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San Diego State’s WWII letters

Geography professor kept newsletter from all battle fronts

Herman Addleson became a paratrooper, along with fellow Aztec Tom Rice. They were both on the cross-country team at State, and they were both at Normandy with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
Herman Addleson became a paratrooper, along with fellow Aztec Tom Rice. They were both on the cross-country team at State, and they were both at Normandy with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

When the United States entered World War II, numerous San Diego State College (now University) students joined up and shipped out. Doctor Lauren Post, a professor of geography, recalled the loneliness he had felt while far from home as a sailor during World War I, and invited those Aztecs to write to him. He then excerpted their letters and compiled them into a monthly newsletter that he mailed to servicemen around the world. With help from volunteers on campus, he published and distributed the Aztec News Letter for four years, meticulously keeping track of endless address changes as his recipients were moved from one place to another. By the war’s end, Doc Post had amassed a collection of more than 4500 letters, now archived in the special collections at San Diego State.

Today, local author and community college professor Lisa K. Shapiro finds that she is teaching many students who are transitioning from military to civilian life. Shapiro uses Post’s letters at the outset of her business communications classes, and says that they serve as “an ice-breaker, allowing me to better connect with students who are veterans. I like to show them how powerful letters can be.” Eventually, Shapiro began poring over the issues of the Aztec News Letter to create a book about Post’s remarkable correspondence: No Forgotten Fronts: From Classrooms to Combat. What follows are selections from the University’s collection, with occasional introductions for context.

Where the Boys are Separated from the Men

Herman Addleson was born with a cleft lip that disqualified him from military service. He wanted to serve his country alongside his peers, but he could not afford the corrective procedure. When his former schoolmate and pro baseball legend Ted Williams learned of this obstacle to his friend’s service, he sponsored the surgery. Addleson became a paratrooper, along with fellow Aztec Tom Rice. They were both on the cross-country team at State, and they were both at Normandy with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Rice came home, Addleson did not. Addleson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. Rice earned two Purple Hearts for his service. (Rice parachuted into Normandy on D-Day in 1944. Seventy-five years later, on June 6, 2019, he marked the anniversary by doing it again — at age 96. A native of Coronado, he still lives there.)

Doctor Lauren Post, a professor of geography, recalled the loneliness he had felt so far from home as a sailor during World War I, and invited Aztec servicemen to write to him.

November 5, 1942

Dear Doctor Post,

As I read the captions 1st Lt. & 2nd Lt. in the News Letter I feel funny in writing and not being in the same class as they. Yet even as a “Buck Private” (with hopes of officer training) I feel that I am proud to serve my country, no matter how small or how large my rank may be. My admiration for all my college friends, who are serving in the highest ranks and may they continue to advance and end this conflict in safety.

Regardless of what the comments may be on being drafted you really have an opportunity in this army. It[sic] clean living and wholesome ideals and I’m for it 100%.

Thanks again Doc Post for your kindness and also give my regards to Andy and Clarence & tell them to drop me a line. (Boy Im[sic] sure far from home.)

Sincerely,

Pvt. Herman Addleson

HQCo BN#2 120th Inf.

Camp Blanding

Florida

Fort Benning, Georgia

November 17, 1943

Hello Doc.

Thanks for News Letter #20. I see the boys are really doing great. I am now a qualified Paratrooper, and am really proud to be one. Made five jumps, three from 1200 ft. and two from 800 ft.

My first jump was Monday, Oct. 18, 1943, a day I’ll never forget as long as I live. We were all up at 5:45 a.m. that morning, many of us had a very restless night. Our thoughts ran in common, I guess, for our past seemed to flash through all of our minds. It was cold & foggy that day & we marched over to the field, we were all trying to sing. Yes, sing, even if our voices did crack a little. Everyone was excited, nervous & mostly scared. As we took our parachutes out of the bins, I looked at mine & I guess I said a prayer. ‘Please dear chute open for me.’

As we lined up, 24 men in front of the plane, my knees felt like water...

The next commands came very fast... ‘Stand up.’ All of us managed to stand and grab the cable above our head. ‘Hook up,’ ‘Check equipment,’ & ‘Sound off,’ were all done automatic. Then ‘Stand in the Door,’ everyone fixes his eyes on the door. The jump master taps the first man & hollers ‘go.’ Out we go, & when you leave the door the prop-blast takes you away. You drop 75 ft. to 100 ft. before your chute opens. In that time, you don’t know you’re falling. Then you hear a crack of a whip sound, & you look up & there is the most beautiful sight in the world. The canopy is open & all is fine. You descend about 19-20 ft. per second so you are down before you know it. After your[sic] on the ground, the tension over, you holler with joy & slap each other on the back. Each jump after that is the same, only with more tensifying[sic] fear as you know what’s coming. Yet it is safe as driving a car or anything else that has the word safe with it. Don’t forget, it’s right here, where the boys are separated from the men...

