the Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  He never forgot that either: how the American ships exploded and sunk, and sailors died in flames on oily water strafed by Japanese planes.  After Pearl Harbor, the news of war came into Wichita every day over the radio. The big sea battles all over.  Dolittle's raid over Tokyo.  The Marines battling to hold Guadalcanal.  Every day young men left Wichita to join the fight, leaving Jerry behind.  He couldn't join the Marines until he turned 17, finished the 11th grade, and got his dad's permission.

Finally, in June 1943, the Marine recruiter sent Jerry's enlistment papers off, but Jerry still had to wait for the Marines to answer back, telling him where to go and what he had to do.  He later called this last wait "the longest summer of my life."  Until he got his Marine letter, his dad could change his mind and send him back to high school until he turned 18 in 1944.  So everyday Jerry worried, watching his dad listen to the radio tell how hard it was for Marines battling up the Solomons against the Japanese.  In early August Jerry's best pal Richard left.  Now Jerry worried that he'd miss the whole war.  Two days latter his letter arrived.  Report August 14, 1943 for induction in Kansas city, Kansas, the Marine letter instructed.

Young Jerry Brooks couldn't leave home fast enough, to go join the US Marines.

 

JERRY'S INDUCTION INTO MARINE CORPS IN KANSAS CITY, KANSAS.

 

ON August 15, 1943 JERRY BROOKS posted his 1st letter home.

Dear Mom

Kansas City sure has a swell park, zoo, and swimming pool, and there are a batch of hills (mountains) and also whiskey.  Yesterday, the Navy examined five of us 17 year olds for the Marines, a division of the Navy.  I passed.  So did four other guys. Then, last night in Kansas City, I and those four other 17 year olds stayed at a big hotel.  Today, right now, I am in charge of all the other four going into the Marines.  We're all at Fort Leavenworth now.  That's outside Kansas City.  We're getting red tape taken care of.  Us boys will enlist until the war's over plus 6 months, not for 4 years like everyone else.  Twenty three older guys left here today for Navy and Marine training.  We go back in Kansas City to get sworn in tomorrow.  I am running out of paper (I borrowed it) now so I’ll quit and I’ll be home soon.  Jerry

Once sworn into the Marine Corps, Jerry returned home to Wichita briefly then he boarded a train on August 27th and left Kansas for the first time ever.  He was headed west for Marine Boot Camp in San Diego, California when he wrote home:

"At Wichita there were no empty seats aboard the train at all.  People were standing up all over the train and sitting on the floor or wherever else they could. A day or so later we stopped at Albuquerque and I got an empty seat.  I stayed awake all night both first nights, gazing out the window. And Mom, you should see the amazing majestic splendor of the magnificent mountains, gigantic rocks, beautiful red river valleys and gorges, the towering cliffs, rolling plains and great ranches.  The sun shines endlessly down upon the vast desert with its cactus trees, glowing rocks and sand hills.  As I marveled at all this splendor and beauty I thanked God that I live in America."

ON August 29 JERRY, coming down out of the mountains into LOS ANGELES, saw an ocean for the first time in his life.  And, once in Los Angeles, he changed trains for his trip down the Pacific Coast to SAN DIEGO:

"Mom, if you think all that countryside was wonderful, you should see the colossal ocean.  It is so large and beautiful that I could not even begin to describe it to you, so will not try.  Just as soon as I got in Los Angles, why I was lucky enough to catch a train for San Diego.  No one met me at the station either.  And you should see the California coast.  Out here on the coast, they know that there is a war going on.  Everything here is camouflaged.  It is completely camouflaged.  And you should see the ships.  There are cruisers, battleships, destroyers and they are large – Whew.  Enormous bombers take off every 20 minutes, and also seaplanes (and) army transports, TWAs and army trainers.  And now, here I am in San Diego, five hours late at Union Station.  I am going to eat all I can hold, and then I'll take a bus to the training camp.  I had a swell trip.  Don’t worry about me … I was never happier or felt better in all my life.

Note: Click on this photo or any photo that follows to enlarge that photo.

 Years later in 1951, after the war, JERRY wrote a somewhat different story:

"Marine NCOs, who'd waited for us at the train Station, packed us recruits into a Marine Corps bus.  When its doors closed, I knew I was in the Marine Corps for sure.  After we passed through the gates of Marine Recruit Depot and pulled up in front of the Recruit Receiving Center, we stepped down onto the pavement, into our DI's gaze.  There he stood, looking us over, up and down, then he declared:  "Seeing you worms, I cannot imagine the depths to which my beloved Marine Corps has now sunk.  Getting bodies like yours, my Marines will never be the same with you people in it.  How can I perform miracles in seven weeks on you miserable specimens?"

 

JERRY'S INTRODUCTION TO US MARINE CORPS AT ITS SAN DIEGO RECRUIT DEPOT

 

ON August 30 on Platoon 710, Marine Corps Base San Diego, California, stationary, JERRY wrote:

Dear Mom –

I’ve just completed one day in the Marines.  Our Platoon Leader (DI) has seen action.  And boy is he rough.  

the DI, boy, is he rough

I just keep my mouth closed and my eyes open.  Here I am, the youngest one in the platoon, the only one in it that don’t smoke, drink, and cuss.  I don’t shave, either, but I go through the motions of it.  Mom, I want you to send me a razor holder.  But I got more clothes than I ever had in my life.  I got some shots in my arms also. My shoes weigh a ton.  I keep all my soap and smaller articles in my shoes.

Love Jerry     P.S. I’m suppose to shave so I'll go now.  You write soon.

It would be more than a week before JERRY received his first letter from home.  But he kept writing and posting his letters home to Kansas.


On August 31 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom –

Today we got our rifles.  Boy 'o Boy if they aren’t really neat.  Our DI says it is my best friend.  We began to learn all the parts today.

But otherwise I had to send a lot of my home stuff back home, including money.  It might get stolen, they said, and then they issued us a bunch more clothes.  I also took a mental test.  Since I was told that I wasn’t going into battle until I’m 18, and they don’t have Para-Marines anymore, I signed up for Fleet Marine Service first and Signal Corps second.  We don’t go on REGULAR SCHEDULE until Thursday.  But we got a batch of stuff to memorize.  Tomorrow we get our haircut.

Write please.  Love Jerry

YEARS LATER, in 1951, JERRY WROTE: The day the Marine Corps first issued us our personal "M-1" rifle, we were told "to protect your rifle and then it will protect you and you and your rifle will never be parted."  So we babied our rifles something awful.

We spent untold hours at night and early morning stripping our rifles down and cleaning and oiling them, and knew its serial number better than our own, and I had to sleep with my rifle disassembled in bed more than once when I was caught without my rifle cleaned, oiled, ready to go.  So we all thought we'd carry these very same weapons of ours that we were using in Boot Camp into battle, that the same rifle we drilled with and later qualified with on the rifle range, that very M-1 (I'd named mine Sloppy Joe) would protect each of us later in our fights with the Japs.  When the Marine Corps took my M-1 Rifle Sloppy Joe away from me at the end of Boot Camp. I was sorely disappointed. 

 

ON September 1 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom –  You should see my hair, what is left of my hair.  The barber took the electric clippers and run over it.  Boy 'o boy is it short.  Phew, it’s so short its bald.  Tell DAD that the barbers out here cut the hair just the way they want to.  My scar shows like everything.

So far here now, in the mornings, I eat first and go back to our huts and guard them.  Right now I am guarding the huts.  Otherwise, I’ve been oiling and shining my rifle every chance I get.  I call it Sloppy Joe cause I keep it oiled and greased like Gran Dad oiled and greased his Model A Ford.  Another guy and I cleaned our new bayonets today.  Tonight we must recite orally a batch of orders.  Tomorrow we begin our REGULAR SCHEDULE and boy do we ever work! 

Love Jerry        PS - Be sure and send me a razor holder.  I need some needles too.  I could use an iron.  All the guys do like my BIBLE.

Note: YEARS LATER JERRY WROTE: Despite the fact I never had to shave, I needed more time to clean and oil Sloppy Joe and otherwise get shipshape for morning inspection than most others, so once I had to fall into formation with no rifle and had to sleep with Sloppy Joe disassembled that night.  After that, I skipped breakfast to insure that Sloppy Joe and I were always ready for morning inspection.   

 

JERRY'S PLATOON BEGAN ITS REGULAR BOOT CAMP SCHEDULE ON 2 SEPTEMBER 1943:

ON September 3 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom –

Yesterday we started on regular schedule.  We get up at 5:30 A. M. and go to bed at 10.00 P.M.  Nobody has to coax us to get to bed either.  We just fall in.  In between times, we march and we repeat our “positions of attention” to the DI, and we tear apart our rifles, clean bayonets, and soap our gun slings, and we memorize our orders.  Tomorrow, we must know our ‘General Orders.’  But mostly we march.  So today we marched.  Again they stuck me on the lead spot for marching.  Gads, I wish I could follow sometimes, instead of always being out in front.  Up front it takes too much attention to do it right.  It is much easier to follow than to lead.  But I feel fine and I like it so far.

Write to me now.  Love Jerry

Note: YEARS LATER, in 1951, JERRY told a more detailed marching story from what he wrote to his mother on September 3 1943, saying: "Because of my height, the DI had me march as the right front guide on the extreme flank of the third rank.  Out there on the end, with nobody to follow, my long legs easily took me out of step, into a bad cadence. So it was hard for me to shorten my step, and set a proper pace, for the feather merchants marching on their shorter legs behind me.  This was particularly so when turning. 

Click to Enlarge Plus, with the wind racket inside my large helmet bouncing around my ears, I often couldn't hear DI's commands or hear the cadence.  He'd holler "To The Rear March," only to discover me, looking straight ahead, marching off in a straight line like before.  But now I was all alone, as the rest of my Platoon marched off in the opposite direction.  This never failed to give our DI yet another opportunity to scream and holler about how hopeless we all were, but me in particular.  Plus our DI targeted any Boot who stood taller than he did at 6 feet even.  Standing 6 feet 4 inches, I towered over him, so I caught hell constantly.  The DI's swagger stick thumped our helmets often, announcing and correcting all sorts of infractions. Once, correcting a Boot who was marching out of step, the DI's swagger broke with a loud snap between the offender's marching shins.  Scared as we were of the DI, we tried hard as we could to hold it back, but our laughter broke out nevertheless.   "Hell on wheels" then ensued for days.  That seven weeks of Marine Corps Boot Camp, its unrelentingly surprises, demands, and pressure, 24 hours a day, day after day, inflicted more stress than I experienced in later combat.  So it worked, saving us in battle later."  

BUT JERRY, who wrote 47 letters home to his parents during Boot Camp, never complained of any stress, harassment, or unfair treatment.

 

ON September 6 JERRY WROTE (on his 8th day of Boot Camp):

Dear Mom - It's Monday morning early and I was looking for a letter yesterday from you and I did not get one.  I haven’t got any letters from you yet.  I hope I get one from you today.  Out here it is cold at night sleeping in our huts so I keep a sweat shirt on when I sleep.  The rest of the guys freeze and shiver all night.  Every one in my platoon has a head cold but me.

