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, June 23, 1945

S1/c Paul Rizzo can’t understand why anyone kicks about The Express being a few minutes late. He writes from somewhere in the Pacific that although he gets them in bunches, sometimes a month late, he enjoys every page.

Paulle was in action in Okinawa. Since last visiting old Col. O’Corn he has traveled to Pearl Harbor, the Marshall Islands and the Carolines before getting in the Okinawa business. He says:

“Okinawa is a beautiful island — cool climate. The one thing wrong was the Jap suicide plans raise hell with us. Was there several days before the invasion sweeping mines. Sure was plenty of them. Things were very quiet until invasion day. Those suicide planes some days would come in in force.

“One of them dived at us and missed the fantail by inches. I sure was saying my prayers. My knee caps would shake so fast I thought they would take off. I picked up plenty of gray hairs in those 30 days. Perhaps when we invade Japan we shall see the greatest mass suicide known in history. Sure am glad to be out of there.

It was pathetic to see some of our ships get hit and go up into flames.

“At present I am at gunnery school — third trip. On the island I have talked to several boys from town:

George Shroat, who worked for the P.P. and L.; Rocco DiGeso, one time at Joe Beaver’s drug store; Harry Pinge, whose hair is now white as snow. (He sure was glad to see me) Ralph Condor who lived on East Walnut Street, and a chap by the name of Smith who worked at the National Hotel. So you know we are well represented on the island. I am getting rested up and raring to go. I sure wish I was going home. Perhaps we can just dream.”

Incidentally, Col O’Corn got the May 23 edition of the magazine, Seabee from Pinge.

A package from Ann Henry and a few copies of The Express were the first package and first of the second-class mail to arrive on Okinawa, according to the recipient, Lt. Marvin Barnes, former assistant manager of the Firestone store here. Says Barnes:

“All that we have recieved since April 1 is air mail. I scanned newspapers over and over with the delight of a two-year-old. The candy and olives were really a treat.

“My new job is to retrieve disabled tanks from the front lines and to assist tanks with minor defects while they are on the front. I hope my luck continues until this mess is over. I have had too many close friends killed to have any love for combat. You can imagine what these poor infantry boys go through every day.”


Pfc. Lawrence Jackson, Flemington, June 17, 1942, on Corregidor.


Pvt. Joe Eisenhower, Salona, for a 74-day furlough, after being a prisoner of the Germans for 11 months. Pfc. Lawrence Probst, Pfc. William Smith Jr., Blanchard; Pfc. Charles Lange, Jr., Pfc., Edward Conklin, all for 30-day furlough, after serving overseas with 86th Division. T/Sgt. Leslie Campaign, 30-day furlough, after serving in Germany six months. S/Sgt Charles Simpson, Renovo, 60-day furlough, after being a prisoner of the Germans since June, 1943. S/Sgt. Richard Gottschall, for 30-day furlough, after six months in England. Sgt. Robert Dunn, for 30-day furlough, after seervice in the ETO. Sgt. John Heckel, after being a prisoner of the Germans. Pvt. Oscar Heaton, former prisoner. S/Sgt. Millard Clymer, 21, for 30-day furlough, after year in Italy.


1st Lieut. Clifford Englert, Woolrich, Air Corps, placed on inactive list, after 35 missions. S/Sgt. Thomas O’Connor, Renovo, after five years in the service, last three in Burma. Pfc. Richard Stringfellow, after four years in service with 34 months overseas.


Bruce Bryerton to ship’s cook, 3/c aboard a carrier aircraft unit of the Atlantic Fleet. Leonard H. Glass, to gunner’s mate, 3/c. Dale Allen to S/Sgt. Don Miller, USNR, Mill Hall, to Lt. Kenneth and Paul Andrus, Jr., to coxswains.


S/Sgt. John Kessinger, Beech Creek, the Bronze Star. Pvt. Gordon R. Barrett, Purple Heart, June 14, at U.S. General Hospital, Camp Butner, N.C. Norman Small, Mill Hall, Bronze Star, in Italy.


Robert J. Linn, AMM2/c USNR, Renovo, to Eleanor Kenney, Philadelphia, June 14. Pvt. Russell Shoemaker, Lockport, to Mabel Russell, June 20. Pfc. Thomas Bottorf, Flemington, to Mildred Keller, June 19.


Son, posthumously, to Pvt. and Mrs. David Allison. Father killed in Europe.


Rex Taylor goes to Pacific as advisor to AAF on Piper planes. The Junior Playmakers, boys and girls from 7 to 121, to give play in July under direction of Mrs. Robert Olewiler, wife of Reformed church minister. Moose buy portable lung for local firemen. Forest fires few this Spring. Aircraft Corp has backlog of orders for more than 2,000 Cubs for post-war era; by peacetime expects enough to keep plant running year. Wilson Poorman, Motor Club Secretary, nominated on Republican ticket for city controller in only city-wide contest in June 19 election (new date for odd-year primaries in Pennsylvania); George burgess and justice of peace in Mill Hall. Mrs. Bossert nominated for school director.

Hot fight on in Renovo (as usual). No county or state contests. Voting lightest in years — less than 2,800 civilians and only six service men in Clinton County. Millheim and Milesburg vote wet. Express newsboys sell equivalent of 4,164,749 ten-cent war stamps since it all started. Don Shaffer New fire chief succeeding Blair Tate. City moves to file sewage disposal plant plans with state. Harris (Josh) Reynolds, former assistant football coach at LHHS, goes to Mill Hall High School as principal, succeeding D. B. Lytle who went to Perkiomen Prep. USO has Sunday breakfast for 22 Mexican railroad workers temporarily quartered in city.

Five LH girls get caps as nurses at Lewes, Del. Hospital — Helen Moore, Thelma Simcox, Barbara Dershem, Camille Caprio and Laferne Orndorf. Wilbur Lerch, 27, McElhattan, Piper Aircraft employee loses leg as car hits his motorbike. Lawrence Packer, LH RD, graduates as M.D. at Temple; Jane Seltzer as medical technologist and Better Schlesinger, Avis, as nurse; latter already in Army.


Bud Diehl pitches no-hit softball game for Presbyterian but loses 2-0 in Trinity Methodist Evangelical team which is leading Church League. Council has named George Kauffman, LH, formerly of Altoona, TC grad now coaching Mill Hall, as lifeguard at river beach at Price Park.

Phillies to have baseball school at Bellefonte. Jack Watson, Bellefonte YMCA athletic director, formerly of LH, named state non-pro baseball commissioner. Keith Kelly loses in semi-final round of Williamsport tennis tourney.