Wish all the boys luck for me cause I’ll soon be there...

As ever

Herman Addleson

France

By the war’s end, Doc Post had amassed a collection of more than 4500 letters, now archived in the special collections at San Diego State.

June 28, 1944

Dear Doc Post,

Myron G. Sessions, Herman Addleson and I have been on the continent since D-Day at H minus five hours and we weren’t early either. Jumped in Normandy at 1:31 am June 6, D Day. The reception which was given us was really torrid. They threw everything at us including the kitchen sink. The sky was lit up as bright as day, ack ack bursts, streams of red, green and white tracers converged on us and showery bursts of flares outlined us in the sky as we neared our drop zone. I was no. 1 man waiting to push the equipment bundles out on the ‘go’ signal. As soon as we sighted the French coast we stood up and hooked up. The flak was coming in the door and I could hear it clattering against the fuselage beneath me. The ‘go’ signal came and the bundles were cumbersome to get out because we [were] trying to avoid ack ack by fishtailing and diving. After the bundles cleared the plane the men began to get out at double time. As I left the plane my arm got hooked in the door and I was hung up with my arm inside and my body outside, finally slipped free when I straightened my arm. We were about 500 feet then and going about 135 mph, couldn’t slow down cause we would be an easier target. We were getting enough flak at the time anyway. Luckily I wasn’t hit at all. My wristwatch came off and is probably in the possession of the crew chief now. I came in on a field which was patterned by canals. I didn’t get wet even though my ‘chute reinflated and I was being pulled toward a canal. I cut the suspension line in time. I couldn’t get out of my harness because I had so much equipment on, couldn’t even get my weapon out. Finally had to cut my way out. We organized and raised hell behind enemy lines ‘til the Seaborne troops reached us. Gliders came in after we started on Hitler’s SS men and General Pratt was killed in one as it struck an anti airborne obstacle not far from where we were. The gliders were duck soup for those Nazi machine gunners as they came in at about 100 feet. You can’t conceive of the magnitude of this airborne invasion, it was really gigantic.

Since our arrival on French soil I have had some close brushes with Hitler’s Satellites and came out the lucky one thus far. One can’t be too cautious at any moment or during any movement.

It seems that every French farm house has a wine cellar with four or five casks of about 75 gal capacity full of cider, even some hard stuff has been uncovered. The fruit in the orchards is getting ripe and the summer storms are frequent. A lot of this fighting has been from hedge row to hedge row, no picnic.

Received the June edition of the News Letter which was a dilly, really enjoyed it and passed it on. Gotta go now.

Sincerely,

Tom Rice

A Little Personal Grudge

One of Doc Post’s most prolific correspondents, Robert Cozens, lost two brothers, Richard and Thomas, in military flight training accidents. He went on to become a decorated pilot.

Professor Lisa K. Shapiro uses Post’s letters at the outset of her business communications classes, and says that they serve as “an ice-breaker, allowing me to better connect with students who are veterans. I like to show them how powerful letters can be.”

October 19, 1942

Lt. Robert C. Cozens

391st Bomb Squad

Geiger Field, Washington

Dear Dr. Post,

...Everything has been going along fine since my graduation from flying school last July — and since my marriage the same day! Pat has been with me here in Spokane and we have been, and are, very happy.

The shock of Tom’s sudden death has gradually worn away, and now it is hard for me to realize that he really has left us. I feel now that have a little personal grudge to satisfy in this war and I am becoming more and more anxious to get over there where I can do something about it...

I am flying B17 ‘flying fortresses’ here, and I really do like them. Also flew some of Consolidated’s B24 ‘Liberators,’ the first month I was here — they are a ‘sweet’ ship also. Guess I will cut this off here ‘Doc.’

Sincerely,

Bob Cozens

No Complaints

Lt. Gordon Clark Chamberlain was a glider pilot, flying one of the first gliders to land in France. He earned an Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters and a Purple Heart. He made it through D-Day but was killed in action on March 24, 1945 in Germany.