Yesterday, all the guys that wanted to go to CHURCH could go.  But every platoon has a specified time to eat and the Protestant services were held at the same time our platoon had to eat.  Since I couldn’t be in two places at once, I missed the chow (my meal) to go to CHURCH. Only one Protestant and myself went from our hut.  We've got some Catholics in our platoon who also went.  Mom, you should see my CHURCH here.  It is sure pretty.  About twice as large as our CHURCH at home.  The father of one of the boys in my platoon is a preacher.  He and I together know more about the BIBLE than all the rest of the guys in our Platoon put together.  We have a good time getting together and picking good stories and sayings out of our BIBLES to read.  After CHURCH, I spent all the time taking my rifle apart and cleaning it.  I also oiled and shined my bayonet.  Tomorrow we begin our COMBAT TRAINING.  It is really going to be rough.  I don't think some of the older guys can take it. I feel fine.  I always go back for second helpings and the guys call me HUNGRY.  Well I got to go now.  Write soon.


 

 

 

 

 

 GERRY'S COMBAT TRAINING started on SEPTEMBER 7:

 

 

 

ON September 7 after his 1st letter from home arrived, JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom – I got your letter and I was sure glad.  The rest of the guys have been getting mail all along.  The ear-plugs you send however are three days too late.  I've already qualified for swimming.

Today we began our COMBAT TRAINING.  I sure got my rifle filthy with sand out in the “boondocks.”  I was learning to fall down with a rifle and bayonet and do it without exposing myself to enemy fire.  Some guys are afraid to hit the ground.  I’ll bet they hit the deck (that means ground) when they are in a battle and the Japs are throwing lead at them.  Afterwards we had our first inspection by the “Old Man.”  That's the Commanding Officer.  By then I had my rifle and bayonet perfect.  We have an inspection of our rifles every day.  And twice each week there is a General Inspection by the Old Man.  Obviously, we've got to have everything shipshape every day.  So at night we put gobs of oil on our pieces (rifle and bayonet) so they won’t rust.  In the morning we wipe every speck of oil off.

Click to Enlarge

Mom, I’m going to a combat film right now but I'll come back and finish this --- Now I’m back.  It was on bayoneting.  But I got to go out to the boondocks now so I’ll quit.  Write soon.

Love Gerry

 P.S. I’m putting on weight and I feel wonderful.

 

ON September 8 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom –

It's Wednesday.  I got your letter dated Monday.  You said you missed me.  You should make the best of it because I'm O.K. and learning a lot also.  Like today I found out that our base here is much different when you see how it looks in photographs taken from planes up in the air.  And that every Marine must spend a month in the mess hall.  UGH!  Last night we signed up for war bonds and life insurance.  Now, after everything is taken out on payday, we will owe the government money, probably.  I sure hope my cartoon’s sell.  Today our DI inspected our rifles.  They were not perfect so we all have to pick up 200 cigarette butts.  I haven’t even started yet but I’ll get them.  Write to me.

P. S. Don’t worry.  I feel swell and I’m getting along all right.  Love Jerry

YEARS LATER, in 1951, JERRY wrote: Our DI enforced discipline is many different ways.  One of his joys was watching us hold our rifle's 12 pound weight steady and straight at arm's length, until our DI lost interest.  Another favorite was the Bucket Drill, watching us haul two full water buckets, one in each hand, hiking quick time back and forth between the shoreline and Boot's hut, doing round trips until we successfully completed one round trip without any spillage.  Cigarette Butt Retrieval got more complicated.  Typically we had to search, find, collect and string a requisite number of butts before presentation to the DI.  The worse our offense, the more butts we had to collect, string, carry and present to the DI for his absolution.  The more butts, the harder the task.  Butts dry quickly then easily fall off the string.  Thus Boots had to dash madly around trying to collect and keep strung up to 200 butts on a single string before presentation.  If this proved impossible, the Boot was sent to a DI Smoker.  There he'd wait for DIs to flip him their used cigar butts.  A cigar butt counted for 10 cigarette butts.  So, with time and DI indulgence, the boot eventually would achieve absolution.

Note: JERRY shared none of this with his parents ever.  The same day he'd spent picking up and stringing 500 cigarette butts, September 8, 1943, he closed his letter to his mother with the saluation on the left.

 

 

ON September 10 JERRY WROTE TWO LETTERS HOME - ONE TO DAD, THE SECOND TO MOM:

 Dear Dad –

Thanks a lot for the swell razor.   You asked me how I liked the Marine Corps.  I think it is swell.  Nothing can beat it, including the NAVY.  A lot of 18 year olds are here in our platoon of 63 men.  Most of the guys are from Michigan and Texas.

The DI says we really have a rough bunch.  The other day he got mad at us so he took us out to the boondocks, to a real big sandy hill, and made us charge up and over that hill time and again.  No one passed out.  Our DI said that in earlier platoons of his, a lot of guys passed out.  We are pretty tough because we could have gone more.  So far only one guy in our Platoon has dropped out.  I’m feeling fine and am in much better physical shape than most fellows.  Yesterday we began bayoneting.  I really like to work with the bayonet.  So the DI used me for demonstrating purposes.  We practiced with each other, but his tricks didn’t work on me.  He said the reason I held my own was that he'd had Malaria some time ago and was still under weight.

The weather is O.K but today the dust blew for two solid hours.  And today we also tackled the obstacle course for the first time.  It wasn’t near as tough as I heard it was.  I was the first one to finish.  We  had a mock battle too.  My squad was on the left end, and we were to go away off to the left side so as to out-flank (get to the side of) our opponents.  The problem was the enemy had one sniper stuck way out from their main body.  No one in my squad noticed him, he'd dug into sand, so while we were attempting to perform our mission, that sniper picked us all off.  From now on, I’m going to weed out the position of those “smart” guys.  And I’ll bet we don’t get caught like that again.  And now, every day, is really rugged.

Every day now too we also attend combat films.  Today’s was on how to guard against enemy attack while marching in column.  Plus I got an infection in two fingers so the Saw Bones - that's what they call doctors here at the base - took a knife and he punctured the wound so let the puss out.  That didn't even hurt me.  Tomorrow we get vaccinated again - UGH.  But the Saw Bones are Okay Guys.  You asked me how I liked the chow.  I like it so well that I always go back for second helpings and the guys call me HUNGRY.  I got to go for now so goodbye.

Write to Me.  Love Jerry

P.S. I feel fine.  Don’t tell Mom about my finger.  And keep quiet about what I told you about our training and ships.

THE SAME DAY JERRY WROTE HIS MOTHER:

Dear Mom –

Today was a big day for me - I just got your letter and package.  Mom, those cookies were swell.  We aren’t supposed to have anything like that here.  But we (that is the guys in our hut) ate about ½ of them and then put the box with the rest of the cookies in a stove.  So as long as our DI don’t find out, we will be O.K.  Mom, why didn’t you send me a picture of yourself?  I would like to have one of GYPE and one DAD also.  Mom, you said you got a permanent.  What caused that?  Did the spirit finally move you?  I told the guys that you don’t like to get smoked up with cigarette smoke.  They all thought that was funny.  So GYPE sleeps in your bedroom every night.  That is cute.  Does GYPE still snore and have dreams in his sleep?  (Note: GYPE was the 15 years old family dog)

It was nice of Pauline to give you five bucks for clothes but I got to wear GI (Government Issue) clothes here and I don’t leave boot camp until I’m through in 7 weeks but only got 4 dollars left.  Then I’m coming home (I HOPE).  So Jim left for the Navy, hope he likes it.  It's way different than the Marines by a long shot.  I got Pauline’s package and wrote her a letter of thanks.  I’ve received about 16 letters so far, but of course the most important letters are from you.

Keep writing.

Love Jerry

 

ON September 12 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom –

Today is SUNDAY.  It's a day for CHURCH and then to loaf and rest, but I haven’t laid down on my bunk yet.  I've spent the day eating, cleaning my RIFLE and BAYONET, and straightening out my sea bag.  But believe me, I won’t need any persuasion to get to bed tonight.

At CHURCH they handed out NEW TESTAMENTS.  We sang “Why Does He Love Me So.”  Everyone had his own way of singing, but it still sounded O.K.  Afterwards three of us got together and studied our NEW TESTAMENTS again.  I was the only one that had a whole BIBLE.  One of the boys believes that JESUS and GOD are each different individuals.  We agree on everything else.  He is really a swell guy.  We also have some swell CHAPLAINS out here at the base.  Today we also got up a game of football.  We really had fun.  The other day I BOXED a guy who used to box in the ring.  I won because I had longer arms and I am in good condition.  (Note: JERRY LATER would become the boxing champion of the 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion on Saipan before Iwo Jima and on Maui while awaiting the invasion of Japan's home islands before Japan surrendered.) The guys in our platoon argue one minute and laugh the next.  We get along swell.   Got to go to bed now.  I’ll mail this in the morning. 

Love Jerry      P.S. If you don’t get a letter every day, don’t be alarmed as I am awfully busy, but you write.

   

ON September 13 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom - RICHARD got off the RIFLE RANGE and came by to see me last night.  I was at a GAS and FIRE lecture, so he came back this afternoon.  We were sure glad to see one another.  Remember how he used to look?  Now he looks a little browner and tougher, says he feels a lot better, healthy.  RICHARD couldn’t stay long, but just that little bit of time together was better than none at all.  He may not get a furlough after BOOT CAMP.  He may go straight to LINE CAMP without a leave.   We don’t get to see each other much, so we just write to one another.  At that GAS lecture, we learned how to put on and adjust our gas masks then went thought the GAS ROOM.  The masks are just a little stuffy but otherwise O.K.  I got three whole pages of notes on the GAS LECTURE.  We expect the AXIS to use gas before this war is over so are being prepared.

Today we filled up our overseas pack (60 lbs) and then marched and had an inspection.  Mine went perfect.  But Mom, these packs do get just a little heavy.  After the inspection, the rest of the platoon went to the picture show but another fellow and I ironed 63 ties.  We did a good job too.  He's shining his shoes right now.  I’ve got mine shined.  Today a guy busted a window.  He has to pick up 500 cigarette butts.  I feel fine and would like to get home, of course, but am busy and I don’t get homesick.  Right now I’m trying to figure out a Christmas cartoon for a contest for $50 for the winner.  It’s a Division contest so I have to compete with lots of pros.  Joe is working the serious card, I the comical one.  $58 for each winner – Wow!!  We go to the RIFLE RANGE this Saturday.  Love Jerry    P.S. send me airmail stamps.     

