Everything is very modernistic



We are finally at primary!! It certainly is a beautiful place. The rooms have individual showers, toilets, writing desk, everything is very modernistic. It’s quite a change from the tents and barracks of Santa Anna and Minter Field.

The upperclassman are putting us through hell now-I hope they let up pretty soon. You must remember reading about the hazing of the lower-class men in the Life magazine before I left-I know now-they weren’t kidding.

We were issued our flying equipment today-it is very impressive to say the least. We got goggles, helmet, beautiful leather flying jacket and, two flying suits. I hope I can make good use of them. We met our instructor today also-he seems to be a swell guy-strict but friendly. He gave us the plain facts-he said that all of us couldn’t expect to make it and if we didn’t-not to be discouraged because we can always take a crack at bombardiering, which also renders a commission. I suppose it doesn’t do much good to worry about, I can’t help it. I want to make good so badly.

We are going up for first hop Monday-wish me luck-I really need it. My mail will be irregular from now on because I won’t have any time to myself as soon as flying starts. Also we have no post office here so our mail is only picked up every other day and taken into town. Well, we have to turn out our lights now so I’ll cut short my letter. We’re in a dim out area you know.

Love Jim

PS hope you like the pictures-pen works beautifully.

The schoolwork here is harder than before. I am gaining some knowledge about mechanics which should help me later.

our $10,000 insurance policy can be converted after the war so I think it’s a darn good thing to hang onto


Dear Dad, Mother, and Jocie,

I just received your letters today-they were readdressed from Santa Anna-I hope someone gets this letter-seeing you are on the road, Dad, and Mother is up north. I had a chance to take some pictures Sunday so I shot up a whole roll of 36 pictures. I’m sending you a few of the better ones now. I certainly hope you like them-I feel pretty bad about not sending some snaps any sooner but, believe me, it’s pretty hard to find time.

Say Dad, I am sending Thelma all of the negatives with instructions to have two prints made of each. I am sending the negatives to Thelma because seeing you will probably be out on the road when this letter arrives Thelma can have them printed for you when you get back.

Gosh! I’m sorry to hear that darling mother is feeling tough-that darn hayfever!!! I think the trip up north will do her loads of good.

Say dad, about that insurance, our $10,000 insurance policy can be converted after the war so I think it’s a darn good thing to hang onto-don’t you?

I hope you like these pictures when Thelma has the whole bunch developed there will be many more.

Loads of love,


The average temperature is about 111° believe it or not


Dear Mother and Dad,

I haven’t had any time to myself lately, consequently, no letters. Our new camp is in our primary school. It is a basic flying school, the flyers (cadets) here have completed their primary training and are ready for advanced school. We are only going to stay here for a few days until our primary school is ready for us. Every day the upperclassman instruct us on the mechanics of the airplane. it really is interesting especially when we sit in them and play with the controls. I never believed anything could be so complicated. There are more darn instruments on that dashboard-

Gosh, I certainly hope I make good. I’m going to give it a darn good try anyway, believe me.

This field is situated pretty far inland-that makes it very hot. The average temperature is about 111° believe it or not, boy it’s really hot marching and having physical drill out in that sun. I’m glad my skin tans-everybody in the tent covers his face with a solid layer of cold cream before each formation. It really looks funny, all the white faces, and some tan ones.

Your little radio is working beautifully-it works much better than the other fellows radios. What I like about it, it’s so nice and tiny. I can put it anywhere. That is very important seeing we are living in tents now.

I don’t think it wise to write to me until I am stationed at Primary. I don’t think your letters would get through soon enough. We are so mixed. I will keep in touch with you.

Your loving son,


They want us to get an idea of the mechanics of an airplane before we start flying

Bell P-39 Airacobra center fuselage detail with maintenance panels open. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Bell P-39 Airacobra center fuselage detail with maintenance panels open. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Dear Mother, Dad and Jocie-

I am officer of the day today-it’s not such a hot job but, at least, I have a little time to write. As I told you before-the heat is terrific on this field. I don’t notice the heat as long as we have airplanes to look at. The whole idea behind this 10 day stay at this basic field is-they want us to get an idea of the mechanics of an airplane before we start flying. We are the first class to have the chance. I think it’s a darn good idea don’t you? Most of the fellows, including myself, know very little about an airplane. Our instructor has given us a good many pointers on the basic and primary ships-I hope they do some good. I’m worried about primary already-I suppose I shouldn’t be-but, you know how we worry, mother. I have talked to quite a few advanced cadets and they tell me that the great majority of washouts (about 50% washout) don’t care for flying so they try to wash. Gosh! I hope I make good-for your sakes. If I don’t mother I’ll still keep trying for my bombardier commission. I want to be a pilot so badly. Well, I had better stop worrying you about my troubles. If I make it, good-if I don’t, bad-but at any rate I want you to know I will do my best.

