Ang finishes writing about Cairo and tries to explain his expenses. There's a bit of a SNAFU about addresses for family notifications. Apparently Betty was a little put out that Ang's folks received a letter from General Cannon, instead of her. Oops. Betty doesn’t mention this in her diary, but clearly Ang heard from her about it. Ang also reports he has a new roommate and sends the photo of the general giving him medals from the December medal ceremony.
On the 6th he mentions “I got stinking-eyed drunk last night—in fact I was as looped as I have ever been. I had a good reason for it—but I can’t tell you what it was until I see you. That’s a dirty trick, but I really can’t.” We know now that his good friend Tom Cahill’s plane was shot down on the 5th. Reading these letters now, it’s easy to notice his irritation about people calling themselves heroes and why he tries to explain how the war was affecting people.
Betty is very worried at this same time because she still hasn’t heard from Ang in weeks — due to his Cairo trip. She is busy with her regular activities of work, movies, meetings and visiting. Her sister Peg calls from Norfolk and she hears from Ang’s old tent mate, George Henthorn.
Thursday, February 1. Rained all day today—ugh! No mail from Ang—ten days. Sewed on black suit—yum! To bed by 11:00
[Letter. Postmark 2-4]
No mail today—I hope the situation isn’t getting screwed up again. I’m not too sure I want to get any though, the ones batting my ears down ought to be about due about now. Boy, I’m going to be afraid to open some of them.
I got a letter from Johnny yesterday—sure glad he got home.
Talking about home, the way those Russians are going the war ought to be over by the time you get this. Those kids are really moving. I’ve got enough missions now so I don’t have to worry about being sent to you know where when this is over—so, as far as I’m concerned, it can end tomorrow—I hope!
Boy, when it does end—this is sure going to be one drunken brawl—let me tell you. I’ll even drink some of that Eytie crap they have around here.
And now to get to the bad part of the Cairo trip—the money. It’s the first of the month—and I’ve got to settle up. In real small print I’ll tell you what I spent-- $400.00—yep, 400 bucks.
Wasn’t it me, that not so long ago, said that we must save money. I’m sorry honey, but it just goes like water down there—even so, I spent 1 to 400 dollars less than anybody else.
I bought a pair of combat dress boots (35.00)—made to order—isn’t that awful. They sure are beautiful boots though. Then I had a combat jacket made—45 bucks—then your purse and trinkets—but that’s a secret.
Then of course I had to pay a little for experience—for instance: As we were riding along in a horse drawn buggy—a little Arab kid jumped on and tried to sell us all kinds of trinkets. With tears in his eyes he kept on showing us his empty wallet and begging us to buy something. We wouldn’t, so he really put on an act for us. Looking carefully all around him to make sure no cop was watching, he quickly slipped out one of the most beautiful rings I have ever seen. It had 3 large “diamonds” in it. Constantly looking around for the cops (very impressive) he gave us the story. He had found the ring, and he knew it was very valuable, but he had no way of selling it, so he’d give it to us cheap—only 50 £ (200 dollars). I told him to scram—but he shoved it in my hand—and as I said before it was very beautiful. As I examined it, his price kept on coming down. I scratched at the face of my watch—and it left a great big scratch on it. There was a little glass window on the side of the cab, and the “diamond” almost cut thru’ it. I got a little excited—got the kid down to 5 £ (20 dollars) and bought it.
To make a long story short, the next day, at the brazaar, I was attracted by a large display of rings—over 50 of them—and all looking exactly like mine—and they all cut glass. Oh well, such is life.
This letter is getting to be a novel—what I wanted to tell you was that I’ll have to cash a check for about $150.00 to pay what I borrowed. Forgive me darling, I’ll really watch my pennies from now on—this should be my last rest trip.
I’m enclosing a few more pictures.
I love you darling—Love, Ang
P.S. Charley is on his way home—I doubt if he gets to L.A., but he might.
February 2. Didn’t work very hard today—it rained all day! Sewed some in evening. No mail???
