Edward J. Thomas - World War II

10 September 1945 Monday

Dear Mom, Harry & Izzy:

Harry's letter tells me that you know just how close I am now to becoming
a civilian. My hopes of receiving an immediate discharge began about 2 1/2 weeks ago. I was awakened in the morning and told that all men over 35 years of age and with 2 years of service will be discharged. That made me
just as glad as a booze hound receiving a free case of old scotch. An hour
later I was handed $2.50 for winning first prize in a football pool. It
looked like an unusually lucky day for me. The pool money made me very certain Lady Luck was joining hands with me and backing me up 100% and that my discharge would be only a matter of days. At that time I was told the new age limit was not official. Later on in the day, almost everybody convinced me it was official. I had no doubts about that until I read next morning's newspaper. There was nothing in it to confirm the good news I had heard. It was disappointing but not too discouraging because I felt sure something would be done about useless old men--if not by the War Department, then by Congress. As I expected, in another few days I vms awakened again and told that 35 year old menwith two years of service would be discharged and that this time it was official. I took this latest news very calmly and did not want to be convinced too much until I saw the newspaper. The afternoon paper came and there it was on the first page, the official announcement that I would soon be a free man. I made up my mind to go directly to Headquarters Company after the week-end was over. It was a long week-end because Monday was a National Holiday and for the first time the army here observed a holiday by giving practically everybody the whole day off. Having Saturday afternoon, all of Sunday and Monday off was something that had never happened to me before and something that I had always wished for. I received my wish all right, but at a time when I did not want it because it delayed me in applying for a discharge. The newspapers stated that 35 year old men with 2 years' service were to be discharged immediately upon application and I thought I was needlessly being held an extra day on account of this holiday. Tuesday morning I didn't waste any time to report to the Personnel Section of Headquarters Company. It's a walk of about a third of a mile because all of our buildings aren't close together. When I walked into the office, I asked for my discharge with the smug satisfaction of a prisoner saying" My term is up--let me out". I was referred from corporal to corporal until I reached the high desks of authority. I stated my reason for being there to a corporal. An ugly tempered master sergeant next to him waved me away. "Go back to your office and relax," he said. "We'll call you up when we are ready. We have no authority now." He spoke as if he were trying to stop me from pulling out his hair. The warrant officer next to the master sergeant snapped in a belligerent tone. "How many years of service have you?" He sounded as if he tried to catch me on that point and was mightily disappointed when I told him I had 2 1/2 years of service. By the way most of these army officers and some sergeants act anyone would think they were slave owners who regard every man under them as their own property which they can't afford to lose Since I was smart enough to know was still a soldier with no more rights than a Germanprisoner of war, I went back to my office and relaxed as I was told. I have been relaxing already for 5 days and have heard nothing except rumors. One rumor says that this headquarters hasn't received any authority yet in spite of the fact the newspapers reported that the War Department ordered the 35 year old men with 2 years of service to be released immediately. Another rumor going about is that this headquarters has received authority but has not issued it to the Personnel Section of Headquarters Company. Also I have heard that the order from Washington states eligible 35-year old men are to be released within 90 days. From the latest dope which came to me a few days ago, I understand
the Personnel Office of Headquarters Company is working on these discharges and will call the eligible men as soon as arrangements are made. Your guess as to when I'll get out is as good as mine. It may be in the next few days or months. Because of the army's malicious attitude I can see it is quite possible they may stall off discharges as long as they possibly can. When an order comes from Washington to ship men out to another unit, the officers almost rupture themselves to see that the order is carried out immediately, but when an order comes from Washington to discharge men who are eligible, the officers seem to be offended and, like the Japs, try to take their time in an effort to prove they still have some power to hold on to their slaves, washington or no Washington. Although I have no doubts most of the officers are doing their best to irritate the men under them, I still have some hope of getting out of the Army during September. The separation center I'll be shipped to probably will be Fort Sheridan, Illinois, near Chicago. If I am in the mood, I may stay for one day in Chicago to look the big jerk over and see for myself whether it deserves to be called the second largest city in the United States.

