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Letters Home – Boot Camp

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On December 7, 1941, Richard Tobin McCurdy was stationed at Camp Wheeler, Georgia and looking forward to holiday leave when he could visit his family back in New Orleans. Below are excerpts from several letters home written between December 14 – 21, 1941. He describes the changes in the camp since the attack on Pearl Harbor and still holds out hope that he can come home for Christmas.

On Pearl Harbor –

“I received your letter the other day telling me of the attack Japanese attack on our possessions in the Pacific. They made the mistake of their lives. They do not know just how mad they made the boys here, who were expecting to go home for Christmas.”

On Life in Camp –

“Since the war started, things around here have been humming. All of our sentries have been carrying live ammunition in their guns for the past week.”

“Yesterday in the Mess Hall, Commander Waters was talking to us about the situation. He also discussed Week-end passes. Some guy up and asked – How about the three-day leave at Christmas, Sir? The commander answered that he did not know for sure whether we would get them or not – yet.”

“Private Clarence Hemby finally came back and gave himself up. He has been ‘Over the Hill’ for 3 weeks. He will probably get Court Marshalled [sic]. Going A.W.O.L. during War time is a serious thing. He is just a kid too – only eighteen years old.”

On the Future –

“Everything is swell here, and the gang here thinks Uncle Sam will make a short War and we will be home for New Years. Personally I hope the U.S. does not act too cocky. These sneaky Jap may be underrated. We can lick them all if we just put our minds to it.”

“Everybody is wondering when we are to leave and where we are going. These questions will soon be answered. Hope to be with you and family Christmas.”

“Who ever told you that the trouble with the army was you never knew when or where you were going – knew what they were talking about. Personally, I don’t give a damn!, but I would like to see you all at Christmas. After that, they can bring on Panama or what have you.”

“We have just about finished our training here at Wheeler. They have made it 10 weeks instead of 13 weeks…I have drawn all heavy clothes. I don’t know if this has any significant [sic], though, as they are sending a lot to Panama and Florida.”

“I hope you folks are not letting this war stuff get you down. There is nothing to worry about, Germany is getting her deserts [sic] and so will the Japs. Take care of yourselves, so we can talk at Christmas time. I don’t have much time off. I’ll be home, though, if only for one hour.”

About the Author –

Richard Tobin McCurdy served in the 3rd Battalion, 6th Armored Division. After training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, he traveled to Ireland. On November 8, 1942, he participated in the invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch) where he was killed in action.

Gift of the McCurdy family, 2010.173

Read more stories of sacrifice at www.mymemorialday.org.

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