a man of letters (5) – training for combat…and love


 

On February 02, 1944 nineteen-year-old Glenn sent a post card and letter from gunnery school in Laredo to his parents at home in Richards. The post card scene of the cotton field near Houston reflected a longing for the countryside of his boyhood in southeast Texas.

“Dear Mama and Daddy, boys in this gunnery school are really sharp. We start our classes tomorrow so I’ll be busy from now on. This is just like the G.I. Army. Rules and restrictions. I’d like to see something of Laredo while I’m here, but not much chance of that. I will say it doesn’t look at all like our piney woods of East Texas. West Texas has no trees and lots of dust and wind. I don’t like it much. I’ll write more, and often. I love you, Glenn         Daddy, you write” 

A letter dated February 10, 1944 soon arrived from his mother.

“Dearest Glenn,

We are very worried about you and Ray. You boys need to do better with your letters. You know you can do more than a little note every now and then…

Remember that you are as smart as the other boys in that school out there. You may not be the Tallest, but you have a Good Mind, so use it.

Mr. Wilcox came in the barbershop yesterday and asked your daddy about you. He and Esther are running the school on a shoestring these days with everybody all caught up in the War. Hard to get teachers. No money for books. I think your daddy gave him a free haircut and shave, but, of course, he wouldn’t tell me that.

We’re hoping that Lucy and Terrell can get here this weekend. That Terrell is so fine. He’ll be leaving soon, too. I don’t think they know yet where he’s going for training.

Take care, son, and stay Warm.

We love you dearly,

Mama and Daddy”

On April 18, 1944 Glenn wrote to his sister Lucy, confiding in her about his growing feelings for Selma. He had finished gunnery school and then transferred to the Navigation School in San Marcos, Texas.

“Dear Lucy,

I wish you would write me sometimes. I miss our talks. I know you have time now that Terrell has left for training, so you have no excuses. I even hear from Ray every so often, and he’s already in England.

I have definitely decided that Selma is the girl for me. Of course, I can’t tell Mama or Daddy yet. They would just pitch a fit. Can’t you just hear them?

Glenn, you’re way too young to be thinking seriously about settling down with just one person. For the rest of your life. No, absolutely not the right time for that.

Plus, they don’t think Selma comes from the best family situation. I’ve always admired Mrs. Boring for taking care of those four children after Mr. Boring died when they were all so young. I like all of her brothers, too. And, she’s not like the other girls I’ve dated. She’s so much more mature.

Well, I’ll get my wings in August this year, if I pass everything. I like San Marcos much better than Laredo. The Navigation School is much more interesting.

You have to make sure Mama and Daddy bring Selma to my graduation with them. I’m counting on you! Remember, this is our little secret.

Your brother,

Cadet Glenn L. Morris”

Lucy

He must have passed everything because on August 28, 1944 Cadet Glenn L. Morris, two months before his 20th. birthday, graduated from the Army Air Forces Navigation School at San Marcos Army Air Field, San Marcos, Texas. His parents, his sister Lucy and his girlfriend Selma Boring attended the graduation ceremony. Selma pinned his wings on the new Second Lieutenant’s uniform. It was a bittersweet occasion. Everyone knew he would be leaving soon for Europe and the dangerous war in the air.

The Army Air Forces Navigation School

San Marcos Army Air Field

San Marcos, Texas

of

the United States Army

announces the graduation of

Class 44 -11

on Monday morning, August the twenty-eighth

nineteen hundred and forty-four

at nine thirty o’clock

Post Theatre

handkerchief given to Glenn’s mother at graduation

Glenn and Selma also had other news to discuss when they saw each other that commencement day. Two months earlier (June 20, 1944) Selma wrote a brief note to Glenn.

“Dear Glenn, Guess what? My Uncle Clemmie, who is my father’s brother in Rosenberg, has offered to pay for me to go to college at Baylor Baptist in Waco this fall. So I am mailing my information to them to sign up for a dormitory room today. I never ever thought about going to Baylor. It might be fun.”

Seventeen-year-old Selma graduated from Richards High School in May of 1944 and was about to become a “college coed” at what was then known as Baylor Baptist College. She gave Glenn the news before he saw her at his graduation in San Marcos. I would like to have been a fly on the wall during their discussion of that recent development. I wonder if my dad was happy for her or worried about possible competition from Baylor boys…

college student Selma and her older brother Charlie

who had enlisted in the Navy

Following graduation Glenn was sent to Iowa to complete his combat training. A month after he graduated from Navigation School, he wrote this letter to his parents on September 27, 1944.

“Dear folks,

I might as well tell you right now not to expect too many letter from me cause I’m busy now, and that’s not the half of it. We fly every other day now, and soon we’ll fly every day. That may begin day after tomorrow. I’m really tired when I hit the sack. This morning I got up at 3 a.m. for a hi altitude bombing mission. We were to bomb from 20,000 ft. It sure is cold up there and oxygen is scarce. The mission was called off because of weather conditions. So the crew went down and played basketball. That is Floyd, Dan, Frank, Tommy and I did. We played another crew and stomped them. I guess I’d better give you the crew’s names. They’re the boys I’ll probably go over with. They’re a good bunch of fellows. I’m older than one boy on the crew – radio operator – Tommy.

The Crew

Dan Randolph – (1st Pilot) , New Jersey, Airplane Commander, 2nd. Lt., Frank Purvis – (Co-pilot) Pilot Lt. – Colorado, Morris, NAV – 2nd Lt. – Texas, Floyd Yates – Bombardier – F/O Brooklyn, Al White – Engineer – Cpl, Tommy Lang – Radio Operator – Cpl, Spencer – Upper gunner – Pfc,  Holley – Armorer – Gunner – Sgt, Richards – Sperry Ball Gunner – Pfc, Klepps – Tail Gunner – Pfc

That’s the boys, and they’re all o.k. We’re gonna take some pictures of the crew by the Fortress. That’s our plane’s name. They should be good.

I’ve about quit going anywhere now. I guess the new has worn off of being able to go somewhere any time you’re off. I went to the Post Theater tonight. I enjoyed myself. Well, folks, this isn’t very interesting so I’ll close.

I love you,

Glenn

Send those gloves, will you, Mama?”

combat training in Iowa in 1944

(Glenn third from right, kneeling)

Training days were grueling but had to be to give the young men their best opportunity for survival. Soon “The Crew” would ship out to England to join the 8th. Air Force.

Stay tuned.

 

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is an essayist with humorist tendencies who periodically indulges her desires to write outside her genre by trying to write fiction and poetry. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published four nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and a group of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike and Charly. Her Texas roots are never too far from her thoughts.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to a man of letters (5) – training for combat…and love

  1. Guess they were the lucky ones who had a reasonable amount of time training before being sent off?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess so, Annie. I’m not the best judge of that, and no one in my family EVER discussed their experiences in the war. Which I was too young to really realize how telling that was.

      Like

  2. M.B. Henry says:

    Iowa! That’s where I’m from! 🙂 (Gosh these are all great)

    Like

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