Friday, 1 January, 1943
1st Day, Happy New Year, 364 Days to come
CELEBRATED IN BLAISDALE HOTEL HONOLULU, T.H. /BIG DRUNK
Thursday, 7 January
7th Day, 358 Days to come
Heard from V.J. Watkins written on 9 Nov 42, while I was between Miami & San Diego. 6 addresses. Won't allow communications to so lapse again. I hope some day to make her Mrs. C.C.W.
For more information about Violet Jane Watkins, see related stories at the websites of
National Public Radio
and Agnes Scott College.
Monday, 8 February
39th Day, 326 Days to come
Flying secured today. Planes all to be checked & readied for last trip to Ford Island for the big move.
Tuesday, 9 February
40th Day, 325 Days to come
Big celebration last night. All lay around & slept today. Will probably be another house warming tonight.
Wednesday, 10 February
41st Day, 324 Days to come
There was. This no flying & no work is getting us down. We all appreciate the rest but drinking too much.
Thursday, 11 February
41st Day, Thomas Alva Edison - Born 1847, 323 Days to come
Ditto yesterday. Only no (?) drinking tonight. Just a little to keep in condition for tomorrow.
Friday, 12 February
43rd Day, 322 Days to come
Aloha dance tonight in our honor. A big drunk as usual. No interest in the wahinies tonight - haven't had since I heard from V.J. in Jan.
Late mail brought 3rd letter from V.J. Though we haven't seen each other since Dec '40 we seem to have strong natural interest. Anxiously awaiting further developments.
Saturday, 13 February
44th day, 321 days to come
Fight'n, Dynamite'n 213 brawl tonight. 3 wahines came & spoiled evening which should have been all stag. 14 qts had, all on skipper. Swell fellow & good Marine.
Sunday, 14 February
45th day, St. Valentine's Day - Transfiguration (Lutheran), 320 days to come
Days fairly idle with only supervision (?) of loading for departure. Probably won't sail for several days. Didn't have anticipated hang over today. Will have to lay off for a few days & recuperate.
Monday, 15 February
46th day, 319 days to come
No sailing news today. Sober all day. Hell was raised re. Familiarity
between officers & enlisted men. Not guilty. No instance of above in
Familiarity amongst officers and enlisted was always a matter for hell
being raised in the Corps. Lt. Winnia was laughing up his sleeve at
this entry. Winnia was a "Mustang," an officer who started in the
enlisted ranks. Throughout the diary you will read of his friendships
with enlisted men, especially in the Ordance (relating to explosives
and ammunition) Department. Lt. Treffer was the Ordnance Officer (as
best I can tell) and Lt. Winnia was the second in command. Both seemed
to enjoy the ordnance job. Treffer remained active in Ordnance after
the war; Winnia was a gun collector, as will become evident later in
Tuesday, 16 February
47th day, 318 days to come
STILL no news re sailing date. Treffer & I held a discussion involving a quart of rye.
Wednesday, 17 February
48th day, 317 days to come
Hell of a hangover. This rye & rotten peanuts didn't go well together. No news yet this A.M. Planning an octopus hunt at Keneahoe. Probably won't materialize. Octopus hunt materialized. Had a hell of a time finding a good place then no octopus. Swimming was fine underneath breakers among coral reefs. Used water glasses, carried knife in teeth. Seem to be able to stay under quite a while. Beautiful fish in & around submarine caves. Treffer, Votaw, Bier & I made party. Big steak at P.Y. Chong's afterward. Saw "Tails of Manhattan." Tired. Perfect day.
Thursday, 18 February
49th day, 316 days to come
Feel swell this A.M. First morning in weeks. Fired this A.M. Had to
draw extra ammo. Some fired too much. Flew an old F4F3 to Ford Island.
Crate in awful shape didn't think I'd make it. Back in J2F. VJ pilots
should stick to their DC3s. Bull session with Larry Elliot tonight.
Second sober night in a row. Quite a record. Feel like writing V.J.
but must see her reaction to more familiar note of last letter. Still
no news of sailing.
