The Voyage to Japan

June 1951: The Voyage to Japan

Miss Rosalie Nash

610 Ardson

East Lansing, Mich.

June 5, 1951

Camp Stoneman

1740 Hours

Hi Darling

                How’s the most wonderful girl in the world these days?  I hope that you made out OK on your test Monday and on the rest of your finals.

                We arrived in SF about half an hour late as it was almost 700 when we got there.  We went sightseeing most of the day.  We got out to Camp around 800 that night.  After we got checked in, (which took til about 900). We got all of our equipment, packs, helmets etc, everything except our rifles.  We get those just about an hour or so before we ship out.  We haven’t been alerted yet, but it will probably come any day now.  They alert you one day and ship you out the next.  There is a lot of vicious rumors to the effect that we get it Thurs and leave Friday.  There are two ships leaving then, altho a ship leaves almost every day.

                I ain’t seen Gus since yesterday when we got to camp.

                Just got back from a formation. Seen old Gus for the first time.  He’s coming over in a little while to visit.  We shared a double seat from Willow Run to S.F.

                It’s been cold here lately, way down around 45 degrees and that’s cold, considering we came here with just our khaki uniforms and no jackets.  It warmed up a little today but it’s still chilly.

                My furlough really made me fat.  I weighed myself just before we left. 201 pounds! I feel like a fat man.  If I don’t lose weight fast I’ll develop an inferiority complex.  You kept me out too late and consequently I slept too long so I gained weight.  You’re a bad influence but I still love you.

                They took our “Ike” jackets away from us today, and also our low shoes and rain coats.  We’ll be wearing boots from now until our discharge.

                Well honey, I’m afraid I’m going to have to close now I will write again tomorrow. 

                Take care of yourself and Good luck on the finals.

                                Love you always


PS. Don’t write to the address on the envelope as I probably wouldn’t receive your letter for a month or so.

                                Love again






Miss Rosalie Nash

610 Ardson

East Lansing, Mich.

6 June, 1951

Camp Stoneman

Dearest Rosalie,

                How’s everything up in EL?  I really hope that you “aced” that test that you had Monday.  By the time you get this you should be in the middle of your finals.  I wish you all the luck in the world on them.

                Me and Gus are in the service club writing letters along with John.  Me and John is in the same barracks and Gus is 4 away from us.  Did we ever have a rough day today.  We spent from 10:30 on in the PX fooling around.  So far all we’ve done is one hour of PT and that’s all.

                Rumor has it we are leaving a week from today.  If we do we will probably be restricted over the weekend, which would really be a blow, for I was planning on going to S.F.  The only thing wrong with this camp is that we get up at 0500 and then don’t do anything.

                It was real nice down here today but nothing compared to A2.  It could be that something is lacking from the atmosphere, something like a certain MSC coed.  I really miss you more than ever now.  Do you still babysit on Sat Night?  Any how I’m going to try to call you up Sat night as it will probably be the last chance we get for a while.  Also I’m going to call you up some time from overseas.  There isn’t much more to write except that I’m in love with you and can’t wait to get home again.  It won’t be too long til we do get home.  If we happen to go to Korea, we would be home around Xmas as you only stay over there 6 months.  So it won’t be too bad if we do go there, but of course it is a little more dangerous over there.

                Gotta sign off

                                Sweet dreams Sweetheart

                                                All my love honey


P.S. I love you.

P.S. Also you can write to this address




Miss Rosalie Nash

610 Ardson

East Lansing, Mich.


Joan E. Folsom

113 Couzens Hall

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Mon. PM (June 8, 1951)

Dear Rosalie,

                (Is it spelled right?) Please pardon the pencil and the terrible writing. No 1, I am lying in bed while doing this and No 2 I can’t find my pen so this pencil must do for now.

                After all those excuses I had better begin the letter.  Gosh, you looked so cute in church yesterday but you looked a little sad too.  No need to say why.  I had to bite my lips to keep from flooding the church.  I didn’t get to talk to you so thought I’d let you in on the scoop.  Gus and I have decided.  We would have been engaged before he left but our better judgment won out so – we are just going to wait.  However, he wants me to date while he’s away and I will but not too often I’m sure.  The way things stand now we will become engaged the very next time he’s home, be it two weeks from now or two years.  His folks have been so swell – they’ve asked me to visit them often.  Went to the airport with them you know.  Believe me it was a very traumatic experience.  I just couldn’t let go of him.  I didn’t really start crying ‘til that plane left the ground.  If you’ll pardon the expression “it was H___” but still it was worth it.  Got a kiss from Kennie, too.  You betcha they’re both wonderful boys and God willing, someday they’ll be safe and sound right back here.  Then we can really plan.  At least we’ve got something to work for now.  Oh yes, if things still stand as they do now I want you for a bridesmaid.  You would do me the honor wouldn’t you?  I have no relatives who could stand up and it seems to me that of all the girls I know you are the one I would really love to have (Sounds sort of mushy doesn’t it but I do mean it.) I do so hope we can get together this summer.

                This has been a most blue day.  Finals are coming up but I can’t study.  I’m all at ends.  Perhaps writing this will help.

                Gosh, it is four p.m. I must accomplish something today.  Please drop me a line when you have time.  From one Army Widow to another:  Keep your chin up.  Be seeing ya.





