This is a great letter I received from Joe Ball, Nephew of Albert “Buddy” Friel (KIA). It highlights a bit of the life, experiences and thoughts of, I am sure, many of the USS Underhill crew and other service men at the time.
Keep in mind this was written about a month before the sinking of the USS Underhill.
Thanks Joe, for sharing this sneak-peak into the life of your Uncle
This is the last letter from my Uncle (Albert "Buddy" Friel) to his brother, my Uncle Tom, who was also in the Navy. I was born in May of 1945 and didn't really get a chance to know him. Both of his brothers, (my Uncle Tom, and my Uncle Joe, who was in the Army) are now deceased.
June 28, 1945
Somewhere in the Philippines
Had our first mail call in about a month and sure was glad to see one in there from you. I am glad you made your rate. Tom, now you, Joe and I are all equal in rate but now Joe is out of the running, being discharged. How many points did he have? I received a letter from him and he was telling me about his wearing my pants, shoes and watch. Boy, I bet Mom & Dad are really happy.
I guess you've read and heard about Lab's ship, the Bunker Hill being back in the States. I had a letter from Lab and he said they knocked the hell out of them with their suicide planes. He has 30 days coming up. He was home last January when I was home. He had 18 days then. I think that he's seen all of this war that he wants to see.
Talk about crazy guys, that Rash wrote me a 13 page letter from India. What a nut he is. He can think of more bull shit to write about.
Do you have any more good dope about going back to the states? It would really make Mom & Dad glad if you could get home for a while now. I don't mind so much for myself cause I was home last Jan. and that was not so long ago.
Jackie is still in the Atlantic cause Joe said he wrote and he was home for 11 days. That letter was dated June 7th. I thought he would have been out here long ago. I hope his luck holds out and he stays there. Charlie picked up an APA on the West Coast but I don't know the number. They didn't let him lay around long after getting off the O.C. It will be quite a change for him.
No Tom, we have never been up to Okinawa. That's where Lab's ship got it. Leyte Gulf is the furthest up that way we've been.
While in our last port, the starboard side, that's me, went to a rest camp way up in the mountains for about three days. It sure was neat. Good chow - no reveille - no watches - not a thing to do but lay around, play ball - which we did a lot of. They had a neat Red Cross there with some nice looking girls from the States working in it.
We used to lay in the sack til 0800 then wash up and go over to the Red Cross for coffee and doughnuts It was real good coffee too. We would stay in there and play ping pong and the recording machine. After noon chow we would have a good game of ball. I made up a team of all Penna. boys and we beat the hell out of a team of guys west of Penna. We beat them 11 - 1. I hit a homer with bases loaded in the 8th. We had a lot of fun.
Then about 1400, when the Officers and Wacs would be through with the fresh water swimming hole, we would all go for a nice swim. That was really the life up there. I hated to leave. We were allowed 4 cans of beer a day. Did you guys ever hit anything like that? There's a chance that that may be our steady run. I sure hope so. They have dances there with the Wacs but we missed it last time.
Well Tom, this is enough of this bull for now, but will write again soon. Lots of luck and smooth sailing.