Letters from March 2004
From Thomas Dwayne Atkins
I served on USS Comfort AH6 at the time of the suicide plane hit.
I was EM/2c at the time of my departure from the ship.
There is one other member of my group that I am in touch with by e mail and and have visited at his home in Oregon.
I will never forget off of Okinawa and the few days after we were hit . My folks heard about our problem on the Sunday night news and we were able to get in touch with them from Guam. Also Tokyo Rose announced it on her show and that the Jap sub would finish the job sinking us before we reached port.
From our message board.
In March 1941 as a private, Pay was $21 a month for the first four months and then to $30. Yes, as a private we did enjoy some "benefits," such as laundry for a dollar a week, etc. The meals weren't bad, either.
From Doc Ellis
I wonder how many of you who stayed in after WWII made it to Eniwetok Atoll in the South Pacific for the second A-bomb tests? It was Operation Sandstone, Joint Task Force 7, 1947-48...It was my one and only hitch in the Regular Army. You may recall the army mess hall where the bread and marmalade were so thick the flies (specially imported?) flocked to it as you moved it toward your mouth?
We used to know how long a guy had been on the island by the way he handled the challenge. At first, newcomers would shoo the flies away, after being on the island for a while they'd quit shoo-ing them away and just brush 'em off the bread. But you knew a guy had been on the island at least three months when he just let the damn flies settle in the marmalade and then ate the whole thingy, bread, marmalade, flies and all...and licked his fingers when it was done.
We had in particular one helluva terrific 2d looey by the name of Charles R. Cross who was the "message center OIC" of our outfit in the 877th Signal Company in England and Germany...He knew how to be an officer but he did it with understanding, compassion and just the right amount of determination and firmness that got things done, done on time and done well...emergency or routine...and we liked do it for him 'cause he said "do it with me guys - I'll tell you what and maybe even how and if I'm wrong anywhere along the line for damn sake tell me..." Actually located him through internet about three years ago...think he was 82 then...and he told me he too stayed in and retired as a colonel. When I did locate him and wrote to make sure, he called me on the phone and said, "I remember you, I remember because you were always screwin' up and I had to bail you out with the colonel (Hoffeditz)."
On our way back from Geilenkirchen,(well, way back is an overstatement, retreat is better) we came to a small village, I think it was Würm. There by the cross roads was a heap of rubble that once had been a Gasthaus and there it was, in plain view, a wooden box with some full Steinhaeger bottles.
Alas, our Gunnery Sgt was an anti alcoholic and he mentioned something that it might had been booby trapped. We didn’t believe him but no booze for us, we were to young.
Heck, we were old enough to fight a war but not old enough to have a sip of Steinhaeger?
No doubt, the guys from the 102nd US infantry, who was chasing us that day probably found them & had a good day.
A mile from the Steinhaeger corner, we had the unfortunate luck (or was it fortunate?) that one of our DEMAG Halftracks tripped a riegel mine and blew our 2nd 20mm Quad sky high.
Had we stopped to enjoy the booze, things might had turned a different way.
But that’s the way it goes, I reckon it was unfair.
Have you ever have come across the German drink called Ratzeputz? Widely common with the German Soldiers in cold weather.
Made from fermented Horse radish with a fair amount of Pepper & Kümmel added.
If you forgot to put the stopper on the bottle, the stuff use to turn into a sort of molasses, you could spread on a slice of bread.
Anyone ever got drunk on sandwiches? This Ratzeputz could surely do it. It’s still made today in some places in Germany but in a less potent concoction.
In Panama we had a drink made from sugar, raisins and coconut milk.
It was called chi-chi and was pretty potent..
In New Guinea they used alcohol out of torpedoes but I never drank any of it so I don’t really know what the effects of it is.
It was called jungle juice.
Letters from the March 2004 Edition of U S Legacies Magazine