Miss Rosalie Nash

610 Ardson Rd.

East Lansing, Michigan

June 10, 1951

Camp Stoneman

Hi Sweetheart

                It was really swell to hear your voice again last night.  You couldn’t imagine how much it meant to me to hear your voice once more.  Our operator was too overly efficient, as she goofed up royally.

                I originally placed the call person to person, and that went thru ok then when I paid for it she charged me station to station and over charged me $1.50.  Before I talked to you she said I could talk for 11 minutes, anyhow she mis-figured and I had 3.00 left over plus my 1.50 in the telephone so I had her connect up again.  She had it so confused that the supervisor had to straighten it out for her.  Any how it took about 10 minutes after I quit talking, I got thru to you right off the bat.

                Had quite a time in S.F. last night.  We got back to camp about 2 hours AWOL.  Only we were real lucky as the MP at the gate didn’t stop the taxi we were riding in.  Then too we had to cheat a little but when we signed in as we had to be signed in by 0200 and it was getting close to 0400 when we signed in.  We could have been put on KP for a week if we would have gotten caught, but we didn’t get caught and anything that you don’t get caught at is perfectly o.k.

                Gus got his orders this morning too.  He is in the same platoon as I am, so we should be pretty close when we leave this place.  This place really doesn’t look like an army camp as there is grass and flowers all around.  It is really a change from Camp Polk.

                There is a lot of rumors floating around camp that we’re leaving Tues but we’re not sure.  There’s one ship in the Harbor that has to go before we leave, I guess it’s the Breckenridge, anyhow that will probably go tomorrow and we can go any time after that.

                The sooner we leave here the better everyone will like it.  The camp is awful chicken.  In fact all the guys here say it is more chicken than their boot camp and we have them here from almost every camp.

                It’s hotter than heck out today and even a little hotter.  We’ve got an outdoor pool here but it doesn’t open until Fri so we can’t cool off by going swimming.  It is really a nice pool, but we won’t get a chance to use it.

                Well honey that’s about all I can think of so I’ll have to close.

                Love you always




Mr. and Mrs. Otto Zill

1713 Maryfield  Dr.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

10 June 1951

Camp Stoneman

Dear Mom and Dad

                It came thru officially today, we’re leaving on or about the 14th of June.  Me and Gus and Erwin are all leaving together on the USS Marine Adder.  From what I hear it’s a real nice ship, but we won’t know for sure until we get on board of it.

                There’s not much going on this afternoon except that everyone is keeping out of the barracks.  They are always looking for details of some kind and they always take all of the guys who are sitting around the barracks.

                It’s really getting hot down here now.  It must be around 100 degrees here.  We’re about 40 miles from S.F. and if you go there you’ve got to take an overcoat.  Now the days are hot and the nights are cold.

                All we’re going to do from now on is about nothing except standing in line and waiting.  The army teaches you how to be patient if it doesn’t teach you anything else.  Gus and I are in the Service Club now writing letters.  We’re only going to be about 10 bunks apart when we go on ship.

                By the way, can you get me Earl’s and Rollo’s addresses sometime as I forgot to bring them?  Also I called Rosalie up last for a few minutes.  We’ve decided we’re going to get married in ’53 or ’54, maybe.

                That’s all the news for now

                Your loving son




Miss Rosalie Nash

R. #3

Box 248

Howell, Michigan

Sunday, June 10, 1951

Service Club

Camp Stoneman, California

Psalm 46:1

Dearest Rosalie:

                Well by now Stretch (Ken) has advised you of our saddened arrival here at Camp Stoneman.  It was of course very hard to leave good old A2 – Lansing and Couzens Hall, and especially two wonderful gals we have left behind, but I am very happy to know that you (over dear) will be waiting for me when I return.  Seriously speaking – or as I should say writing- we do miss you two and all the wonderful times we had together.  I’ll collect that kiss when we return.  Ken did pull a fast one on me.  I shake hands with Rev. Bauer and he’s kissing Jo.  I wish you could have seen him there.  Remember us in your prayers always.  As we shall never forget the happiness that you and Jo have given us. We’ll be back next May.

XXXXX Lots of Love and Kisses


P.S. I’ll write again soon.

Post Script – Love Gus



Miss Rosalie Nash

R.#3 Box 248

Howell, Michigan



10 June 1951

Camp Stoneman

2000 Hours

Dearest Rosalie

                Hi again Honey, got the evening off so I’m going to write another letter.  Gus and I is at the Service Club again.  We spent part of the afternoon packing our gear to get ready to move out. We’ll probably load on the boat Wednesday morning.

                By the way Honey, have you got any small pictures of you like that big one you gave me?  If by chance you happen to have one, do you think you could send one to a poor soldier who is madly in love with the girl on the picture?  The reason why I want one is that we were advised not to take any like that overseas with us, so I’ve got to send this one home.  Then if we get stationed in Japan I can get it sent back.  I was going to put it in my duffle bag, but we were told that about ½ of the time you don’t get your duffle bag back, that you just get another issue of clothes instead, and I would really hate to lose that picture.  But don’t go to any trouble if you don’t have one.

                You know, I’m messing you up something terrible.  (I’ve got my latest address on the envelope.  I guess that’s just for the boat ride.) You may get me in trouble one of these days, because I don’t pay too much attention to what I’m doing all my time is spent thinking about you.  If I get into trouble on account of you I’ll let you know.  I guess you affect me something awful cause I can’t concentrate on anything but you.