Christy, who is from Toledo, Ohio, is 37 years old and will be 38 this
November. He had always thought he would be out of the army before me. He hardly had any doubts about that and would jokingly try to make me feel bad by picturing himself as a civilian in Toledo thinking sorrowfully about my monotonous jail-like existence in Second Army Headquarters. Although I knew his chances of getting out were better than mine, I challenged him to a bet that I would get out sooner. He laughed and did not take the challenge seriously. He acted as if he were a very hopeful man talking to a very hopeless one,and as is custcmary among friends in such a case, he offered me sympathy and hope. He told me there was an outside chance of my being discharged at the same time as he. I replied that not only was there that chance but also a better one that of getting out before him. He must have thought the boast was very pitiful because he did not even want to ridicule it. My hope of getting out sooner was based on a letter about my mink business which I intended to write to the commanding officer. Of course, I expected the age limit to come down to 35 but I was sure it would not permit me to leave sooner than Christy. Therefore, I was very surprised when I awoke one morning to be told that 35 year men or older must have 2 years of service. That left me wide open on the road to freedom and Christy frozen in his uniform until November because he won't have two years of service until that time. Besides getting his 2 years of service in November, he'll also reach his 38th birthday. The 35 age limit won't help him at all. He fumed and swore when he heard the news. Many of the boys kidded him about it and made him boil with restrained rage. I had to talk to him with kid gloves because there was great danger of making him blow up. It was quite probable he would hate me permanently if I spoke carelessly. It took him a
few days to become resigned to his fate. He is now camly (sp) and patiently counting his days and defeatedly looking at me and wishing he were in my shoes. The quartermaster Office doesn't look the same now. Of about 25 officers who were here originally, there is only one left. The others were shipped overseas. New officers have come in to replace them. The enlisted men are also being shipped out for overseas duty. So far about half of them have gone. By the way men are coming and going, it seems as if the war is just starting.

Izzy, I received your letter from Nepanee, Ind. (Nappanee) I was curious to know just how far you strayed away from home. I looked into an atlas we have in the office and found that it was about 20 miles southeast of South Bend and about 180 miles away from Detroit. Holiday travel can sometimes bring to our attention some of the queerest named places. I have never heard of Napanee before and probably will never hear of it again. So long Nepanee.

Harry, your idea to expand the mink business by buying more females sounds
all right. If we do decide to buy, I believe it will be better to do it before
the pelting season because the prices may be lower. We will see just what we
can do about increasing our herd after I get out of the army.

I am answering your boastful tennis challenge by sending a package of balls
I have collected in preparation for the matches I will have with you and Gene. These balls were given to me by fellows who have left for overseas duty.

Mom, I want to tell you I didn't forget that wrist watch band you wanted.
I have it with meand probably will deliver it to you personally or will send
it by parcel post. Also I'll be sending three 5 x 7 photographs which I had
taken a few weeks ago.

It looks as if we will have to hustle around the countryside to search
for a farm which we will need before next spring if we will buy more females as Harry suggested. I hope we will find something that all of us will like.

So long Eddie

P S. The latest information I received on my discharge is that a circular
just came in today from Washington confirming the telegram which was received more than a week ago. This is probably the circular headquarters was waiting for before going ahead with the discharges. I hope this is all that delayed them. I'll probably know more definitely about it later today.

* * * *

It is now later in the day and there are signs now that something is being
done. A notice on the bulletin board in the barracks requested all men 35 years of age or over to hand in a letter giving their names, grades, serial numbers, dates of induction, and dates of birth and permanent home addresses. There may be substantial action in the next day or two. Maybe I'll be leaving in about a week from now.

Wed. Sep 12 Japn surrenders it's south-east Asian stationed troops to Mountbatten.

Eddie is Closer to Coming Home

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