by Steve Joos
My June contest entry, partly inspired by a holiday episode of the television series MASH.
December 25, 1952
Maj. Charles Emmerson Winchester III
4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital
Miss Honoria Winchester
And so I spend another Christmas far from home in this miserable locale, thrown into this horrid conflict, or “police action”, or whatever euphemism for war that wretched Truman and his cohorts are calling this. I hope the family celebration was a grand and cheerful one.
Oh, how I long for my dear home and family at this time of year. That is a popular sentiment here, no matter what our civilian status. The hospital (if one could call it that) hosted the youngsters from the local orphanage for Christmas dinner, with our commanding officer (Col. Potter) doubling as Kris Kringle, but even with a truce for the holidays, the war has to interfere with the festivities. My two cellmates were called away, along with out head nurse, Maj. Houlihan, and I believe it was to tend to a casualty.
As lowbrow as Pierce and Hunnicutt are, no one shows more devotion to the young men come in here wounded and mangled by this war. The same goes for all personnel here.
One would think that they would be a bit more appreciative of the can of oysters I contributed to the base’s holiday feast, but no, although the opportunity to share a meal with the other (as Capt. Pierce calls us) “temporarily misassigned civilians” was pleasant in its own way, and it was good to be around the orphans. I have to confess that I do worry about this war is going to effect them.
I tried to bring a little bit of home to the wasteland this year, by exporting father’s practice of making an anonymous gift of fine chocolates to the orphans. I made the delivery by night and told the orphanage director of the tradition and my own recollections of going with father to make the delivery.
You can probably imagine how appalled I was when I found Sgt. Rizzo, one of the ruffians who work in our motor pool, about to partake of one of those chocolates at the party today. After speaking to one of the orphans and learning that neither she, nor any of her little friends had received any of the chocolates, I grabbed it from Rizzo and gave it to her. Then, I sought out the director of the orphanage and confronted him. An apology was in in order…..and after listening to the director, I offered it.
The director thanked me for the gift and expressed his appreciation for my thoughtfulness, then explained his action. It seems that my gift of a day's dessert brought a month’s worth of food staples on the black market.
These youngsters needed a meal and sadly, I had only offered dessert.
And that was how I spent Christmas. That, and my own meal, which was brought to me by our company clerk, Cpl. Klinger.
I have probably told you numerous times of the clerk’s outrageous behavior over the course of my tour of duty, but he was quite pleasant this time and it was good to exchange pleasantries, even it was over leftover oysters and hog jowls.
The oysters were my contribution to the base Christmas meal, but I'm not sure they were successful In fact, the orphan girl I spoke to about the chocolates compared the ousters to erasers and wasn't that thrilled about them. I must speak with our so-called cook about how better to prepare them.
I imagine the family and the community is elated about the outcome of the election, having seen the neighbors’ banner pictured in the Globe, although I'm not sure how much of your enthusiasm might be tempered by Sen. Lodge's loss to Kennedy. But the important thing is that Gen. Eisenhower was elected, and that the Democrats will soon be put out to pasture. We had some discussions regarding the election here, and we were quite interested, although I think we are hoping that either the General or Gov. Stevenson would do something to bring us home as soon as possible.
No, the President-elect didn’t visit our little corner of the war when he visited Korea (If he had, I'm sure Capt. Pierce would have had a few things to say to him), but if he can find a way to help settle this conflict, and I, along with my comrades-in-arms, can be back with our homes and families for Christmas next year, then I will be truly thankful.
How I miss our Christmas dinners at home and all the things that make the holidays so special. I miss going downtown and seeing the decorations in the Commons and at Feiliene’s.
Give my love to the family. I hope you are well.
Sincerely, as always, your brother with love