                It’s near bed time so I’ll close.  Sweet dreams Honey





June 11, 1951

Camp Stoneman



­­­My Dearest Rosalie

How’s the sweetest girl in the world today? By now you should be thru with your finals and ready to get to work on your sister’s wedding.  Wish I was there to kiss her but Uncle Sam says no.  Anyhow wish her all the luck in the world.

It’s getting close to the time for us to leave the good old U.S.  It’s going to be kinda hard to leave but it’s got to be, I guess.  We may be able to get a picture of the USS Maine Adder, if I can, I’ll send you one.  We heard all kinds of stories about it, some say it’s a nice ship, some say it’s a converted oil tanker, all kinds of things, but we’ll know for sure by Thursday.

                I walked over to the mailroom today to see if your letter had come yet, but no luck, maybe it’ll be there tomorrow, I hope!  I’m getting anxious as heck to get it, it will really be swell to hear from you again.

                I hope you’ll excuse the appearance of this letter, but I’m laying in bed, and writing on a newspaper.

                I gotta close now as I suppose I should polish my boots and shave.  I’ll write you longer letters from the boat, then we just sit around all day. Now we gotta stay out of the barracks and spend most of the time in PX

                Well good night Sweetheart

                                All my love


P.S. this is supposed to by my permanent address so you can write to this address Honey.



Miss Rosalie Nash

RFD #3

Howell, Michigan

12 June 1951

Camp Stoneman

20:30 Hours

My Darling Rosalie

                Just got thru standing at attention for two hours listening to some cuss words sergeant read over a couple thousand names that didn’t mean a thing to anyone in particular.  It really griped me to no end.  Last night in the States and we gotta listen to some bloody roll call, and was it hot.  (If you were a boy I’d tell you just how hot it was.)

                I still didn’t get your letter, but I hope that it comes tomorrow morning.  Mail call starts at 10 and we sail at 11:00 so I’ll just have time to run over there and see if your letter acme.  If I don’t get it tomorrow I’ll go crazy waiting for it.

                Yesterday I forgot to tell you that I still love you so I’ll tell you now, I love you.  I’m not too good at writing but I really mean from the bottom of my heart.

                Well tomorrow about 2000 of us will leave these shores for a while.  We got to Pittsburg on turcks, then to San Francisco by boat, then load onto our “luxury” liner.  Then it takes about 2 weeks for us to arrive in Hokkaido.  We’re supposed to land at Sappo.  Then we hope to rejoin the 45th division.  But we’ll have to wait and see.

                Just got thru calling my mother, she was kinda glad to hear from me.  I wished that I could’ve called you but it couldn’t be arranged as I’m waiting for pay day to roll around.  That is the only thing that I like to stand in line for.  Pay.  It’s wonderful stuff.

                Well I’ve gotta close sweetheart, remember me in your prayers and always remember that I love you.

                The next letter you get will be mailed from sea.

                Goodbye from the States

                                I love you honey




Miss Rosalie Nash

610 Ardson

East Lansing, Mich

June 14

11:00 pm

Dear Rosalie,

                Exams are over at last and I am home!  Seemed as though those darn things never would end.  I took my last one yesterday morning and caught the bus home as fast as I could.  Soon Sunday will be here and I’ll be winging my way to Hollywood.  It hardly seems possible that the time is here already.

                Today was the day on which our boys left San Francisco to go to Japan (I hope and pray it’s Japan and not Korea).  I received a call from Gus on Wednesday morning at 1:40 am.  He had called once before from California – what a thrill that is – talking to him across all those miles.  Did Stretch call you?  And no doubt you have heard all about their destination and date of departure etc. Gosh you know, it must really be rough on them leaving the U.S. besides leaving all their loved ones, their homes and all that is dear to them.    I don’t imagine we can ever know their thoughts and emotions at the time they see the San Francisco shoreline fade from view.  Guess that’s all the more reason why we should do all we can to keep up that funny old thing called moral.

                Your letter was wonderful, Rosalie.  And I thank you kindly for the invitation concerning the wedding.  That really made me happy, no kidding.  It’s a funny thing this life isn’t it.

                I haven’t got your letter here with me so I may not be answering all the questions etc. you asked about I’m doing my best to remember all I can.  Also your Pinckney address is back at Couznes in my desk drawer so will send to Lansing and no doubt they will forward it.  In case you have a chance to drop me a line within the next four weeks my address will be:

1954 Cheremoa Ave

Hollywood 28 Calif.

In care of  Miss Elizabeth Folsom

Will you be in A2 for sure during the summer?  Gosh, I hope so.  There’s just oodles of things we could do together.

