The following letter was written by S/Sgt Elmer W. Jones. It was included in the last issue of the Sound Off newspaper
published aboard the troopship U.S.S. General R.E. Callan on Jan. 29, 1946.  
Dear Grandson:

airmailSomeone might ask me today why I am sitting here writing this and I wonder if I could really give them a worthwhile answer. It is a trifle strange that I am writing this now, for you are not even born yet. In fact your grandfather has not even gotten married yet, but I do know that in the years from now I am going to hear you ask me a lot of questions and I know you are going to want a lot of answers. I will probably forget a lot of things between now and then so I have decided I shall write this to you now and address it to you in the future and tell you now of what has just passed.

In the months and years that have just gone by, much has happened. Nations fought side by side, and one against the other. Eventually all things must come to an end, even such as this. A war causes a great many things to happen and this one took your grandfather many, many miles from his home; took him in fact to the other side of the world, there to do his share in the war along with many other men. We traveled to a land called India, land of mystery and enchantment. Some of us travelled further into another land called Burma and some travelled even further into the mystic East to a land called China. These three countries to us and to the world became known as the CBI.

China, Burma, India. Someone told us they were mysterious and enchanting. Rightly enough, most of us failed to find them so, for we found little pleasure here. We lived from day to day, doing that which we had to do, enjoying whatever we could, whenever we could. Never far though, from our hearts and minds were our thoughts of our home and nation, and never far was our desire to return home. Each day passed and in each of their goings we felt two things; another day we have to spend away from home and another day closer to home. We stayed in these lands varied periods of time; some stayed close to three years, some only a few short months, but each one desired to do the same thing, return home!

It was indeed good news for the world when the war ended and good news for us, for soon we would be doing what we had wanted so long. But even returning home takes time and the days seemed to drag by terribly slow. But for all of its slowness, things were beginning to happen, for from all parts of these three lands we began to assemble. Kunming, Myitkyina, Ledo, Shanghai, Bhamo and Delhi all saw men begin to prepare to move. We traveled by plane, truck and rail past towns and villages toward the coasts. I traveled, as did those with whom I made the sea voyage homeward with, to a city in India called Karachi. A vast step in that all-important journey!

Even yet things took time and nothing happened in a day or night. My impatience failed to move things any swifter. It just seemed that certain things must be so and certain things occur at certain times and I was to go at a certain time in a certain manner and I was to learn in due time that manner. Finally after what seemed ages, those things became known.

From Fort Malir, Karachi, India, some three thousand of us were to board the Navy ship, the U.S.S. General R.F. Callan (AP-139) on which we were to sail to Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. I guess we were all pretty excited about it even though we did not show it much. All of us knew inside ourselves and each of us waited anxiously for the arrival of the Callan. She couldn't come a moment too soon.

On the twenty-ninth of December in 1945, the General Callan docked at twelve-thirty that morning at the East Wharf, Berth No. 3, Karachi. Our boat was in. Not a moment was lost, for that same day, the advance party, the first troops, began to load. On Sunday morning, the thirtieth, at ten, the second group, of which I was a part, came aboard. The final party came aboard Sunday afternoon at two o'clock. It was almost Goodbye to India for we were almost due to leave.

Our first few hours on board were spent finding our bunks and exploring the ship. Upstairs, downstairs, in one door and out, through this passageway and that. We were to be aboard for a month and would have more than enough time to see it all, but like a child with a new toy, we had to see it all in one day. As evening approached, our initial curiosity was pretty well satisfied and we merely stood around. As I watched the sunset, I thought to myself, this is about the last time I'll be in this land. I have watched my last sunset in CBI and I expect to see only one more sunrise before we get on our way and say Goodbye to Mother India!

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