 

ON September 15 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom and Dad –

Yesterday we got another shot in the arm.  Some guys really got sore, but it didn’t bother me a bit.  After that, all day yesterday and this morning, we practiced for today's parade and full pack dress rifle inspection.  I missed this morning's chow to get fixed up for inspection by a First Lieutenant. I haven’t learned to tie my tie yet, so one of the fellows ties it for me.  I shine my shoes each and every day.  But these ole’ shoes don’t keep a shine at all.  The polish comes off on our clothes.  But for today's inspection, that lasted four hours, I was perfect.  I was glad when it was over.  So I made up for that missed breakfast at noon.

 Now, I just got back from an entertainment stage show.  It was sure swell.  They had a clown and an ole’ goof that acted silly with the violin.  I almost died laughing.  The day is almost over and am I glad.  But I got to clean my rifle now and go to bed.  Send me some more cookies (you might include some chocolate bars).  And I need airmail stamps.

Love Jerry

 

 

ON September 18 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom & Dad –

Last night we went to the boxing matches.  Some of them were good and funny.  Two big fat guys boxed and half wrestled.  Neither one knows anything about boxing and it was sure funny.  Now, we're all packed up to go out on the RIFLE RANGE TOMORROW, Saturday.  At noon today I ate and ate and ate, the food was delicious.  We also got issued our leggings and emblems.  DADDY knows what leggings are.  And today we got the pictures taken of our platoon last Sunday.  I sure take a goofy picture.  Some of the guys look mad and others look like they are mentally off balance.

Tonight we've had almost 4 hours off.  I played football for an hour then I helped clean up the hut.  I’ve been studying my BIBLE for the last 2 ½ hours.  The more I study it, the more I am learning to love it.  Some of the guys want to know different things about the BIBLE and I tell them my opinion.   The Concordance in back is swell.  We have a radio and speaker rigged up mom and it is swell. We get some smooth music and all the latest news.  The guys in Europe are right in the groove, aren’t they!

I ‘m feeling fine, but I want you to send me some cookies, candy (box chocolates) and some donuts please.  We don’t get nothing out here unless it is from home.  I’m about ready to hit the sack now.  A guy can sure sleep good around here – anyway I do.  I resurrected a pad for my cot.  It feels good not to sleep on the naked cot itself.  

Well I got to go now so so long.  Love Jerry  -  P.S I didn’t get a letter today from you.

 

ON September 19 JERRY TRAVELLED TO THE RIFLE RANGE :

 

 

Dear Mom and Dad

Today, first thing, we got another shot in the arm.  Now we are out of quarantine so we can go the PX (store) anytime.  But I got 21 cents left.  Next thing we did is load aboard a truck and head for the RIFLE RANGE about 10 minutes out of San Diego.  There now I can look at the mountains that surround the range.  We sleep on wooden bunks.  Our DI just asked us who wanted to attend CHURCH tomorrow and who wanted to stay here and finish getting straightened out for our stay here.  Only my friend LAUGHTON and I held up our hands to go to CHURCH.  LAUGHTON'S dad is a preacher.  He intends to follow in his dad’s footsteps.  I just know that he will attain his ambition.  Anyway, LAUGHTON doesn’t like the idea of killing.  He has positive faith the LORD wiLL take him out of here or someplace where he won’t have to kill.  I know the BIBLE says not to kill but SAMPSPON killed and still went to Heaven.  So I figure that I can kill 10,000 Japs if I have to and still have everlasting life.  Our difference of opinion on this subject doesn’t make any difference because we still enjoy working together.

Anyway, I know that when LAUGHTON and I come back from CHURCH tomorrow some of the guys will catch us away from the other guys and inquire about the service.  LAUGHTON and I have been reading our BIBLE every chance we get.  Slowly, but surely, the guys have become interested or inquisitive about what we two read in our spare minutes. Three guys already have come to me today, each at different times and want to know something about or look at my BIBLE.  Even our hardboiled Platoon Corporal had me let him read my BIBLE.  Last night the Assistant Platoon Leader sneaked up on me and sat down beside me and we talked a little about certain points in the BIBLE.  These leaders think that the men will think they're sissies if they say anything about JESUS to them.  So they only speak in Biblical terms with LAUGHTON and I, and otherwise try to act real tough and mean.  But down inside they are meek and fear the LORD just like you and I do.   Anyway, I am sure proud of that neat BIBLE that you got for me.  The CONCORDANCE is most helpful.  The DI likes it also.

DAD, what do you mean saying: “Jerry, how you like the secondary branch of the Navy by now.”  I’ll have you know that the Marines are first, last and always.  There just isn’t any secondary about it.  Right now I got to clean and oil Sloppy Joe.    Friday we fire the 22 CAL. RIFLE.

Love Jerry  - 

P.S I feel fine.  Send me another BIBLE just like the one you brought for me.  My friend who wants it will pay me exactly what you pay for it.  You can put it in a box of cookies.  The sooner the better.  If I let him study my BIBLE every time he wants, I won’t ever get to read it.  He wants one like mine so bad that he can taste it.  He is prepared even to pay $8 for one.

 

ON September 21 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom & Dad

Now we are learning to get into the four positions of firing.  They sure stretch and twist your bones.  It hasn’t bothered me yet   I oiled my rifle just like GRAN-PA used to grease and oil his Ford.  The oil is almost dripping out.  It takes a lot of lubrication to work the rifle successfully.  Have you got the BIBLE yet?  I got a letter from Ben Goddard yesterday.  I see that now he is President of Walnut Valley Association and also a Reverend.  Here are the Answers to Dad’s Questions.  1. Shoes – brown.  2. I get paid once per month I think.  3.  I get so little that probably I will owe the Government on payday.

I got to eat now so goodbye for now. 

Love Jerry 

 

 

ON September 23 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom & Dad

 

Time sure flies around here.  This morning we got up at 4:30 A.M.  I'm still sleepy.  Today we will fire the 22 CAL. RIFLE.  I have my positions down pat.  And I know I will do O.K. on qualification day.  By now I am limbered up, so the twisting and crouching is not bad at all.  Some guys think they are pretty good shots and make bets on how good they think they are all the time.  I don’t think I’m good because I know I am.  But I’m not going to say anything.  Not until after the test day comes.  Then I’ll see just how good some of the wise guys are and also how good I am.  Richard did pretty good, he made sharpshooter.  That is second highest possible.

- I am going to rifle range right now.  I'll finish this when I come back -

Now I am back, and just got off the firing line.  I did a little better today than I did yesterday.  I am going to save all of my targets and compare them to see how much I improve each day.  Some of the guys have had a terrible time even coming close to the Bull’s Eyes.  The DI will hand out the medal for the one who shoots the best.  Today we all agreed to each give the highest shooter a buck.  So the guy who wins will get the $63 to go home on.  Every one of us expects to win the $63.  I’ll faint if I shoot best.  The Lord will sure have to be with me because I shake too much.

It’s about time for noon chow.  I just got your letter with that dollar bill, but am waiting for my chocolates to come.  Here they charge us twice as much as the same stuff is on the outside.  You know those little boxes of breakfast food that you pay 10 cents for in an eating place at home?  Well, at the mess this morning, I took four. The mess man thought I was nuts.  But he didn't know me very well, did he?  And that was only a starter. Thanks for the buck.  I can use some more bucks before Payday.  And, when they come, those Mills Chocolates will sure taste good.

And good bye for now.  P.S Here on the rifle (range) we only have to shave on Sundays.

Love Jerry

 

ON September 27 JERRY WROTE:

DEAR Mom & Dad

We have just COMPLETED firing the 22-CALIBER rifle. I shot pretty good.  It’s about time to go to bed.  We've sure had a real day.  I'm munching a chocolate bar that I bought out of the dollar.  I didn’t receive a letter from you today.  I can’t think of anything else so until tomorrow goodbye. 

Love Jerry  -  P.S. I just finished the story in the 3rd Chapter of Daniel.

 

ON September 28 JERRY WROTE TWO LETTERS HOME - ONE TO HIS MOTHER, THE SECOND TO HIS FATHER:

 

 

Dear Mom –

Today we fired the 30 CAL. CARBINE rifle.  It was really an accurate rifle.  I shot a plenty good score.  But I am going to do even better tomorrow.  We won’t get to fire the US M-I (our own rifles) until next Monday.  I am just dying to see what my rifle Sloppy Joe will do for me.  I use it like a baby.  I sometimes keep it warm at night.

YESTERDAY I took charge of the guys going to CHURCH.  It is a whole mile getting there walking over rocks, hills, etc, and we had a swell CHURCH service.  Then our Platoon played another Platoon in a game of baseball.  We really had fun.

I got your BIBLE today.  I’ll send you the money for it as soon as I get around to it.  I am going to hold onto it until Howard gets the $7 from home.  I've got three different groups of guys that want to read your BIBLE.  I lent it to one guy tonight, and I will lend it to another one tomorrow night, and to a third guy the night after. 

My finger's been a little sore lately so I haven’t been writing much.  We have extremely little time to ourselves anyway.  When I don’t write, why I think of you anyway.  I’ve had more than one guy say to me that I must have a good Mom & Dad.  When you send my cookies I want you to send me some good writing paper.  Out here we pay 10 cents for 10 sheets.  I could use some Do-Ra-Me also.  And I sure like MILK CHOCOLATES.   Dad can stop at Stone’s Candy bungalow on Douglas and Broadway and get me a two-pound box in his spare time.  Tell Dad and Mrs. Menzel hello for me.  How about the snapshots?   I feel fine.  These hard beds are not bad at all.  I got to feed my face now so I’ll quit for now. 

Love Jerry


JERRY'S LETTER TO HIS FATHER SAID:

Dear Dad –

Today we fired the US CAL. 30 CAl. CARBINE rifle.  It is an accurate weapon.  We fired at moving targets and I didn’t make a single miss.  I consider that target a real live rotten Jap then I let him have a hunk of lead.  If I can get a little steadier, I'll have a good chance of winning the $60 pot.  Of course the competition is plenty tough.

DAD, since you were just in the NAVY, I suppose you don’t know much about the art of shooting or hand-to-hand fighting.  Since I’ve been in the Marine Corps, I have learned to take some pain.  I’ve had two infected fingers and both boils lanced.  I mean those fingers were really cut and ripped open, high and wide.  Whew!  Last night, after my first finger got lanced, I got to thinking about how my second finger would hurt when they cut it open today.  So last night I couldn’t sleep … because it kept hurting.  So I just prayed that it wouldn’t hurt me quite so much as my first finger did.  And what do you know?  Even though that second boil was bigger, and my whole finger was infected, it didn’t hurt half as much as the first.  I guess you can figure it out yourself Dad.   Because this morning, after a high Navy Doctor had cut, ripped, scraped and swabbed that second finger, it felt so swell that, this afternoon, when I fired the carbine, my finger was working alright.  I was so happy with that finger and how it felt, I didn’t mind whether I shot a good score or not.  And Lo and Behold!  I really did go to town firing that weapon!  I guess I was steady because I wasn’t going to worry.  The lesson here is that so long as I get to bounce a few hunks of hot lead off some Japs, why all this personal pain will be worth it.   Don’t you think so, Dad?

