HUNTS SOLDIERS WHO OWN MOUNTAIN
ON SOUTH SEA ISLAND
Tank Outfit Gets Enough 'Camping Out' For
Honolulu Advertiser ~ February 14, 1943
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
(United Press Special Correspondent)
A SOUTH PACIFIC BASE (Delayed) -- A selectee whose outfit has been stationed
on this island for some time wrote to his wife back in the States "Honey,
I can't hardly wait to get home again, and I've got it all planned out
just what we'll do the very first thing.
"We'll get a tent and a couple of cots and bed rolls and mosquito bars
and head nets. And we'll load 'em into the back of the car with kitchen
utensils and provisions, and we'll drive way back into the hills somewhere,
just you and me, and we'll camp out for a month.
"Like hell we will."
Traveled with Tanks
I know how that bird felt, as I have just returned from a couple of days
in the field with a tank outfit. Sure, I had plenty of fun; but then I
don't have to camp out for the duration, I hope.
It came about through a story I heard, of a tank outfit that had chipped
in and bought a mountain full of some kind of ore. It sounded like a good
story to me, so I hopped into "Bouncing Baby" and started out to get it.
Twenty-eight miles later I came to a side road marked by a sign I have
passed many times: "Little Old New York," with a picture of a hansom cab
Over 'Liquid Road'
It had rained hard the night before, and Bouncing Baby and I slid and skidded
over two miles of winding liquid road to the headquarters of Maj. J. F.
Hart. Major Hart hadn't bought a mountain. He hadn't even heard the story.
But h had enough bourbon left for a couple of highballs and he invited
me to come back the next day and go out with a tank company. So neither
Bouncing Baby nor I felt that our time had been wasted.
I was there the following noon in time for chow. Somehow I always seem
to arrive places in time for chow. Major Hart then wished me onto First
Lt. Benjamin M. Brothers of Rocky Mount, N.C., with whose company I was
to go out the following day.
We slithered back over the two miles of impossible road I had just covered,
and then over two miles of absolutely indescribable road to Lt. Brothers'
The only difference between the camp and the road lies in the fact that
the camp is wider and has shacks and tents on it. I was glad that I was
wearing high shoes and leggings.
They Want Girls
Brothers' camp is more or less typical of these South Sea island camps
where your menfolks are learning what a swell place America is. In a shack
occupied by four non-coms there is a radio and a phonograph connected with
loud speakers in the officers' quarters and the mess hall. They get the
short wave broadcasts from the States. A couple of times a week they have
an outdoor picture show and they have baseball. But they'd like some cuties
from Hollywood. They say "They send 'em to Iceland, they send 'em to Alaska,
they send 'em to North Africa. Why in hell can't they send 'em here?" That
is a $64 question that I couldn't answer.
Brothers took me out in his command tank for a little target practice.
We covered a different terrain where the roads were worse. But a tank rides
smoothly over rough roads.
A 'Burroughs Bull's-Eye'
When we got on the range, Brothers let me fire the gun. Sighted mountain.
Hit same. I equalled the world's record I made with a three-inch antiaircraft
gun on Oahu, when I hit the sky right in the center.
The next morning the sweet strains of a bugle aroused me at 4:45 a.m.,
sounding first call. And then commenced a day in which I got tired watching
other people work.
The morning was spent with Lt. Brothers in reconnaissance. After the
noon meal, the unit moved out. I can't tell you how many tanks as censors
are allergic to figures; but there were plenty. They made an imposing caravan
and a lot of noise.
Eventually the column moved into a wood where the work of camouflage
began, and in a few minutes I could see no sign of any vehicle except those
within a few yards of me. From the air, nothing could have been seen.
Next in order were the slit trenches. Each man had to dig his, and how
they loved it! By the time they were dug, I was practically exhausted.
Hot for Sleeping
Then cots were set up by those who had brought them. They are hot and uncomfortable,
and a mouthful of green mosquito netting every time you take a draw on
the cigaret helps not at all.
I can't recall all that we had for chow, but there was corn, string
beans, bread, coffee, and spam. My advice to Mr. Hormel is to invent something
new for when this war is over and the boys come home, whoever serves them
spam will be inviting murder. There's a limit to all things.
At 3:30 the next morning a sergeant awoke us --much too early -- and
at 4 a.m. we had breakfast. Slit trenches had to be filled up, bedding
and other camp gear packed and loaded, radios and motors warmed up. And
tonight and the morning after they will go through the same things all
All Necessary Work
It is all necessary -- all this work that millions of men all over the
world are doing day in and day out -- so that they may be better fitted
to destroy. If it could be intelligently geared to peaceful production
what a swell war we could have 25 years from now!
Standing on t he summit of a hill, I watched the tanks move into position
and attack. It was interesting. It was thrilling . I should like to describe
it to you. But I have a hunch it wouldn't get by.
What I hope does get by is this brief description of how your men are
living and working way down here to hellengone from home. They are cheerful.
Their health is excellent on this island. They want letters -- cheerful
letters. They don't like V-mail, the psychological effect of which is similar
to that induced by a circular letter from a correspondence school.
Honeys, write your boy friends. When you don't, their buddies tell them
you have fallen for some rejectee.