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18119 Harvey Short WIA Okinawa ALS, 4 pp, 16 July, 1945. A riveting letter to two
old friends describing his action. along with a second letter from 2 July 1945. The pair
“Thanks for that nice long letter. It was very interesting to me to learn of your
adventures and to hear of classmages. Here’s what I was doing all this time. After
Benning, I reported to the 96th Div. on maneuvers in Eastern Oregon. It was snowing
out there then and of course the change from hot Georgia to freezing Oregon was quite a
shock. We wintered at Camp White, Oregon and I never had a change to thaw out. Most
of the time the weather was miserable and of course the troops were. Skippy joined me
there and we shared a wood burning house with another couple, so Skip had a rigorous
winter, too. When the division came off maneuvers everyone expected to go overseas
immediately so training went on at a feverish pitch to get everyone POE qualified. Many
nights and Sundays were on the training schedule. Being a Pointer, I was really given a
work out. Running problems, running ranges building combat courses, teaching the
whole platoon this , that, or the other thing and T.J. A. in my spare time. There was
never a dull moment! I didn’t mind the work, but it made me mad to see Skip so seldom.
I was in a rifle company at first and then in Dec ’44 I went over to the platoon’s heavy
weapons company as Exec. We had three officers then. Everybody else was at school or
on special duty. I know, Howie, just what you went through with only one officer. In
May the division went to San Luis Obispo for amphibious training, basic phase, and then
in June we went to Camp Callan near San Diego, Calif. for the advanced training and a
cruise off Southern Calif. Those landings, two of them in gales, were very rought. As far
as the amphibious part was concerned, they were much rougher than the real thing.
In July we staged at Camp Beal, Calif and sailed from San Francisco as I sat on the stern
of the ship with my field glasses and watched my home fade from view. We landed in
Honolulu and moved up to Schofield Barracks while we took jungle training and had
more amphibious training and more dry runs with live ammunition accompanied by
casualties. The 1st of September we loaded the transports and had a practice invasion.
On Sept 13th the 24th Corps (7th & 96th Divs) sailed from Pearl Harbor with Admiral
Nimitz’s “God Speed and Good Hunting.” We were going to take Yap Island away from
the Japs. It was 3200 miles to the target. The great adventure had begun., Ten days
later we sailed into our staging area at Enimetok and learned that the target had been
changed. MacArthur was going into the Philippines and we were going with him. We
sailed 1200 miles S.W. to Manus in the Admiralties. Manus at that time was the greatest
base in the Western Pacific. There were ships in the harbor as far as the eye could see.
Almost 2000 of them. It was certainly an awe inspiring sight to see the armed might of
our country. On the 10th Oct we started on the last dash for the Philippines. On the
morning of 20 Oct we were off Leyte and the fleet was pounding the shore for the 3rd
day. My platoon was an assault platoon. We went on LTV‘s or on tracks I had an 81
mm mortar platoon. We had worked together 10 months and I was very proud of that
platoon. I fired it in battery like field artillery and had a forward observer with each
rifle company. We had 8 miles of assault wire for communication and a homemade
switchboard. We were always trying something new. We got on the beach without too
much trouble and then waded through swamps for 10 days. The rainfall was 23 1/2
inches, almost twice what it usually is. We were hardly ever dry. My platoon was
ambushed twice. Cut off from the rest of the platoon three times and shelled both by the
Japs and our own artillery (by mistake). Needless to say the Japs hate mortars and did
everything they could to knock us out. We didn’t fire once but that we were attacked by
raiding parties usually armed with machine guns. Finally my platoon armed itself with 2
BARs and 4 Tommy guns. We had to cease firing several times to “repel boards. “. Once
when we were firing a sniper’s bullet ignited the increments on a pile of shells at one of
the guns. Luckily we had no explosion. One of my men was wounded in the finger setting
the sites on another gun when the whole battalion was surrounded on three sides once.
One evening when I was trying to find my platoon to guide them into the night perimeter,
I ran into a five man Jap patrol. I had about 75 foot head start and managed to out run
them. I was really lost myself at the time. I don’t ever remember being were more scared.
That jungle fighting is just like Indian warfare; ambush, no fight line, fighting at close
quarters, next to no prisoners, water buffalo for transportation. I had some captured Jap
cavalry horses too. We finally push the Japs up into the mountains but it took 27 days
before we were relieved. I had lost half of my men by that time. All in all I had enough
excitement to last a lifetime. In January my battalion crossed Leyte Gulf and garrisoned
the southern tip of Samar. I took over the company. I had one platoon of MGs guarding
the Samar airstrip and one over on Leyte at the Tacloban strip. I flew back and forth to
keep checking. The middle of Feb. we returned to Leyte and went to the hospital with
yellow jaundice. I got out of the hospital in time to board the transport for the Okinawa
invasion. We landed on Okie on Easter Sunday and five days later the war was over for
me. I was with one of my MG platoons on a hill when the Jap hit me with the first burst. I
crawled back over the hill broken leg and all. I didn’t want anymore of that. I went to
Guam, to Honolulu, and on 18 May I was back in God’s Country. Skippy is here with me
now. We have a room in town and I get home every night. It is sure a soft life. I gained
ten pounds last month which is going to cost me money if I don’t stop expanding.
Fletcher Veach was in my battalion and was wounded a couple of weeks after I was. He is
coming to see me tomorrow from DeWitt GH. Bob Hand had a tooth pulled and went
temporarily insane. Benny Hoffman was killed on Okie. Haven’t heard about Cleary,
Head, or Lutz. Tom Grimes’s was in our division engineers. I saw Jack Morris in Oahu
in September also in Betts. Did we lose any classmates in your division? Have you ever
heard from Frank? I heard last at Benning.
Well Howie if you go to the Pacific I hope I’ll see you as you pass through here. In the
meantime hope you and Carolyn have a wonderful time together on this leave. Carolyn
and I will visit Callum while you’re winning the war. Harvey”
Harvey Short WIA Okinawa ALS, 1p, 2 July 1945 to Mac. “Mother gave me your letter
and I’m answering it and hoping you can get the news to Howard. I guess he will get a
leave and may even be with you now. His Division will leave for the Pacific from Camp
Beale which is only about 100 miles from this hospital. If he is at Beale, please ask him to
get in touch with me. I’m sure we can arrange a reunion.
I went overseas last July and got in on the initial invasion of the Philippines at Leyte. I
lasted five days on Okinawa when I lost an argument with a Jap machine gun. I got hit
in the leg and stomach with a resulting compound fracture and severed nerve. I’m
getting along fine, though. When this last wound heals I will have an operation on the
nerve. It will take about a year altogether probably to get me on my feet, but I should be
able to stay in the Army with any luck at all.
My brother is with the 7th Army in Austria. He is a 1st Lt. now. My mother is about the
same as you saw her at West Point. My dad was killed this spring building ships.
Casualties have been heavy on all fronts…”