February 3. Alone in office today. Met Zana and Donna for lunch at LAOC. Also to Ambassador! To movies.
[Letter. Postmark 2-5]
I got as far as the “Hi Hon” yesterday, but just then my new roommate was introduced to me—and that ended that. He’s a new boy, so naturally I had to spend the evening showing him around and telling him all about “combat”—ha!
His name is Bob _ _ _ _ _ oh hell, I’ll sneak a look at his suitcase later on and let you know. He told me what it was yesterday, but you know me. I don’t know why I’m like that—it’s awful, isn’t it?
He’s a great big tall kid—friendly and inquisitive as can be. Of course he doesn’t have much trouble getting me to talk—so there went the evening.
I received your package with the Esquires and the calendar. You’re a sweetheart—do you know it? There sure are a lot of pictures in the Esquires for the walls—I’m really getting quite a collection.
I’m sorry darling—I’ve been trying hard to write a decent letter but I can’t do it. I’ve had a rough day—and I’m completely pooped. I know you’ll forgive me if I give up and hit my sack.
I love you darling—Love, Ang
February 4. Didn’t get up till ten—to late Mass. Wrote letters all P.M. Had dinner late—then did some sewing in evening. 11:15
Form 5. Feb 4, ____ flight as navigator, B-25J, 3:30h
[FROM ANG’S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION #61.]
Ala RR Bridge
Heavy, moderate & inaccurate
Hit South Approach
Led: G.B Thabault, R.G. Woolcott
[From the 486th diary: "Mission today, results 90%. Good concentration of phosphorus on flak positions caused very little flak opposition."]
February 5. Very slow day at the office. Had a call from Peg—just wanted to talk. They’re on to Norfolk. To Marg Tribbey’s in evening
[Letter. Postmark 2-6]
Before I forget, I’d better put this business of your address and my decorations straight. As I’ve told you, I had the folks address as your permanent address—and I have changed it now. I’m sorry—it was very unthoughtful of me.
I don’t understand about these letters about my awards though. I didn’t even know that they sent such things until you told me about Arne’s folks getting one. When you told me that, I was really worried. If my folks had gotten that letter addressed to you from the government—they would have probably died, while they were trying to reach you to get permission to open the letter. So you see, in a way I’m mighty glad it was addressed to them.
However, it beats the hell out of me why it was addressed to them. On every piece of paper or card I remember filling out—I naturally, have you as my next of kin. Then at the bottom where it asks for parents name and address, I have the folks. Off of one of those cards or papers the general must have got the names and address to send the letter. Why he sent it to the folks instead of you leaves me confused.
Are you sure that the letter Eva got was addressed to her and not his folks. Maybe it’s the general’s policy to send stuff like that to the parents instead of the wife. That’s the only explanation I can think of—unless it was addressed to you and they took the liberty of opening it. If they did, don’t blame them too much—I can see why they’d rip open a letter from the government or army without thinking twice about who it was addressed to—can’t you?
At any rate it’s probably all my fault—and all I can say is I’m sorry.
As far as the Presidential Unit Citation goes—that really leaves me up in the air. I’ve asked everybody in the Squadron—and no one else’s parents got such a letter—no one in the group for that matter. I told you that we had gotten one a long time ago—but it wasn’t for 100% accuracy of bombing—it was for something altogether different. It beats the hell out of me—unless the President has awarded us the fourth presidential unit citation—and, although there have been rumors, no one in the group knows for sure about it.
Ho hum—I guess I’m getting to be quite a hero and don’t even know it.
I’m sorry honey, I guess there is something wrong with me, but I just didn’t realize how you and the folks would feel about these medals and decorations. What I mean is that over here the medals are practically routine with us. There I go, it sounds like I’m trying to sound like a modest hero—doesn’t it? What I actually mean is that it’s no great honor (in spite of what the newspapers and the civilians think) to get an air medal or a D.F.C. So many successful missions and we get the air medal—so many more and we get another cluster—and so it goes. As far as the D.F.C. goes—they are just looking for a chance and a reason to give that to us. The first little thing that a man does that’s a little bit extraordinary and will sound good to the general—and we’re in for it. Therefore, practically all lead men and some wing men get it.