                There’s one thing in particular I remember about your letter. You wanted to know all about the night at the airport.  It was so wonderful – lots of kids from the League came out to see them off.  The minister and his wife were there and oh I can’t remember all the others.  When we first arrived we sort of all stood around.  Then we saw Ken and his family. He sure looked sad and I know he was wishing with all his heart that you could have been there.  Everyone had a last cup of coffee with them, pictures were taken and then it was time for goodbyes.  The boys said goodbye first to those outside the family circle, naturally.  And I thought the minister would never stop talking to them. Kennie kissed Mrs. Hein and a couple of others, then he gave Vickie a little peck on the cheek – that was so cure, Rosalie.  Little tiny Vickie and big Stretch leaning down to kiss her.  Then he came over to me and gave me the sweetest kiss and sort of held on for just a little while.  I think he was maybe pretending if you know what I mean.  I started crying then.  All I could think of was back in Lansing and Ken there thinking of and wishing for you.  I stayed with Gus until the very last minute then ran to the observation deck.  Then I started in crying again and the minister’s wife came over and started talking to me – probably much like she did to you – and that made it all the worse.  Finally the boys came through gate and walked out to the plane.  Then my heart fell like a piece of lead.  I couldn’t even cry or do anything - I just sort of stood there limp and feeling like I had nothing whatsoever to live for.  After they boarded the plane it was ages (or seemed like ages) before they actually took off.  What a feeling.  It’s impossible to describe.  Tears just sort of rolled out one by one til the plane was out of sight and Mrs. Hein took hand.  That’s the story – I’ll never forget it. Every detail is as clear in my mind as it if happened just today.

                I really must stop now and I have an excellent excuse.  I want to write a letter to Ken before I hit the hay.  So loads of love and good wishes.  Am looking forward to A2 when we can have good times and really do some talking.






Miss Rosalie Nash

RFD #3

Howell, Michigan

15 June 1951

Somewhere at sea

730 our time

530 Calif time

330 our time

My dearest Darling Rosalie

                Sorry I didn’t write yesterday but I had what you’d call sea sickness.  I was really a gone kid, no fooling.

                I got your letters yesterday, and I was the happiest kid in the world when I got them.  I went to mail call at 10 and I didn’t have any mail and I was really heartbroken because I figured we’d would have to wait until we got to Japan before we got our mail.  Anyhow we went on trucks to Pittsburg, then we loaded on the ferry to go to S.F., just after we walked up the gang plank some lieutenant was standing there with an arm full of mail.  He asked if I was Zill, I said yes sir and he handed me 8 letters, 3 from you, rest from Mom and Ed.  They had our live numbers wrote on the envelope.  Everyone has a different number and mine is 224.  They go up to about 2000 or higher.

                It took just over 40 minutes to read.  It lifted my morale sky high to hear from you.  You can’t imagine what it means to a soldier to know he has someone at home waiting for him who loves him, and this isn’t a one-sided love honey, because I love you more than anything else on earth.

                I hope you excuse the penmanship but it is kinda hard to write.  We’ve got a room here about 25 x 30 with 72 guys plus all our equipment.  We’ve got about 2 feet to sit up in and there is 4 high.  I sleep on the top one.  We have inspection here every morning at 10.   We get to go on deck all we want to but it is pretty cold out there.  There is quite a few guys seasick here.  In fact about 50 % of the guys were sick.  The decks are all pretty slippery because a lot of guys didn’t get to the railing in time.  Also there are pails about every 20 feet in case you can’t make it to the john.  What’s really bad is the dry heaves, that’s when you gotta heave and can’t, I had those all yesterday morning but I finally cured them by sticking my finger down my throat.  Do that once or twice and you heave.  It makes you feel a lot better.  As they say in the navy, you have 6 meals a day, three down and 3 up.  When you go to bed at night you hang your steel helmet on the bed next to you just in case.  Trying to sleep in these things is just like trying to sleep on a rolly coaster rocking sideways at the same time.  To make it short, it’s no fun.

                When we go on our honeymoon a boat trip is definitely out.  When I get back on terra firma I’m going to stay there, come hell or high water.  Just got thru with chow, anyhow that’s what they call it, I’ve got other names for I, but I’d better not mention them here for modesty’s sakes.

                Some lieutenant said today that all the 45th boys are going to rejoin the division and the other half of the boat (the boat was ½ full when we got on, it came from Washington) are going to Korea.

We’re supposed to dock at Yokahoma and switch to another ship to go to Sappo.  The division is supposed to come home in May, and from what I hear we’ll come home with the, and I hope that we do.

                You may not get this letter for a while as I don’t know how soon it will get mailed.

Well honey, it’s getting late so I’ll close for a while. You know honey you’ve got a lot of nice dreams, hold on to them because some day by the grace of God they are going to come true  I love you too much to see you disappointed in the least so I’m going to try to give you everything you want.  I got to close now and hit the hay.

                So goodnight darling

                I love you



Well honey, we’re still out at sea somewhere, where, I don’ t know.  We are about 1200 miles out I guess.  I never knew that there was so much water, but there’s a lot of it.  Just got through playing black jack with John, won about $1.50.  We play mostly just to kill the time as there is nothing else to do.  Too bad you’re not here, I really miss you honey, I think I enjoyed my 20 home more than I did the rest of my life, mainly because I was with you lot of the time.  I know that I love you more this month than last month because there are fewer days to love you this month and consequently I gotta love you more each day to make up for it.  I’d like to write more sweetheart but this bloody boat is rocking so much I can’t hardly write.

                I hope you understand.  It won’t be long before this bloody war is over, then we can spend the rest of our lives together and you can have 50 curly red haired girls if you want.  There are rumors we’ll dock tomorrow for fuel, if we do I’ll mail this.

                Goodbye for now darling

                Remember my love goes with you where ever you go.




