This story consists of a series of letters between Thomas Hale Keiser, Jr. and his family during his military service during World War II. Tom, Jr. was my mother's older brother, and her only sibling.
This story begins with a letter from Tom's mother after he left home for military service in July 1942, and continues until shortly after he returned from the South Pacific in April 1946. Up to 2 May 1943, all the letters were saved. After that date all we have are Tom's letters. However, starting in Dec 1944, Tom's mother, Agnes, began keeping notes on the subjects of the letters sent to Tom, and these notes were also kept with the letters received from Tom. These notes gives us an idea of the other side of their communications.
Tom was born on 24 Aug 1919, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and as a child moved with his family to Collingswood, New Jersey, where he graduated from Collingswood High School in 1936, and from Peirce Business College, Philadelphia, in 1938. An image of Tom is attached.
Tom was working in Philadelphia when World War II started. What follows is a summary of his military service:
14 Jul 1942 - enlisted at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
25 Jul 1942 - left for Fort George Gordon Meade, Maryland
30 Jul 1942 - assigned to 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia
15 Nov 1942 - began Officer Candidate School in the 2nd Quartermaster Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia
11 Feb 1943 - commissioned as Second Lieutenant and assigned to Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas
11 Apr 1943 - assigned to 476 Quartermaster Truck Regiment, Camp McCoy, Wisconsin
9 Aug 1943 - assigned to 819 Quartermaster Amphibian Truck Company at Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida
10 Jan 1944 - assigned as Executive Officer, 827th Amphibian Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida
28 Feb 1944 - assigned to 364 Harbor Craft Company, Camp Plauche, New Orleans, Louisiana
Sep 1944 - graduated from the Combination Piloting School, Navigation Training Section, ASFTC, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida
Nov 1944 - sent to the West Coast for transport to the Pacific. Stationed on Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, and was transferred to Noumea, New Caledonia in March 1946.
Although Tom disliked the South Pacific, he did request being commissioned as an officer in the regular Army early in 1946. For whatever reason, either the request was not granted or Tom changed his mind. Tom took ill from hepatitis in April 1946, and was sent to the States about the end of April. He remained in the hospital recovering from that disease until late in 1946.
Starting in January, 1947, Tom attended Syracuse University, studying electrical engineering. After six semesters he left college to work part time for WOLF radio in Syracuse, and later full time with WHEN TV in Syracuse. In June 1956, Tom was hired as a computer technician by International Business Machines in their new Kingston, NY office, and spent the remainder of his working career with that company in noth Kingston and Poughkeepsie. He resided in Woodstock, NY, and never married. He retired from IBM in 1987, died in Dec 1996, and is buried in the Woodstock Cemetery. [Update added Apr 2008]
[Throughout these letters I have added editorial comments in brackets. Also, throughout these letters are references to photos taken and pictures or negatives sent back and forth between Tom and his family. These photos are in an album that I will have access to in the future, and I will post appropriate images related to these letters as time allows. Please check back periodically to see if more images have been posted.]
James H. Culbert
last updated: December 2008