And not only that, Dad, before I figured that the noise of gunfire would make me a little jumpy.  But Dad, it didn’t bother me the very least bit even.  We also had our turn pulling targets today.  Lead was flying everywhere.  One bullet went through the moving target stick that I was working.  It cleared my hands by a full 12 inches.  The guy that fired at my target was sure wild. He couldn’t hit a cow.  Carbine sights are not adjustable so we must use Kentucky Windage on it.  Tomorrow, we fire at 500 yards.  I’m going to hit that Jap again I suppose.  Then I’m just waiting for next Monday to come.  So then I can fire Sloppy Joe and see how he acts up.  I keep him in the very best of condition, so I expect the very best results from him.  I named my rifle Sloppy Joe because I oil it any time, and all the time, just as Grandpa did his Ford.  I know one thing.  I would sure hate to be the Jap, or Japs, that get in our way because Joe and me are going to cooperate on those rats.

Now, as I understand it, I am scheduled to get a 10-day furlough.  If I don’t, there is going to be one mad Marine around here.  I really believe that all of us will get it.  I also believe they will put me into the FIGHTING MARINE INFANTRY.  From there, I am going to try to get into the Marine Raiders.  I wish you were here now.  The guys all feel swell tonight and right now they are singing Down by the ole’ Mill Stream.  They will keep it up until Taps.  We all feel wonderful tonight for some reason.  I’ll bet those Japs sure don’t have half as much fun as we do.  When we feel as we do now, you could never tell that we ever had an enemy.  We can change plenty quick though. 

Say DAD - find out how much it will cost me to come home & back round trip.  I’m coming home if I only get to stay an hour.  I don’t have any more statements, so I’ll to quit beating my chops for tonight so its so long until the next time.

MARINE

Your son Jerry  -  P.S.  send me some stationary, candy, money, ever-sharp pencil sharpener 10cents, two pencils, little bit of saddle soap.  I feel fine & dandy.  The content of this letter is just between YOU & ME.

 

YEARS LATER JERRY WROTE: During Combat Training, we spent a lot of time on personal one-on-one attack and defense.  This included, among other things, lots of bayonet training, jabbing away at targets with wooden arms on springs and hinges.  I got over-enthusiastic on the "parry and thrust" routine once, snapping my bayonet like a toothpick.  I thought my DI would have a stroke over "my wanton destruction of US Government Property."  I spent much time atoning for that sin, and learned that when the going gets tough don't depend 100% on the bayonet, get a good knife and carry so much ammo that you don't get caught without it.  In combat I also carried a Jap bayonet, less prone to breakage.

 

ON September 29 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom –

Yesterday I got your BIBLE.  The money belt is swell too, thanks.  But I need cash to put in it.  Or else it will get old and moldy and delicate, don’t you think?  Today I got two letters from you today so I only got four letters today, but two from you is as good as six from others.  Those 3 bucks I got today, already have come in handy.  This time it was a pint of ice cream.  So Steve is going to the Navy. Hope he likes it.  I suppose it is O.K.  Of course it just can’t begin to compare with the Marine Corps.  

Click to Enlarge

You asked if I can hit the side of the hill – you nut. It bet another guy that I would out shoot him today and naturally I did.  I only bet on sure things.  We got two more days of snapping in (that means getting into the correct firing positions) and then we begin to fire OUR OWN RIFLES, the M-1 RIFLE from Friday through the next Thursday.  After that, on Friday, WE FIRE FOR RECORD.

Your Marine Jerry

PS - No, I haven't seen RICHARD since I left the base in San Deigo.  Did he say if he is going to get a furlough or not?   I'm glad you sent him some stuff because I just know that his mom bakes things all the time for him.   Mom, don’t forget your own kid.  I can use some doughnuts.

PS - Well, I’ll quit beating my chop and hit the sack (that means go to bed in case you don’t know).

 

   

ON OCTOBER 1 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom & Dad –

Well I am just as tickled as I can be.  Today we began our actual firing of our own M-I RIFLE.  I tell you it is an A-1 perfect weapon.  In your earlier letter, you said I could hit that Bulls-Eye.  As far as today goes, you hit the nail on the head.  But at first I was certainly surprised when I lined the sights up at the Bull’s-Eye and that bullet went straight and true as can be.  After that I sank about ten Bull’s-Eyes.  We fired all 22 rounds from a prone (lying down) position.  That is the steadiest position.  I still shake a little at the other positions but I’ll get over that, I hope.  The rifle doesn’t kick hardly any.  It merely rises up just a little bit if a guy has a good solid position and the muzzle (front of the barrel) then comes right back down the target and then you just squeeze the trigger and it’s another Bulls-Eye for you.  It's accurate at long range too.  Back at 500 yards that Bull’s-Eye looks sorta small but I got 4 Bulls-Eyes out of 5 shots.  The other bullet was a close 4.  I was so satisfied with my M-1 that I have half a notion to sleep with it.  Dad, naturally the Navy never fires any weapon so you couldn’t understand the complicated parts of the rifle or how to correctly fire it.  Here's how:

 That is what the target looks like.  If a man hits every one in the number 4 ring, he will just barely qualify.  So you can see that we really got to shoot good to even qualify.  We shoot 68 rounds in all, at the prone position, sitting, kneeing, and off hand (standing).  The Bulls-Eye counts 5 points.  The 4 ring counts 4 points, the 3 ring counts for 3 points, and anywhere in the 2 ring gets you two points.  If you hit all Bulls-Eyes, and its never been done before, your score would be 340 (68 shots X 5 points (per bulls-eye).  268 points is the lowest possible score to qualify.  A Sharpshooter gets from 293 to 306 points.  307 to 340 points is Expert.  If a fellow shoots Expert he is definitely expert.   But guys can shoot Expert during the week and on record day they can go way down and sometimes they don’t qualify.  I’ll show you when I get home if I have time.  At home I intend to sleep and eat and lay around, but if I get the time and energy I may cut you in on the dope.  Anyway, the M-1 rifle sure makes a racket.  My ears still ring so I sign off for now. 

 

Love Jerry P.S. “SLOPPY JOE IS THE BEST OF THEM ALL.

 

 

 

ON OCTOBER 5 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom & Dad -

Today is Sunday.  I went to CHURCH then our Platoon had guard duty all day, each of us had 2 hours on and four hours off.  So it was not bad at all.  I guarded one of our two heads.  In the Marine Corps the building where the Toilets are are called “Heads.”  So I was 'HEADMAN', wasn’t I?  I'm glad RICHARD stopped by to see you on his furlough.  Don’t you think he looks swell?  So Betty Osler is going to get married. To whom?  ArtLois Musselman got married, did you know?  I sure hope you have sent me some cash as I am out.   I haven't had time to write, been extremely busy doing O.K. with Sloppy Joe, and will have SHOT for RECORD by the time you get this letter.

Jerry  P.S. (foo)

 

ON OCTOBER 6 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom and Dad -

I shot for record today.  I didn’t win the $60 and I did not shoot MARKSMAN.  But I shot 5 points below EXPERT.  That makes me a high SHARPSHOOTER.  I don’t make any excuses.  I am quite well satisfied with my score.  It wasn’t nervous or shaky.  I did my best and I came out 6th highest in our Platoon.  So you see, I am plenty happy that I shot a good score.  I’ll get $3 extra a month.  I feel find and dandy.

Your Son Jerry

 

YEARS LATER, IN 1951, JERRY WROTE:  I wanted to fire "MARKSMAN" in the worst way.  Getting that EXPERT badge set up a kind of pecking order.  ONE that all Marines understood.  The best of the best were "EXPERT."  Not earning that EXPERT medal was a big disappointment to me.  Some Boots had to stay longer to qualify for the lowest passing rank, MARKSMAN.  All did in the end.  That was an important part of every DI'S job, getting all of this Boots to qualify for Marksman or better. 

 

 

 

SAMPLING OF LETTERS AFTER BECOMING SHARPSHOOTER

 

ON OCTOBER 7 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom -

Yesterday we got back into SAN DIEGO from the rifle range, and went to some boxing matches last night.  Now its early SUNDAY morning, before CHURCH at 0900.  We stay here for 10 days then we each go to our individual line camps for three days before we are supposed to get one furlough.  The 1st lieutenant gave us a speech on lacking our furlough.  It appears that many of us may not get to go home at all.  I’m pretty sure that I will though.  But I’m only going to get $37.95 on next payday.  If you want me to come home between the 23rd and 30th (if I get my leave at all) you will have to kick in a little.  I couldn’t write so awful much while out on the RIFLE RANGE.  We were awful busy.  Yesterday I got a letter from RICHARD.  He is stationed at Point Lama, California, doing guard duty over at the Ammunition dump.  No kidding Mom I want you to write to him just as soon as you get this letter.  He's my best pal.  You write to him often and don’t expect an answer to all your letters because he is just as busy as I am.  He is the best kid in the world.  His address is Pvt. R. E. Rowland, Marine Detachment, FMF Point Loma, California.  He has a responsible position – phew – but I sure hope I go across and fight Japs instead of having guard duty.

---- GOT TO GO FOR NOW, but I'll be back and finish this ----

I'm back.  I have to buy my sharpshooter medal just like you said I would.  We couldn’t go to CHURCH this morning.  All morning we have been watering little trees.  We're supposed to get paid eventually.  When you send cookies enclose my pocketknife and whetstone & also a little 10 cent pencil sharpener.  Now I got to sew some rifle pads on my jacket, and must clean my rifle for inspection tomorrow.  So I’ll quit for now.

God bless you Love Jerry 

P.S P.S. this is an actual scene from our boxing matches last night.  (INSERT DRAWING HERE)

 

ON OCTOBER 9 JERRY WROTE

Dear Mom -

In 12 more days I’ll be on the way home.  That's if I get my furlough.  The 1st Lieutenant tried to talk us out of going home on our furlough but it didn’t work.  Even the guys from Michigan are going home.  Some of us will go through Line Camp and get set to go across and only then go home after that training period ends.  Some will go home after this boot camp and then go into Line Camp.  I'd rather go to the Line Camp first and then come home.  I got $37.95 this payday.  So if you want me to come home you will have to send me a little DO-RA-ME.  I must clean my rifle for an inspection coming off tomorrow.  I just finished picking up cigar butts from yesterday's inspection.

Today I didn’t get even one letter.  And I haven’t got any chocolates yet, or any knife either.  Send some doughnuts and cookies, too. Come on, shake loose.  I keep the BIBLE is my sea bag.  Every day is nearer to going home.

   

Love Jerry

 

 

ON OCTOBER 13 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom 

Well in a few more days we break up to go to Line Camp for three days.  After that, if we are going to get a furlough, we will get it then.  This has been another eventful day.  We had another parade and a full pack inspection – phew, it sure gets tiresome being out under that sun.  It lasts for three solid hours in dress clothes and pack, rifle, cartridge belts and so forth.  This morning we ran the OBSTACLE COURSE.  I was fastest.  Of course I expected to be the fastest.  I’m pretty rough and tough ya’ know.  I talked with Rick today … if we go to the same Line Camp we are going to get on the same train going home.  I doubt it very much through.   I must get to bed now, goodbye until tomorrow.