The Unit Citation on the other hand really means something. It proves that, as a group, we’re pretty hot stuff and have done something a little better than the other groups.
I hope that clears up the award situation once and for all. I sure do leave you in the dark on a lot of things—I’m sorry—I’ll try to do better.
By the way, before one of those jerks at Wing sends you another letter and I find myself a divorced man, I got the sixth cluster to the Air Medal a couple of days ago. That brings you up to date. Boy, you were getting a little angry at me—weren’t you?
It sure took a lot of paper telling you all that—but I guess that’s what I’d better do on all these subjects that come up—that is, if I want to have a loving wife to come home to.
I guess I’d better not start on anything else—this is one of my longest letters as it is.
I’ve got 61 missions now—I’m not getting there very fast—but I am getting there—and that’s something.
I guess I’d better shut up shop now.
I love you very much darling—Love, Ang
Letter sent to Ang's father, Sam Adams about the Distinguished Flying Cross. While Betty apparently was upset it didn't come to her, I think it was probably good that it went to my grandfather. I'm surprised it survived in pretty decent condition. I can imagine my grandfather pulling it out and showing it to family, and maybe even strangers on the street!
February 6. So-so day. Am still thrilled about talking to Geo. Henthorn yesterday. Still nothing from Ang-? 2 weeks.
[Letter. Postmark 2-7]
Got your letter which told me your plans about quitting work—so I guess I’d better comment on it.
I still can’t tell you about when I’ll be home—because I really don’t know—and the army quite often changes its regulations. I know, unless the war ends, that I won’t be home for my birthday—but I probably will be finished by then or shortly after.
So your idea of quitting work around that time is probably a very good idea. As I’ve told you before, it’s up to you. If you feel that you’d like to stay with your mother as long as possible (and I have no doubt that she will be pretty lonesome all by herself.) it’s quite allright with me. As I’ve told you before, I’ll be able to give you plenty of warning. From the time I finish to the time I get to Chicago will be 5-6 weeks—so it gives you plenty of time. Again, as I’ve said before—it’s entirely up to you—just do what you think is best.
Now, in my crude way, I’d better try explain Joe’s attitude, which seems to be bothering you quite a bit. I really hadn’t given too much thought to such things—not until you started talking about Joe and the “disappointing” way he has been acting.
Wondering if perhaps my attitude, when I did get home, wouldn’t also be a little disappointing—and I’m afraid it may be.
I’ve talked to several of the boys who have been home and have come back—and its kind of given me an idea of what happens when a man gets home—and the reasons for it. The night before last a major who has just returned told me how he felt—and I think he put it better than I or anyone else ever could. “It’s funny, Adams,” he said—“when I left here, I said I was going home. But didn’t really feel like I was getting home until I got back here. I felt out of place back in the states—and the only time I didn’t feel that way, was when I was alone with my wife.”
I think that was Joe’s main trouble—he felt out of place—and I doubt if you or anyone else could have done anything about it. After all he had been gone for almost a year—leading a life almost entirely different from what he would have in the states—talking and thinking of things he never would have on shore—and was in constant contact with people like himself and no one else—certainly no one like the family and other people he had to deal with when he got back.
I’m not trying to make this sound like that bull that you’ve been reading in the papers and magazines. I’m just saying that there is noting wrong with Joe, and that he hasn’t changed his feelings towards Donny or Peggy or the family—he just feels a little strange and it will take him a little while to get back into the swing of things—so I wouldn’t worry about him.