Mr. and Mrs. Otto Zill

In Care of Rev. Marcus Zill

Kinnear, Wyoming

15 June  1951

Somewhere at Sea

Dear Mom and Dad

                Got two of your letters Wednesday when we got on the boat.  I’m writing this from about 700 miles out at sea.  I’ve been pretty sea sick until now but I feel ok now.  So far just about everyone has heaved at least once.  As they say in the navy you have 6 meals a day, three up and three down. I couldn’t hold any food until this noon and we got on at midnight two nights ago, so it was my first meal in 5 that I was able to hold.  It may be quite a while before you get this letter, because we’re supposed to run nonstop to Yokahoma.  Some lieutenant told us we’d rejoin the 45th.  If we do they are scheduled to come home in May and we’ll come with them.  I hope you’ll excuse the penmanship as trying to  write on this boat is like trying to write on a rolly coaster, it isn’t too easy.

                I’m going to write this letter on the installment plan.  Write a little for two or three days then stick it in the envelope so you’ll get longer letters.  They’ll all probably get there at the same time so it wouldn’t make any difference.  You may even be home by the time you get this.  The ocean is fairly calm now, but I was pretty rough yesterday.                There are 72 of us in a room about 25 x 30 we got 4 decker beds, and we’ve got about 2 feet  between decks so we don’t have too much room.  We get to go on deck all we want, but we don’t have anything at all to do.  Just found out we may get a chance to mail this tomorrow so I’ll put it in an envelope and try to mail it.





Miss Rosalie Nash

RFD #3

Howell, Michigan

June 17, 1951

USNS Marine Adder

1400 Hours

My dearest Darlin’

                Well we’re still out in the middle of nowhere.  We are getting close to the Aleutian Islands tho as we are supposed to be able to see them Tuesday if it is clear.  Today it is foggy as heck, you can only see about 200 yards out in any direction and usually you can see about 30 miles.

                I ain’t going to be much good to the army when I get to Hokkaido, cuz all I do is think about you  and a good soldier has his mind on what he’s doing, so I ain’t a good soldier – any of the time.  But I don’t give a darn as I’d rather think about you because I love you so much.

                We slept in to 5:15 this morning.  I never thought I’d see the day that I’d get up at 5:00 on a Sunday, but it came.

                By now your sister ought to be married and on their honeymoon.  I wish that it was us tho, but that’s going to have wait.

                 So far we’ve seen only one other ship out here.  We saw it yesterday about 15 miles off the port side.  Also we saw a boat of Korean vets in Frisco bay when we left, they looked pretty happy too.  I can’t wait for the day we are going that way instead of this way.  Also we passed our mothball fleet there.  There was about 200 or more ships there just sitting there.  There was about 20 rows of 10 or 12 each.

                I just found my ink so I’ll finish this with my pen.  It’s getting cold out here on deck so I’ll close and write more tomorrow.  There’s nothing more to write except that I love you.



Hi Honey

                Just got back from chow, or I guess that is what it was.  We had a little free time for all this morning.  All we did was hit the nearest guy as hard as we could on the arm.  There was about 10 of us and after about 2 hours our arms started getting sore, so we quit.  It was a lot of fun while it lasted, but it was a little rough.

                Lying in my bed now trying to write this.  The sea is getting rougher all the time.  We were supposed to hit a storm last night but somehow we missed it.  Somehow this boat does funny things to you.   You don’t do anything all day and are always so darned tired.  Maybe I’m just getting lazy, could be.

                I wish that I was home to see your hair now that you’ve cut it.  I bet you look just as cute with it short as with it long.  I kinda miss running my fingers thru it and messing it up for you, somehow I always love to do that, maybe it’s just because I love you so much I guess.

                Finally found a place to write from, the kitchen.  They have a good way of cleaning it in the navy, they just take hoses and give everything a good hosing down.  That’s the way I’m going to build our house, so we can clean it with a hose, then we’ll have more time for necking.

                If I never see one of these darn boats again, it’s too soon.  If you ever mention boats around me I’m going to kick you in the lower back.  We’ve been on this tub for 5 days now and are exactly 1/3 of the way there.  We’ve gone just over 1700 miles and it’s about 5000 the way we are going.  I’m glad I joined the army instead of the navy.  When I get out of here I’m not even going to join the R.O.T.C.  I’m going to be a conscientious objector or something.  If they even want me back in the army, they’re going to have to drag me back with wild horses or something.  But enough about this great army of ours.

                By the way, thank you for the lovely birthday card or maybe it wasn’t from you.  I was thinking I got one from you, I got one from Ed and Helen and I thought I had one from you too but thanks just in case.

                My knuckles are all swollen and back and blue from this morning.  I guess that we’ll never learn as we’re going to do the same thing tomorrow again, but boys will be boys.

                Actually I ain’t got too much to write about, because we do the same thing every day, nothing.

                Gus and I have made up our minds that we are going to grow mustaches, mainly because they look like heck.  Also too if we grow them, it means that much less shaving every morning.  I know you like them so I’ll grow a big one, one of those handle bar type.  They look about as bad as any I guess.  Also when I get home I ain’t going to shave for at least a year.  Except for the fact that I’m not home I’m completely happy because I’m in love with the most wonderful girl in the world.  It doesn’t seem like I haven’t seen you for two weeks, it seems like just yesterday I was with you.  I’m starting to get sleepy so I think I’ll turn in. 

                Oh, me and Gus went to chapel last night and it turned out to be a revival meeting.  It was the first one that I’ve ever seen.  I’ve heard about them before, but had never seen one, so now I’ve seen one.