Love Jerry

P.S. to Dad – Of course I got the letters from girls (TWELVE in all). But they're not girlfriends - just plain ole” girls.  Marine on top of the world!!  P.S.  And that’s the truth. 

YEARS LATER, in 1951, JERRY WROTE:  Toward the end of Boot Camp, I was the first Boot to have memorized and recited the official ten or eleven "General Orders" such as how "to walk my post in a military manner"  Our DI was flabbergasted that such a big dummy could have pulled off such a feat.  From that day forward he stayed off my back.  I was equally flabbergasted when he included me among the 50% of the Platoon recruit graduates to receive PFC stripes.  This was no small matter for us because prior to the war, it took many a Marine three or four years to earn first stripe.  I had because a 17 year old PFC.  My one and only furlough during the entire war lasted two weeks after Boot Camp.  I recall being awfully proud coming home to Wichita, Kansas then with my PFC Stripe and Sharpshooter metal.

 

JERRY's FURLOUGH BEGAN 20 OCTOBER.  HE HEADED EAST FOR A WEEK AT HOME IN WICHITA, KANSAS.  ON October 30 He WROTE ABOUT HIS RETURN TRIP FROM WICHITA KANSAS TO SAN DEIGO WITH A STOPOVER AT LOS ANGELES:

I didn’t mind the trip back to the West Coast at all.  I finally got a seat coming back west to the coast when we hit Amarillo, Texas.  That train had a batch of W.A.V.E.S so we service men were well entertained.  I let a babe use my blouse to keep herself warm both nights.  I was shinning these gunboats of mine.  The people got a kick out of it.  I met another swell sailor on another train.  We hit L.A. (Los Angles) last night (Fri.).  We stayed up all night.  L. A. is so huge that it is fantastic.  I don’t know where one city begins and another ends.  We took in a show and explored and we went out to the Hollywood Canteen (USO).  We saw Wallace Berry and Hedy Lamarr and others.  Some comedy guys put on a silly show for us.  Only servicemen and not officers are permitted there.  Today we went to another show and rode escalators for two hours.  It's lots of fun, just step on a step and it carries you to the top of the stairs.  At 8:30 P.M. we pulled out of L. A. for San Diego.  Must quit and I’ll write tomorrow if I can.

Love Jerry    

 

ON November 1 JERRY WROTE:

Dear Mom –

I got gobs of letters today, accumulated over my 10 days of leave, including yours and one from Richard.  He'll be going across before long.   San Francisco is the jumping off place (if you get what I mean).  Oh well, the sooner we get across the sooner we come home.  You can't win a war by sitting here in the States, wishing someone else would fight the war for you - can you?  But I don’t have a cent – Hint!

NO MUN

     NO FUN

          YOUR SON

FOO           

Jerry    

 

 

 

ON November 11 (WAITING FOR RADIO SCHOOL TO START) JERRY WROTE TO A FRIEND:

 

Mr. Bob Snowden, Kemper Military School, Boonville, Missouri

Dear Bob - I got your letter today and understand that you are getting tired of military school - that is bad.  It seems to me that if you are actually learning the basic fundamentals of combat, and you have even a bare chance for West Point, then you should stick to your guns, Pal, and you will come out on TOP.  Bob, I love the Marine Corps.  I would not even consider any other branch if I had another choice.  But the Corps needs intelligent, militarily trained young men. If you can and will make a success of your opportunity there at military school, you will never regret it.

Here we are waiting for Radio School to start.  Your brother knows what he is talking about when he tells you that Radio School is plenty tough.  We get reports on it every day.  Here's the dope: the 1st day - Algebra, the 2nd day - Geometry, the 3rd day - Solid Geometry.  The 4th day - Trigonometry.  The 5th day - Theory of Electricity.  And so forth.  So you see it is not exactly simple.  Meanwhile, waiting for Radio School, today we ran four miles over the beach. I'm very glad that I don't smoke.  There is no shortage of breath for me.  And we did bayonet work too.  It's good knowing you can stick a composition training dummy under his helmet on the run.  It makes a fellow feel good, knowing he has a knife handy and can handle that knife, if need be.  So I sleep with mine, and my BIBLE too.  Meanwhile, as I write you, there is a hot crap game going on about six feet away from my bunk.  I get a kick out of watching the guys cuss themselves for playing and losing all their money - stupid fellows, aren't they?

Well, Bob, I must quit now.  I have some bible reading to do before I hit the sack.  Please write and cut me in on the latest dope.

Your Pal, Gerry

 

AFTER BOOT CAMP Jerry attended Radio school at San Diego CA. from October 1943 to January 1944. He then headed north to Camp Pendleton, Ca. for Advanced Infantry Training.  There, during Advanced Infantry Training, he saw a sign: Volunteers wanted for Special Combat Unit.  Jerry later said, "Everyone said it was hush-hush, being formed for immediate combat, just what I wanted, so me and a buddy signed up.  Within 48 hours we were taken to the Boat Basin at Oceanside where the 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion was being formed up quick to fight after all the beach losses at Tarawa."  He joined the 2nd Armored in March for training at the Boat Basin and shipped out 26 April 26th for advanced training at Maui in Hawaiian Islands.  On May 19th, after only five days of training, he shipped out for the battle at Saipan.  Given his age he was designated as an assistant ammo passer to be held in reserve.  But in the early morning hours of D-Day, June 15th, Jerry managed to talk his way into battle, convincing MAJOR RALPH BEVINS to allow him to land in the first wave of assault.  Saipan was declared secure on July 9th.  On the night of July 24 (D-Day), and the early hours before dawn of July 25th, Jerry's company C  under the command of MAJOR BEVENS held the far left flank of the 4th Marine Division on Tinian, and thereafter also participated in the entire campaign.  Jerry Company C refixured and trained on Saipan trained for Iwo Jima until it departed for Iwo Jima in February.  There, at Iwo Jima, Jerry's Company C participated in of the first assault wave onto Iwo Jima, wherein Jerry was awarded a Bronze Star, and Major Bevans a Silver Star.  At the conclusion of Iwo Jima Campaign, Jerry shipped out from Maui to prepare for invasion of the home islands of Japan.

 

Left to right John Brinkley, Jerry Brooks & Loyd "Red" Chapman, crewman, amtank Low Gut after Iwo Jima 

 

ON September 1, 1945 (24 months after his first date at Boot Camp at Marine Corps Base San Diego), JERRY wrote the following letter home.

Dear Dad

I haven’t written any special letter to you for quite a while.  So now I figure its about time as I do have a few things to discuss with you.

First – how about you?  I mean, what are your chances of holding down your job when this depression hits?  Think you can pull through again or not?  At any rate, I believe we should be salting away as much dough as we can, to be able to withstand the coming storm.  I believe that if we pull together on this thing, we shouldn’t have to go through the ordeal of mortgaging our home again.  And, as long as I go to school in Wichita, a good bit of that fifty bucks per month I get from the US Government GI Bill can go in our kitty – Okay?  So much for our problem of financial security – what concerns you also concerns me and in reverse order likewise, too – right Dad?

Second – my education.  I entertain every ambition to become a lawyer and aim to do my dead level best to succeed.  I’d like to wind up my schooling at Northwestern up at Chicago.  A year or so at U.V. then several at K.U., and the remainder at Chicago.  This of course is to develop into a reality only if ideal conditions, financially and otherwise, are present.  You and I know that a legal education requires several years at school.  We also know that I shall have to help myself through financially even when receiving assistance from the GI Bill, and certainly more so after that assistance is terminated.  We know that many men have worked their whole way through and so I can certainly do my best in this line also, as I’m not one bit better than the next man.  I seriously figure on being about 27 or 28 or perhaps 29 before I graduate even, much less get settled in my profession to be … Dad, due to this fact ... I aim to get and figure upon getting hitched up before reaching this age.  I do hope you will see my side of the issue.  Of course, there are extremely good reasons and arguments against it … I realize this, but figure if a man can find the gal he really wants for life before his education is complete, he may as well go ahead and tie up and finish his education as a “hooked” character.”  You and I know very well that we are only young once.  I honestly believe that by the time a man is 23 or 24, why he is old enough to exercise common sense and yet not too old to grasp and hang onto his youth for a while.  I figure I’ll be a junior in college at this time of life with one more year to complete at K.U. or W.V. (whatever the circumstances have warranted at that time).  After that I’ll go to Northwestern for my final degree.  So you see, Dad, I’ll be about half-way down the road concerning schooling, but marriage shouldn’t ruin me.  Rather it may even help me, if I can get a gal a bit like what you got. Also, I want to be a lawyer right there in Wichita if I possibly can.  Some day I want to have my own home and every thing right in Wichita.  I’ve been around, not nearly as much as you were in the last war, but I’ve seen quite a few places Dad and none appeal to me as much as home does, believe me.  ... I’d love to spend the greater part of my life in Wichita near you too.  Don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have you to consult when I get all fouled up.  I’d need you always and you know it.

Third – problems arising upon my immediate return to civilian life.  We both want a car of course.  But, as you say, it will be wise to be prudent on this matter.  We have done without a car for many years and we can continue that so as to get one that is really worthwhile – second hand cars – phooey … If a car is worth buying it is worth buying one that we know is as good inside as it appear on the outside – right, Dad?  We can’t use a big one.  A small one will suit us better each and every way from all angles.  I simply can’t see becoming involved in bad debt before of necessities even, much less luxuries.  I believe you agree on that score, don’t you Pop!  Now about the garage – we two can build it ourselves.  This old stuff of hiring some other Joe Blow is bunk when we can do it ourselves.  Come Spring we ought to build it … Another thing dad – how about us planting a tree in the back yard that will provide shade in later years.   I really think we need at least one tree in our backyard, don’t you?  ...