Friday, August 18, 1944

England

Dear Doc,

Received News Letter #29 and I certainly was glad to hear that so many of the boys came through the D-Day landings safely...

There’s not much I can add to the accounts given of our particular part in the initial landings [page torn]. …that I know of not a single glider pilot who does [page torn] put the paratroopers in a degree heretofore unknown. Those boys were at a tremendous disadvantage when they were dropped in there, and no one needs to tell of the splendid job they did while they were over there.

Those boys in the medical outfits cannot be praised too highly, either. I know of many an airborne man who would not be alive today had it not been for the tireless efforts of those medics — many of whom made excellent targets for German snipers, and many times the snipers did not fail to take advantage of it, either.

Hope we all are back home before long!

Yours for a quick victory,

Gordon C. Chamberlain

Sunday, February 25, 1945

Dear Doc,

Seems as though I owe you a letter for quite some time now, but don’t seem to have done much about it.

I, too, have finally left the English isle and am now existing on a former German airfield in France. I thought our life was far from luxurious in England, but it was little less than that compared to our present set-up. To say the very least, it is indeed a primitive way of life, but rather enjoyable for a while. It’s the same old stuff you’ve heard so much before from so many of the other guys — tents, mess kits, mud, etc., but no complaints.

My brother-in-law, John W. McCully, is now in India as a B-29 pilot, and he doesn’t seem to mind it much.

So far, the only Aztec I’ve ever run into was Willard Wallace, as his group was stationed very close to mine while we were in England.

Perhaps my tour of the world may lead me to the Pacific theater eventually where I’ll doubtless see a lot of my college friends.

This candle is getting low, so best I close up for tonite.

Your friend,

Gordon C. Chamberlain

Enough to Satisfy Me for Some Time

Louis Lepore was with the Marines in the Pacific when they secured the island of Iwo Jima; his brother Albert was with the Army in Austria when victory was declared in Europe.

Tom Rice parachuted into Normandy on D-Day in 1944. Seventy-five years later, on June 6, 2019, he marked the anniversary by doing it again — at age 96. A native of Coronado, he still lives there.

April 17, 1945

Dear Doc. Post,

...This came about on March 2, when I joined the 27th Marines up front on Iwo Jima. I was up there for three weeks, as fighting continued for some time after the official securing of that island. During that time I saw enough to satisfy me for some time.

I guess I saw a great deal more than did the other Staters I went over with to Iwo. I saw ‘Cotton’ Gilliard and Lt. Ted Thooney back aboard the first day with their slight wounds...

I was very fortunate and didn’t ever get a scratch. While up there I was with a machine gun and then a rifle platoon, the last time up. I still don’t see how I came out so, because enough fellows got hit around me and I had a couple of pieces of shrapnel glance my carbine.

The newspapers back home apparently covered the operation quite thoroughly, so I shall not dwell on the subject any longer, because it’s something better forgotten...

Well Doc, there isn’t much more to say at present. Just keep taking care of State until we get back and we’ll be there.

Sincerely yours,

Louie

Austria

May 11, 1945

Hello Doc!

...We received the official news shortly after Churchill’s speech. No one shouted; I turned, cranked the phone and notified the platoons — still no jubilation.

You see we were so occupied with the job of handling thousands of German prisoners for hours on end that we were pretty well pooped.

Our outfit has really been roaring along until we screeched to a halt here in Austria. We wound up at the time as the farthest East of any American troops. I don’t know if since then the other prong of the 3rd Army arrived at Prague proceeded farther East. No map!

But, Doc, you should see these Jerries — if the ‘SS ers’ — Hitler’s alleged supermen are really sad looking sacks — plenty meek for the most part, and humbly grateful that they are in our hands instead of the ‘Russki’s.’ Oh but these Jerries fear the Russians! You should hear some of their stories of how the Red Army operates. That’s one outfit that could teach Hitler a few fundamentals on ‘total war.’

The Russians were a happy lot — they yelled out to all the liberated Russians they encountered — especially to the girls (why not?). We had a great time — the people heaping flowers upon the passing vehicles, all the G.I.’s putting forth with their own ‘flowery phrases.’ Imagine their surprise when the ‘young things’ would answer back in high school English—!

Sincerely,

Al Lepore

Foxholes

Literally digging into the dirt, fighting on the ground, and holding positions on the front lines was the work of Marines, infantry, paratroopers, cavalry, tanks, and tank destroyers. These divisions suffered the most casualties, and typically got the least recognition — a source of bitterness for some.

