Interesting letter from Paul Gerard to parents
The following is part of a
letter received by Theo Gerard from his son Paul who enlisted in
the US Air Corps about 18 months ago and has been at Chanute Field,
Rantoul, Ill. About 20,000 men are now stationed at the field,
where technical instruction is given to cover many phases of work
relating to the US air service. He writes as follows:
Boy is hell ever a popping now. Looks like we have a big job
on our hands with Japan, German and Italy. We sure are going to have to
clamp down on things. Here at Chanute they have armed guards watching
I had to go out to the firing range last week for
pistol practice and i scored 75 percent hits at 25 yards. We used Bob
targets. They are targets shaped like the human body from the waste up
and all the time you are shooting, they are moving, which makes them
harder to hit. Between the moving target and the jump of the 45s, I
figure I did pretty good by getting 75 percent. Any one of my hits, the
instructor said, would kill a man.
Sure wish I could get out of this office so I could get a
crack at those damn bums. But instead of getting out, they made me
Sergeant Major of this personnel office and is it ever a job. I have
charge of 20 men who do the biggest share of the paperwork for the
squadron, which consists of about 2000 men. I catch hell for all of
their mistakes and they make plenty of them, the office force, I mean.
Some of the guys think I'm pretty tough because when I catch it for
their mistakes, I have to turn right around and jack them up for making
the mistakes. But I guess that's life, at least, that's life in the
Paul Gerard Writes Letter From France to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Theo Gerard
Jan. 9, 1945
I received your most welcome letter day before
yesterday, with all of the clippings from the Advocate Leader and
Gilbert Ross' letter. All in all, it was a very nice newsy letter and I
enjoyed it very much. Was so sorry to hear that you are not feeling so
good though, Dad. I sure wish I could be there to help you out so you
could take it easier. Can't you get someone to do the heavy work? Boy,
that will be the day when I can return to the farm. The longer I am
away, the more I think I would like to be back on the farm.
I have written Josephine and asked her how she would
like to be a farmer's wife after this war is over and she said she would
go and do anything I wanted, bless her heart. I don't know what you
think, but I think I really got a mighty sweet gal when I married her.
She has sure changed my outlook on life to the better side. A good wife,
two good looking sweet babies, what more could a guy ask for? You can't
guess how much I want to be home. I'm afraid that son of mine will be
fully grown before I get back if I'm not careful. I was so sorry to hear
that you wouldn't be able to get down to see them this winter, and I
know there will be a lot of other folks sorry that you couldn't get down
to see them.
I had a nice letter from Merle the other day. She seems
to be very happy about her new job. It really ought to be better for her
now that she is working for the Civil Service instead of with public
hospitals in general. The work should be easier, too.
That reminds me, I owe her a letter. I also owe Dee and
Adeline so I guess I'll have enough to keep me busy for a few evenings.
You see, I write Josephine every evening if possible, and if I was to
write to all of you as often as I should I would have a full-time job.
So if it seems a long time between letters you will understand it isn't
because I don't think of you often.
By the way, will you tell Jerry and Alyce I received
their nice Christmas card and letter, but that I don't have time right
now to answer it, but will try a little later on. I'm not trying to
ignore them, but after all, they are close to you and you can pass on
what little news I send.
Dad, you were saying that you had scratched your
initials on the Eifel Tower somewhere, some 44 or 45 years ago. Well,
they have the gates locked on it now so one can't get up inside, but if
I'm ever there again and the gates are open, then I will try and locate
them. It would be fun if I could find them and scratch mine right under
yours, don't you think?
I was back to Paris for two days just before New Year's
before I came back up here for duty with this airborne Engineering
Battalion. I think I told you I was working and guarding German
prisoners of war. I don't mind it so much, but would rather be up with
the fellows that are taking these Jerries. I'm not very far from the
front, but it is pretty quiet here most of the time. Just before
Christmas was the last time we were under fire. A Jerry plane came over
about midnight and did a little strafing. There were no casualties,
although we did a little sweating. Yes! Yes!
I missed getting the Stars and Stripes during the
holidays, but I have saved a few I will send on to you soon.
It seems I am about run down now so I guess I might as
well sign off. Hoping this finds you all well. Write when you can.