Not getting off the subject Dad, but today is the first day of world peace and to hear the folks all over the world by radio celebrating and rejoicing it makes me cry.  It seems almost to good to be true … when they play the national anthem and the various service songs, it makes a guy feel like a million dollars.  On the other hand, when I think of the guys that I actually saw fall never to rise again, I wish so much that there was some way we could show our appreciation.  I’ve been with kids who were my own age, 18, and I’ve seen some of those kids die horrible deaths, but they died like real men.  It seems that the average fellow worries more about how his folks will take it, rather than actually dying.  I guess there is only a certain point that pain can go and no further, beyond this point it becomes all numbness.  It seems that just at the end that the pain goes away and things begin to fade away, and, in each instance, that I’ve ever known, the dying man always passes away with murmurs of or about his savior on his lips.  Most of these men are pretty rough and tough.  But they're about as meek as a lamb when dying.  I guess the assurance of eternal life is really what makes death so much easier than one would believe.  You know Dad, you may think I’m lying, but I was so positive of getting knocked off before dawn once that I could clearly envision Mom getting the government notice and promptly fading away.  I could remember little Jimmie Teten too and I figured that in a matter of hours I would see him and Uncle Will.  I wasn’t afraid.  I don’t know why but I wasn’t.  Yet I was so positive of death.  Lou’s rifle would not work.  My bolt was fouled up because of all the sand in it.  When shells half smother you up in the sand, why your weapon is only usable as a ball bat.  But more than once one man has secured a nip or two that way.  I had a batch of U.S hand grenades and a whole batch of Nip grenades that I got off a dead Nip officer ... plus I had two combat knifes and one bayonet, a Nip bayonet that was mighty sharp.  So you see I still had a lot of potential power, but even then a guy can’t get them all when they come like flies.  Several attacks came but never got us.  But if they had thrown all their strength in one rush, why old J. B. wouldn’t be writing this today, Dad.  I could never be a doctor.  It hurts me clear down to the bottom of my shoes to a see a guy in deep agony.  One night it almost drove me mute with a guy was so badly hit that it was only a matter of minutes before he died.  He kept screaming for a corpsman, and they were all dead themselves, the cry of a dying man cam be horrible ... I hope we never have to go to war again, but I’m not too optimistic about those type of miracles.  How about you Dad? ...

Now where was I – oh yeah – Sam just brought my mail – one from you two, one from Jo Ann, and one from Lois Geis.  Jo Ann is as “giddy” as ever.  Lois has finally arrived at California (Diego).  So I guess you know where J. B. is heading on his first weekend leave.  You mentioned Bev and Joyce visiting you two.  Incidentally, just between you and I Dad, what is Bev like now days?  FAT?  I hope not because I just never could stand it, buy she's never sent pictures, not once.  How about you writing to me and giving me the scoop?  You know more about women than your eldest son does.  So give me the straight dope dad.

All books have a conclusion.  So now I shall sign off Dad and, in bringing this lengthy ordeal to a halt.  I want to say that I’ll be waiting to hear from you soon.  And that I’ll be home anytime between now and ‘49’ – be a lookin’ for me.

Love Jerry next to drawing of a Marine with a big smile, saying Howdy Dad

Under that is written P.F.C Jerry D. Brooks U.S.M.C.R.

 

 

YEARS LATER, in 1951, JERRY WROTE about his time in the US Marine Corps, including combat during World War Two on the Japanese held islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima:

"Most of us were in our teens and earlier twenties.  Most of our officers were also in their early twenties.  Most all of us were volunteers in a special unit.  Most of us considered ourselves to be the best Marines and in the best combat unit in the entire Marine Corps.  Our Officers were the Best of the Best, we thought.  I think this was a fairly widespread conceit among all Marines everywhere.  And I think this conceit was one reason why we could always count on the Marine to our left and the Marine our right, sure that they would never ever abandon their positions under fire and expose our flanks, and that we wouldn't either.

I was as conceited as one Marine could be.  But I never had an NCO or any Officer in my chain of command that I did not consider at least as good or better than I was. It all started at Boot Camp at San Diego; and, most particularly, it started on my graduation from Boot Camp in October 1943.  By then I was a full fledged member of a select little band.

The Marine Corps makes good men think they are supermen.  This illusion later proved to be exceedingly important to us in battle.  My self pride as a Marine, and my pride in my Marine unit, a special unit with its very special task, this (the ethos of every Marine thoughout the Corps) overrode any instinct I might otherwise have had to save myself at the expense of my fellow Marines.  Bugging out of the fight, opening another Marine's flank, even the though of such a thing, was something I never ever considered, never."

 

Note: Jerry D. Brooks wrote more than two hundreds letters home to his parents in Witchita, Kansas, between August 15, 1943 and September 20, 1945, his 25 months in the US Marine Corps during World War Two.  These letters are derived from his fourty-seven letters written before and during his time at Marine Boot Camp at the Marine Recruit Depot at San Diego, California.  Exerpts from the text of these letters and Jerry's art therein have been compliled and edited from those letters and published herein by Reed M. Fawell 111 with the permission of the owner of the entire collection of the letters owned by and belonging to Patty Brooks.  All rights are reserved.  No portion of this website or its contents, including these letters, may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photo copy, recording, scanning, or other, without the prior written permission of Reed M. Fawell III as to this website, and Patty Brooks, as to the contents of these letters herein above displayed.  Copyright  © 2015 by Reed M. Fawell III, Copyright  © 2015 by Patty Brooks.

 

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Note: this section is under construction as of May 1, 2016, so this section is neither complete nor fully edited:

After Boot Camp, Jerry returned from furlough home in Wichita Kansas, on October 1, 1943.  Radio school would not start until November 12.

ON November 4, 1943 JERRY BROOKS posted his 1st letter home since his return from furlough there.

Dear Mom –

We are waiting for radio school to start.  We have base Liberty now every day after 3 P. M.  and outside (go into town) Liberty every other night so it isn’t bad at all.   We’ve been cuttin’ up all day almost and it never gets dull around here.  We do everything from fighting to drills to checkers.  I won enough money playing checkers to buy this stationary so I’v been writing a few letters today too.  I am also learning to play chess now.  It’s a little harder, but I course I catch on quickly due to my amazing mental capacity.

You said in your last letter that you were still making doughnuts for the Halloween kids.   Did any kids come around for handouts?   I hope so.  I sure had a swell time at home so now I’m ready to go across and get me some Japs.  We got word today that some guys from our platoon, the ones who didn’t get furlough, are already on their way across.

I must quit now.  Write soon.  Love Jerry

 

ON November 8, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dear Mom –

Here it is Thursday and we are still waiting to go to radio school.  I got a letter from Bev yesterday.  And a reply from Fern today, letters sure make a guy feel good.  I expect another batch this weekend.  How about some doughnuts and cookies – huh!!!  I got to get all dressed up to go ashore now so I’ll sign off.  Last night a bunch of us got up a football game near the school and there we were having a good time playing football and those other guys inside were working hard.  But we don’t get paid until the15th if we get paid at all.   Sounds like Bob Whitfield had a wonderful time at Ottawa meeting.  He wrote “there were more girls than you can shake a stick at etc. etc. and on and on, that goof is crazy about gals.  I sure wish he had been at church on Sunday.  I wrote Edna Wilson yesterday.  Tell Beulah to write to me.

Love Jerry

P.S.  We just had roll call and we have not even got completely dressed.  Only been out of bed ten minutes.

 

ON November 10, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dear Mom –

I just got your pictures and Mutt and Jeff cartoons.  I was sure glad to get them.  Be sure and put some in my picture album.  I still don’t have a picture of you and dad.

Radio School still has not started yet.  I’ve been drawing cartoons for the guys today and they get a big kick out of them.  I don’t know why but I guess its okay.  I found a helmet on the beach so I wear it now and all the guys are looking for helmets now. I am going into San Diego tonight and we are going to wreck the town – we think.

Love Jerry

P.S. This is U.S.M.C. anniversary day.

 

ON November 11, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dear Mom –

Still have not heard from Beulah yet.  But I got a letter from you.  Remind Dad to remember to send along to me the Mutt and Jeff comic strips.  I get a big kick out of them.  Tell Dad to try and locate a Mutt and Jeff comic book because I looked all over San Diego yesterday and could not find one.

I now have a de lux special combat knife and say it certainly looks wicked – that knife may save my life some day.  Last night an Army outfit staged a mock attack on San Diego.  I was awful.  We could have killed them all even before they got started.  It was funny how they would try to act tough as they stopped all the traffic.  They all has submachine guns, rifles, automatics, fixed bayonets, etc.  They were all fixed up with no place to go, all their weapons empty.  They couldn’t hit what they were aiming at anyway.  If those doughboys had of messed with Shorty and I, there would have been a few sad doughboys.  We were armed with combat knives.  And we're still doing our combat training in earest.  We work and run all over the bay.  Some of the guys can take it but I come out swell, things like that don't bother me at all.  Plus Shorty and I have been working on knife throwing quite a bit.  Now both of us can stick a composition combat helmet with a knife on a slow run and that isn't near as goo as we'll be in a few weeks.  I makes you feel good when you know you are accurate with the knife.

Mom, I must quit now as I got Bible study before I hit the sack.

Love Jerry. 

 

ON November 12, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dearest Mom –

WHOOPEE!!

            HOORAY!!

                        HOT CHA!! 

Finally – at last – I’ve been transferred to school - RADIO

I’m glad I didn’t get telephone.  School will be awful hard but if I can make it – it will be worth it.  Tomorrow we begin to go to school.  Today I got letters from Lois Allison and Betty Edwards.  Now Betty is in McPherson and going to school.

Today we ran 8 miles along the beach and as usual I was No. 1 man.  I’ve been drawing for the guys again today.  Now they are giving their money to me so they won’t be temped to get into dice (craps) games and lose it.

Love Gerry.

 

ON November 13, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dearest Mom –

I’ve just finished my lesson for tomorrow.  It took 4.5 hours of steady studying, but I like it.  As long as I don’t get behind it will be okay.  I am enclosing another booklet for us to keep as a souvenir.  I feel fine and dandy.  How are you?  Don’t worry about me.  I won’t be going across for quite a while.

Love Jerry

 

ON November 14, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dearest Mom -

It’s Sunday and I just got back from Sunday evening service.  The preacher thinks its unusual for a man to come to all the services.

Last night we went ashore (Liberty) and attended a radio broadcast at Station KFSD 8:45 P.M. Saturday night.  I have enclosed the program that we were given.  I met a lot of young people including some nice gals.   I had two pictures taken and enclosed for you the one that shows me smiling.  The other one shows me looking mean.  I figure you can store the smiling one away somewhere for after the war.

Yesterday we got most of our books and Gads are they rugged!  I see now I’ll be studying all the time.   So I’m sitting on my bunk now, but am writing on two locker boxes stacked one atop the other in front of me.  Also I tacked my best picture of you, Dad and me together inside the door of my locker so I can see all of us standing there every time I open my locker.   It’s fun to go through all our pictures every once in a while.   

I’m still putting on weight.  Hope to gain another 20 pounds soon.  The food is swell.

Love Jerry

 

Click to Enlarge

ON November 18, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dear Mom –

Phew – just got through studying for tonight.  We have 4 hours of operating code each day.  Those codes almost drive some guys nuts.  But I don’t mind it much.  I’m okay in code and general communication classes.  I didn’t get all the assignment today on advance math but what I do get will just have to do anyway.   This advanced math is way above my head.  And it is the same way with about half of my class.  The other half of our bunch are college grads who have had this higher math.  The rest of us just do our best.  My memory works well though when we’re learning about all our units of the battalion, their call names and functions, so they are not so difficult.  Today we had a test and I was 5th highest and yet it was a failing grade.  If we have a math test before I catch on, I will just be sunk.  But one of the Brainstorm guys is going to help me with my math tomorrow so maybe I will catch on by then.

Love Jerry

(Note: Jerry joined the Marines right after the 11th grade.  After the war using the GI Bill he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Kansas and Masters Degree from Harvard University.)