Aztec News Letter Christmas Edition, 1945

September 23, 1945

Dear Dr. Post,

Here I am in the States safe and sound after knowing six months of combat as a machine gunner in the Infantry.

Sometimes, as I think about it, I don’t feel that I should still be alive. I had so many friends killed around me that it seems odd that I should be spared. One of the facts about warfare that most people do not realize is that a small group of men do the actual fighting. The front lines are usually small foxholes widely spaced. It is a rare thing to see any officer above a captain even near the front. The only support the rifleman usually has is his brain and his rifle.

Death becomes so commonplace that we used to eat our K-ration lunch right by the side of bloody corpses.

The number of men in the rear of the front lines is amazing. The further back one goes the more crowded it becomes. On the front line there is plenty of elbow room...

Yours truly

Pfc Chester A. Hagman

Austria

May 10, 1945

Dear Dr. Post,

...Sure, the Air Force and Navy have lost a lot of men. But — how nice it must be to die on a nice clean deck in nice clean clothes with a stomach full of good, warm food. How nice it must be to die in a nice clean plane doing something you like and knowing that a bed, hot chow, women and everything warm await you at your base.

I wonder if these big shots have ever seen a mangled body lying in a stinking gutter in a lousy, stinking Krout town [?] I wonder if these heroes have ever lain on a snowy hill, half frozen, always hungry and scared, and listened to the strangled wail of ‘Medic’ on a dark night; knowing that the medics are too busy to help most of the wounded, knowing that to attempt to evacuate the wounded is almost impossible. Have they ever heard artillery crashing down on their stranded unit for 12 hours straight, slowly dying minute after minute? Have they ever sat all night in a frozen foxhole and listened to Panzers moving just over the hill, knowing that if they attacked there would be no stopping them?

I doubt if any of these beribboned glamour boys have ever seen or done any of these things.

Do the people at home realize who has actually fought this war?

Sincerely,

S/Sgt. Wm. B. Boone

October 12, 1944

Dear Doc, et. al:

Received the September News Letter in my Peleliu Fox Hole a few days ago. We’re back a few hundred yards now, resting for another go at the yellow so & so’s. This has been by far the hardest fought & bloodiest fight so far. The news reports we’ve seen don’t even begin to give a picture of the Hell it’s been for four long weeks.

A Lieutenant gave his life to save mine on D day [generic term for the day the invasion began]. All I got was a tiny scratch on the leg. He started to enter a pill box which was supposed to be cleaned out. It wasn’t & he jumped back with three .25 slugs in his stomach. I ran over to him and laid him down behind a pill box, dressed his worst wound and was about to start on the others when a Jap tossed a grenade at us which landed only a few feet away. I tried to pick up the Lieutenant but couldn’t as he was a pretty big lad, when I failed I turned around and looked for help. There was no one around. At that instant the Lieut. got to his feet, and with a neat football block, knocked me down & covered me with his own body, taking the full blast of the grenade. I got up and finally managed to half drag & carry (with his help) him out of danger, just as six Japs poured out of the pill box to be mowed down by the others who were near. A doctor & stretcher bearers came up then & he was evacuated. I heard later he had died.

Cheerio to all Aztecs

Sgt. A.B. (Allison) Lutterman USMC

Heaven on Earth

Longing for San Diego…State in particular.

July 18, 1942

Pearl Harbor

Hello Doc:

How I would like to be lying out in the quad waiting for football practice or drowsing through one of your classes (the warm weather of course). Speaking of Geography, this island would really be an ideal place to have field trips...

It is too bad that so many of the old guard have left school to do more important things, but I know that they can sense the importance of everyone doing his share, and I know many of them will return to enjoy college life once more...

Sincerely,

Armond Ault

January 14, 1945

France

Dear Dr. Post,

Just received my long overdue edition of the News Letter... I passed it around to the guys in the squadron to read. The color photo of the campus made their eyes pop! All of them are eastern boys and didn’t believe me when I said that San Diego was ‘heaven on earth!’ Pictures of places you love bring home so much closer.

We’re still slugging it out over here. Things are a lot tougher than they were a couple months ago. Every inch of ground has to be fought for. It is freezing cold and has been snowing quite a bit lately. The ground is frozen solid so you have to blast when you dig in. But it’s better than mud...

My candle is burning low and I’m being threatened with a fate worse than death if I don’t put it out, so guess I had better close for tonight...

Yours truly,

Bob Davies

All letters copyrighted and reproduced with permission.

