Paniqui, Tarlac, Luzon, P.I.
Saturday, 22 September 1945.
Dear Aunty Clara,
The big event of the day today was the funeral and also the time killer. We rode up about forty miles to Santa Barbara within a dozen miles of Lingayen Gulf to the cemetery - and like all army cemeteries you are surprised at the number of fellows buried in those places.
We knocked off of work at eleven o'clock to go to early chow and then at quarter to twelve we fell out into formation and marched to the convoy of waiting trucks. After entrucking, we began the long, ride north. It was interesting, mostly in the fact that we went through a section of Luzon which must evidently be free from troops for the people were extremely friendly, kept smiling back at us and waving their arms and yelling "Veectoree, Joe" After the hardened people of Manila it seems strange to run across people in the Philippines who still think we are the liberators.
After we got to the cemetery, we had the usual army delay of hurry up and wait. We sat around chewing the rag for over forty minutes before the ceremonies began and then were over in less than ten minutes.
On the ride down I sat at the end of the truck and got the bouncing around of my life, so on the way back in I managed to secure for myself a seat right next to the cab where the truck rides with the bumps. You should have seen, though, how we looked when we got back to camp. Dust - wow - we were the original Samboes. The road was sporadically a paved highway, an asphalt road and again a dustbowl of dirt. I pity the poor people who have to live along the dusty part of the road for they must put up with that all day long so you can imagine how the dirt settles in their homes.
We passed mile on mile of rice paddies and I noticed several strange things I hadn't noticed before. One is there seems to be a number of streams running through this territory and many of them will be between two homes and then it (the stream) is directed along the road so that there is a permanently water filled ditch. But the most amazing part about it is that the natives fish right there at the side of the road! Can you imagine fishing alongside a road? Some of the rice paddies seem to be rather deep with water and they hare a sort of bamboo fence erected in them. It is hard to explain and the nearest I've seen to anything resembling it has been on the golf courses of Columbus Park where they fence off the greens that are growing with laths. Of course these little bamboo-ed in areas are much smaller and the fence is not anywheres near as high but it gives you the same impression. Some of them have a bamboo cover.
I passed over the Agno River in the daytime today and it is not the majestic river one would think it was from the length of the bridge at night. It is extremely shallow and not only can you see the ripples caused by the nearness of the bottom but here and there there isn't even enough water to cover the ground which sticks up like so many little islands. However, it is a wide affair and if that amount of water was channeled through a narrow passage, it would be a deep river.
When we got back, the very first thing everyone did was to head for the shower room and I was one of the lucky ones who made it before all the shower spigots were taken. But that didn't last long because I had to take another shower later after throwing the baseball around a bit before coming up to see what work there was to be done in the office. There was work to do alright but I didn't feel much like doing it so came back to the tent for spell. The baseball scores just came over and those lousy Cardinals don't know when to quit, they up and beat the Cubs anyway after being laced in the overtime game last night.
I did a fair amount of work this morning before we had to leave for the furneral/funeral, but I am definitely not satisfied with the way things are going. There is so much to be done around here that I don't know where to begin. I've got to make a much better Suspense file than I have and quite a few more reference cards. Then too I haven't yet begun to work on a decent policy file which should be on the program somewhere along the line.
O yes, on the way back from the cemetery we saw two wrecks. At one spot a Personnel Carrier ran right into the stone wall of a culvert and half knocked it in. That explains to me how come so many of those walls are broken down all along the road, other fellows might have done the same thing. Then, rather near Paniqui, we saw a big truck and trailer in the ditch - at a peculiar angle - the truck was in a position as if was coming out of the ditch at right angles to the road which shows he must have been going at a pretty good clip to have swung around like that. We did our share of speeding and on the concrete roads I think we went as fast as I've ever gone in an army vehicle yet I felt perfectly safe. Army convoys are about the safest kind of vehicular transportation there is.