Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chapter 39 Letters from Home

After a few months, we were transferred up to the island of Luzon north oclip_image002f Manila, to a place called Subic Bay. The bay was packed with ships, and all the land around the bay was full of men. They took us out to a rice paddy with water standing a foot or so deep and said, “this is your assigned area.” Our Skipper did not complain. We built raised walkways, and wooden deck platforms for our tents, and moved into them. We put up a sign over the walkway into our camp that said, “Welcome to 34th Naval Regiment Amphibious Operation.”

An interesting aside at this point is to mention that I was camped out less than a mile from where my friend Paul Silber was so badly wounded not even a year earlier.clip_image002[4]

The thing that got me through all these months in WW II in the Pacific was letters from Charlotte. I know it is hard to believe, but she wrote me a letter every day I was away from her. I did not get mail regularly and clip_image002[8]sometimes, I would get ten letters or more at one time. I cherished every one of them, and read them over and over. I wrote her quite often, but she far out did me in that department

The men all wanted some souvenirs to take home and I heard about a tribe of Negrito pygmies up on the North part of Luzon. The Negrito peoples include several ethnic groups that live in isolated parts of SE Asia. I loaded my jeep with mattress covers and cigarettes and headed North. I had a general idea of where they were from talking with one of the men who had seen them. I spent several hours winding around jungle trails, always trying to head toward a volcano where I expected to find them.

I finally ran into one of them; he was standing by the trail with a bow and arrow in his hands watching me. I stopped and gave him a big “me friend” smile and showed him my mattress covers and cigarettes. I then pointed to his bow and arrows and again to my trading gooOriginal caption: Two Ilongot warriors pose for their picture in Northern Luzon where they have proved invaluable in scouring out Japanese strugglers in the rough mountain terrain. Former headhunters, the Ilongots have tirelessly helped stalk down the last remnants of the Japanese army in the Philippine mountains.ds. He got the message and took a carton of cigs and gave me his bow and arrows, which I still have. By then, he was also smiling and gave me a sort of ‘stay there’ sign with his hands and disappeared into the forest.

After a short time he came back with about five or six others with bows, arrows and several Japanese rifles. Their arrows were all sizes; they had small ones for small game and fish. They also had rather large ones with which they had killed a number of Japanese. That is where they got the rifles. I left with a Jeep-load of loot but no more cigarettes or mattress covers. I kept one of the rifles and gave the rest to the officers and men at my camp.

Photo of Negrito warriors found here.

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