Transcribed by James Fox, September 2004|
from the Deposit-Coach Fox WW2 Letters Collection
also see photo of John J. O'Rourke and Ralph L. Carl
A/5 Ralph L. Carl (letter 1/5)
Deposit C.S. Class of 1940
Army Air Forces
Massachusetts State College, Amherst
Westover Field, Mass.
August 29, 1943
As they would say down south that damned Yankee is back up north. They would be right about me being a Yankee!!
For the last month I have been, as we say, marking time in Miami Beach. The hotels that the army lives in down there are really nice. I was on the fifth floor of the Charles Hotel. The view was magnificent. The moon over the ocean and the palm are beautiful. It seemed to me as if we were out of the United States. We had calesthenics on the beach and always went swimming afterwards. The exercises were more for coordination than for body building. It didn't ever seem to get cool which was the only bad thing.
Last Tues I shipped form there on a troop train. We arrived here Thurs. morning at 11:00 A.M. making the entire trip in 37 hours with lay-overs; one of which was 6 hours spent in the railroad yards at Washington, D.C. We had Pullmans and I slept through N.J. and N.Y. city of all places.
Lt. Jack O'Rourke called me in Miami Beach and we had a reunion. He is still the same Irishman and hasn't changed a bit. We painted the area a dull pink. We spent the whole weekend together enjoying ourselves immensely talking about old times and where the different fellows are and what they are doing. We remarked that if anyone had told us that we would meet in M.B., as we did, two years ago that we would have called them maniacs. Jack is flying transports between Brazil and the United States. He has some very interesting experiences to tell!!! He thinks that he is soon to leave for India perhaps. I was really a super weekend !!!!!
I am going to take mathematics, physics, history, geography, English and other subjects. We are going to get 10 hours of dual instruction at Westover Field also. I expect to be here for five months but probably it will be less.
This is really a nice place but very small compared to Cornell. The dorms that we live in are new and very nice. We eat in a cafeteria on campus served by college girls no less. The food is really something to write home about!! I have gained 5 pounds in a few days. The Air Force eats well anyway. It's really surprising after you hear the boys from the other branches of the service talk about their chow.
The pursuit ship named "The Duke of Deposit" is one of the best. You couldn't find a better ship to put the name on!!
I like the country here and the fresh air is really something after Miami Beach. To put blankets on your bed at night is a new experience not having been in practice for the last few months.
I must go eat so I will sign off now. Keep 'Em Flying!!!
A/5 Ralph L. Carl (letter 2/5)
Massachusetts State College, Amherst*
Oct 10, 1943
I receive the "Courier" every week and I have been reading about the problem of fellows and girls having no recreational facilities. This morning I found the enclosed clipping in the paper and I thought that it might be of interest to you.
The enclosed pictures were taken in Miami Beach. I hope that you can recognize us. Just a couple of the boys from the class of 1940!!
We are taking physics now along with math and geography. For me it has been a review up to this point more or less but I think that it will do me a lot of good. We have two hours of PT everyday and Saturday morning we run cross country. We have only gone 3 miles so far but before we leave we will do six. It's really quite easy when you work up to it gradually!!
From here we will go to Nashville, Tenn. for classification. I haven't decided whether I want to be a pilot (airplane driver) or a navigator. I have had a little navigation and I like it but I am not going to make a decision until I fly here. We are to get ten hours of dual in a cub. You have to be good to be a navigator so maybe I won't get it if I want it!!
Must close now. I hope the clipping contains some good ideas that can be used.
*[on back of envelope: "Cornell 30 - Princeton 0"]
A/C Ralph L. Carl (letter 3/5)
Maxwell Field, Alabama
1 May, 1944
First of all I want to tell how neat I thought the letter to your kids was! It really gave me a lot of pleasure to read it and I say keep it up!!
I want to apologize for not having written you before but I've just kept putting it off and never did write. Of course this is no news to you!!
Coach, I often think of the swell times we used to have in practice and at games. I guess it's a sign you are getting old when you talk about the past but all of us do it. I think that all of the fellows consider our H.S. days the best days of our lives. The sports that we were in just go to make it all the more enjoyable to remember.
I like the idea of town team ball when the war is over. I don't think that I'll be much of an assist because I'm getting fat th the wrong places. I'll have to call in Chas. Atlas and sample his course in making a man of you in seven days. I guess that I eat too much!! I'll be the manager and yell at the referes and umpires seeing you don't do this any more!!
I have been in quite a few places since I last wrote you from Mass. State. I was at Nashville for a month being classified in the cadets. I had my choice of navigator, bombardier or pilot so I took the latter. I then was transferred to Gunter Field in Alabama for a month in cold storage waiting for pre-flight to open the middle of Feb. I went to Maxwell for pre-flight. This paper is part of my possessions acquired here. I have been here for about 8 days now. This is a fine post with swimming pool, swell food and very nice living quarters. We pay for all of this in sweat though. We have ground school for half a day and fly the other half. They like try to make you believe that flying is romantic or something. All I have to say is that it's darned tiresome work!! You have to be on your toes every second. No time outs when you're flying. I am a great authority on this, of course, for I have four flying hours at this point! The wash-out rate is going higher for every class so we just live from day to day hoping we'll make out all right. This is enough about me!!