                Goodnight darling, keep on praying and everything will be ok and always remember that I love you very much.

                                All my love,




Wed 20 June

Hi Darling

                This is the last time I’ll write before the day after tomorrow as tomorrow isn’t tomorrow as we’ve just crossed the international date line and tomorrow is Friday.  Only trouble with that is we’ll hit the same day twice coming home.  That’s about all everyone is talking about, coming home already.

                We really had a dilly of a storm yesterday, this old tub was really rocking and rolling.  We couldn’t go on deck all day and usually we’ll be fooling around on deck, so we slept all day.  It was kinda hard sleeping with your bunk bouncing up and down.

                We’re just a little over half way done with our trip now, as we’ve gone about 2500 miles.  When you stop to think about it we’re going to be a long way from home, almost a 1/3 of the way around the world about 7500 miles from good old A2 and that’s a heck of a long way.

                Me and Gus were just talking about what we’d be doing if we was in A2 tonight.  I’d probably be playing softball.  We would probably be trouncing some hapless team, but without me they are probably just barely winning.  Not that I was the whole team, just most of it.  Seriously tho, I really wish that I was back home again as I really like to play, but it will have to wait until the summer of ’53, but then something else that is kinda important will probably interfere, so maybe by ’54 I’ll get down to playing, again, but by that time I’ll be an old man, 24 years old, way past the prime of youth, so I’ll probably be no good anymore.

                Gus and I were thinking about going to Tokyo when we was in Japan, but it is quite a ways from Hokkaido, so I don’t know.  I ain’t planning on spending any more money than I have too, so we probably wouldn’t get around much. 

                This trip is giving us a lot of time to think, and about 99% of the time I’m thinking about you and the more I think about you the more I love you.  I’m getting homesick for you already and it’s only been two weeks, so when I do come home I’ll probably squeeze you so hard I’ll break half a dozen of your ribs.

                But we’ll have to wait a little while to find out.  Getting a little sleepy as I’ve been up for almost 3 hours now and it’s time to retire so I’ll bring this chapter to a screeching halt (as they would say in the arm) but phooey on the army, it’s you I love not the army

                                Anyway I’m sending you

                                All my love

                                                Ken XXXXX


My dearest Rosalie,

                Just woke up from taking a little nap as I worked kinda hard this morning.  I spent all morning reading a pocket book.  To be absolutely truthful I have done any work at all since I got on the boat.  The hardest thing we do is to brush our teeth.  It’s gets awful tiresome tho, just sitting around doing nothing, but the time is going fast.

                By now you should be living by yourself in A2.  How do you like it?  I think that it would be a lot of fun, altho there is probably more work involved in it.  It’ll do you good to live by yourself. I’ve got a room here all by myself almost, I’m just sharing it with 71 other guys.

                We still haven’t seen land or anything but water for exactly one week now.  I’m getting kinda tired of seeing water but there ain’t too much I can do about it.  We will dock Tuesday afternoon if nothing extraordinary happens, otherwise we’ll land Wednesday morning sometime.  I’m getting anxious to set foot on dry land again.      

                We were talking to a sergeant who just came back from where the 180th is and he said that they were living tents.  They are in the process now of building brick barracks.

                Took a break and miss laid my pen, oh well I’d rather write with pencil as it is easier to erase.

                There’s a little storm kicking up and this tub is starting to rock and little now.  This boat bounces around like a cork in a washing machine. (I really shouldn’t call this tub anything but a ship as the sailors on it are pretty particular what we call it.  They feel insulted if we call it a tub or boat, to them it’s a ship and a ship only.  Also there are no johns on board they are all heads.)

                No letter would be complete without discussing the weather, its lousy, foggy as heck, enough about the weather.

                Golly honey I really miss you.  All I do is sit here and wish like heck I was home with you.  Someday I’m going to get out of the bloody army, then I’ll be with you for a long time and that’s something to look forward to.

                Well its bedtime so I’ll close now

                                Goodnight Darling



Hi Honey

                We’re getting near Japan now, in fact we’re only about 300 miles from the coast now. Around tomorrow we’ll be able to see Japan, then we swing north and go to Hokkaido, right now we’re coming toward Yokahoma, then we go about 600 miles north.

                Today we saw about 15 Japanese fishing boats running around the area.  They are really little boats, I’d hate to go out on the ocean on one of them.  There were all about 3 or 4 miles away so we couldn’t see them too well.

                Tomorrow we are supposed to pick up an escort, 2 destroyers and one battleship.  After going this far I don’t see why we need one now.  Some lieutenant was telling us that the ships radar had picked up three unidentified subs, but nothing has happened yet, so I doubt if it will.

                We also saw a bunch of tuna fish today.  They were jumping up out of the water about 4 feet in to the air, so we got a real good look at them, we must have seen about a thousand of them. They really looked beautiful against the blue water, I guess that is what the Japanese boats were looking for.

                Sometime Wed we land in Japan so my next letter will probably come to you from the “land of the rising sun.” l’ll probably like it so well that I’ll re-enlist and stay there 30 years or so, but then again I may not like it so well and come home when I’m supposed to, so I’ll guess I’ll do the latter and not the former.

