In trying to coordinate the timelines of Frank Stevens’ World War II letters found in three different packets, I sometimes feel as if I’ve gotten caught up in the center of some tropical storm: compiling these dates and details seems to get ever more dizzying. In the last few days I’ve been posting from Frank’s letter home to his parents, Will and Agnes Tully Stevens, dated December 15, 1944. I’d like to jibe that with the letters before and after this date from the original packet that I’ve already posted, as a point of orientation.
But the datelines are spotty. There are huge gaps between some sets of letters.
“Déjà vu,” I think, as the last time I made that remark, I stumbled upon another packet of letters.
From what I can figure from these letters, Frank’s December, 1944, arrival somewhere in the south Pacific (he mentions the possibility of going into the Philippines in one letter) occurs in the lull before the storm in which he participates in the battles at Iwo Jima and also Okinawa. I am hoping to send for his full military record in the next few days, and that will eventually tell the story—but for now, I must leave the details to mere surmising.
In the face of the folks back home in Chicago settling in for a cozy winter scene of jubilant Christmas celebration, it’s hard to think of Frank examining the relative benefits of paradise in the Pacific versus paradise in the Atlantic. Maybe the Virgin Islands were now to be preferred because they held the known instead of the adrenaline-charged unknown he is about to face.
Perhaps it is reassuring, as an unintended Christmas gift, to have been assigned to a Landing Craft now converted to a rocket ship—something that packs a sizable punch would indeed be the preferred “gift” on the eve of Frank’s future activities.
Outside of sightseeing there isn’t any thing to do incidentally I’m getting tired of sightseeing sure wish I knew some one out here. I ran into a Lt that I did duty with down at St. Thomas and he’s in the same boat I am he would give his left arm to get back to V. I. Since we have been converted we pack the same punch as a battleship. We have those new rockets. I’ve got to close now. Lots of Love and take care of your selves for your Loving Sailor son