Albany is a very nice town of about 30,000. The name kinda hits home, too. I stumbled on to something Sunday that I think might interest you. The H.S. kids have organized a social club. The city council gave them an old pavilion at the park and $500. They have painted and fixed the place up so its really quite nice. They did all of this through donations so they still have the $500. All in all it has cost less than $100 so the treasurer said. I think that they have done a swell job and have set an example for other towns to follow. Only H.S. age boys and girls are allowed to enjoy the Wig Wam as they have named it. They have chaperones and by the looks of the place they have broad minded people for this job. They must have really let go Saturday night!!
The weather here is getting plenty warm. Nice weather to go to the lake* swimming but that'll have to wait awhile. The north is the place to be. Somehow the south doesn't appeal to any of us Yankees!! One thing that I have noticed here is the beautiful moonlight nights but this is all!!
I must close now. Don't let the kids carry off too much because school has to keep. Please say hello to Miss Dailey* and Miss Roberts* for me, also any of the others who are left and used to tear their hair when I was in school.
Best regards to all! Forget about the WAC's!!
One of your kids!
[*Oquaga Lake; Kate Dailey, asst. principal; Marge Roberts, art teacher]
A/C Ralph L. Carl (letter 4/5)
16 July 1944
I'm still looking at Ga from all angles and as yet I haven't found one that's any good yet. Bainbridge has a familiar name but it's not much I went in to see for myself once and that was enough!
The heat is really gross!!
I received your last letter to 'your boys' and I enjoyed it beyond any words that a dumb engineer can write. Those letters really keep us in contact with happenings and the where abouts of all the fellows!!
We really have a tough schedule here. Maybe I think this way 'cause I like to sleep later than 4:10 and 5:10. The latter time is our holiday every other day. Sleep is just a habit the AAF thinks I see. I don't agree with them very wholeheartedly!!
The work I am in is what I like but I don't seem to be able to get on the beam. Weather has been holding us on the ground so maybe it'll clear up and we can get some flying in. I sure hope so!! It's an up hill road all the way and seems to get steeper as the days go by!!
Could any of us ever forget the nite at Walton!! That was a great day and it really gave us much satisfaction. Twelve out of 14 free throws was big league stuff, too. We really had the stuff that year not big headed but cocky and sure (!!!) Well ready to scrap it out with all comers!! Remember the Hancock baseball game in '40 when 'Babe Ruth' Buck* came through after telling Squirrel* and Skinny* to get on and he'd bring them in!! If Bucky has a beard now the Germans are running from fright!! He loved that folliage!! I wonder how he ever gets in a tank?
There isn't much of interest to write. We'll have to all get together and have a big bull session after the war!! They claim you're really aged when you talk about the past so we'll be aged!!
I rec'd the yearbook the other day. Lots of strange
faces but still the same spirit I see. Where is Chuck Ward's paunch?
Keep up the good work Coach!
*['Babe Ruth Paul Buck, Lee "Squirrelee" Conklin, Vere "Skinney" Conklin]
Lt. Ralph L. Carl (letter 5/5)
Fort Myers, Fla.
8 Feb. 1945
I hear that you up in Yankee land are having quite a bit of snow and cold this winter. Frankly, I'll take it to this stuff they call climate here. You can roast and freeze all in the span of an hour or so. I'm sure this is a fertile place for Doctors to practice their chosen profession!!
Tuesday morning Captains Hefling and Gentry, both back from overseas with ribbons galore, formed a conspiracy with Frank Boyle (brother played at Colgate a year ago - tackle) my roomate. They carried me off to the Country Club to play golf. As you know this game never enjoyed (???)
my company or efforts before. We only had time for 9 holes as we had to be back to aviate in the afternoon, but now I have the bug. The next few times I go I imagine I'll be in a moon to break palm trees over peoples heads 'cause I'm no Bobby Jones or Snead.
Speaking of golf, Stewart Wasson a B-26 pilot here shot a 67 two weeks ago to win the Ft. Myers open.
I have about 18 hours in the B-24 as co-pilot now. This consists of 5 hours transition to learn a little about procedures and how the thing handles in the air. After this we are assigned to gunnery. Here you fly as co-pilot on gunnery missions consisting mostly of camera missions. Eight or ten gunnery students and their instructors are along. They fire camera guns at attack ships who simulate attack as in combat. To date I have never gone up with a crew firing live ammunition from 50 cal.machine guns at tow targets. Some of the fellows who have been on these missions say that the gunners couldn't hit a barn if they were inside.
We have had ground school 'til now too. They have quite an extensive course on the different systems and operation of the B-24. Most of the instructors are enlisted men and its surprising how well they can teach. Of course if you have the interest of the class it helps a great deal. I think most of us are interested as it may not be too long before a little added knowledge will make the difference of coming back and not coming back!!
I don't see the basketball team rolling up any terrific victories. They are winning some but it seemed to me when I was home that they don't have the poise that the teams of yesteryears had. I don't know whether it's the times of the guys. I'm kinda willing to blame it on the times. Kids can't change so radically in 5 or 6 years!! They still pass notes and have the wild hair that we all had to do something to make the teacher unhappy!!
I guess I'll have to make 'la fini' now. I've gotta see this Irish colleen that Bucky* is bringing home in his barracks bag!! I wonder if he used his wooden leg* to capture the rose!!
*[Paul Buck, who married an Irish girl he met while stationed in the Army in Ireland. "Wooden leg": dancing prowess.]