World War II San Diego State Servicemen’s Correspondence Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University

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Herman Addleson became a paratrooper, along with fellow Aztec Tom Rice. They were both on the cross-country team at State, and they were both at Normandy with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
Herman Addleson became a paratrooper, along with fellow Aztec Tom Rice. They were both on the cross-country team at State, and they were both at Normandy with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

When the United States entered World War II, numerous San Diego State College (now University) students joined up and shipped out. Doctor Lauren Post, a professor of geography, recalled the loneliness he had felt while far from home as a sailor during World War I, and invited those Aztecs to write to him. He then excerpted their letters and compiled them into a monthly newsletter that he mailed to servicemen around the world. With help from volunteers on campus, he published and distributed the Aztec News Letter for four years, meticulously keeping track of endless address changes as his recipients were moved from one place to another. By the war’s end, Doc Post had amassed a collection of more than 4500 letters, now archived in the special collections at San Diego State.

Today, local author and community college professor Lisa K. Shapiro finds that she is teaching many students who are transitioning from military to civilian life. Shapiro uses Post’s letters at the outset of her business communications classes, and says that they serve as “an ice-breaker, allowing me to better connect with students who are veterans. I like to show them how powerful letters can be.” Eventually, Shapiro began poring over the issues of the Aztec News Letter to create a book about Post’s remarkable correspondence: No Forgotten Fronts: From Classrooms to Combat. What follows are selections from the University’s collection, with occasional introductions for context.

Where the Boys are Separated from the Men

Herman Addleson was born with a cleft lip that disqualified him from military service. He wanted to serve his country alongside his peers, but he could not afford the corrective procedure. When his former schoolmate and pro baseball legend Ted Williams learned of this obstacle to his friend’s service, he sponsored the surgery. Addleson became a paratrooper, along with fellow Aztec Tom Rice. They were both on the cross-country team at State, and they were both at Normandy with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Rice came home, Addleson did not. Addleson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. Rice earned two Purple Hearts for his service. (Rice parachuted into Normandy on D-Day in 1944. Seventy-five years later, on June 6, 2019, he marked the anniversary by doing it again — at age 96. A native of Coronado, he still lives there.)

Doctor Lauren Post, a professor of geography, recalled the loneliness he had felt so far from home as a sailor during World War I, and invited Aztec servicemen to write to him.

November 5, 1942

Dear Doctor Post,

As I read the captions 1st Lt. & 2nd Lt. in the News Letter I feel funny in writing and not being in the same class as they. Yet even as a “Buck Private” (with hopes of officer training) I feel that I am proud to serve my country, no matter how small or how large my rank may be. My admiration for all my college friends, who are serving in the highest ranks and may they continue to advance and end this conflict in safety.

Regardless of what the comments may be on being drafted you really have an opportunity in this army. It[sic] clean living and wholesome ideals and I’m for it 100%.

Thanks again Doc Post for your kindness and also give my regards to Andy and Clarence & tell them to drop me a line. (Boy Im[sic] sure far from home.)

Sincerely,

Pvt. Herman Addleson

HQCo BN#2 120th Inf.

Camp Blanding

Florida

Fort Benning, Georgia

November 17, 1943

Hello Doc.

Thanks for News Letter #20. I see the boys are really doing great. I am now a qualified Paratrooper, and am really proud to be one. Made five jumps, three from 1200 ft. and two from 800 ft.

My first jump was Monday, Oct. 18, 1943, a day I’ll never forget as long as I live. We were all up at 5:45 a.m. that morning, many of us had a very restless night. Our thoughts ran in common, I guess, for our past seemed to flash through all of our minds. It was cold & foggy that day & we marched over to the field, we were all trying to sing. Yes, sing, even if our voices did crack a little. Everyone was excited, nervous & mostly scared. As we took our parachutes out of the bins, I looked at mine & I guess I said a prayer. ‘Please dear chute open for me.’

As we lined up, 24 men in front of the plane, my knees felt like water...

The next commands came very fast... ‘Stand up.’ All of us managed to stand and grab the cable above our head. ‘Hook up,’ ‘Check equipment,’ & ‘Sound off,’ were all done automatic. Then ‘Stand in the Door,’ everyone fixes his eyes on the door. The jump master taps the first man & hollers ‘go.’ Out we go, & when you leave the door the prop-blast takes you away. You drop 75 ft. to 100 ft. before your chute opens. In that time, you don’t know you’re falling. Then you hear a crack of a whip sound, & you look up & there is the most beautiful sight in the world. The canopy is open & all is fine. You descend about 19-20 ft. per second so you are down before you know it. After your[sic] on the ground, the tension over, you holler with joy & slap each other on the back. Each jump after that is the same, only with more tensifying[sic] fear as you know what’s coming. Yet it is safe as driving a car or anything else that has the word safe with it. Don’t forget, it’s right here, where the boys are separated from the men...

