20 October, 2011

20 October 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
20 October, 1944        1600

My darling –

No mail again today but I still have a couple of more of yours as yet unanswered. There have been some fellows in the outfit who have received mail within 10 days – recently. My best time in Germany has been 12 days.

Last night was another night of card playing – poker, and this time I won 100 marks. You must think, darling, as you read my letters telling you that I play cards night after night – that I’m living a pretty unproductive existence. I agree, but what in the world else can a fellow do? I read whatever Medical journals I receive – I still subscribe to the New England Journal of Medicine – but on the whole I must admit that my time is being wasted. Before I was in the Army I didn’t play cards more often than about once in two or three months – and now it seems as if we’re at it about 5 nights out of 7. It gets me down when I stop to think about it – but I don’t know what to do about it. Unfortunately – the days are mostly the same. This afternoon, for example, I saw another movie – “First Comes Courage” with B. Ahearne and Merle Oberon, another one of those damned Norway Nazi-occupied country pictures. But we take them as they come. The whole thing is such a paradox at times – sitting in an old barn watching a movie while the noise outside is sometimes deafening, as it was this afternoon. And in a picture like today’s – the situation is even crazier with explosions and shootings going on on the screen.

I guess I’m feeling kind of bitchy about things – so excuse me sweetheart. I get so goddamned fed up with my stagnancy and the waste of it all. In all my life, dear, most of the time I was doing something, – studying, practicing, gaining all the time and here I am in an unavoidable rut with my hands completely tied. Most of the fellows don’t seem to mind – but it has me down. Perhaps the overall picture will make my life richer – but from my present point of view – I don’t see it. If I didn’t have your love to think of and dream about, darling, I’m afraid I’d become incontrovertibly introspective. You’ve been such a wonderful help – that no matter how often I tell you, dear, I’ll never be able to tell you enough. You must always remember too, darling, that it is not just the idea of the thing, not the fact that I have someone to come home to – but that I have you, someone I love and who loves me. There’s all the difference in the world between the two ideas. You can’t hear me tell you I love you, dear, but you can read not only the direct words, but every thought – and I know you realize by now that my love for you is sincere, warm, deep and what is most important – it is and will be – for you alone. That’s why I hated so much to write – as I did the other day – that perhaps it might be good for you if you went out on a date now and then. I told you I’d hate the thought, sweetheart – and I meant it, but I do want you to be as happy as possible while I’m away and not find the waiting too unbearable; I don’t want you to be bored, dear, with the thought that you are inactive while there is activity going on around you. In my case – there’s not a damned thing to do about it anyway – and I wouldn’t want to. War is exciting enough as it is. I know you may become angry over some of the things I’m writing, but believe me, darling, I write it with sincerity and feeling and not as a challenge. You must believe me, too, and I know that when you think it over – you will. You’ll have to if you can think back to a year’s letter writing and all I’ve tried to tell you about my affection, and love for you in that year. The fact is I want you as I’ve wanted no one else before in my life; I want to love you – as my wife – and live my life with you – and take it from me – sweetheart – I’m going to have you!

No more of that for now. I guess I shouldn’t write like that, but you can understand. how I feel at times, dear. The weather, the slowness of things, my staleness in things medical, my inability to express my love except by the written word – they all have me down a bit – I confess; but I’ve been down before and up again and I already feel better just having written you. This thing will end and then I’ll be coming home –

All for now, dear; my love to the folks – and
My everlasting love to you


about "The Return"

On 20 October 1944, MacArthur returned.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, center, is accompanied by his officers and
Philippines President in Exile, far left, as he wades ashore during
landing operations at Leyte, October 20, 1944. To his left is
Lt. Gen. Richard Sutherland, his chief of staff. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)

Directly from This Day in History on the History.com website, comes this:
The son of an American Civil War hero, MacArthur served as chief U.S. military adviser to the Philippines before World War II. The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, Japan launched its invasion of the Philippines. After struggling against great odds to save his adopted home from Japanese conquest, MacArthur was forced to abandon the Philippine island fortress of Corregidor under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt in March 1942. Left behind at Corregidor and on the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino troops, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive.

After leaving Corregidor, MacArthur and his family traveled by boat 560 miles to the Philippine island of Mindanao, braving mines, rough seas, and the Japanese navy. At the end of the hair-raising 35-hour journey, MacArthur told the boat commander, John D. Bulkeley, "You've taken me out of the jaws of death, and I won't forget it." On March 17, the general and his family boarded a B-17 Flying Fortress for northern Australia. He then took another aircraft and a long train ride down to Melbourne. During this journey, he was informed that there were far fewer Allied troops in Australia than he had hoped. Relief of his forces trapped in the Philippines would not be forthcoming. Deeply disappointed, he issued a statement to the press in which he promised his men and the people of the Philippines, "I shall return." The promise would become his mantra during the next two and a half years, and he would repeat it often in public appearances.

For his valiant defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and celebrated as "America's First Soldier." Put in command of Allied forces in the Southwestern Pacific, his first duty was conducting the defense of Australia. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Bataan fell in April, and the 70,000 American and Filipino soldiers captured there were forced to undertake a death march in which at least 7,000 perished. Then, in May, Corregidor surrendered, and 15,000 more Americans and Filipinos were captured. The Philippines were lost, and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had no immediate plans for their liberation.

After the U.S. victory at the Battle of Midway in June 1942, most Allied resources in the Pacific went to U.S. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who as commander of the Pacific Fleet planned a more direct route to Japan than via the Philippines. Undaunted, MacArthur launched a major offensive in New Guinea, winning a string of victories with his limited forces. By September 1944, he was poised to launch an invasion of the Philippines, but he needed the support of Nimitz's Pacific Fleet. After a period of indecision about whether to invade the Philippines or Formosa (known as Taiwan, today), the Joint Chiefs put their support behind MacArthur's plan, which logistically could be carried out sooner than a Formosa invasion.

On October 20, 1944, a few hours after his troops landed, MacArthur waded ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte. That day, he made a radio broadcast in which he declared, "People of the Philippines, I have returned!" In January 1945, his forces invaded the main Philippine island of Luzon. In February, Japanese forces at Bataan were cut off, and Corregidor was captured. Manila, the Philippine capital, fell in March, and in June MacArthur announced his offensive operations on Luzon to be at an end; although scattered Japanese resistance continued until the end of the war, in August. Only one-third of the men MacArthur left behind in March 1942 survived to see his return. "I'm a little late," he told them, "but we finally came."

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