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William Peterson

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William Peterson

  • Date of Birth: 3/11/1921
  • Date Deceased: 7/15/1995
  • Last Known Location: PA
  • Degree: Education - Industrial Arts
  • Date Enrolled NSTC: 9/1/1940
  • Date Left NSTC: 5/14/1943
  • Reason: Military Service
  • Date Returned to NSTC: 1/1/1946
  • Date Graduated from NSTC: 6/13/1947
  • Enlistment Date: 5/15/1943
  • Discharge Date: 12/29/1945


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William Peterson November 14 1943

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Peterson Sunday  14th
[USO Logo]Almost forgot  November

Dear Miss Thompson,

I dont suppose that theres any reason excuse for my telling you that I was waiting for the stationary to come back from the printer, but  anyhow, I am writing  all I hope is that you remember me.

It seems that tomorrow is the 15th of the month  hmmm  just 6 months since May 15! Remember May 15, 1943?  I shall forever  it was the day we boys sailed off from dear old N.S.T.C. Six months tomorrow since we started out careers in this great, enormous, noble group of militarized men called the U.S. Army! My word, how time flies!

I shant say any more about it  except that although I havent written, Ive often thought of you back there at Newark.

Manys the time Ive strolled through the rows of books here at the U.S.O. and at the Service Club in camp and wondered,  I wonder how the library at school feels without the boys I miss so many of those familiar faces  and oh, so many things there.

Believe it or not, I even miss those books. I used to get some great ideas from those magazines there  all technical books and craftsmen leaflets. All they have here ^are discarded books  things no one would read a second time  derelicts!

Guess I got off on a tangent! I know how you felt about the boys who didnt write  and now Im one of them  do forgive me! One of the lovelier damsels in school gave me the idea of writing you  she had given you my address, I believe, so now comes my life  entitled by the hand of fate, From Beast of the Boardwalk to Glider Maniac, or If he had to do it again, he wouldnt, or  of who cares.

Forgive me, Miss Thompson, I dont know whats gotten into me  I know I sound silly, but this town is dry  all 60,000 population and dozen churches. Havent had anything to drink except water  and that is terrible enough itself.

Nevertheless, Wichita Falls, a typical sleepy Texas town of about 60,000 is close to 5 miles from town, or should I say camp.

Sheppard Field, a military encampment of close to 100,000 at election time (forgive me, I thought I was in Jersey City again) anyhow, close to 100,000 men and hundreds of Mitchells and Marauders B-25 and B-20 bombers  and the frightening, coffin like gliders that I fly in, is as dry, dusty, and hot in the summer time as a face powder box in a boiler room. To date it has rained exactly, once since May 31, 1943. See what I mean by dry (dry in the alcoholic sense, too.)

Last week the wind hit over 40 mph and damaged a couple of our gliders! It was so dusty that we couldnt see across the camp  about 80. We have a few dozen gliders here  the 15 man invasion gliders used in Sicily  that type.

We arrived here on July 27  two days from Atlantic City  where we had 9 weeks of basic training. For 47 days we made our daily itinerary to and from Glider Maintenance School  thence graduation. I did fairly well here  was one of the three men in my class to be chosen for glider Specialist School  a 24 day course.

To date we are in our 38th day as specialists  while the regular graduate are all home on furlough. Arent we specialist lucky, though!

Our work consist of patching wooden surfaces, rebuilding broken wings, tails, etc., welding, dewing fabric, doping surfaces (a type of paint). They keep us busy. We just came in off the prairie where we got 2 days of jeep instruction.

For two days we chased jackrabbits all over creation  they were as big as police dogs  honest, Miss Thompson. One fellow wanted to catch one and put a saddle on it. We drove up every kind of a hill except a stonewall, ran thru mud, shallow lakes, ditches, rocks, sand  just everything. What a car that jeep is!!

Four men are in a glider crew - with the pilot. We learn to do each others job as well as our own -; we even learn to fly the glider - just in case the pilot shall we say gets shot to pieces or something. We have quite a bit to do - still have a lot to learn - such as  commando training which well get at our next base - then - who knows?

The biggest kick I get out of this is putting our ship together. We take it out of the crates - assemble it - then go up in it. If it holds together - we did a good job. If not - get 4 new men!

When well graduate from this specialist course I dont know. I only know that Im almost ready to leave here.

The food here is of the best quality, but the cooks must have come from a camouflage school. Boy, how they hide the taste of a dish - wow! The best thing they make here is good old fashioned stew. They cant change the taste of that.

The water here is almost indescribable. If you ask Mr. R., the chem. teacher, to dissolve some iodine, magnesium sulfate, [Illegible], sodium chloride, alum, and chlorine in water, you will have a concoction (cant spell it - a mixture) that taste like our drinking water. Besides that, they make the best cup of coffee that Ive ever tasted. I mean it, Miss Thompson, it is really good. So is the Army- but there are times! -!

If this gives you some idea of my work, Im happy. If you want to know anything else - dont be afraid to ask. I owe letters to Mr. Richmond, Chief DAngola, and Mrs. Denny - so if youll send them my best regards Ill be satisfied. Regards to Miss Lee, also.

Best wishes and good health to you, Miss Thompson.
Your old student and friend,
Bill Peterson
P.S. Will send picture for your book if you want.

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