Walter’s War

Reenacting took center stage for me this past weekend, so I didn’t take the time to reflect on my father’s military service. Walter Albert Kelley Jr. (12 December 1924-6 October 2003) served in the Army Air Corps from April 1943 to May 1946, spending the last year of his enlistment near Calcutta, India. He did not see any combat duty but rather spent the first two years in Signal Corps training.

Walt Kelley at Camp Crowder in 1945

In his own words, “After basic training, I was promoted to corporal and the Army Air Corps shipped me to Camp Crowder, Missouri, for Signal Corps training. I went to several radio schools there. We used to get a pass once in a while and we would visit Neosho, Joplin, or Springfield, Missouri, or Pittsburg, Kansas.”

During his first visit to Camp Crowder, Dad sent a series of six postcards to his parents in Chicago, all postmarked 13 June 1943. I don’t know if my grandparents received all six postcards at the same time or if they were received piecemeal, which would have made reading them interesting as he wrote them in a continuous fashion. I have included the front and back of the six postcards below, with the text of the postcard transcribed below the respective postcard.

Camp Crowder, Missouri

“Dear Folks,
Hawaii, huh? Got the cookies (cheese) today. They sure taste swell. Thank you.

I got my watch fixed Saturday night and it fits and looks swell. That adjustable slide really works nice. I had one link removed and it is just right now. I bought a set of suntans [the Army summer uniform was nicknamed “suntans” because of its tan or beige color] Saturday because it is impossible to have…”

2] “a clean pair every Saturday with only 2 pair and such poor laundry service.

I sorry if you don’t like my letters because I don’t say anything. I’ve told you everything that I know about the A.S.T.P. [Army Specialized Training Program] which is nothing. Our life here is so routine that I don’t have something new to say every day. I thought that…”

3] “you wanted to here [sic] from me as much as I could write things. If you will think of all the questions you can and put them in one letter I’ll answer them all at once but you’ll have to wait long enough for the mail to get here and back to you.

I took some pictures today and it will take 10 days to get…”

4] “them printed and developed so I hope you will wait.

I’ve had an awful time trying to write the last few days. I wrote you a letter Sunday but I tore it up.

I’ve been trying to get to see the Co. [Company] commander to find out about my chances for A.S.T.P. but I haven’t been able to see him yet. I don’t know or have any idea where…”

5] “my training here will ever be used.

I’m sending a $10.00 money order home for you to put away for me until I need it. I’m going to try to send more every month. I wish…”

6] “Thanks for the cute card–Jane.

Dad would write and advise me what to do with any money I could save (war bonds, bank or what). It should be cashed so that it won’t become invalid. Well, I hope to write tomorrow. What is Florence’s [Walt’s sister] address so I can write her?

Love, Walt”

My father sent other series of postcards during his tenure in the Army Air Corps. I may share more at a later date. For now, I’d like to thank my father posthumously for his service in World War II. He gave me many strengths, one of which was a love of my country that led to my 20-year career in the Marine Corps. Thanks Dad!

© 2011, Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens, CG. All rights reserved.

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