October 31, 1943: Indoctrination at University of Arizona: “Still a wee bit afraid I wasn’t cut out for the military what with mustering for this & for that; capt’s inspection etc.”
November 7, 1943: “We stood the last Capt’s inspection this afternoon I hope—then took a short nap to make up for the time I spent in the head last night preparing for the last two examinations—one in Fundamentals and Ships & Ordinance—maybe they will spring us in the Navy next Tuesday but can never tell.”
August 1944: Onboard the Scurry during shakedown along the California coast: “Since Herney is a junior officer aboard and with less practical experience of any aboard he takes pretty much of a razzing. Have requested permission of the skipper to send a dispatch to Bupers asking to be reassigned to the Rebel as they might be glad to have me.
The request of course was denied.
“Am just as enthusiastic as ever about the tour of duty aboard the Skurry. Hope eventually to feel fully at home on her and not a first class tenderfoot, and that in not too distant a future.”
October 13, 1944: Onboard the Scurry in the Asian Pacific: “Guess by the time this particular cruise is over I should be just salty as hell—if for nothing else from taking salt water showers. Really you take a shower & you’re sticky—really don’t which is worse feel stickey or smell yourself from around the corner. The engineer is being close with the water. Cant blame him for it would be his neck if we should run out of water for drinking & washing purposes.”
October 26, 1944: “The idea of loosing a whole day in matter of a split second is a bit upsetting—especially when there are so many things that you should do & just haven’t time nor the energy to do. Don’t know if we will get the order of the Golden Dragon or not.
“Last Sunday we enjoyed our first rain. Everyone who wasn’t on watch got out with their soap and washrags & took a fresh water shower. Since I was on watch no shower & thought a salt water shower would have to do. However later in the day about sunset we had more—nothing would do but to get out in gods clothes and enjoy the rain—did feel good to get a fresh water shower for a change—Really you try to get along without a shower until your so offensive to yourself & then you just give up & take the salt water shower. Was funny besides enjoying the rain everyone was catching water in all the buckets they could find for washing clothes.—caught two buckets & did my washing last Monday—really had quite a bit of laundry too though you don’t put on clean linen every day. Have learned can’t afford to wear a clean pair of soxs every day.”
October 29, 1944: “Occasionally someone will come forth with—Do you know what I would like right now—always something in addition to being home for that seems to be understood. Some would like a cubesteak sandwich—etc. a glass of beer, a coke or the like.
“Can’t imagine what you aren’t thinking because you haven’t received any mail before this—please don’t be too hard on me for it really isn’t anyone’s fault—just circumstances. Have thought about all of you a great deal & I guess will think more & more as time passes. Do hate to see Susie & Steve getting older without being able to see them both grow.”
“The boys aboard have started a newspaper—called the ‘Scurry Bugle.’ This I am sending to you under separate cover ‘Free’ so don’t be expecting it right soon. Everyone is hoping that we will be getting some mail real soon—of course that goes for me too as well as the other officers.
“Got to take another shower on deck with nothing on but Gods clothes evening before last as we had just a very short rain—felt good but before the evening was over smelt almost as bad as before I had the shower. Will I appreciate a tub bath again—will soak & soak and won’t need a beer to enjoy it either.”
January 4, 1945: “Haven’t been doing much of anything except working hard at the job Uncle gave me—Wondering & worrying at times too if I’m doing things right. Can’t say that it wouldn’t be right but so damn many things to do & be responsible for.
“The new year is well on its way to a good start—didn’t get to Mass but did have a little meeting with the flock.—Many of course seem interested & possibly wouldn’t make the effort without a suggestion. Am so glad however that Xmas found us where we could have the privilege of attending mid-night mass.”
“The Cap’t elected me as mess treasurer for the coming quarter. Just a few more things to do I can assure you & very possibly hear all of the complaints about what is wrong with chow—Will be glad when the next three months are over. Have been compensated however by the fact that Ensign Bezold has assumed some of the duties I formerly had & am grateful for it—besides I readily admit I know very little about it.
“Schnabel still hasn’t heard about being a new papa or what he’s a papa of—well overdue too for it should have arrived about the 10th of Dec.
“Gates made an alnav the first of last month so he is J.G.—Really he is a delightful person & it is difficult to imagine what we would do without his humor. Really a godsend for when things get tense he can come thru with things that make one drop off with petty stuff.
“Capt has sort of settled down—the responsibility of it all has been a justification for much of his irritability & possibly we would be the same way or worse.”
April 1, 1945: Easter Sunday, beginning of the Okinawa assault: “Easter was spent in a manner very much different than any I’ve spent before—of course the routine as far as service life is concerned—was so busy all day that any thought of Services were forgotten. However I’m sure that the Almighty will forgive each of us for not having spent the day in his way. If I’m wrong about that he will let us know in good time but we can only wish for the best.”
June 2, 1945: “The letter this morning was interrupted by a trip so will finish here before the boat shoves off on the mail trip & me on it Damn it—
“Really I’ve taken so many trips in that boat that it will be one hell of a time until I’ll even step in a rowboat when this is over.—Then when getting where your going there are about 16 dozen other places for the boat to be so you wait—you know how impatient I am. Left the ship this morning at 8 15 and got back for lunch at 1 00—they fortunately saved if for me tho the word was they didn’t know whether I would be back—The last word I passed was that I would be back & ready to be picked up at twelve—Really hate to hit port—as does the mailman for it means so much extra work for him—me too—This is & is intended to be bitching—or did you guess?
