Letter: Military memories from Guam, 1945
Published 12:00 am Monday, August 10, 2015
Welcome to the beautiful island of Guam, May 1945. Accommodations furnished by the United States of America Air Corps. Gratis.
We had all the discomforts of home: no electricity, no air conditioning, no plumbing and no running water. Correction, we did have running water — every day when it rained. The water ran right down the road and right through our tent. We rectified this problem by “borrowing” a few planks from the lumber yard. We visited the trash dump and came home with two wooden boxes.
Herb and I borrowed two large cans from the mess hall so with a little rope we managed to attach our G.I. helmet and have our own private wash stand. Now we had our tent looking like “home.”
When I wanted to wash my face or shave, all I had to do was walk about two blocks to the nearest “lyster” bag and fill my helmet and canteen with water.
We put the tent flaps up at night trying to get that cool breeze, but on days and nights when we were flying we tied down the flaps for rain showers happened day and night. Our furniture consisted of two cots and our newly acquired wash basins.
To prepare for bed, one takes off all clothing and places this under your pillow (excuse me, this is your pillow). Shoes were left out on the “floor” and socks were placed near the foot of the cot. Now you make sure the mosquito netting is tucked under your blanket (blanket is your mattress). That canvas cot can get very hard!
The only thing we could do about the weather was to pray. On three different occasions, after a hard night rain, I could not find my shoes.
“Oh, there they are out in the yard.”
I never knew if the rain washed them out or the rats moved them. Every night we could hear the rats chewing on the soles of our shoes. One night Herb let out a yell as he jumped out of his cot. His hand had slipped out from under the netting and a rat bit off the end of one of his fingers.
Herb’s rat bite occurred about 1 in the morning and the only first aid station I knew of was about a mile away and I remembered seeking the sign that said open at 8 a.m. I wrapped his hand in a clean sock and we tried to “rest” till day break, then I walked him up to the first aid station where he received a tetanus shot and had has finger stitched and bandaged.
Now we were not supposed to have a rat problem since they brought in all those frogs from Australia, but evidently this particular rat did not know this. I never did quite understand how the frogs would get rid of the rats; but after that, whenever we had a big old frog sitting under our tent going “ribit, ribit, ribit” all night long, we did not complain.