Letters From War Wednesday: World War II – Wayne Sandefur.

Last week, we featured a couple of our soldiers’ varied reactions to war’s end.  In this edition of Letters From War Wednesday, let’s take a look at Captain Wayne Sandefur’s note home following Japan’s surrender. Sandefur served with distinction at the battles of Zig Zag Pass and Woodpecker Ridge as the commanding officer of Company L, 152nd Infantry, 38th Infantry Division.

“Sunday, Aug 19, 1945

“Dear Folks -

“Well, what do you think now?  I thought that the bomb would do the trick but didn’t want to be too optimistic.  Japan was already beaten but it took something like that bomb to convince them that there was very little use in going on any longer.  I guess our fleet and our planes really raised hell with them.  I guess we will know before long the extent of the damage we have done.  It is probably more beat up over there than it is in Europe.

“Of course we were all on the edge of our chairs around here for a few days, starting with the night that we got the news that Japan was willing to accept the terms of the Potsdam Ultimatum provided they could retain their Emperor.   It was about 10:00 and we were just getting out of a movie.  Many of the boys sat up all night waiting for the official news.  We got it at 7:00 AM the next morning.  Then we sat around awaiting the American answer.  When we were up, you guys were in bed, and there was no news.  When you got up, it was time for us to go to bed and then we had a hard time sleeping.  When our ultimatum went out again to Japan, I think we probably lived a month in the next few days.  When peace did come, there was a wonderful feeling of relief, but there was little or no rowdiness displayed in our outfit.  I suppose that there were plenty of hijinks back in the states and I know that there were plenty over here in some units – mostly navy and base commanders.  I guess you know who the base commanders are.  They are the ones who have to go to the news reels to know that there is a war.  Our boys took the thing right in their stride with a grateful heart and a relieved spirit.  We have waited too long for this day to go into hysterics.  Then, too, I imagine that most of the boys felt a little like I did.  I remembered my boys who died in Zig Zag Pass and on the Shimbu line, lying dead in the cemetery in Manila.  I thought of them and wished so much for all of them to be there to share that moment with us.  You people at home can’t realize how close together battle brings men.  It strips a man right down to his soul and you can see what he actually is and I can tell you that most of them were fine and decent and manly.  You can’t forget kids like that so easily.

Captain Wayne Sandefur (far left) and other company commanders of the 3rd Battalion, 152nd Infantry, 38th Infantry Division, enjoy a moment on deck during their voyage home following war's end - October 1945.

“I don’t know when I’ll be home, but one thing I do know now – I will be home.  I was always pretty sure of that but there were plenty of times when my prospects did not look so good.  With it all over and the end, not in sight, but here, anything else should be simple.  I don’t suppose that many of us will get home as fast as we think we should and this is especially true of officers.  However, I still have my 93 points and if they decide to re-figure them as of V.J. Day, I’ll have 105 or 106.  I have every hope that they will pay off within another six months.  They should have spare officers with fairly low points available.  Then, too, I feel that a lot of them will want to stay in now that they have a chance to stay in the regular Army with a commission.  However we will just have to wait and see what happens.

“Well, I guess we all have more reason for prayer now than before. A peaceful world is the most precious thing in the world and we have so much to be thankful for.  I know that all of you have offered repeated prayers for me.  I know that they helped in more ways than one.  They were a source of great strength to draw upon when the going got too rough.  I certainly want to thank all of you.

“There is not much in the way of news in this area that you do not know about already.  The Jap delegation is in the city talking over the situation with MacArthur, though I guess they are doing more listening than talking.  So far I haven’t seen any mass surrender of Jap troops.  There are quite a few of them in the mountains right behind us, but I doubt if they know the war is over.  They can stay there for all I care.  I know they can’t be very comfortable.

“I guess there isn’t more to say for one night.  It’s almost bed time and I want to shave yet.  I know you are thinking that this is a funny time to shave, but I’d rather shave before I go to bed than in the AM.  It makes me feel much cleaner when I hit the hay.  Good night, now.  See you later.



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