“Your remember Mother—& her planning. All one had to do was to mention going someplace & wingo—everybodies problems were yours—that’s just the way it is here—nobody seems to want to go—so Schultz who has to go generally gets stuck—naps are nice & can get one if somebody else does it for you—yep still bitching—hope you don’t mind.”
June 5, 1945: “If you would like to know how it feels to be more or less water bound—just ask me—haven’t had foot ashore since the first part of March when at Saipan—really enuf to drive one a bit looney to say the least—at least however I’ve been off the ship—but as I’ve said before that is no pleasure either for all it means is that you go from one to the other—there is the compensation of seeing some new faces.”
June 8, 1945: “Sweet feel like a meanie in not being able to comply with your suggestion of sending the Pride & Joy some gum—but since there is a regulation against doing so—foodstuffs including candy & gum shipped to the Islands and beyond are not to be remailed to the states. We don’t allow the men to do it so don’t feel that I am at liberty to do so either. Would very much like to however & I’m sure that Susie will forgive me for feeling this way about it. Will write Chuck R & ask him to send her some if you wish.”
July 12, 1945: “What I wouldn’t give for a sight of you Susan & Steve—however the next best thing is to take out the pictures I have & wish & maybe do a bit of day dreaming but then its such a shock to come back to realities. Life away from my family is hell. Should take consolation in the fact that there are many thousands like me—but that’s just a bromide.”
August 11, 1945: “The very good news we heard early last evening means one thing—that [the end of] my separation from you and the youngsters is in sight. Just when the dept will see fit to say ‘Go home to your loved ones’ can’t be too soon for me that is still undetermined. There is however this hope that at least one of the factors—can be transposed from the unknown to the known columns. Don’t see how the Allies can do anything but accept the Nips offer.
“The news came during the movie…No one was interested in seeing the rest of the show but took in the spectacle which was unfolding before our eyes here in the harbor, truly a beautiful sight. Searchlights, crisscrossing against the heavens, running lights, adding their bit, pyrotechnics of all descriptions and various colors parachute flares, whistles tooting sirens contributing to the din.—Gave one the impression of standing in the center of a huge gigantic carnival. Don’t believe I will ever forget it but irrespective of what the sight did to the emotions there was some deeper meeting Sweet—at that of course meant—‘home’ with all its blessings—you Susan & Steve would again be a reality rather than just a hope—tears were close as they are now from the mere joy of the thought.”
August 25, 1945: “Since the Reserves fought & won the war for the Regulars I can see no need why the Reserves should continue to be held finish up the work so they, the Regulars, can immediately take their leaves & when their ready return to the good old days of keeping the guns in good order.”
September 22, 1945: “We finally got a break today for we were given the opportunity to see the effect of the atomic bomb. [truck tour of Nagasaki] Complete & utter devastation with the exception of few buildings in the area—they of course are mere shells—no windows or roofs. Steel framed buildings with no walls & the frame works twisted and bent—some still upright but askew. Frame or brick or masonry level to the ground—exposing portions of the machinery or equipment housed. Rather grotesque to see still standing granite archway among the rubble—Saw pieces of china & tile which I would have liked to recover but weren’t permitted to leave the truck. No crater or excavation since the bomb was to have exploded prior to reaching the ground.
“Everyone including children seems to be busy cleaning away rubble or otherwise engaged in doing something useful. All along the road passed all types of both sexes coming and going.”
September 28, 1945: “I’m glad I.J. didn’t write you that I was going to be at Okinawa. It wouldn’t have helped you knowing we were there. It wasn’t pleasant I can assure you but that’s all over now & of the past. A bit amused tho for you should have known that being in on the Iwo deal we were probably would have been in on Okinawa as we would have been in on the next one too if there had been one.”
October 12, 1945: “Don’t know how long or what will come after this but for sure am getting so sick of this horsing around. Symptoms of war fatigue, delayed, are becoming even more evident. Somebody is fooling themselves if they think this is being done in an expeditious manner. Maybe one can put it down to ‘Service’ and let it go at that—Doesn’t help much however if you don’t want to stay in it but have other plans for living.”
November 3, 1945: “Have been out in the East China Sea. If you can spot 30 degrees north and 127 degrees East that is just about where we have been—not moving out of the immediate location.”
November 9, 1945: “The status of the querrie—When are we going home has been further complicated by discovery that our Administrative/Command seems to have no conception of just what his problems are or are going to be & as a result no plan tho expressing a policy—intangible as hell—snafu is a mild term to be used & in fact used.”
November 17, 1945: “Well at last the Scuttlebutt has boiled itself down & out to the simple equation of homeward bound soon. In fact sometime the first part of next month.
This then is to be our last operation.
“Are now out in Tsushima Straights sweeping a few more—In about the same area we were before—west of Iki Shima Tsushima Island—made up of two islands—Kamino and Shimano Shima. Shouldn’t be too difficult to locate.”
December 2, 1945: “Here we are back at Toushima Straits. This time we have been working in the western part of the Straits—anchoring in Tadei Po anchorage in Koje To—Korea. Koje To for your information is a small neck of land extending out into the Straits from Korea just south of a line between Fukoka Kyushu and Fusan Korea.
“Just when we will complete this little job is still a question. Expect to be darn soon so that we can spend a few days at Sasebo & then homeward bound. Ho hum please God make it quick.”
January 3, 1946: Western Union telegram to Dorothy
“LEAVING THURSDAY AND NO EAST COAST AIR THE CIVIES AND COOL THE CHAMPAGNE