Who would have thought I would be stationed in a Theater that I never knew existed? All my friends from boyhood had been assigned to Europe and the Pacific. I was going to a far-off land called Burma.
Build a road they told us. Build a road through hot steamy jungles, through mountain passes that could not have been less inviting. My company commander under General Pick made it clear that work on the road would not stop come hell or high water. And hell and high water it is.
At times it seemed impossible that we could keep up with the pace. We'd been told time and time again that without the road our forces in the Theater would not be able to hold the enemy from taking over China, so we worked day and night.
Shortages are everywhere, equipment is not working, parts are scarce, but somehow we push ahead day after day. On the ground we see our progress by the foot, not the mile.
On Thursday I saw General Stilwell and General Pick checking out our progress at the base camp. Their presence boosted the morale of the men and somehow gave us a renewed purpose.
With the monsoon season approaching, work continues night and day. The natives of Burma and the coolies work right alongside us. They don't have the easy work. They use rakes, hoes and shovels designed more for gardening than road work.
Literally thousands and thousands of laborers build-up the roadbed where heavy equipment dare not pass. There are women and children working alongside the men, all from the nearby villages, doing everything they can to do their part. I see the pain and suffering and I am ashamed that I complain so much.
It's bad enough that the rain washes away our roadbeds and the jungle rot effects us all, we have to constantly worry of enemy fire. We're told the Chinese forces under General Stilwell's command protect our flank. Although this may be true I've seen none of them for months.
Medical units are set up sparsely at the base camps. They have been treating everyone including the Kachins, Burmese and the Chinese that are wounded, but most of what they do is to try to keep us all alive in the jungle.
Malaria has effected many, and it is almost impossible to control because of the insects that feed on us daily. Leeches are everywhere. A few days ago Len fell when a roadbed collapsed. After we pulled him out of the mud he had over 20 leeches covering his body. I don't know how he's doing.
Supplies have begun to trickle in by air, to support our efforts. We're using everything we've got, including elephants, to move tree trunks and debris. The engineers are pushing us hard to deliver the lumber necessary to build the bridge across the Irrawaddy. The bridge has to be built before high water which is only three months away.
The enemy are mining the road with explosives and the guys are constantly trying to find them before our trucks do. We don't seem to move along fast enough for those delivering supplies. It seems that each time we carve out a new section of road, it has already been used.
This week marked for the first time in a long time that I saw GIs with tanks and heavy guns moving into our sector. I'm not sure if this means the enemy are getting closer or they're being pushed back.
Any information getting to us is coming in weeks after it has already happened.
Stories are filtering in about the Marauders.
Stories that will be talked about for a long time to come.
They must be doing their job because we have been coming across Japanese base camps that have been deserted.
We're under orders to destroy them.