It’s a start of a warm day here today and I’ll bet the weather at home must be swell about now. It usually is around Memorial Day time. Tomorrow will make the third one away from Boston, because 3 years ago we were on a train out of South Carolina and heading for Camp Edwards. I’d like to be heading for there right now. It will be nice if we get to Edwards or Devens rather than to one of the New York camps. I’ll have you in my arms that much sooner, darling. I saw “Brewster’s Millions” the other night (it smelled, I thought), but at the start of the picture – a soldier gets home after a couple of years overseas. I watched the scene of his homecoming very carefully – because it’s what I’m going to do one of these days – not that I need any coaching, dear. Did you see the picture? There’s no getting away from it – that will be a tense moment – but I’m sure we’ll all master it without difficulty – and then we’ll talk and ask each other a bunch of foolish questions – that have no bearing on anything at all. It probably won’t be until the next day that we can sit down, look each other into the eye and realize that we’re together again. That’s the time I’m looking forward to, darling. Don’t get me wrong when I say “foolish questions”; I don’t mean that – or that you and I will necessarily ask them. I mean questions like “I’ll bet you didn’t have any dinner yet”; or “Was it a rough ocean crossing”; or “I’ll bet you’re tired from carrying that bag”. All solicitous and kind, sweetheart – and human, too – but it will take several hours for us to realize what we’ve wanted to realize for so long – and then we’ll talk as we’ve wanted to talk. Anyway, darling, that’s the way I see it now – and it may be entirely different. I don’t care how it is; all I know is that when I finally lay my eyes upon you and I know that I’m back – even for a little while, I’ll be the happiest guy in the world.
We played Bridge last night – and the Chaplain and I won again. We seem to hit it off as partners pretty well. He’s a keen player. I fouled up a couple of hands – but we managed two bids and made one grand and 2 small slams. Someday I ought to read up on the stuff. I started playing by watching at first. I ought to begin to learn some of the fine points.
It was funny – your dreaming of my things in Liverpool and Wilma Too etc – as you wrote me in a recent letter. And you piloting the plane! It was all due to that late ice-cream at St. Clair’s – I’m sure. About our trunks in Liverpool – we heard recently that all of them are in Soissons, France – and I think arrangements are begin made to have them picked up. I’ve nothing in mine except some khaki trousers and shirts – which we don’t wear here – anyway.
And by the way – thank Shirley G. for the note – and what in the world is a rum-butter coke?
Have to leave you now, sweetheart. I’m arranging for the showing of a Sex film – so called – to the Bn. Oh yes – fraternization or non-frat. – the V.D. problem is a major one here. The Sex Film shows the boys the horrors etc.
Darling, I love you more and more! When am I finally going to be able to show you!!
Love to the folks –
It was on my way back from China that I heard my favorite story of the war. Several of General Chennault's fighter pilots going home on the rotation plan were shooting the breeze. Lt. Col. EdwardD. McComas, an old-time Chennault ace at 26 and commanding officer of the Black Lightning Squadron, was talking with pride of "his boys." Here is the story:
Twenty-one-year-old Capt. John E. Meyer of Birmingham, Ala., with four Jap planes to his credit, was leading a flight of P-51's in a raid on Jap shipping at Kurkiang. The ack-ack was heavy as the planes, flying in formation, dropped their bombs on the target with pin-point precision, then swung around in a sharp bank to go back and finish off the job with low-level strafing.
It was on the steeply-banked turn that a 40-mm shell hit the nose of Meyer's ship, exploding on impact and blinding the young pilot with shattered glass. Miraculously, he was not killed - but his plane was falling out of control as he called calmly over the inter-plane radio, "I'm out of it, boys. That hit blinded me. Polish off the - - - - for me."
But Meyer's wingman, Lt. John F. Egan, also just 21, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had other ideas. Sizing up the situation at a glance, he called to Meyer, the only casualty of this bomb run, to follow his instructions.
As Egan gave the orders by radio, the blinded Meyer, responding almost automatically, pulled back on the stick while bringing his left wing up, and leveled off the falling plane. But then the blind pilot faced a new threat - from a flight of Jap Tojos and Oscars coming in to finish off the obviously crippled plane.
The alert Egan saw them and called a warning. He had Meyer continue on course, but the other planes of his flight rallied around the crippled ship, as if they were running interference in a football game. The other Japs hesitated, in spite of their numerical advantage, and that hesitation saved Meyer again.
Egan was now flying side by side with his blinded pal, keeping up a steady stream of conversation over the inter-plane radio.
"How you doing, Stinky? This ought to be a cinch for you. You always were good at blind flying, and this is it - but good! More right rudder, there. Nose down a bit. You're doing fine. Only another half hour and we'll be home." It was a one-sided conversation. Meyer was too weak from loss of blood, too shaken to do more than just follow the instructions that kept ringing in his ears. Egan's voice was serving as his eyes.
Then, suddenly, he heard Egan talking to the control tower at the home field. They were going to land. The realization roused Meyer.
Once around the field with half flaps into the wind. Egan was calling out the air speed and altimeter readings as he flew alongside Meyer. Then the ground came up gently to meet the approaching planes. Egan had guided the sightless pilot squarely onto the runway.
John Meyer crouches on the wing of "Stinky, Jr.," a P-51, 118th T.R.S.
Warned in advance by the control tower, medics were waiting for Meyer. Eventually, he would regain his sight. But two days later, while Meyer was resting in a hospital, Jack Egan was lost over Hong Kong.