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March 17, 1943

Dear Folks,

Thanks for news, photographs, addresses, etc. It looks as if Skipper might be gunning for the century mark. Has any really famous person ever lived that long? So far as I know Titian came the closest with 99 years.

That’s tough news about Susie, but great about Wilbur. Seems to me he should have a couple of stripes by now. My half stripe won’t come for a long time. Promotions come only every several months, and then practically every one gets promoted if they’ve been something for long enough. That’s it in a nutshell, and the Navy all over.

Here’s something for the Red Cross that won’t hurt me a bit.

Our course is well under way now. We’re in the middle of the dive bombing or at least well past the beginning. The SBDs do dive magnificently, though their sluggishness makes them unexciting for ordinary flying. Out in the fleet of course they are used more as scouts than as bombers. Though they don’t, as planes, have the range of a patrol bomber, their more mobile base (some PB planes admittedly have tenders) plus their number makes them often more effective. Long flights over the ocean will doubtless be dull from monotony, but that would of course be true in any plane except possibly for a passenger reading an exciting novel while reclining on the cushioned seats of a Pan American Clipper. For practically everyone, even the most active participant, war must have its dull moments, and for most they are probably more frequent than the exciting ones. Undoubtedly we’re still far luckier than the average citizen in or out of service.

Our course, by the way, is supposed to last a month, but several factors, of which bad weather is apt to be outstanding, are bound to prolong it considerably. We fly as a team—in formation, which is much more tiring than real soloing, and for me not as much fun. The small amount of ground school we get is mostly harmless, and the hours of exercise not bad fun (calisthenics, then touch football, softball, or volley ball). To almost everyone I’m just another student, which is a bit humiliating, especially when my extra hours don’t seem to make things easy. Doubtless they do help somewhat.

Last Sunday I went on a particularly nice excursion. Bad weather, a cold, etc. had caused me to leave my bicycle at the Reids’ over the day I left for here and the following Sunday—always a day off here. This last promised to be good—Friday and Saturday had been beautiful—so I took a train Sat. night for Jax and spent the night, inconveniently (12 mi. out—hotels in town always full) at N.A.S. Sunday turned out to be rather cold, very windy and with a solid overcast, but I decided to chance it and took a bus back to town then to the beach, there to start pedaling, not south, but north—back to Jax via Mayport and Ft. George, crossing the river near its mouth. For $2.00 (he said he’d do it for $1.00 then obviously wished he hadn’t) a Mayport fisherman took me across in his ancient one cylinder job after having a hell of a time starting it and then having it break down for a while when we were nearly midstream. Upon crossing the Rubicon I went hunting for the Ft. George and another club having been told that their location, Fort St. George Id., was one of Florida’s beauty spots. It in fact is—a raised hammock, on a sort of bluff overlooking a long inlet, the whole covered by a beautiful growth of old live oaks, other hardwoods and pines. I left there only a little before 6 P.M., having started the whole trip late and headed for town, pehaps 25 mi. west—road more interesting than regular piney beach road (more salt marsh, creeks, sand hills, etc., etc. Best birds were: about 200 skimmers (4 or 5 flocks) flying downstream just over the water, a flock of over 30 green-winged teal on edge of creek, various gulls, terns, herons, egrets, rails, pelicans a few feet away, etc.

Love to all,


P.S. Bike now here (checked in train).

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