Monday, May 23, 2016

Military Monday: Carl Writes From Baer Field

Carl "Bear" Kilson

Early on in my Kilson genealogical research, I struck gold. After planting seeds on various message boards looking for information about any of the 6 Kilson family members, someone responded that she had something that one of them had written: a letter composed by Carl Kilson while he was serving during World War II!

In July of 1942, at the age of 30 years old, Carl traveled from Salem, NJ to nearby Camden to enlist in the U.S. Army. By October, he was a stationed at Baer Field, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where training, servicing and staging took place for Army Air Force troops and troop carriers (including several that carried troops to the Invasion of Normandy in 1944). He was one of upwards of 100,000 military personnel to work there. And on October 17th, he wrote the following letter to a friend back home in Salem named Williard M.:

(Click the images to enlarge. Transcription follows.)

Page One:
Sat. Oct 17
4: P.M.

Hello Willie,

Received your card today and was glad to know that you are getting along all rite and busy as Hell these days. Tell all your help that knew me I say Hello and everything is going all rite with me. It’s been pretty good to me around here and I just got done washing, as things keep you busy around here keeping clean, especially when you wear white in the kitchen all the time.

The old saying around here, when you fall out with a guy, You are on my shit list or You done tore your ass with me, they have these sayings going on all the time until some body thinks up a new one and [text missing].

Page Two:

[Text missing] out. I don’t get lonesome out here a bit, because there is something going on all the time that keeps your mind occupied. You know me, it’s nothing that worries me, as time must go on. The guys have a thing here about their money money all the time, just as soon as pay day comes they are up half the nite gambling and before the nite’s over with they have lost all their month’s pay. It’s something because there are some rich guys the next day. But me I still have mind the first time I came here.

The kitchen is agreeing with me very much and you should see me now. I will be home some of these days. Have you seen Jack lately or heard from him? Send me his address and I will rite to him. Well it’s about time for supper now so Goodbye. (Bear).

According to his obituary, Carl served as a Mess Sergeant from 1942 – 1946, stationed in Fort Wayne the entire time. How interesting to get a personal view into his time in the Army, even if it’s only a brief snapshot of this part of his life.

I hope to get my hands on Carl’s military record, so that I can learn more about his service and experiences during the war. In the meantime, if you’d like to read more about Baer Field, I started here.

Many thanks to Jo Ann C. for your generosity in sharing this letter – I am so grateful to you for sharing a copy of a keepsake that meant something to both of our families!

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