                Our lieutenant gave us a little talking to today.  He said that company stuff had been disappearing when we take it where other companies have similar stuff.  He told us that after this we had to come back with what we took something jus as good, something better or something that we didn’t take.

                Today was the first real bright day we’ve had so far, so me and Gustave took some pictures.  Included in these is a picture of scenery we’ve been privileged to view. (Lucky us.)

                I’m going to have to close this as I have to write my mother.  If I get time I’ll write tomorrow.  I hope you understand about me not writing as we didn’t have a chance to mail this anywhere, anyhow you know I still love you as much as ever,  which is really a lot, I’m  beginning to count the days already til I get home to you again.

                                Goodbye for now

                                                Sweet dreams

                                                                I love you




Miss Rosalie Nash

RFD #3

Howell, Michigan

28 June ‘51

Camp Crawford

Hokkaido, Japan

21 45 Hours

My dearest Rosalie

                Today we set foot on terra firma for the first time in two weeks and it was really good to do it.  We docked at Otaru at about 9 o’clock this morning and we disembarked at about 1030.  There was a band playing and even Gen. Stryon was on hand to greet us.  We walked down the gang plank into some building right on thru it and onto a train.  We spent about 1 minute before we got on the train.  The Japs have real small cars and the seats are wood and awful darn uncomfortable.  The backs are straight up and down.  They look something like this (he drew a picture with stick figures).  Two seats to a back rest. We were on the train for about 1 and one half hours and we arrived at Crawford.  We then walked about a mile to a field where we were assigned barracks then we went to chow.  (Fried chicken no less) then we have to exchange our money for military script as we aren’t supposed to have any money.  Then came the best thing of all, we got our mail and guess what.  I got 8 letters from a wonderful girl named Rosalie Nash.   I’m going to answer her letters as soon as I finish writing you as she is something extra special to me and I’m deeply in love with her.  I really miss her and can’t wait until I get home again to see her because she’s my girl and I’m her guy.  I hope you understand because I’m really serious about her and someday we’re going to get married.

                Then we got the rest of the day off from about 6 on so we went to the PX and loaded up on candy and ice cream.  I ate so much I thought I was going to burst open but I didn’t.

                We leave Camp Crawford tomorrow at 0930 to rejoin Co. “E” Right now they are out in the field on maneuvers.   They bivouac in any area for about 10 days then move to another area for ten days.  The object is to keep moving around as to get us familiar with the whole Island so in case it is attacked we know the ground we are fighting on.  There are Russian troops within sight of the island, and on a clear day you can them on a small island from the Northern tip of Hokkaido.  I didn’t know exactly where our company “E” is but will find out tomorrow.

                It’s hard to believe we are in Japan, it seems like a dream, I always feel as I’m going to wake up at any time and find myself home.  But I guess it’s no dream, but I wish I was.

                I don’t think too much of this country.  Its awful poor and all of the houses are broken down wrecks that would even put the poorest family in the south to shame.  And I’ve never seen so darn many bugs.  The place is just crawling with them, they are everywhere.  This barracks is full of them, and they get all over you.  Oh it’s a great life if you don’t weaken.

                Tomorrow we start living in tents until September.  There are nine men to a tent so it won’t be to bad.  I’m afraid me and Gus is going to get separated now as he is supposed to return to “A” company.  Next to “E” that is the best company in the 180th regt. And of course the 180th is the best in the army.  That’s what they tell us anyhow.

                Well honey I’m going to have to bring this letter to a halt, altho I’ll keep right on thinking about you as always.  That’s about all I do is think about you.  By the way I’m glad you got my picture, I hope you liked it my mom wrote and said she wasn’t going to have it colored, maybe we can get it colored later on.  Good night sweetheart, I’ve got to write your future parents in law

                                All my love


PS.  If my letters from the boat didn’t make sense I’m sorry.  I was a little sea sick most of the time so if they were a little mixed up I’m sorry.


PS Post Script I’m sending you a nickel in our money although you can’t spend it.


I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you


Mr. and Mrs. Otto Zill

1713 Maryfield Dr.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

28th June 1951

Camp Crawford

Hokkaido, Japan




Dear Mom and Dad,

                We landed today at Otaru and came out to Camp Crawford on one of these Jap trains.  We’re going to stay here until tomorrow. Then go back to Com “E”.  We’re supposed to live in tents until about the first of September.

                We had to exchange all of our money for army script.  Everything is paper, nickels and all.  This isn’t a bad camp but we’ll only be here about a day.  Our train leaves about 9:00 tomorrow.  Where it’s going we don’t know.

                This is going to be a short letter as we don’t have so much time tonight.  I’ll write you a long letter tomorrow from the train or camp.  I’m enclosing a nickel in our money altho you can’t spend it.  The only coin we have is a penny, all the rest is paper.  I will write more tomorrow.





Miss Rosalie Nash

RFD #3

Howell, Michigan

30 June 51

Camp Strong

Chitose, Japan

1300 Hours


My dearest darling Rosalie

                Well we’re located now in our old company now.  I’m back in “E” 180th again and Gus in in “A”.  He’s about 2 blocks from where I am.  Haven’t seen him since yesterday about ½ the guys from the old company are back in it, the other half is split up all over the division.

                We’ve really got a beautiful camp here.  The scenery is real beautiful, everything is gravel, actually it is volcano ash and it is dustier than heck.  It is hotter than a firecracker most of the time.  This camp is built on a plain that runs all the way across Hokkaido from Sapporo to Otaru.  It is mountainous on both sides.  The plain is only about 5 miles wide.