Wish all the boys luck for me cause I’ll soon be there...

As ever

Herman Addleson

France

By the war’s end, Doc Post had amassed a collection of more than 4500 letters, now archived in the special collections at San Diego State.

June 28, 1944

Dear Doc Post,

Myron G. Sessions, Herman Addleson and I have been on the continent since D-Day at H minus five hours and we weren’t early either. Jumped in Normandy at 1:31 am June 6, D Day. The reception which was given us was really torrid. They threw everything at us including the kitchen sink. The sky was lit up as bright as day, ack ack bursts, streams of red, green and white tracers converged on us and showery bursts of flares outlined us in the sky as we neared our drop zone. I was no. 1 man waiting to push the equipment bundles out on the ‘go’ signal. As soon as we sighted the French coast we stood up and hooked up. The flak was coming in the door and I could hear it clattering against the fuselage beneath me. The ‘go’ signal came and the bundles were cumbersome to get out because we [were] trying to avoid ack ack by fishtailing and diving. After the bundles cleared the plane the men began to get out at double time. As I left the plane my arm got hooked in the door and I was hung up with my arm inside and my body outside, finally slipped free when I straightened my arm. We were about 500 feet then and going about 135 mph, couldn’t slow down cause we would be an easier target. We were getting enough flak at the time anyway. Luckily I wasn’t hit at all. My wristwatch came off and is probably in the possession of the crew chief now. I came in on a field which was patterned by canals. I didn’t get wet even though my ‘chute reinflated and I was being pulled toward a canal. I cut the suspension line in time. I couldn’t get out of my harness because I had so much equipment on, couldn’t even get my weapon out. Finally had to cut my way out. We organized and raised hell behind enemy lines ‘til the Seaborne troops reached us. Gliders came in after we started on Hitler’s SS men and General Pratt was killed in one as it struck an anti airborne obstacle not far from where we were. The gliders were duck soup for those Nazi machine gunners as they came in at about 100 feet. You can’t conceive of the magnitude of this airborne invasion, it was really gigantic.

Since our arrival on French soil I have had some close brushes with Hitler’s Satellites and came out the lucky one thus far. One can’t be too cautious at any moment or during any movement.

It seems that every French farm house has a wine cellar with four or five casks of about 75 gal capacity full of cider, even some hard stuff has been uncovered. The fruit in the orchards is getting ripe and the summer storms are frequent. A lot of this fighting has been from hedge row to hedge row, no picnic.

Received the June edition of the News Letter which was a dilly, really enjoyed it and passed it on. Gotta go now.

Sincerely,

Tom Rice

A Little Personal Grudge

One of Doc Post’s most prolific correspondents, Robert Cozens, lost two brothers, Richard and Thomas, in military flight training accidents. He went on to become a decorated pilot.

Professor Lisa K. Shapiro uses Post’s letters at the outset of her business communications classes, and says that they serve as “an ice-breaker, allowing me to better connect with students who are veterans. I like to show them how powerful letters can be.”

October 19, 1942

Lt. Robert C. Cozens

391st Bomb Squad

Geiger Field, Washington

Dear Dr. Post,

...Everything has been going along fine since my graduation from flying school last July — and since my marriage the same day! Pat has been with me here in Spokane and we have been, and are, very happy.

The shock of Tom’s sudden death has gradually worn away, and now it is hard for me to realize that he really has left us. I feel now that have a little personal grudge to satisfy in this war and I am becoming more and more anxious to get over there where I can do something about it...

I am flying B17 ‘flying fortresses’ here, and I really do like them. Also flew some of Consolidated’s B24 ‘Liberators,’ the first month I was here — they are a ‘sweet’ ship also. Guess I will cut this off here ‘Doc.’

Sincerely,

Bob Cozens

No Complaints

Lt. Gordon Clark Chamberlain was a glider pilot, flying one of the first gliders to land in France. He earned an Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters and a Purple Heart. He made it through D-Day but was killed in action on March 24, 1945 in Germany.

Friday, August 18, 1944

England

Dear Doc,

Received News Letter #29 and I certainly was glad to hear that so many of the boys came through the D-Day landings safely...

