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Nov. 28, 1942

Dear Folks,

Apologies for not writing sooner, i.e., from Jax. As usual I waited trying to glean more information on our immediate futures before writing and also felt obligated to go out about every night to call on various people I felt guilty about not seeing—Motts, Bakers, etc. (both parties in good form). This reminds me that Ken Hadden, whom I hadn’t seen since ’34, turned up from Pensacola as an ensign and instructor in gunnery at the nearby gunnery school. My scant week at Jacksonville was spent as a “chase” pilot for cadet navigation and instrument flights.

VSB means nothing more or less than scout-bombing, as VF, VTB, VPB and VO - VCS in turn mean or stand for the type of flying in fighters, torpedo bombers, patrol bombers and observation-scouts (or scout-observation planes—SOCs or SO3Cs as opposed to OS2Us). See book sent for Ma’s birthday present. “V” just means heavier-than-air, so is now superfluous with lighter-than-air aircraft not far from obsolete. Instructor School does mean a school for instructors, worse luck.

Here’s the story then as I see it. Because advanced orders were so slow in coming in to our squadron for those without same, which apparently meant that there would at least for the time being be little demand for VO men in the fleet, and because there is a scarcity of instructors more or less everywhere especially in carrier-training squadrons, and because of our greater number of flying hours and experience in a similar type of flying, a group of us has been sent here to a new scout-bombing school for instructors. Though we will fly nothing but land planes, much of our training, as in navigation, gunnery and dive bombing won’t be essentially different. We are to get a bit of traning in torpoedo planes too, and at the end of the course will naturally be qualified carrier plots even though instructors for the time being. As instructors we are to be sent back to Jacksonville, but naturally not to our old squadron. This should be at the end of the next month except for the fact that the schedule is particularly crowded here, so if we are not through by Feb. 1, I shouldn’t really be surprised.

The fact that we are to fly several more types of planes SBCs, BTs, and TBDs (after refresher hops in OS2U land planes and SNJs) is fine. That we are doomed to be instructors isn’t so good perhaps, but one can never tell in the Navy how long one will be anything or where! Refer to book again for types of planes. The SBC is an old type (biplane) scout or dive bomber by Curtiss. The BT is the predecessor to the famed and still standard SBD (Douglas “Dauntless”), and the TBD is the Douglas “Devastator.” Now you know about as much as I know.

The station here is not as large as the Jax one, but still not small. It is, however, fairly compact. Places like ship service (store and eating joint), laundry, bowling alleys, sick bay, library and administration building are all quite near. The hangars are further, but convenient by bus. The officers' club is very nice though small and includes small dinng room, bar, sitting room and outdoor dance floor. Best of all there are squash and tennis courts, a pool and a practice approach golf hole and putting green nearby.

Miami is of course much more of a melting pot than Jacksonville and, though almost exactly the same size at the last census, has more variety in shops and restaurants. It is too a much cleaner city, but perhaps even more thronged by service men, both army and navy. The beach is considerably nearer than Jacksonville’s but apparently almost completely taken over by the army.

Just for fun I came down by way of Tampa, stopping there for a night and a morning (trolley ride along impressive bayside) and lunch at a Spanish restaurant “across the railroad tracks”—recommended by a friend in Jax, who suggested route. The next night I half expected to spend at the halfway mark, Fort Myers, but learning that it was almost hopelessly crowded and liking Sarasota, spent the night at the latter place instead. While still expecting to go on to Ft. M. on another bus I passed away the time by riding a hired bicycle out to the beach and on the way was overtaken by a car full of girls, who asked me if I was going to the party. Instead of immediately saying yes, I asked what party, but after beng invited never could find it and so missed the boat altogether! The next morning I went through the remarkable Barnum museum—extraordinary collection of old masters, especially huge Rubenses (originals)—before taking the long bus ride through the Everglades (herons, egrets, grebes, coots and gallinules a dime a dozen) to Miami.

Love to All


P.S. Leave could hardly have been better. Fun in N.Y. with Ham and fam. and O.

P.P.S. Laundry safely arrived—very opportunely! Thanks.

P.P.P.S. Nice quarters here.

P.P.P.P.S. Please send squash racquet, if convenient.

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