My little radio is right on my desk-it certainly is a little beauty. It has such a marvelous tone-that’s just one of the many things you’ve done for me-I think you’re the sweetest family a boy could have-I miss you terribly, believe me. I will write soon-your loving son,


I fired a Thompson sub machine gun today


Dear mother,

Well, mother, we are off for primary training tomorrow-gosh! Isn’t that wonderful?

That radio is a little beauty mother-you’re wonderful to me darling. Sometimes I wonder if I deserve it. The radio is just perfect for my use, it’s nice and small-all I have to do when we leave is put it in my pocket. It’s just what I wanted mother-I really appreciate your kindness.

Tomorrow’s going to be a tough day-we have to pack all of our equipment early in the morning, then turn in our G. I. (Government issue) equipment. I’m lucky I didn’t send my grip back. I don’t know what I do with all the stuff I have.

I have all my school books to turn in too-gosh! I hate to think of tomorrow.

Tell dad I fired a Thompson sub machine gun today. Boy, they really are a fine weapon. They fire so fast but the barrel will shoot up in the air. I got a pretty good score-at least better than my roommates. Don Parmelee only hit the target seven times-and with a machine gun too!! After firing we went for a swim in the ocean-I love the ocean-I guess I take after dad that way. It’s so much fun to dive through those big breakers. One man nearly drowned, due to the terrific undertow-I know now what you meant when you said-be careful when you swim in the ocean. Well, mother-thanks so much for the lovely radio-

Your grateful son,


PS I tried to take some pictures today at the firing range but, they wouldn’t let me.

H.P’s (Hot Pilots)

night flying at Chico

Hello darlings!

Your morale builder letter came today-gosh! It’s good to hear from home. I’m glad to hear you showed the two infantrymen such a fine time. We have to keep up the morale-and that’s the best way to do it. I know now how much we men at war appreciate the thoughtfulness of our fellow Americans.

Gosh, my outfit is really moving I guess-isn’t that wonderful? Now will know if we will be H.P’s (Hot Pilots) or not.

I’m terribly sorry about my lack of photographs. Really, mother, it’s no fun taking pictures out here. Everything is so desolate and barren. There are no backgrounds for pictures at all (as you can plainly see).

But I promise that as soon as we get to primary school-I will send some good ones home. I’d like to take pictures of myself near a airplane. I promise mother-I will send some of them.

I’m enclosing a little wings and propeller pin to Jocie. This is our regulation pin-it is worn on our field cap and the collars of our shirts. Be sure, when you put it on that the hubs are on securely-they may fall off if not.

I hope you like them Jocie-this is what your big brother wears on his uniform-I wish you would wear them on your sweater or coat. They certainly aren’t very expensive but that doesn’t count does it?

Well darlings we are really on the go now-I have two finals left-if you pray for me then I will pass them I hope. If we don’t pass our subjects we don’t go that’s all.

It will be lights out pretty soon so I better get down for my evening shower.

Love Jim

P.S. Thelma and I are going to buy silverware together.

Happy birthday-Dad!

a deadly little weapon


Hello darlings,

We are leaving for Primary in about a week-isn’t that good news? It’s pretty darn certain now I think-our C.O. said we’d leave in about the middle of next week. Gosh! I’m starting to worry about it already. The percentage of washouts is usually pretty darn high-especially in primary. Gosh I hope I make the grade-if I don’t make it-please don’t think I won’t try.

I really want to get those wings-none of them worked as hard as I have so far. This army life seems to grow on you after a while. At all times during the day we have to be on the lookout. Our bedspreads must be put on so tightly that a $.25 piece when dropped on the blanket will bounce up 2 inches. Everything must be just so-of course that won’t do me any harm. I don’t know how dad got into the habit of shining his shoes and keeping his clothes neat.

We are going to fire the Thompson sub machine gun tomorrow. That will be quite an experience they really are a deadly little weapon. They fire much faster than the ordinary field machine gun.

We took our final tests in our classes-I did darn well I think-of course, nothing comes easily for me but, if I work I can usually get it. Our physical finals are coming up tomorrow-they keep a record of our physical abilities throughout our entire training. We are supposed to improve each time we are tested. Well dears I will try to write more often.

Love Jim

PS Tell Aunt Ida I just couldn’t get to see Betty our weekends have been so indefinite.

cheap girls

Return addy

Hello darlings,

Here is your little cadet reporting again. I’m sorry to hear your hayfever is bothering you again. I don’t think your hayfever shots are worth a darn. Why don’t you go up north Mother! I think it would do you a world of good. Why don’t you spend some money on yourself once in a while-you deserve it if anyone does.