There’s not much I can add to the accounts given of our particular part in the initial landings [page torn]. …that I know of not a single glider pilot who does [page torn] put the paratroopers in a degree heretofore unknown. Those boys were at a tremendous disadvantage when they were dropped in there, and no one needs to tell of the splendid job they did while they were over there.

Those boys in the medical outfits cannot be praised too highly, either. I know of many an airborne man who would not be alive today had it not been for the tireless efforts of those medics — many of whom made excellent targets for German snipers, and many times the snipers did not fail to take advantage of it, either.

Hope we all are back home before long!

Yours for a quick victory,

Gordon C. Chamberlain

Sunday, February 25, 1945

Dear Doc,

Seems as though I owe you a letter for quite some time now, but don’t seem to have done much about it.

I, too, have finally left the English isle and am now existing on a former German airfield in France. I thought our life was far from luxurious in England, but it was little less than that compared to our present set-up. To say the very least, it is indeed a primitive way of life, but rather enjoyable for a while. It’s the same old stuff you’ve heard so much before from so many of the other guys — tents, mess kits, mud, etc., but no complaints.

My brother-in-law, John W. McCully, is now in India as a B-29 pilot, and he doesn’t seem to mind it much.

So far, the only Aztec I’ve ever run into was Willard Wallace, as his group was stationed very close to mine while we were in England.

Perhaps my tour of the world may lead me to the Pacific theater eventually where I’ll doubtless see a lot of my college friends.

This candle is getting low, so best I close up for tonite.

Your friend,

Gordon C. Chamberlain

Enough to Satisfy Me for Some Time

Louis Lepore was with the Marines in the Pacific when they secured the island of Iwo Jima; his brother Albert was with the Army in Austria when victory was declared in Europe.

Tom Rice parachuted into Normandy on D-Day in 1944. Seventy-five years later, on June 6, 2019, he marked the anniversary by doing it again — at age 96. A native of Coronado, he still lives there.

April 17, 1945

Dear Doc. Post,

...This came about on March 2, when I joined the 27th Marines up front on Iwo Jima. I was up there for three weeks, as fighting continued for some time after the official securing of that island. During that time I saw enough to satisfy me for some time.

I guess I saw a great deal more than did the other Staters I went over with to Iwo. I saw ‘Cotton’ Gilliard and Lt. Ted Thooney back aboard the first day with their slight wounds...

I was very fortunate and didn’t ever get a scratch. While up there I was with a machine gun and then a rifle platoon, the last time up. I still don’t see how I came out so, because enough fellows got hit around me and I had a couple of pieces of shrapnel glance my carbine.

The newspapers back home apparently covered the operation quite thoroughly, so I shall not dwell on the subject any longer, because it’s something better forgotten...

Well Doc, there isn’t much more to say at present. Just keep taking care of State until we get back and we’ll be there.

Sincerely yours,

Louie

Austria

May 11, 1945

Hello Doc!

...We received the official news shortly after Churchill’s speech. No one shouted; I turned, cranked the phone and notified the platoons — still no jubilation.

You see we were so occupied with the job of handling thousands of German prisoners for hours on end that we were pretty well pooped.

Our outfit has really been roaring along until we screeched to a halt here in Austria. We wound up at the time as the farthest East of any American troops. I don’t know if since then the other prong of the 3rd Army arrived at Prague proceeded farther East. No map!

But, Doc, you should see these Jerries — if the ‘SS ers’ — Hitler’s alleged supermen are really sad looking sacks — plenty meek for the most part, and humbly grateful that they are in our hands instead of the ‘Russki’s.’ Oh but these Jerries fear the Russians! You should hear some of their stories of how the Red Army operates. That’s one outfit that could teach Hitler a few fundamentals on ‘total war.’

The Russians were a happy lot — they yelled out to all the liberated Russians they encountered — especially to the girls (why not?). We had a great time — the people heaping flowers upon the passing vehicles, all the G.I.’s putting forth with their own ‘flowery phrases.’ Imagine their surprise when the ‘young things’ would answer back in high school English—!

Sincerely,

Al Lepore

Foxholes

Literally digging into the dirt, fighting on the ground, and holding positions on the front lines was the work of Marines, infantry, paratroopers, cavalry, tanks, and tank destroyers. These divisions suffered the most casualties, and typically got the least recognition — a source of bitterness for some.

