China-Burma-India Theater insignia

"When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today."

Dedicated to the memory of my tentmate, Joe Reiter, radio operator,
killed in a nighttime midair collision over Kunming, China, March 1945

An Airman Died Today

He was getting old and slower
And his strength was failing fast,
As he sat around the Basha
telling stories of the past.

Of the war that he had fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes everyone.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For John has passed away;
And the world's a little poorer,
For an Airman died today.

He was just a common Airman
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence may remind us,
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
Then we find the soldier's part,
Is to clean up all the troubles,
That others often start.
If we cannot do him honor,
While he's here to hear his praise,
Then at least let's give him homage,
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline,
In the paper that might say:



The following web pages are a compilation of excerpts from letters I sent home, dove-tailed with my personal flight log records  and a sprinkling of full letters from home. This record is offered as a source of insight into the thoughts and actions of one citizen soldier.  Although day-to-day items have been expunged, the writings have not been doctored in any way, either by inclusion or exclusion, so that truth may show through.

Legend : Types of planes flown

  • --€ C-54 Skymaster 4-engine transport
  • --€ C-109 Liberator 4-engine tanker
  • ‡ --€ C-47 Skytrain 2-engine transport
  • --€ B-25 Mitchell 2-engine bomber


23 OCT 44 - 70th. Squadron,Municipal Airport, Nashville, TN
Dear Mob, Just about the time I finish one box, in comes another. Those peanut butter cookies are O.K., and thanks a lot. Well, VanDorn crewed up today so that leaves me the last of our old crew left here. It may be only a couple days before I leave but anything can happen. I think you know a little about how the army works although no one can completely understand it --no matter how long he is in it. Payne, VanDorn and I went to see Our Hearts Were Young and Gay at the theater tonight. It was very good and had a lot of laughs. I had to get up early this morning (6:15 AM) to clean up an office. You'd be surprised how this small amount of lost sleep can tire you during the day. My usual time of arising is about 7:15 to 7:45. Banker's hours. Didn't hear from you today so have nothing to comment on. How is the play coming?

24 Oct 44 -Nashville Dear Folks: I crewed up today so will be leaving maybe tomorrow. This mail is being held back till I leave. I don't know when I can tell you my A.P.O. number but will let you know as soon as possible. VanDorn will send you a $10 money order some time in the future. It is made out to Dad so he can put it in the bank or whatever he pleases. If you haven't sent the knife yet, I wouldn't send it until you get my A.P.O. If you need a written request in order to send it, then I shall state so here. Please send my pocket knife. If I am able to write at my A.P.O.E. (Aerial Port of Embarkation) don't be misguided that I am going back were I came from because I'm not. I think that I might fly over good old Pennsylvania tomorrow. Well, I can't think of any other important things now so I'll just wish you the best and I know you are praying for me and the other guys.

Special Orders Number 208, sending our crews, numbered 7-11, to India, were dated 25 October. 1944. Our #7 crew consisted of Pilot 1st Lt Stanley V. Weisbruch, Copilot 2nd Lt Darrell C Boyd, Engineer M/Sgt Howard W Smith and Radio operator Pvt Robert A Stumpf.

27 Oct 44 - A.P.O. 13297-7, c/o PM, New York, NY (from Griffiss Army Air Base, Rome, NY) [-Flew as radio operator of a C-109, a gasoline tanker converted from a B-24 Liberator bomber design] Dear Folks, Yes, I'm still here. It seems the navigator has a cold and has been grounded for a couple days, so we have to wait till he gets better. I only slept till 11:30 A.M. today. There was nothing else to do, so why not. It was good to hear you three on the phone yesterday. I guess it'll be a year or so before I can call you again. VanDorn's plane left here and went to P.O.E. I'll be going to New Hampshire in a day or two. It is quite cold up here today. Smith, my engineer, and I went down to the plane and got our gloves. I got my overcoat, too. I'll appreciate this cold after I get where I'm going. I only have one O.D. (Olive Drab) wool suit and four summer khakis so you can see I'm not going the same place. I'm writing in the nice service club on the field. There's a bunch of red mountain laurel berries on this writing table. As soon as you receive my A.P.O. number, please spread it around all over. Most everyone owes me a letter. I must eat supper now but will write again tonight or tomorrow.
[Note: I believe it was here that M/Sgt Smith and I were maybe heading for the PX and had just crossed the street obliquely when we heard a rather loud feminine voice yell, "Soldiers!" We sorta double-taked at each other and then looked across the street. There was a Wac officer all uptight, mad, and saying, "Don't you salute an officer?" We then bumbled our replies, trying quickly to change our usual "Yes, sirs" to "Yes, Ma'ams" and throwing her a rather weak salute. We truly weren't within saluting distance of her in the first place, but we figured she had just got her bars and would have demanded a salute from a light-year away! So much for reverse chauvinism.]

29 Oct 44 - Went to Rome and Utica on night of 28th---bus trip---stayed at Pershing Hotel in Utica---cannot enjoy myself in strange town.

31 Oct 44 - Think I'll leave next day---didn't get enough sleep---13 hours

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