By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
A letter written 68 years ago surfaced recently in Corsicana, detailing a Corsicana man’s experiences in World War II.
Cecil Aldama, who wrote the letter as a young man fighting in the Philippines in February 1945, did make it home to Texas but then died picking vegetables in a field after being struck by lightning.
“He served in the war, was happily married, and then killed by lightening,” said his sister Eva Marie (Aldama) Barlow of Chatfield.
His sister kept the letter all these years.
“I’m one of those people who keep things forever,” she said. “It’s history, is the way I look at it. It means a lot to the family.”
Cecil’s letter to his sister avoided the military censors because he had a friend who was being furloughed home mail it when the friend got back stateside. It’s a four-page letter on tissue-thin paper, only slightly faded by time. It was mailed with two one-cent stamps.
The entire letter is transcribed and available to the right of this story.
Below are some excerpts from the letter:
I guess by the heading of this letter you think there is something fishy, eh? Well there is, if you will notice that the envelope does not have my return address. That is because this was mailed in the states by a friend of mine that is getting an emergency furlough to go home. He is now packing his bag and getting ready to leave in the morning.
Well, before I go any further I am hoping that this letter finds you in the best of health. And tell mother and dad and the kids all hello and may we be together again very soon...
Aldama was in the U.S. Army aboard a hospital ship that sailed around New Guinea, now Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. He spends much of the letter talking about the ports he’s been in, as well as a little of the action they’ve seen.
Biak is where we had Jap Raids at two and three o’clock in the morning. The first time that we saw dead Japs all over. Much equipment and many Japes were still all around. Next to Biak comes Sansapor, which is another place where we had a Jap air raid. That was in October of ‘44. It was still plenty hot around there. Then came Moratai, this is a small island which was so dangerous when we were there that they couldn’t go out with out an armed guard.
Now comes the Philippines and I am now in Leyte, which is APO 72. The APO in Luzon is 70 so if and when I change APOs again. It will be in Luzon, probably Manila. Hope so. About Ramon Carrizales. Well, he was a prisoner here in the Philippines, but we were told that a lot of prisoners were moved to Formosa another island close to Halmejae. We rescued a lot of prisoners. I will try to get the list of names. I may see his name. That is why I want to know what his old outfit was. (Formosa is now known as Taiwan -- Editor’s note.)
Well now that I’ve told you all that I will tell you how I came across. Well we left San Francisco Harbor Oct. 27 at 8 a.m. aboard the U.S.S. Monticello which can carry ten thousand troops. It use to be an Italian ship. It’s a giant of a ship. We landed in Sydney then went by train to Brisbane then to New Guinea.
The guy, his name is Philip Lenkowitz, he lives in Tucson, Arizona, that is taking this for me will leave tomorrow. If he goes by plane he will get there in a week. I mean the letter, he will probably get in three or four days. But if he goes by ship it will probably take every bit of three weeks to a month to get, if and when ever you get it. Please let me know right away if you received this letter how you like the places I’ve been. I’ve been in all the places I’ve mentioned except Formosa, which is a Japanese held island.
The Philippines is civilized and we expect to go to Manila next trip. There is a little fighting there now but not much. I will tell you about the “Jasman” our ship. (Probably the U.S.A.H.S. Jasmine- Ed.). She is a five thousand ton ship. We carry from 300 to 400 patients and our speed is about fourteen knots. About sixteen miles an hour, which is fast. A Liberty ship makes from seven to eight knots. You know before the invasion of Leyte there were so many ships in Hollandia Bay all around those small island in that picture in Life, that when i went up on a mountain to look down I couldn’t see any water there were so many ships so close together. It was a grand sight. Here in Leyte you can see ships as far as the eye can see. We had a raid here in Leyte the other trip around the first of Feb. An fuel tank was hit and it burned for two days. As I was running I bumped into an iron post and got a black eye. A casualty (Ha ha).
Well we may get to Australia again. I don’t know but I guess I will close for now. I hope you have enjoyed this letter. I tried to tell you everything I can think of. I probably miss a lot but hope you like it. Translate it to mom and dad. After the Philippines I will either be the China coast or Japan itself. I heard on the radio where they landed on a Japanese island close to Japan. It could be Japan, it might be China. Who knows?
It probably won’t be long before they make another beach head somewhere.
Six months after Cecil Aldama wrote this letter, the first atomic bomb was dropped in Japan. The Japanese surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com