Letters from the Good War

A running series of World War II letters written by a Navy Seabee who served in the South Pacific theatre taking the reader through the entire war experience.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

WRITING HOME - Love and Friendship in Time of War

When I was twenty years old I was in the Seabees, the Naval Construction Battalions, at Subic Bay in the Philippines. For the prior eighteen months the battalion had been building, roads, airstrips, and administrative facilities in New Guinea for Admiral Kincaid's Seventh Fleet which served at McArthur's behest.

Just before moving to the Islands I was transferred to a harbor dredge which, it turned out, had little to do at deep water Subic Bay where a submarine base was under construction. This gave me opportunity to explore the island of Luzon and meet many Filipinos, particularly the people of the village of Lubao in the province of Pampanga, Luzon's central plain. What follows are portions of the actual letters I wrote home in 1945 that describe in detail my encounter with the Filipinos, and what grew into a respect and love for the people.

At the onset of adulthood, after two years of service life in training camps in the U.S. and in the jungles of primitive New Guinea, those seven months of love and friendship in the Philippines were formative and indelible. They led to my writing a novel based on that experience, and the eventual publication of almost one thousand of my letters home that were discovered upon my mother's death. Most remarkable, the story came to life again after almost fifty years. Rarely does it happen that the seeds we have planted, almost forgotten, lying dormant within us over the decades, sprout and flower again. But that is how this story ends.