                We’re living in tents about 12 men to a tent.  There’s no hot water at all, so we wash and shave with cold water.  You haven’t lived til you’ve done your washing in cold water using a steel helmet for a washtub.  The water is so cold the soap doesn’t even dissolve.  Oh it’s a great life.

                The camp was built by the Japs, it used to be an airport where they trained their suicide pilots.  I wouldn’t give them two cents for the whole darn island let alone this camp.

                They have a real unique system for taking showers around here.  All you have to do is trot over to the showers about a mile and a half away.  That is one the nicer features of this place.  We’re about 50 miles from the nearest town of any size.  There is a flock of villages all over the place.

                We were going to go to town and wire birthday congratulations to you but we are confined to camp for 2 weeks so I can’t.  Anyhow, Happy Birthday Darling and I hope I’m home to spend the next one with you.

                There are rumors floating around camp that congress passed a law that extends the draft to 24 months.  From what I’ve heard it is effective from Jan 18 ’51 on and we went in Jan 16, so I hope that it won’t affect me.  If it did I’d be in until Jan ’53.

                This division ends training in the middle of August then we may move on to other places if it is needed.  Gen Stryon said that Gen Van Fleck would like have our artillery and Gen Ridgeway said that the whole division would go across the pond as a unit if we went.   In the meantime we stay here.

                That’s about all the news so I’ll close for now.  By the way my permanent address is on the envelope now.  I hope that this is the final change but it may be changed again, there is a slim chance but it is uncertain now.

                If you think that you got kissed a lot at the reception, wait til I get home, you think the reception was just a warm up.  I’m going to collect on for every day I missed and I’ve got 27 coming now, then one for every day I’ve been in love with you so I’ll probably end up at about a thousand.

                So long for now sweetheart

                                Remember I’ll always love you




Mr. and Mrs. Otto Zill

1713 Maryfield

Ann Arbor, Michigan

30 June 51

Camp Strong

Chitose Japan

1700 Hours

Dear Mom and Dad

                Well we’re back in “E” Company again now and I guess that we’re going to stay here.  I’ll relate my experiences from the time we left A2.

                We got to Stoneman about 8:00 at night.  We spend all day in S.F., went to Chinatown, and saw the whole town.  There wasn’t too much to do there, as there isn’t any tall buildings or anything like that to see.  It’s altogether different from Detroit as it didn’t seem like Det.  At about 600 we took a bus to Pittsburg and went to camp. Then we went thru a short processing and got assigned barracks.

                All we did all day was to line up in formation and listen to some sergeant call off names all day.  We did that about every day.  Went to Frisco Sat night but didn’t think too much of Frisco at night, as the place was just crawling with sailors.  Got back to camp about 2 hours late but we got into it ok.

                Wed. we went to formation with all our gear and loaded on trucks to go to the docks.  We then took a ferry to S. F. and walked down the gang plank of the ferry across the dock and right on the Adder.  I was # 224 to board ship out of about 1500 guys.  We then took our gear below and came back, on deck to listening to a band playing.  We left SF about 12 o’clock that night.  Then we did absolutely nothing until we landed at Otaru.  When we landed we boarded a train for Camp Crawford.  When we got there we got a chicken dinner and also had the same for supper.  About 9 the next morning we had a brief talk from the general then took the train to Chitose where we are now.  Also we had another chicken dinner when we came here.

                We’re living in tents now and will til about the first of Sept.  We don’t have any running water or any of the modern conveniences.  The nearest shower is over a mile and a half away.  When we wash we use our steel helmets as wash basins.  Hot water is almost unknown.  The ground is all volcano ash and is awful dusty.  I guess that it will be ok tho.

                Time for bed



Dear Rosalie, Here's a picture of the ship we are sailing on June 13, 1951. Marine Adder
Taken from inside of ship looking out on the ocean.
Picture on ship. Gives you an idea of how crowded the ship was.
Ken on board ship. Ken is standing on the end on the left. Gus is squatting on the end on the right. That might be John next to Gus.
Okay, so this is a bit rude, but I think the fellow on the left is flipping the other boat off. Did they really do that then?
The first sight of land after two weeks on board.
Division HQ at Camp Crawford in Japan.
The Five Cent Military Script that Ken sent to Rosalie on 6/28/51

Copyright © 2013 Mary Elizabeth Zill VandenBerghe

Harold Smith (Smitty ) 04.08.2014 23:58


alicia Cook 20.07.2013 18:48

like a war movie, needed kleenex for this batch! The "good-byes", etc.....Pictures and letters so wonderful!

Janet Grieves 18.07.2013 03:20

I love reading this! It is getting so close to our children's wedding and it makes me think of how God had a plan for the two of them to get together!

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Latest comments

04.10 | 19:01

Of course, thank you for asking! Would love to see what you write if you can share when you are done.

04.10 | 18:39

I'm writing a book on Christmas in Wartime. Would it be ok to use a couple of comments in your dad's letters related to Christmas in the book? Many thanks!

09.07 | 22:16

If your related to Celia Gearhart Nash 1913-1988. Please contact me. I have a self-published book of poems written by her titled the View From My Window

05.09 | 07:05

I found this article really interesting and gonna share its link with my sister before taking