I’m just telling you these things to protect myself when I get home. I told you [I] haven’t changed—and I haven’t, but I’ll bet you’ll think I have for the first week or so when I’m home. I got a preview of what it would be like when I was down in Alex. As I told you most of the people speak English and its pretty close being an American town. On Corsica the usual procedure at the table when you want something is to yell at the other end of the table “pass the _____ jam” in Alex it was “Please pass the jam.” We ate most of our meals at the Red Cross mess hall—and occasionally one of the Red Cross girls would sit at our table. Instead of making the party gayer—she seemed to dampen it. Immediately we would all go on the alert and start watching our step—and of course that ruined everything.
That’s just a small example—but it gives you an idea of why the boys feel strange—and as one of those screw-ball magazine articles put it: seem to draw into their shells.
So, darling, if when I come home, I act a little funny don’t get mad at me—God knows, it won’t be because I’m not happy to be there—that’s all I’ve dreamed of for 10 months. I doubt if you have anything to worry about though—you know how I am about sliding in and out of things—I can usually make myself feel at home in no time at all. I just thought maybe this would make you feel easier about Joe.
I can’t think of anything else that you have been asking. Oh yes—the film. Don’t send me any more—I got four rolls in Cairo and have all I’ll ever need. Please send me Esquire and the other magazines you send me. That takes care of the request—so you see I’m really trying to be a good boy.
I got stinking-eyed drunk last night—in fact I was as looped as I have ever been. I had a good reason for it—but I can’t tell you what it was until I see you. That’s a dirty trick, but I really can’t.
I sure am glad that Peg and Joe got over to my folks—that sure was a cute letter that Joe wrote. I can just see Dad shoving lamb chops on his plate.
I just read Jack’s letter that you sent me a couple of weeks ago. I had put it aside and forgot about it until then. Is that kid crazy—does he actually expect to believe the stuff he hands out? He either takes opium or he sees too many movies. Found two Germans sleeping—took their gun and drank their liquor—Good Lord—I give up. You know I usually ignore things and people like that—but holy mackeral—two Germans etc. Gee whiz—what a man! Oh well, that’s what the war does to some people.
I love you darling—Love, Ang.
February 7. Nearly went nuts today with worry about Ang. Called his folks and they had a letter. Thank goodness. Out with BJ etc.
[Letter. Postmark 2-9]
I don’t guess that the enclosed picture needs any comment—does it? I guess I just wasn’t made to do anything right. Regulations say that I should be staring straight ahead—so of course I have to be looking straight down.
It wasn’t altogether my fault though—the general was feeling in a jolly mood and he had to pick on me—that accounts for the sickly grin. He had trouble pinning the medal on, so I thought I’d sneak a look to see what the matter was—and of course the picture was snapped at that moment. Woe is me—everything does happen to me.
How do you like that triple chin—my goodness! Honest honey, I’m not getting that fat. I weighed in at 160 the other day—and that’s a lot less than I left the states with.
Take a good look at that mustache—because I have a confession to make. I’ve given it up. About two hours before I got your letter telling me not shave it off under any circumstances—I shaved it off. I’m sorry honey—but I just wasn’t built for one. It tickled me—and it bothered the daylights out of me—and it always got into my coffee.
I’m also enclosing an article. Show it to Henthorn when he gets there—he ought to get a kick out of it. Don’t let the underlined section get you all excited—as usual it’s very exaggerated—it sounds a lot worse than it actually was. We weren’t even shaken up.
I sure get a kick out of that picture though—every time I look at it I have to laugh.
I love you honey—Love, Ang
[Note: I believe the article he enclosed is the one I featured in the post for July 1-7, 1944. (Been Cossacking. And the story of "Kathleen.") Ang and George Henthorn were on the July 5th mission mentioned in the article. In fact, they flew together on many missions, on "Kathleen" and on other B25's as well. He tells Betty they "weren't even shaken up" so it's a good thing he didn't send her the photo of Kathleen showing the results of the crash.]
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Joni Adams Sesma, daughter of Angelo and Elizabeth Adams. Ang served on Corsica with the 57th Bomb Wing, 340th Bomb Group, 486th Bomb Squadron. April 1944-April 1945.