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Monday, June 9, 2014

December 10, 1944

CP is probably Command Post

                                                                   Sun, 10th Dec

Dear Arnold,

     How is the home front?  I have finally had a little
real combat experience, sleeping in a muddy fox hole all
night, being under fire, seeing dead of both sides, and
even killing a Jap.

     On Pearl Harbour day I was assigned (volunteered) to go
on a special / mission up to the front to search Jap bodies, recover and
capture all possible documents, and try to identify the enemy
force.  Searching bodies is not normally my duty, but identifying
is.  I was flown up to an airstrip about a milebehind the lines,
and hoofed it the rest of the way.  I finally found an officer
of the unit I was looking for and he supplied me with an ample
bodyguard, and four AA men on their day off decided to come along
for excitement.  We were on the right flank, and the road to the
main fighting area was under fire, so we had to go a long way
around.  The mud was over our knees at times, and often we became
mired and had to pull one another out, in addition we were travell-
ing in an area in which there were snipers.  We got lost once and
almost walked into the main field of fire, however we finally
arrived at an air unit which was more or less temporarily isolated
on a hill, as firing was going on in all directions around them,
in fact shortly after we arrived we neard firing in the direction
we had just come from.  They treated us well, fed us and gave
us water and directions.  We started out about noon and travelled
down a road whcih was practically one the line.  All the Japs
inside the area had already been searched, and I had to go into
a swamp fifty yards in front of the lines.  I took one of the
AA men who seemed like a reliable man.

     It was a messy ticklish job, in muddy, bloody water.  I
was'nt so much afraid of meeting a Jap, as having one get in
between us and the lines, and having out own troops shoot us
while shooting at the Jap.  We found some with grenades or their
weapons still clenched in their hands.  We finally reached our
last Jap.  I thought he looked in pretty good codition, and
he did'nt seem to be hit badly.  We had just finished searching
him, and while turning him over for a final check we pushed
his head under water.  The bastard was playing possum, but he
could hold his breath, and when we turned him back up he started
gasping.  He opened his eyes and looked at me, that was his last
earthly act and mistake.  I shot him in the head with my .45
at two feet, you can well imagine the effects.  He might have   ?
been helpless and merely recovering conciousness, and I could
have just as well cold-conked him, but in that one second I
forgot I was in intelligence and all I could think of was
what if he had a grenade or knife in his hands which were
below the water, it was him or me.  However I have no feelings

[page 2]
                                    [arrow, handwritten] I'll never know
about the matter, even if he was helpless, but I do which I
had taken him prisoner, we could use the information.
I got some good souvenirs; Jap flag, rifle, bayonet, watch, [arrow, vertical in margin] 
                                                                                        And a good cigarette
                                                                                        case that coincidentally,
                                                                                        see other side
other misc items.  I am going to send all home except the
rifle, which is verboten.

     That same night we had some most unusual excitement,
the nature which I am not at present permitted to disclose,
but you probably read about it in newspapers.  We had Japs
running around near our area creating a good deal of conusion,
but not too much damage.  These green troops were all "trigger
happy", and consequently those at the Division Cp hit more
of our own men than they did Japs.  Two men were hit in the
G-2 tent ten feet from me.  No Japs were found the next morning,
but some of our own wounded and dead were, shot with our own
weapons.  It is a sad situation when you are shot by your
own troops.  Some of these fools must have thought it was
fourth of July, and shot at everything and anything that
moved or made a noise and a great deal of things they imagined.
Someone would open up and everybody else would follow suit,
not knowing what they were shooting at. Consequently I spent
most of the night in my foxhole.  I have only fired oneshot
at the enemy.

     The second night I was on temporary duty with a temporary
unit guarding an object.  There were green troops again, just
brought up from the beach, and again history repeated itself.
A man was killed fifty yards from the CP I was at by a carbine
bullet.  About two AM the Colonel ordered me to go out and
find out what they were throwing grenades at, although I
crawled out on my belly, they almost got me.  Periodically
they would lob a grenade out in front of their foxholes.
In the morning we aggain found no Japs in their immediate area.
There were some Japs about three or four hundred yards away,
and we did receive some mortar fire, but I don't know if it
was from the Japs or our own troops.

     Things are almost back to normal now, and I doubt if I
will see some excitement again for some time.  For a while
the sun came out, but it has started raining again, nevertheless
despite the weather, our troops have made good progress as
you have probably been reading in the papers, and it should'nt
be long before things care cleaned up here.  I imagine in the
next operation I will have even more exciting things to write
about.  Well write soon and give me the latest news.  By the
time this letter reaches you, you will be at MIT, and Christmas
and New Years will be a thing of the past, but just the same:


                                                         [signed] Leonard

P.S. That earthquake was convenient, I have been hoping for the
thatsame for the last three years.

[page 3]
(in pencil - very faded
I was on pretty friendly terms
with our Native baggage boys
but since I killed the Jap
that I might have captured
there has been a change. Try
as I may they wont take
a cigarette from the Jap case.

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