Adams County

Sgt. Helen I. Johnston

 

Our Men and Women In The Armed Forces

The following letter is from Sgt. Helen I. Johnston, member of the WAC stationed near Manila, written to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Johnston of Corning:

Outside Manila, Sunday, June 10, 1945
Dear Mother and Estelle:

Goodby to New Guinea and off we went to the wild blue yonder to live – plenty bumpy weather and clouds looked like bunches of cotton o a mirror below – Planes loaded to the gills with GIs, WACs and really sweated the trip – stopped at a place just recently taken by the Japs. Zeros all over every place, rising sun on the wings and side. Oh, what a place – the 1st place we stopped unexpectedly and all Marines – they put us in Officers quarters and mess hall – negro waiters and cooks – table cloths and silverware and saw the remains trembly [?]. We left and stopped at another well known Island from there flying conditions were rugged over a Bay – still bombing – hitting the clouds storm – you can’t imagine – we went up to 11,000 feet – the heat was off, the radio out – the 2 of us side by side – sometimes in formation, until we hit clouds – we landed 2 ½ hours later than expected – while others were turning back, we finally made a 3 point landing safe and sound and weak – Yanks loaded us WACs, bags, and drove through Philippine Streets waving and cheering. 1st WACs this far north – what a strange drive – on our 1st pavement and to an estate owned by a wealthy family – and Japs took over – not a day past there isn’t one killed here in our area – it’s a beautiful estate – have our cots in all the rooms, 2 heated bathrooms – until our houses are finished – all green grass – shady trees, all kinds of flowers, orchids, Gardenias,. Women all came after our washing and traded bananas and selling them pineapples and eggs, potatoes for money and cigarettes and magazines – all cleaned up in white dresses – we girls are all by ourselves – no other detachments – we’re restricted for a while till the Japs are cleaned out – then we can go to Manilla (sic), which is in ruins. The detachment is still living in places that smell of bodies – we are out in a country here from everything except lizards, spiders and plenty of ants, have a large front and back yard, all shaded and green – a fish pond, pretty birds, nice fresh air – well this is heaven.

We have our offices close by where we live and mess hall, start to work tomorrow, plenty of foxholes and planes around, never saw so many water buffaloes working in rice fields, people riding and driving them – I see plenty of chickens, geese, goats and pigs, people living in straw huts up on stilts and the animals underneath. The little girls, 14 and 15, talk good English, plenty smart, they said the GIs are so good to them before we came, we’re the 1st WACs they’ve seen and can’t do enough for us. We’re living now like some one in a new world.

This is the rainy season but is cool today. I received 2 of my Xmas boxes, everything had to be thrown away except the sardines and olives. I received them on  arriving here, but couldn’t say where we were before – half mile from MacArthur’s home, been in it – now its all officers. Am I ever glad to be away from New Guinea, just a dream and a horrible one – here its like a place you were out in Calif. – large windows, sun porches, all screened in, wood and marble floors, all open rooms. We just love it, soon as our houses are built, this will be our Recreation Hall. Soon as our restriction is lifted, I’ll trace down my furniture given me by my Seabees friends. Our Co. has a radio and now is out. I’m sending those to mother, will save writing, just wish you could be here, the air is wonderful, all level, am healthier already, aged 10 years in New Guinea. Just to let you know I’m in Luzon – note my address. Love to you both.

Sgt. Helen I. Johnston.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, July 5, 1945