4 September 1945
Dear Mom & Pop,
The censorship ban has been lifted and I can now mention that I'm spending my summer vacation just east of Asia in the famous Buckner Bay. I guess you must have heard about it. It's on the southern tip of Okinawa. We have been here since the early part of August and even then it was still a little hot. The first night I came aboard the ship off our port beam was hit by a "Bogey" (nickname for Jap planes). We had a couple of other alerts but this was the closest it ever came to us. The "Smokey B" gets its name from the cloud of artificial smoke it would create every time a plane would start out in our direction.
I've been looking out for Jack Angus's ship but so far I haven't been able to locate it. I inquired and found out that it was in a shuttle run between Leyte and here. I think I saw the "South Dakota" one evening. A fellow I was with thought he had identified it but wasn't sure. The Bowditch is a combination workhorse and warhorse. She came into the bay three days before the actual invasion and managed to down four planes without a scratch. As I've told you already she is a converted passenger ship. She was formerly the "Santa Ana," "White Queen of the Caribbean." She has five motor launches and five motor whale boats. These small boats are used in sounding harbors, bays, and setting buoys in channels. It's interesting work and I'm hoping to be assigned to one of the small boats. The chow is pretty good and we have a recreation party once each week at which we get to drink eight or ten bottles of beer. After the beer comes soft ball and you can imagine what the game is like after the refreshments are disposed of.
I got one of your letters from Tupper Lake today and it sounds good. I hope Uncle George gets well permanently instead of having to spend a lot of time in sanitariums. It looks like I'll be out here for a while. The "B" left the States in '42 and hydrographic ships spend long periods of time out. It takes a long time to survey a harbor and we have a few more assignments according to the latest "scuttlebutt."
It's too bad that it rained during Pop's vacation but I don't suppose that he felt like going anyplace. When I get home we'll take a weekend off and drive up to Connecticut or New England. And have a short vacation. I don't know when this will be but it will be something to plan on. We can start out early in the morning and plan on stopping in several places on the way. To make it easier for Pop I'll do the driving and we can wear our old clothes and bring some good ones with us. One of the first things I do before I get home is to get us a new car or reasonably new.
I'd like to drive from the west coast to the east coast and take about two months to do it because once I get home I expect my roaming to come to an end. Well I'll close now. Love to Sis and Pop, Matt.
In going through the letters my mother has saved from her brother, some are written in pencil on faded and folded paper that I imagine were read and re-read many times by my mother and grandmother, with sad hands. Some are written in different inks, as if started, then stopped.
His Pop passed away four months before Matt died, but my mother can't recall if her brother was at the funeral. Uncle George is still alive and currently writing about his experiences in submarines. I think Jack Angus is one of three "Jacks" my mother dated before she met my father. At her 80th birthday, she finally told us about them, adding, "well, I didn't date all three at the same time."
In reading this particular letter, I finally understood the two month trip from the east coast to the west coast that my mother and grandmother took by train. They did it for Matt because he never got to do it.