Letters to our boys
(Editor’s Note: This is another installment of The Express’ “Letter to Our Boys,” written during World War II to let “our boys” know what was happening back in their home towns. The Express will bring the letters to you occasionally, thanks to the efforts of Fred and Anna Snyder, who compiled the letters over several years of research and donated a full copy of them to the Clinton County Historical Society.)
Saturday, October 6, 1945
Fron the Atangi Airdrome, Tokyo, Japan, Pfc. Earl F. Probst writes on large sheets of onion-skin Japanese paper about his landing in Japan and about his findings there.
“I have been here in Japan since Aug. 31. We were the second truck company to come here only 24 hours after the 11th Airborne landed. I left Ie Shima Aug. 29 and flew to Okinawa, it grew dark and they built a fire and ate rations. It was at this air freight station that he ran into Gerald Smith with whom he went to school and worked at Piper. They talked until one o’clock the next morning.
Probst’s group was assigned next day to a C-54, a four-motor transport plane with upholstered seats.
“We left Okinawa at 8:30 a.m. and landed here at 12:30 p.m. Aug 31. We unloaded our plane in 8 minutes and got on Jap trucks and moved here to these Japanese barracks. We were here two and one-half days before the peace papers were signed.
“We have a Jap half-track and two cars — a ’36 Chevrolet like our car and a DeSota. We drive on the left side of the road.
“Believe me I have learned a lot about the Japanese since I have lived here. And when they said the Japs were planning a 100-year war, it was not a lie. They have underground schools and factories, and I have gone through many of them, but it would take a man a month to go through all the tunnels here.
“If I were to write about some of the things, you would not believe them. Two and three hundred feet under the ground they have large machine shops, and across the street in a tunnel there is a large electrical plant. How they ever got such big machinery down in those tunnels is unbelievable. They must have taken it down piece by piece because the tunnel is about three feet high and eight feet wide. The motor for the electrical generator was about 18 feet high. In those tunnels are hospital laboratories, radio rooms, and sleeping quarters for thousands of Japs. The lights burn 24 hours a day here — and underground.
“I have been to Yokohama, and it is almost all burned out. I am near Tokyo also, but have not been there yet. The Japanese equipment won’t run half the time and it is about ready to fall apart. It is cold here and I almost freeze when I take a shower; the water is so cold.
“We eat well — potatoes, peat onions, cucumbers, fresh corn, tomatoes and lettuce, and anything we grow at home. We just go into fields and get the stuff.
“The mosquitoes are big here, and I do mean big. They can stick you and be filled up before you can take a swat at them. We all have Jap foot locker. They are made out of cedar wood, and they have trays too. I have two Japanese guns I hope I can send home. One was made in Czechoslovakia and the other in Japan.”
Probst is the son of Mrs. C. B. Probst, 19 Centre St., and he and Smith are both former Express carriers.
Capt. Robert Sapora, Renovo, after service in ETO. Robert Breeze, S1/c, Point Breeze, after 15 months in Pacific on submarine duty.
S/Sgt. Thomas Foster. F/O Richard Hoy. T/5 Roland Rickard. Pfc. Charles Barton, Star Route. Sgt. James Yeager. Walter Darrin, M1/c, Renovo. Sgt. Tom Miller. Pvt. Earl Litz. S/Sgt. Clair Young. Pfc. Jeff Waldrip. 1st Lt. Anthony Colacinno. Cpl. Melvin Kramer, Howard R. D. 1. Pfc. George Geyer, Avis. Pfc. Albert Croak, Renovo. PL. Calvin Calhou. T/5 Kenneth Lucas. Pfc. Joseph Mason, Renovo. Pfc. Robert Ross, Sugar Run. Sgt. Clinton Schrack, Castanea. Pfc. Melvin Heverly. Pfc. Lawrence Confer, Orviston. 1st. Lt. Gottlieb Kaerchner, Loganton. Cpl. John Pruey. Pfc. Norman Brooks. Sgt. Leon Weaver, Renovo. Pfc. John Falls, R. D. 1. William Diehl, MOMM1/c, USNR, Mackeyville. James Bradley, S1/c, USNR, Pvt. Paul Pickering. Pfc. George Miller. Major James Heffner. Cpl. Harry Winters. Lyne Kissner, MM1/c.
David Junior Wertman, USNR, to GM3/c. Rae Lipez to Capt. Walter Zimmerman, USNR, to GM3/c. Charles Reames to Captain.
Jack Peters, 19, Flemington, badly cut as car turns over on Glen Road and is hit later by truck; four other Flemingtonians, David Zeigler, John Moore, Clifford and Robert Shade, slightly injured. Four non-support cases disposed of at special session of court; seems as though women want equal rights but don’t want to be left.
TC dedicates new honor roll. Piper Aircraft workers vote unanimously to request National Labor Relations Board to conduct a vote on whether to strike in 36 days after company insists on union-opposed incentive plan. Mercury hits 29 Oct. 4; snow flurries. LH Post Office on government list for explansion which will cost $140,000. Charles S. Shoemaker heads Clinton County Veterans Council, a non-partisan group formed to aid veterans of all wars. LH represented at Williamsport district meeting for “Pennsylvania Progress Program.”
Boy Scouts to continue scrap paper drive despite war’s end. LH Draft Board sends nine for induction. Renovo plans sewage disposal plant. Lew Rathgeber named to K. of P. state committee. Charles McCaslin, LH RD, dies week after being crushed between derailed car and building at paper mill.
With no general state regulations, Clinton County decides to let all honorably discharged veterans vote here on military ballot in November if they present their discharge papers at polls. LH School District pays off $135,000 worth of bonds to put us in the clear. Only 12 of you guys have asked that military ballots be sent to you. Sons of Italy Building Association has picnic at Sons’ cottage at Tangascootack for members and ladies; 100 present. 250 at General Amature Corps. party for workers. George Hall, former assistant postmaster, dies at 86.
LHHS wins 14-0 from Bellefonte; Jayvees down Howard High 21-7; Jr Hi tops Jersey Shore Jr. High 7-0. Mill Hall High trims Snow Shoe 14-6; TC beats Bloomsburg 7-6. Hi vs Mt. Carmel Township home today. LHHS letters to go to ten basketball players, six of whom won’t return, and ten wrestlers, four of whom won’t be back. Clinton County Fish and Game Association directors (at their own expense) entertain those who raised 1,303 ringneck pheasants for restocking here; $1,150 in the treasury. Shells short as hunting season nears.
T/4 Daniel Hooley, Renovo, Bronze Star. Cpl. Robert Wise, Bronze Star, Pfc. Warren Crissman, Lockport, Bronze Star.
A daughter to Sgt. and Mrs. William Englert, Sept 22; daddy stationed in Florida. Son to Pvt. and Mrs. Grant J. Mann, Mill Hall.
Sgt. Charles Smith, Jr. to Martha Dorman, Sept. 22. M/Sgt. William Marden, Jersey Shore, to June Norman, Avis, Sept. 21