Dear Sis & Family, Well, here I am back in Mare Island navy yard again. Ailene has a room at the same place we were before. We had quite a time getting back. We changed trains three times on the way back and had two layovers. One in Little Rock and one in Amarillo, Texas. On top of that I lost my leave papers in Memphis but didn't have any trouble.
I guess we have been pretty lucky in one way, but bad luck in others. I know you are wandering about the particulars of the damage we received. Well here goes my sea story since I was home last fall. We first went to Iwo Jima, where the navy did not receive much damage but the Marines on the island found it pretty tough going as you have already read about. We went along with the carrier force that bombed Tokyo the 16th and 17th of Feb. and back there again in March. Just what days I do not remember, but we were in all of them until the first
of April. We were at Okinawa when we received our damage. One of those crazy Jap suicide planes hit us the 31st of March. It was carrying two 500 lb. bombs. The bombs did not explode when they hit or I do not guess I would be writing this letter today. Owensby and I were within twenty-five feet of it when it hit. One of them exploded two decks below in a fuel tank and the other went all the way through the bottom before exploding. The compartment that my locker was in was flooded and ruined all my clothes. The navy makes that up to us though. Well this is about the biggest tale I can think of at present. I hope you don't take it too serious and let it worry you any. We were caught napping or we wouldn't have been hit I don't think. Nine lives were lost out of about 1400 men. So you can see that we were very lucky. I guess I have told things that I shouldn't but you can keep the particulars.
V.E. if there is any way possible for you to stay there, do so. Any man that is at sea would give most anything for the duty. I find lots of the guys here think they want sea duty. I thought I would kinda enjoy it myself but it didn't take me long to learn different. Rates come few and far between unless you get a new ship or a ship that needs lots of rated men. I am in what is considered a fast rating division now but seems as though I will never get my rate. I have passed my progress test for 3rd class a good while back but have no idea when I will ever get it unless they transfer a few 3rds while we are in. The prospects for that do not look very good either at the present. So stay where you are.
I really did enjoy the few days I had at home. I ate strawberries until I think I looked like one. I began tasting them when we left Okinawa for the good old U.S.A. That old Golden Gate looks good coming back under it but looks like H___ going away from it.
I'll bet the kids are getting as dark as little Japs down there in that Florida sun. People can brag about California all they want but I will take Florida any day.
Mom and Dad looked much better this time than before. Everything was pretty and green. Newell was talking so much better. Somehow I just enjoyed this time home more than ever before.
I saw Herschel and Frances join the church while I was there. I guess they were expecting me to join but somehow I just didn't much feel like it coming right back into this mess. However I believe that if it was to do over again I would join too. There has to be a blacksheep in every family I recon.
Well, this is more like a book than a letter coming from me. I am at the barracks tonight and thought I would try to write. Give my love to the kids and I hope this thing will come to a head soon and we can all get settled again. Write often as I am always glad to hear from you. Write at my address. I will put the address where we are staying so it will not be censored. Love, Aulton