28 December 2005

Uncle Tony

I've been in Texas since Saturday and am having a good time. Finally got bored enough to attempt an update. This trip has gone pretty well so far, and once I get back home I'll try to post better description, hopefully with pictures once I have a camera. I'll have more to write about this weekend, since I'm meeting "Mad" Adam Kelly and Burris in New Orleans for the New Year's celebration. May not be a good idea, but I don't see why that would stop us.

Christmas has not only been green, but also very warm and dry. We have had brush fire alerts for two days and I see that Arlington and a number of other places have already burst into flame.

I've been reading some of Uncle Tony's letters from his shipmates in WWII. Aunt Anne was never very interested in history and could not the name of his ship, so it was never clear to me how Tony served during the War. After deciphering some of the letters, it is easy to understand why she could not recall the name of the ship, as it never had a name. It was a infantry landing craft equipped with mortars, and was officially referred to as the USS LCI(M)-633. The 633 served in the Pacific and participated in a couple of landings during the last year of the War. The LCI were small craft, usually having a crew of only 50 men and commanded by a Lt.(junior grade). They were not designed to cross oceans (but they did anyway), and being flat bottomed, only those with iron stomachs could hope to function. The letters reveal a crew that bonded very well, dealt fairly with each other, and had an egalitarian streak that is unique to America's armed forces. One of the 633's troublemakers, after serving out his punishment for drunk and disorderly, marched straight into the Captain's quarters and offered the Captain a drink, which was accepted. Another had painted half the ship before receiving orders that a new camouflage design was required, and had no problem giving the Executive Officer a piece of his mind.

The letter's were all dated after Tony had left the ship in September of 1945. Our cousin, Leon, has more letters, and I'm hoping they are Tony's letters to Anne while he was serving on board. I have already scanned some the postcards he sent to her while he was training in the States, which cover the period from his enlistment to his departure to bring the ship from New Jersey to the Pacific. Tony's experiences during active service would be the last piece of the puzzle. Once I get home, I'll see if I can locate some of his old shipmates.

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