 

ON Saturday November 20, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Click to Enlarge

Dear Mom –

Today, Saturday, is test day and so we only had to work for a half-day. We won’t get the test results until Monday, but I believe I came out O.K.  I studied enough.  (The code I learned in B.S.A comes in handy.  I can receive 8 words per minute already.)  Not long ago we started Liberty until 7:30 P.M. Sunday.  Already there is action.  Six of us six footers bunk in the same corner of the barracks.  I just finished reassembling two of them and one guy ran into my head and cut his lip and loosened a tooth so we quit our fun, but not before we knocked some bunks out of line.  Three of us are going ashore (on Liberty) as soon as I finish this letter.  My buddies “Eight Ball” and “Gooth” are in a hurry so I’ll stop here.

Love, Jerry

ON Sunday November 21, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

 

This is early Sunday morning at 7:30 A.M..  We just finished chow and it is quite a while until it is time for church, so I am writing you.

Last night on Liberty I had a recording made of my voice.  The record should reach you before long.  I decided to have a record made on the spur of the moment so naturally I didn’t prepare anything to say.  So I merely said what came into my mind at the time.  Get hold of a Victrola and you can play my record.  It is recorded on both sides.  If you want some more, just say so.

It is actually raining this morning.  When it rains it pours – you know.  And it is doing just that very thing right now.

Love Jerry  

 

ON November 22, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Click to EnlargeDear Mom –

I really hit the gong today – three letters from you, two from the church, and one from a school teacher.  You are really improving - two and three page letters are much better than half page ones.  Plus the Mutt and Jeff comical strips are amusing to all.  I received your swell box of candy yesterday – thanks a million.  Now, if you have any real good and hard questions on the Bible why just send them to me.

I’ll quit for now.

Love Jerry.

 

ON November 26, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad –

Ohhhhhhh – Grooooon.  I am almost sick.  We had all the turkey, dressing, pies, cake, gravy, fruit etc., etc. that we could possibly hold.  This evening we had a good game of football to top off the splendid Thanksgiving Day.  Some of the boys got banged up in the game today, and though I didn’t, I didn’t take Liberty, but instead am entertaining some of the guys with a harmonica.   One of the guys has two sailor friends and they want me to draw some cartoons for them and I will.

I got a letter from Bev today.  You ever see Buelah.  She must have kicked the bucket.  Never writes.  And well, what do you know – so Ruth is getting married off – that is swell for her.  I only hope the navy boy knows what he is getting into.  Ruth is a real nice girl.  But the idea of marriage is a little off the beam, I think, although it isn’t such a jolt to me.  She is a slight bit boy-crazy. 

This is Friday so I must get on with my review for tomorrow’s Saturday tests.

Your boy Jerry 

 

ON Sunday November 26, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dear Mom –

Well I have done it!  I went to John Bunyfan Smith’s Church.  He is absolutely splendid.  I have never seen better in my life before.  What do you know, a Baptists couple decided on the spur of the moment to get hitched immediately after the invocation.  The couple didn’t know anyone in San Diego so all of us in the congregation were there in attendance.  Dr. Smith is really superb.  He has an exceptionally original method of putting his ideas across.  I am enclosing his autographed service sheet for you to keep.  I talked with him a little after church was over and he was glad to autograph my service sheet, especially since I was from Wichita, Kansas.  Tonight I am going back and attend BYPU also. 

I feel fine and I believe that my tests on Saturday will be okay.

Love Jerry 

 

ON December 1, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dear Mom –

Today or rather tonight I have really been studying.    And I’m complaining.  Okay.  Plus the Army is moving onto our base.  We about died, laughing at the crazy guys.  Continually messing around, they don’t have any discipline at all.

This evening I’ve been running on the sand.  I got to stay super conditioned now.  So I am getting a little muscle bound.  If I stretch my legs the wrong way sometimes I get a cramp in them.  Plus I am growing up and out, weigh 185 pounds now, and my bunk is becoming too short for me.  Also I’m really getting good at throwing my knife.  I take a two by four and stick it in the sand and then throw my knife at it.  They should have me in the “Raiders.” 

This morning at drill I watched a flock of seagulls.  They are beautiful birds.  They glide along so contently.  Then they putter around our enormous drill field.  And they are extremely tame, seem to know that we are their friends.  If we aren’t careful we might accidentally hurt one of them.

I got a letter today from Jo Ann Payne.  Was I surprised.  Also got one from Beulah.  You have not said anything about the recording of my voice that I sent to you.

Love Jerry

 

ON December 3, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad

It’s 8 p.m.  I’m just taking it easy, writing this letter while laying on my bunk after I've looked over the pictures you sent me and re-read this weeks letters also.  Today was payday so I went over to the P.X. and got some 5 cent cookies, and some magazines.   Plus I got a swell sheath for my knife so I won’t have to make one.   And, since today was payday, a bunch of guys as usual are into a crap game going on.  Already several of them had lost their pay.  I’ve never seen anything so stupid in all my life.

Tomorrow is Saturday so we have only got half a days work then it is our turn for Liberty for the rest of the week-end through 0600 Monday morning.  We get leave like that every other weekend.  But I don’t think I will go to Los Angeles this time.  I'm just going to lay around and rest up and play a little football and take it easy.   I’d spend all my money if I went to L. A.  Plus we are lucky in that Christmas this year comes on a Saturday and that weekend I'll have Liberty from noon Saturday thought the whole weekend up until 6 a.m. sharp on Monday morning.

Love Jerry click to enlarge

 

 

 

ON December 6, 1943 JERRY BROOKS wrote:

Dear Mom –

This is Monday morning.  I didn’t write yesterday because I was out until 3:30 pm this morning.  Yesterday morning I went to church and then out to the ocean beach.  I walked along the beach and watched the breakers rolling in and crashing against the rocks.  And I picked up a few little shells for you.  That ocean is mighty big.  It really is beautiful.  But I still like to watch it from dry land although I watched it from 1 p.m. until 3:30 pm.  And then I went back to the church where we had a good get together and there I sang and I played the songs I knew on my harp.  I was really swell.

Then at the church social I met a girl from Nebraska.  She played the piano, and we naturally liked one another.  She sat with me in my own personal little pew up in the balcony during Church and then we went down after church to the social there afterwards and then I walked her home.  She would like to see my again week after next up in my pew (we don’t get next Sunday off).  I told her I didn’t know, I’d just have to see.  Of course you and I know what my answer will be. 

This morning all the guys were telling each other what a great time they had over the weekend.  I told the boys they could find some gals at the place I went to this weekend so now I am taking some of the boys with me to Church on this coming Wednesday’s night service.  I figure they cannot get along without gals.  So they might as well find them in the right place.

Here a drawing of the church, and what Pastor says about church and its youth.Click to Enlarge Click to EnlargeYour Son Jerry

 

 

Later, on the same day, December 6, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom -

Today I really got the mail - three packages, and six letters.  Three letters were from girls - You, Bev, and Eva.  Thanks a million for the chocolates.  There's something fishy going on somewhere though – today I got the very same type of candy from you and Mrs. Bremer.  That was not an accident!  You didn’t figure I could sniff out that scheme, did you.  Evidently you forgot that your son is an intellectual.

Incidentally, I got Bev’s graduation picture.  She sure looks sweet.  The guys didn’t believe that Kansas (that’s me) had any gals.  I’d told them I was a woman hater but Bev’s picture double-crossed me today.  Then the letter from Eva made it worse yet.  Oh well, I am getting a real big kick out of it all.   The guys said to thank you for the chocolates too.  No worry here about my getting any pimples, I don’t get enough of my own candy for that problem.

I am enclosing some of the shells I picked up from the seashore yesterday.   Would have also sent home some seaweed but don’t know how to pack it.

 

ON December 6, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad:

Whew – We are really busy.  They really pour it on us now.  I don’t have time to do my drawings whatsoever.  In fact, I am writing this letter in Radio theory class.

I got a letter from Bob Ally yesterday.  He's going to Diesel School in New London, Connecticut.  They are keeping him plenty busy also.  I haven’t heard from Aunt Iva at all.  Bob Moody is in Los Angeles going to the seminary and wants me to write to Aunt Iva.  I may go up there on my next weekend leave (Christmas) and see her.  That's if I don’t get invited out to someone’s home here in San Diego for Christmas.  Problem is I am all out of money and I probably won’t get any for some time to come.   I must sign off for now or the sergeant will catch me and award me a few days lodging in the Cross Bar Hotel (the brig).  Write soon.

Love Jerry

 

ON December 9, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad -

C’mon, lets get on the ball.  I have been waiting long enough for a picture of you two together.  I don’t just want a little snapshot either.  You go downtown and have a real photograph taken.  Understand!!!!  I got a sterling silver Identification broach from Bev yesterday.  I was really surprised.  Now its your turn.

School is Okay.  Some of our men are getting shifted to other outfits every day.  I like radio but, if they decide to transfer me, I would not mind it.  Our radio school here is not out in time for us to go overseas with the 4th Marine Division.  Instead we will have to wait for the 5th Marine Division and they will not ship out for a long time.  But I hope somewho I find a way to get into the 4th, and go across with that bunch.

Love Jerry

 

ON December 10, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad –

This is Saturday afternoon and we have had our test.  So now we have until Monday to ourselves.  But today's rain is overdoing itself.  Our parade ground is underwater.  And I still don’t know what I will be doing this Christmas.  Whatever I do, it will be fun.  They are going to give us a swell time here at the Marine Base.

Say Dad, how did your coon hunt come out?  Remember how good a time we had on it last year?  I want you to wear my “Sharpshooter” and “Basic Metal.”  Money can get you lockets but money can’t get you those metals, they are the Real McCoy. 

 

ON December 11, 1943, Jerry wrote:

 

Dear Mom and Dad – 

I am sorry but I just simply have no time for my artwork.  They are cramming two years of electricity into us in twelve weeks, so we really work.  And Dad, what to you mean you would like to take my place???  You have already fought your war.  And this war is mine!  Only this time I’ll fix it so my kids won’t be fighting another war.  Plus the first Jap I get my hands on will be for you.  I’ll send you back his ears.  Meanwhile, I am glad you cut down my pledge at the church.  Here, the Salvation Army is getting my every cent that I can spare.  I am completely sold on their worth in the world.  

Your son Jerry –

PS.  Radio School is Okay.   And you should see Bev’s picture – It’s a wow.

 

ON December 15, 1943 Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad –

It is almost unbelievable that the sun has shone for the last four days.  Amazing, I call it.  School is coming along Okay.  I don’t think I will be able to go to Alhambra for Christmas after all.  I don’t even know if we are going to get Liberty this Christmas.  I am going to write Aunt Ida and tell her what the score is.  I want you to send me my big thick Law book.  The one I bought at Stevenson’s – Law for the Home, it’s called.  I may be able to squeeze in a little study on it on Sundays.  There is a real good show here at the base theatre so I’ll study now and go to the show later.