Thelma has been so sweet to me mother-I really like that gal-I hope you do-she always tells me you’re so darn nice to her. I’m so glad you like her mother-she’s such a nice girl mother. After seeing some of these darn cheap girls I appreciate her all the more. Don’t worry about me mother as far as getting mixed up with these cheap girls goes. I’m too darn good for them and all the fellows I have as friends think the same as I do. But those are all from good families I can tell it by the way they act out on leave. You never see a drunken cadet on the streets. I’m in a good outfit and I’m proud of the uniform I’m wearing. I wish you could see me in my class A’s. (that’s what we call our dress uniform)

Our school courses are getting more interesting day by day. They are much more practical. We are studying about all our modern air fighters. Gosh it’s fun-I hope I can fly one someday.

We are studying the operations of the Thompson sub machine gun. We have to take them apart in a required time then place them together again.

We will have a chance to fire them later on-won’t that be fun? Well, the day is almost done so I’ll call it quits.

Your loving son,


We march everywhere


Dear Mother, Dad, and Jocie;

We’ve been working so hard out here but it is almost impossible to find time to write. We live in barracks now. All the other cadets say we are lucky-? c.x.!!, and I guess we are. I’ve made a lot of friends out here and they are very nice kids. Well, I shouldn’t say kids because two of them are 24 years of age. One of the fellows, Jack Holker by name, was manager of an insurance agency in Minneapolis. All of the fellows are very well mannered gentlemen. They really stress table manners out here.

We get up at 5:30 in the morning, dress, wash our faces and teeth. Then we form in front of the barracks for physical drill and roll call.

It really is hard out here to get classified as a pilot, bombardier, or navigator. We took psychological test for a day and a half straight. They were really stiff. We haven’t had time to take our flight physical yet we’ve been rushing so much.

If I ever make pilot I think I’ll faint dead away. I thought all you had to do was just hop into a plane and start off, but we have to go through nine weeks of ground school training. If you see an officer with wings on his tunic shake his hands and pat him on the back because he deserves it if anyone does.

We have some washouts in the barracks with us. Washouts are the fellows who couldn’t fly a plane well enough to suit Uncle Sam. When the instructor says to climb to 5000 feet, he doesn’t mean 5001 feet, he means 5000.

These fellows who can’t make the grade as a pilot are reclassified as a navigator or bombardier. I just hope I can pass this physical and mental we are going to take. All the old fellows told me it would be easy for me to make the grade but I just can’t help worrying. I guess I’m the worrying type. You know who I got that from don’t you mother?

Well, I really should tell you a little bit about this place. The camp hasn’t been completed yet so everything isn’t completed yet. This place in a few years will be the biggest of its kind in the world.

We march everywhere, to eat, to drill, to go to tests, everywhere!!

When we finally get to the mess room there isn’t a loud noise of clanking spoons as you’d expect. Everything is done by a command from our C.O. (Commanding officer). We stand behind our certain places at attention until given the command to sit down. Even then we can’t touch our plates or place our hands on the table, until another command is given. This sounds like it’s terribly strict but it’s good for us and especially some kids who haven’t had much training from their parents.

Well Mother and Dad it certainly was hard to leave you at the station and it would be twice as hard now. When I lay awake at night I think of how I disregarded your corrections but now I’m really glad you were persistent enough to correct all of my mistakes. As soon as I see a kid I can tell what kind of home environment he was brought up in.

Well darlings the C.O. is calling the men for mess so I’ll have to shorten my letter.

Please don’t worry about me.

Your loving son,



Give my love to Thelma.

I bet I swallow about a pound of that dust


Dear Mother, Dad and Jocie,

We just finished our daily physical workout-it was a honey. I chinned myself more times than anyone in the squadron. Our physical instructor took my name down and congratulated me. Every time your name is entered in their book that means you will get an excellent physical rating-which means a lot for a pilot.

I cleaned my rifle for almost 2 hours last night-I took everything apart including my barrel and bolt. Our CO is really strict as to the care of our rifles. It is so hard to keep the rifle clean out here because of the dust. That dust is on everything and everywhere. During our mile run each day I bet I swallow about a pound of that dust.

I saw Eric yesterday and had quite a talk with him. He’s getting along well, so he says and he gives you all his love. Seeing that we are in different squadrons we don’t get much chance to see each other. Our school schedules are always different. This week we have our classes during the day and Eric has his at night. So it’s pretty darn hard to get together. I am certainly glad I have made such fine friends as Don Parmelee and Pete. We three room together and we really make the best of this army life together.

Dad wrote and told me that he went through Alexandria Minnesota last week. That’s Bud Peterson’s hometown you know. Bud wanted to know if the next time he was down that way if he would look up his Dad, H. N. Peterson (superintendent of schools), he’s quite a man in Alexandria I guess. Anyway Bud would like them to see each other. Bud and I are the best of friends and maybe our dads could get together.

Well, darlings, we leave for classes in a few minutes so I will have to sign off.

Loads of love,