Aztec News Letter Christmas Edition, 1945

September 23, 1945

Dear Dr. Post,

Here I am in the States safe and sound after knowing six months of combat as a machine gunner in the Infantry.

Sometimes, as I think about it, I don’t feel that I should still be alive. I had so many friends killed around me that it seems odd that I should be spared. One of the facts about warfare that most people do not realize is that a small group of men do the actual fighting. The front lines are usually small foxholes widely spaced. It is a rare thing to see any officer above a captain even near the front. The only support the rifleman usually has is his brain and his rifle.

Death becomes so commonplace that we used to eat our K-ration lunch right by the side of bloody corpses.

The number of men in the rear of the front lines is amazing. The further back one goes the more crowded it becomes. On the front line there is plenty of elbow room...

Yours truly

Pfc Chester A. Hagman

Austria

May 10, 1945

Dear Dr. Post,

...Sure, the Air Force and Navy have lost a lot of men. But — how nice it must be to die on a nice clean deck in nice clean clothes with a stomach full of good, warm food. How nice it must be to die in a nice clean plane doing something you like and knowing that a bed, hot chow, women and everything warm await you at your base.

I wonder if these big shots have ever seen a mangled body lying in a stinking gutter in a lousy, stinking Krout town [?] I wonder if these heroes have ever lain on a snowy hill, half frozen, always hungry and scared, and listened to the strangled wail of ‘Medic’ on a dark night; knowing that the medics are too busy to help most of the wounded, knowing that to attempt to evacuate the wounded is almost impossible. Have they ever heard artillery crashing down on their stranded unit for 12 hours straight, slowly dying minute after minute? Have they ever sat all night in a frozen foxhole and listened to Panzers moving just over the hill, knowing that if they attacked there would be no stopping them?

I doubt if any of these beribboned glamour boys have ever seen or done any of these things.

Do the people at home realize who has actually fought this war?

Sincerely,

S/Sgt. Wm. B. Boone

October 12, 1944

Dear Doc, et. al:

Received the September News Letter in my Peleliu Fox Hole a few days ago. We’re back a few hundred yards now, resting for another go at the yellow so & so’s. This has been by far the hardest fought & bloodiest fight so far. The news reports we’ve seen don’t even begin to give a picture of the Hell it’s been for four long weeks.

A Lieutenant gave his life to save mine on D day [generic term for the day the invasion began]. All I got was a tiny scratch on the leg. He started to enter a pill box which was supposed to be cleaned out. It wasn’t & he jumped back with three .25 slugs in his stomach. I ran over to him and laid him down behind a pill box, dressed his worst wound and was about to start on the others when a Jap tossed a grenade at us which landed only a few feet away. I tried to pick up the Lieutenant but couldn’t as he was a pretty big lad, when I failed I turned around and looked for help. There was no one around. At that instant the Lieut. got to his feet, and with a neat football block, knocked me down & covered me with his own body, taking the full blast of the grenade. I got up and finally managed to half drag & carry (with his help) him out of danger, just as six Japs poured out of the pill box to be mowed down by the others who were near. A doctor & stretcher bearers came up then & he was evacuated. I heard later he had died.

Cheerio to all Aztecs

Sgt. A.B. (Allison) Lutterman USMC

Heaven on Earth

Longing for San Diego…State in particular.

July 18, 1942

Pearl Harbor

Hello Doc:

How I would like to be lying out in the quad waiting for football practice or drowsing through one of your classes (the warm weather of course). Speaking of Geography, this island would really be an ideal place to have field trips...

It is too bad that so many of the old guard have left school to do more important things, but I know that they can sense the importance of everyone doing his share, and I know many of them will return to enjoy college life once more...

Sincerely,

Armond Ault

January 14, 1945

France

Dear Dr. Post,

Just received my long overdue edition of the News Letter... I passed it around to the guys in the squadron to read. The color photo of the campus made their eyes pop! All of them are eastern boys and didn’t believe me when I said that San Diego was ‘heaven on earth!’ Pictures of places you love bring home so much closer.

We’re still slugging it out over here. Things are a lot tougher than they were a couple months ago. Every inch of ground has to be fought for. It is freezing cold and has been snowing quite a bit lately. The ground is frozen solid so you have to blast when you dig in. But it’s better than mud...

My candle is burning low and I’m being threatened with a fate worse than death if I don’t put it out, so guess I had better close for tonight...

Yours truly,

Bob Davies

All letters copyrighted and reproduced with permission.

World War II San Diego State Servicemen’s Correspondence Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University

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