 

ON December 16, 1943 Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom –

Groan and Moan.  I love your box of cookies.  One of the guys wants to trade me his chocolates for your cookies. He can go soak his head!  I’m keeping the rest of your cookies for later 'cause now I am going ashore and have a good time on those $6 bucks you sent me.  I had 13 cents left before.

So Monty hopes to be going into the Marines before long.  And Larch is also.  If those guys get into the Marine Corps they will snap out of their sissyness, I bet.  I'm sure glad that I got in the Marine Corps when I did.  My Boot Camp now is all done.  And half of my Radio schooling is over too.  Boot Camp is not near as nice now in this weather as this radio school place is now.  The rain now is really fowling up those poor boots – no heat, no nothing.  So I am glad I came here this summer.  Even now, however, we all are getting tougher and stronger every day.   You should see our Judo instructor.  He really is rugged, teaching us how to crush Jap bones.  He can whip anyone I have ever seen.  But I guess I will be here in U.S. for a long time.  I saw a fellow in an Amphibious Tank unit.  He is shipping out real soon.  We have some training films tonight, so I’ve got to sign off.

 

ON December 19, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom –

This is Sunday morning.  It is very early.  It’s just barely light.  We have had our roll call and Liberty call.  And now we've eaten so I am back in my bunk taking it easy before I get dressed for church.  Last night it began to rain.  Thirty minutes ago it was not raining, and now it is pouring down.  I hope it stops long enough for us to get to church.  Plus I’d love to go down to the seashore today.  A fellow doesn’t appreciate things until he is deprived of them.  Like when it rains for six days straight here and then suddenly the sun comes out.  You have not mentioned any snow there at home yet.  I hope you have snow on Christmas Day.  Christmas time is the best time of year.   I can remember how Bob and I used to get up and beg you and Dad to hurry and get out of bed on Christmas morning.  So we could see what Santa Clause had brought us.

Remember the Christmas that I got my red streamlined scooter.  I was tickled to death.  Remember the time the Thiels were over to our home and Dad put on a Santa Clause suite and came knocking on the door and acted like he was Santa.  That same Christmas we had cricket guns and really made a racket.   Remember too how we used to hang to hang our socks up on the mantel.  There would always be stuffed packed to the top of them.

I want you to have a tree and all the fixings and trimmings.  Just like we used to do.  Remember how much fun all of us had when we used to put the tree up.  And how Bob was always fouling up the electrical works.   We used to wind that red paper rope around the tree about ten times.  Are the working lights still in order?  How about those great big red paper bells that we used to hang up on the bright chandeliers.  There is no sense in you and Dad being alone at home this Christmas.  Look, mom, fix up the whole works just like all four of us used to do, and invite some service men and friends over for Christmas.   This Christmas you and Dad will carry on and next Christmas Bob will be there to help you and then Christmas after that perhaps all four of us will be there just like it use to be.

 

 

ON December 21, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Hi Ma –

I wish you would quit worrying about me going overseas.  I still have a lot of training here in the U.S. before I go across.  Besides that, a lot of other boys have to go and I am certainly no exception.  Meanwhile, we have a Christmas tree here and everything is all fixed up and spiffy.  Plus I got gobs of cards and letters again today.  And it didn’t rain today, amazing!  And I just feel super.  So don’t worry about me.  After all, there are a lot of boys over there now in combat.  Christmas will be another day of fighting for them.  Here on Christmas day, I can do a lot of things.  And when finally I do go across, a lot of other boys have to go too, and I’m certainly no exception.

Yesterday the Colonel inspected our squad room.  It was okay.  I put cardboard in my pack to make it nice and square, and pressed my pants, doing a nice job on them as well.  Tomorrow is payday.  If I am lucky I will get ten dollars.    If I am real lucky, I will get fifteen dollars.

 

ON December 22, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad –

We found out today that no one in our outfit can go to L.A.  Some of the boys were all fixed up for the weekend at L.A.  Now they can’t go.  They really put up a howl.  I’ve never heard so much groaning in all my life.  But we will have a swell Christmas here.  We’ll go to church, and everything will be OK.  Mom, I wish you could see the cute little Christmas tree in our squad room.

Tomorrow we have a big test and another one Friday.  Tonight I got a batch of final studying to do. 

Lots of Love, Jerry.

 

ON December 22, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom and Pop –

I got a card from Ellen Ogren today.  I was really surprised.  Wilbur was at Tarawa.  The Marines really had a fight on their hands when they took Tarawa.  The Japs were all dug in and concealed and we had to dig the rats out one at a time.   Doing it we lost a 1000 Marines.  Here now, outfits all around us are leaving for the battlefronts.  And here we still sit. Our radio school will not even be over until February.  If I get a chance to transfer out of here, I will jump at it.  Replacement outfits are shipping out every week and if I could get in one it would be swell.  I hope they decide to ship some of us out.

Loads of Love, Jerry

 

ON Christmas Eve, December 22, 1943, Jerry wrote in code to his Dad:

 

ON December 25, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom –

It is Christmas and I am thinking of home.  I am Okay.  Everything is swell.  A lot of guys got candy.  Everyone is stuffing himself.  One of the boys has a radio.  Christmas songs are playing.  We have almost every type of religion, including a Greek Jew, in our squad room.  The Jewish boy was reading his Bible this evening and we got to talking about religion.  Looking through his Bible (Old Testament only), I came across the Red Sea.  I asked him if had ever read it good and he said that he had only glanced through it.  I told him I could illustrate it for him.  He asked me to do it so I did.  By the time I had finished we had a group of guys with us.

Bundles of Love Jerry   

 

ON January 1, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Hello Ma –

I went to a prayer meeting last night.  Dr. smith was really good.  Earlier I had mentioned the meeting at the church to a Gerald who’d been in boot camp with me.  When I arrived at the meeting last night he was there.  That was a real surprise.  Soon the church is going to canvas around the area around it for newcomers.  If Jerald and I can get Liberty we are going to help the church out.  Gerald is my sailor buddy.  And a swell guy too.

This watch that you sent me does the job.  It’s well built, a good thing because I give it a rough work out.  So does the rain.  Radio School is all right.  Yesterday I was working a TBY (walkie-talkie).  They only cost Uncle Sam $400 dollars apiece.

Jerry.

 

ON January 2, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom –

It’s 20 minutes before taps.  I’ve been straightening up my locker and locker box.  Also I’ve ironed and starched a shirt.  They’re really a job, aren’t they? I can see why you didn’t like to iron nice clean shirts every day.  Mine now is stiff as a board. Today we got our test grades from last week.  I passed Radio Theory all right.  But I just passed Navy Procedure by the skin of my teeth.

Love Jerry.

 

ON January 6, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Dear Mom -

The law book you sent me came and I was glad to get it.  So did the picture of Dad, thanks.  I also got a haircut here at the base.  I looks like some one threw an ax at me.  I got a two dollar bill back in change.  I am sending the bill back for you to hang up in a frame as a souvenir.  I also got paid twenty-five bucks so I am sending you the four bucks I owe you.  How did Dad's paper drive come out.  Okay I hope.  I go up to Church now about three times a week.  The service men's center is open until mid-night.  We can play all kinds of games and read and sing and everything.  It is swell, the nearest thing to home that I have found yet.

Jerry -

 

ON January 10, 1943, Jerry wrote:

Hi Mom –

I feel better now than I’ve ever felt in my life.  Remember how our church was going to canvas the nearby city?  Well we just did it yesterday and I really got a lot out of it in more ways than one.  After morning service Jerald had to go back to camp so I trucked on downstairs to the Church’s service man’s center.  There I met two gals.  And asked them what time the canvas was to start (as if I had not been planning on it for the last two weeks).  They told me and I asked them if they were going to go.  They said they didn’t think so.  I told them they were a bunch of sissies whereupon they said they’d fix me.  Lo and behold if they didn’t show up for the canvas and go on it with me.  We were canvasing all afternoon.  And had a wonderful time doing it.    We met some swell people and saw some of the cutest babies and children.  Everything was swell.

It was the first time the girls had done any recruiting for the Lord.  After it was over they were thrilled to the bone.  As you know, I’m a veteran.   (Layton and I and Betty Adams had done it once back home in Wichita.)  Here in San Diego, I did all the verbal work.  And the girls wrote it all down, what the prospects said talking to me, recording it into their information cards.  This kept the both of them busy.  Only one couple out of the whole bunch we canvased had been attending church, and the both of them, the man and his wife, were preachers.  Always too we were invited into everyone’s home.  All seemed glad to think we were interested in them.  So the girls learned that there is a whole lot of missionary work to be done right around in their own City (San Diego).  They were also surprised to find out that so few folks were attending church and that all they needed was an invitation to do come.

Both girls are more or less wealthy.   Neither one of them had ever been in a poor area before so they found out how mighty lucky they were.  One of the girls thinks that I am so good at conversation.  (Since I got into the Marine Corps I am not scared to voice my opinion.  And guys know I will back it up too).  She thought I should be a preacher.  What do you know about that?

Plus yesterday Dr. Smith up in the pulpit at the church service pointed out exactly where me and Jerald were sitting when he said: “There is an enormous amount of room for missionary work and the field is wide open for those who have the guts to step in.”  That is a real challenge, isn’t it?  Remember too I challenge those girls and they took it up.  There is so much work to do, and so few to do it.  I’ll bet a doughnut it’s the same at home in Wichita, isn’t it. 

One of the girls said she was timid about saying anything about Jesus until I came along, and that knowing me she has gained a lot of nerve.  So she’s not afraid to speak for him now.   Now she and I are going out for another canvas, one of our own tonight.

Lots of love, Jerry.

 

TO BE CONTINUED___

Jerry D. Brooks wrote more than two hundreds letters home to his parents in Witchita, Kansas, between August 15, 1943 and September 20, 1945, his 25 months in the US Marine Corps during World War Two.  These letters are derived from his fourty-seven letters written before and during his time at Marine Boot Camp at the Marine Recruit Depot at San Diego, California.  Exerpts from the text of these letters and Jerry's art therein have been compliled and edited from those letters and published herein by Reed M. Fawell 111 with the permission of the owner of the entire collection of the letters owned by and belonging to Patty Brooks.  All rights are reserved.  No portion of this website or its contents, including these letters, may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photo copy, recording, scanning, or other, without the prior written permission of Reed M. Fawell III as to this website, and Patty Brooks, as to the contents of these letters herein above displayed.  Copyright  © 2015 by Reed M. Fawell III, Copyright  © 2015 by Patty Brooks.

 

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Footnote 1/ Photo from City of Life and Death, a two hour and fifteen minute film that follows closely the accounting in Iris Chang's 1997 book, “Rape of Nanking, the film City of Life and Death being written and directed by Lu Chuan; director of photography, Cao Yu; edited by Teng Yun; music by Liu Tong; production design by Hao Yi and Lin Chaoxiang; produced by Han Sanping, Qin Hong, Zhou Li, John Chong and Andy Zhang; released by Kino International.