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WWII Letter
from W. R. Brooks, 1944

Source:  Burnet Bulletin
Transcribed by JoAnn Myers, January 2007

From a Navy Boy to His Mother
Following is a phase letter from Bill Brooks to his mother, Mrs. Preston Brooks of this place.

U. S. S. South Dakota
Washington's Birthday, 1944

First Phase

Dear Mother:

D  It is about time that another of our crew letters found its way to you.  Here it is and we hope that you enjoy it, in all three phases.

For the time being our troubles are over but the past weeks have been full of activity and invaluable experience.  In the first place we have been members of a mighty team wearing the uniform of our Uncle Sam.  We have been cogs in a collossal wheel which has ground into the dust a few more Japs.  It has been a great privilege to do our part and do it well.  Perhaps in all of our letters you should keep that in mind.  We are doing the part that is assigned to us as well as we can.  Some outfits have greater parts, some have lesser so that no unit deserves the glory for a victory all help in achieving.

It was like listening to a football game home on a Saturday afternoon for example, to hear the marine landings, as reports came over the ship's public address system.  We had to admire the practical matter of fact manner in which they went about the grim business of blasting the Japs.  They did much more than we in the operation, yet it was the work of our group to prepare the way for the invasion.  As we heard of them reaching the beaches which had been blasted with ship shell fire we knew that our work had undoubtedly saved the lives of hundreds of the leathernecks.

There were thrills on this operation of a different nature from the last.  during phases one and two we did not see a single enemy plane overhead.  the destroyers with us were responsible for some of the "fun".  One of them, came along side at sea, sent a patient over in a stretcher and rushed off on the prowl.  It is quite an experience to see a man transferred from one ship to another with the water rushing between the two ships as they keep right on their course.  Another destroyer came by a few days later with a patient, one of the flyers, they had picket up in the water.  It was a beautiful job of transferring him.  They too went off looking for Japs but had to wait a short time for permission to leave our formation and join their own.  Finally it came and off they went into the dark.  They had proceeded only a short distance when they ran into four Jap ships and what a picnic they had!  Finally they returned to our formation very happy about the whole thing.  But who wouldn't be after sinking four valuable Jap ships, not to mention keeping supplies and reinforcements from the islands.

The sight of Jap ships burning at sea certainly lifts your morale.  Two of the medium sized craft glowed and flamed in the darkness so that the smell of burning wood filled the air for miles around.  Our ship asked if the destroyer needed assistance.  "No," came the answer.  "We have the situation well in hand."

The afternoon before we did our job, a very noisy part of the operations, we had church services on the fantail of the ship.  The pennant which signifies "Divine Services being held" was being flown from the masthead while over it and all around us great flights of planes were taking off and landing on the carriers, doing their job.  Leaving us they dropped their bombs, fought off Jap planes and came back for more fuel and ammunition.  So the church services, as far as we were concerned, were very appropriate.  They showed the Lord that we were doing the best we could and at the same time asking his help;.  It is getting to be quite the thing now to have our church hymns mingled with the roar of the plane motors.

So while our carrier planes on their missions, were ruining two of the best Jap bases in the area, destroying shipping, knocking down planes and strafing those on the ground, we were carrying on a little vendetta of our own and the final score for our part of it -- night and day attack was sixteen planes.  The final score of our whole carrier task force will have been in print before you receive this.  However, you know that we are busy and in so far as we can, doing a good job.  this third phase treated us to a magnificient and awe-inspiring spectacle.  No fourth of July compares to the sight of a formation of ships firing at planes in the dark -- no bonfire ever lit up a horizon as does the flaming crash of Jap torpedo bombers at night.  It has taught us too, not to underrate our opponent.  His courage is superb and his determination to get us lacks nothing.  That's all for now.  Will write again soon.  Remember me in your prayers.

Yours truly, Bill.

W. R. Brooks



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