NOTE: The Grumman F4F-3 "Wildcat" was the first line fighter for the Navy at the outbreak of the war.
It was tough and reliable, but didn't have the dogfighting capability of the Japanese Zero. The -3 version
had fixed, i.e. non-folding, wings and four .50 cal. Browning machine guns. The -4, shown in this picture,
had folding wings and six machine guns. Winnia's plane aboard the USS Nassau was number 14, but presently
there is no way to know if these are VMF-213 aircraft. At the start of the war each squadron commander
assigned the aircraft numbers. (USMC Photo)
The Grumman J2F "Duck" was a utility aircraft - slow and ugly. But like all Grummans they were as tough
as iron and as dependable as gravity. Some had bomb racks and machine guns mounted, but the Duck was
primarily used as a "hack," or taxi/pickup truck, or as a rescue aircraft. The Duck is referred to
often in the diary. (USMC Photo)
The Douglas DC-3 is probably the most universally recognizable transport aircraft there has ever been.
Nicknamed the "Gooney Bird" its correct Navy designation was R4D. Without the Gooney Bird the battle
for Guadalcanal would have been lost. The Marine Corps was still flying R4Ds in the mid 1970s.
(Douglas Aircraft Photo)
Friday, 19 February
50th day, 315 days to come
Word passed today that we leave soon. Most went to pack. Treffer, Votaw & I went down the beach to Barber's Pt. hunting crabs & swimming. Water too sandy. Long walk home. Barely made chow. Packed tonight. Some gear leaves tomorrow A.M. 0700. Votaw, Treffer & I mixed 2 coconuts, 1 qt. Bacardi Rum & a can of pineapple juice. All felt extremely happy. Raised quite a bit of hell but didn't get sloppy.
Saturday, 20 February
51st day, 314 days to come
No hangover today. This afternoon flew planes to Ford Island. Straffed
field by division. Ours was best formation & we were all lower than
dogsback roof. Belly tanks restricted maneuvers. The 4th Division,
Treffer leading. I fly his wing. Boag leads 2nd section with Johnson
on his wing. All landed safely at Ford Island. Didn't even lose a
belly tank. Returned in DC3. All were glad to land. None of us felt
really safe in the damned thing, especially as passengers. We still
love our fighters. God Bless the F4F4.
A Division is a group of four aircraft. A Section is two aircraft
of a Division. There is one Division leader who is also a section
leader (Treffer, in this case), a leader of the other section (Boag),
and two wingmen, one for each section leader. (Winnia with Treffer,
Johnson with Boag) The wingman of the second section leader would be
called "Tail end Charlie" because of his position in the division.
Generally the more experienced or more aggressive pilot was the
leader. Treffer had been a barnstormer in his teens and had joined the
Royal Canadian Air Force before the war, transferring to the Marines
as hostilities started. He was probably the most experienced pilot in
The wingmen had the more difficult job of trying to stay on their
leader's wing. Usually the wingmen would run out of fuel first because
they had to work the throttles to stay in correct position. The
wingman's job was to protect his leader's 6 o'clock, or his tail.
"Bogey on your 6" would mean that there is an enemy on your tail.
Navy & Marine pilots were trained in the "Thatch Weave", a defensive
manouver which allowed each pilot to watch his section mate's
6 o'clock while allowing one of the section planes to be facing an
Traditionally, divisions were named by color: red,
green, blue, white, etc. In the Golden Age of Naval Aviation, just
before WWII, the aircraft cowls would be painted to show the division
and section position of the aircraft. The colorful paint schemes were
done away with as the war in Europe proved them impractical, though
the radio callsigns were still "Red Leader", "Red Two", and so on.
It was not unusual, however, for a division to have its own call sign.
Most of the flight operations during the time of this diary were under
radio silence (if the radios worked at all, as Winnia will comment on
later), so it is a bit of a moot point.
The Japanese were using a three aircraft division until well into
the war, when they changed to a system similar to ours. The Japanese
pilots were generally "Lone Wolves", and would not fly as leader and
wing unless one was training the other, anyway.