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Five hundred and twenty-one casualties had arrived that morning from Guadalcanal. A lot of them were hanging over the fence as I left the hospital, and I stopped to talk with some of them. There were a number from the 27th and 35th Inf., both recently from Honolulu. The five hundred and twenty-one had been removed from the ship that brought them in one hour and thirty-five minutes by small boats. Demonstrating excellent planning and efficient execution. Much more than can be said for the sentence in which I described it.
Jan. 21. Walked to MP Hq and again reported theft of Bouncing Baby, after which I went to Signal Corps Photo Lab and got Pack Artillery blow-ups. While there, I phoned Provost Marshall at Tontouta to report theft of Bouncing Baby, which might have been driven into his district. When I got back to the hotel, an enlisted man told me that Bouncing Baby was parked across the street where I always leave her, thus closing the incident except for the necessity of reporting its return to a couple of Provost Marshalls; so that I wouldn't be picked up myself the next time I drove her.
Went to COMSOPAC to see Lt. Col. Harris, USMC, about interviewing Jap war prisoners. I had been told that Harris was a tough and irascible Marine, who would probably jump down my throat and tear me to pieces. I found him extremely cordial, pleasant, and co-operative. He promised to give me an interpreter in a few days. While I was there I visited with Gene Markey for a few minutes.
Jan. 22. At breakfast, 2nd Lt. Frank Clark, 70th Fighter Squadron, came over and spoke to me. He is one of the boys who were on the transport with me flying down. There were two other officers of the 70th with him: 2nd Lt. Robert M. Decker of Lake Mohawk, N.J., and 2nd Lt. Davy Crockett of Bradenton, Fla. Clark told me that Henderson had been killed in a crash on the island about ten days before. He was 2nd Lt. M.G. Henderson of Shreveport, La., one of the boys with whom I played bridge on the way down. Poor kid! After all his training and enthusiasm and eagerness, he never got a single crack at the Japs.
Ramsey was leaving for Espiritu Santo; so I had to drive out to American Red Cross Officers' Rest Area Alone. I wanted to interview Coletta Ryan, who was in charge. It was located across the lower end of the island -- a long drive, much of it through an uninhabited area of swamp and jungle. On the way out, I picked up six CB men; and took them several miles past St. Louis, where they wanted to go. So turned around and drove them back. Finally found the area. There were only a Frenchman and a donkey there. No Coletta, no officers.
In the afternoon, I took a long, beautiful drive along bay and seashore. The scenery here is lovely (Excuse my tenses. I am writing from notes made at the time. At the same time, excuse my adverbs.) One could spend months driving about the island, enjoying a constant change of scene. It is too bad the island is French rather than American. They have exploited it for a few resident families and for stockholders in Paris. Enormous wealth has been taken out of the island, practically none of it having been spent in road building or other improvements. And it has been governed by officials sent from France, who had no other interest in the island than what they personally could get out of it. It is a monument to the absolute low in colonization.
At supper I was told that an officer was anxious to meet me. Well, he wasn't half as anxious to meet me as I was to meet him when I discovered he was Lt. Cmdr. John D. Bulkley, hero of The Expendables. With him . . .
WW2 American Red Cross Rest Camp, New Caledonia
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