Transcribed by James Fox, December 2004|
from the Deposit-Coach Fox WW2 Letters Collection
Pvt. Earle Houck (letter 1/4)
Deposit CS Class of 1938
Army Air Forces
Greensboro, North Carolina
Dec. 14, 1943
Dear Mr. Fox:
I wonder if would be possible to send me an old geometry and an old elementary algebra book.? I have used the term "old" since I well realize it is hardly possible to send me a newer one of each. Kindly enclose a note stating the total cost and I will send you a check for that amount by return mail. I am well aware that such books, even any extra old ones the school might have are of considerable value when sold in this manner and I am quite prepared to pay whatever you estimate as their value.
I am taking trig and physics here at camp along with basic training and the books will be really convenient since they are elementary in nature.
I might also request that you adapt a tolerant viewpoint of this terse note since I am writing under pressure - a pressure made realistic by the none too soothing voice of a sergeant who keeps shattering the Carolina night with such expressions as "By Jesus those lights in 11 had better be out by the time I count 10, by Jesus." He is using the words but I'm doing the praying.
With the exceptions of letters to my mother and a card to Father Vaughn, I have written no letters or cards to Depositonians. We are left at a feverish pace in a futile sense which is typical of the Army's alleged efficiency.
As soon as I have passed the puzzled and perplexed, or perhaps I should say the confused and confounded, stage my perspective of the military should be sufficiently enlarged to permit me to design a more worthy epistle for you.
I seriously hope you will not consider my request for the books an imposition and hope to hear from you soon. My address is on the envelope.
Pvt Earle Houck (letter 2/4)
June 16, 1944
Dear Mr. Fox
I'm not at all certain that it is not considered an imposition for a native of New Guinea (adoption pending) to be writing to an American citizen but I assume you will exhibit the tolerance of the long-suffering and perhaps even reply to this weird epistle.
I understand that our "peaceful little isle" is getting into the headlines a bit back home and if you were ever here I feel certain that you would understand why.
I was thinking about the town and your teams at dusk tonight and perhaps it was that as much as the prodding mosquitoes that drove me inside and moved me to write you.
There is no need to go into memories of the fantastic methods we used to dream up together to provide your "dream teams" and county champions with proper publicity.* I must have been a real headache to you, recalling the spots I used to put you and your teams in by the simple and selfish theory of "copy at any cost." I can't recall a time you let me down or made my bold prognostications leave a bad taste in my mouth after the game was over.
I'm being frank and sincere when I say that I don't believe any American could stay on New Guinea without feeling despondent. There are no towns and there is every threat that the jungle can throw at mankind. An yet, somehow, I would like to see you here with us...myself and the guys (of all ages) I am now with. It perhaps defies logic, but I believe that deep inside of you, you would kindof get a kick out of it. I'm not much at dishing out laudations to the folks back home or anywhere else so you can take my telling you this for what its worth. To us, away off in New Guinea, it is the best compliment we know of.
You would like my guys and they would like you and together we could unleash dire threats in a stricken voice at the small obstacles in our everyday life and together we could shake out heads and grin at the more fantastic and bitter inconveniences.
I will close now hoping to hear from you and knowing I will, since you have never yet let me down.
A Private in New Guinea
*[Houck was a reporter for the Deposit Courier]
Pvt Earle Houck (letter 3/4)
Somewhere in the Southwest Pacific
September 10, 1944
DEAR MR. FOX:
I sincerely regret not writing sooner but such a beginning is so inevitable and so futile that I will not pursue the apology.
Your last letter, complete with your supplement was of unusual interest and I passed it around among the boys. I hope you will find time to drop me more of them.
As you know I am now public relations man with the famous "Jolly Roger" outfit, the "big noise" of the Southwest Pacific with 400 Jap planes shot down. This is the outfit which led American planes on Rabaul, Palau, the return to the Philippine Islands.
We have about 6,000 awards - Distinguished Flying Crosses, Air Medals etc so you can see why Yank magazine, Life, Liberty, Saturday Evening Post and the newsreels are featuring us so much... only 1 fighter group has shot down more planes than us which is almost incredible for a bomber outfit.
In our outfit are such men as Major Ace Dunmore, conceded in all theatres of war to be the "best bombardier in the world." He is the fellow who is reported by the American press to be waging a one-man war against the Japanese Navy. He has already sunk 1 cruiser, 2 destroyers, and countless transports as well as a submarine - and seriously damaged many others.
The memorable "Sad Sack" and all the rest are in this outfit... we have, without question the most impressive list of air heros of any bomber outfit in the world.
They led the attack on the base whose blasting led McArthur to say "This has turned the tide in the Southwest Pacific..."
Colonel Scott, the young commanding officer has perhaps the greatest (or one of the greatest) totals of combat hours over here.. He flies the lead plane on all the big missions.
Radio Tokyo has frequently promised to "bomb the "Jolly Roger" outfit from existence.
"Carole Landis joins Jolly Rogers"------ you probably saw that picture and story in the papers.....it was in New York papers etc... all over nation through the Associated Press.
I understand a lot of the kids back home are interested in the exploits of the "Jolly Roger" outfit and I wish I knew some way to help them keep alive this interest. We have a great number of photos of our planes, men, etc and if you know of any children who would like autographed copies tell them to write me. On each I will type a caption sheet telling the particular record of the flier.
The children who would be interested, of course, would probably be in the 8th grade or about that. Perhaps if you would prefer to mention it to some of them and if they could write me a letter signed by about 5 or 6 - at first - asking for some photos I would be glad to send them to them air mail... I think the kids would get a big kick out of writing letters to some of our heros and you can bet that every one would be answered... I could, of course, arrange to send you a lot of fine photos for yourself ... not only about the outfit but of natives etc.
Hoping to have a letter soon from yourself and from someone you think might be interested in our outfit......I remain
Pvt Earle Houck (letter 4/4)
Somewhere in the Southwest Pacific
December 10, 1944
(Letterhead with logo):
BEST DAMN HEAVY BOMB GROUP IN THE WORLD
Dear Mr. Fox....
Today I received six fine letters from persons contacted by you in regard to Jolly Roger photos and material. A month ago we would have really welcomed such a correspondence with your students but war can make many changes in a month.
On September 1st Jolly Roger heavy bombers led American planes back to the land of Bataan and Corregidor in the first heavy bombing of the Philippines. Shortly afterward, Jolly Roger bombers led an Amertican aerial attack against Borneo. These two blows opened one of the wildest and most vicious campaigns of the war...a campaign even now coming to a head. Consequently, our boys are flying unusually long missions and finding hardly time enough to write their own families. Our outfit has spearheaded the New Guinea and many other major campaigns and are anxious to retain a great combat record in the present campaigns.
However, if we should in the future find the time and censorship regulations sufficiently relaxed, we will remember the letters. Several of the letters mentioned the encouragement of an English teacher and you might express my appreciation of her interest.
I have written simple letters explaining the situation to all those from whom I have had letters.
Incidently, I have been doing some baseball publicity stunts with Jolly Roger tieups with Johnny Lindell, Tuck Stainback and others including Al Schact, the clown prince of baseball They're good boys to work with...fool around more and are less lens hungry than la Landis, Hope, Benny, Langford etc.
In closing may I express my sincere best wishes for your continued success.
P.S....We try to throw in a new pitcher each inning during ball games over here...pretty rough on them. I still loaf around second base but my 172 pounds has made a new hitter of me. I have to keep in shape...never can tell when I might get put out before reaching a foxhole.