MARCH 28, 1944
GUATEMALA CITY, Monday—It took only a little over four hours to fly from Panama to Salinas. Here we were met by the wife of the President of Ecuador, Senora Arroyo del Rio and several Ecuadorian ladies, as well as our Army and Navy commanders, Colonel Cunningham and Commander Hummer.
We visited both the Army and Navy hospitals, and I'm glad to report that they had very few patients. There is practically no malaria here; the climate is very dry and the one real difficulty is lack of water. All the water is distilled, but since there is a wonderful beach with good, safe swimming, I imagine many of the men take to the sea when water gets scarce.
Salinas itself is used as a summer resort by people from Quito and by British and American people working here, which is pleasant for our men.
At lunch with a mixed group of Army and Navy enlisted personnel, I found myself talking to a boy who had married a girl from Quito. The girl's mother was from the United States, and is now married to an Ecuadorian. Now the boy, who is American, is planning to take his wife home with him when the war is over.
Next we went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Toes where Senora Arroyo del Rio gave a reception and we met some Ecuadorians as well as members of our own embassy staff. The Ecuadorian troops stood on guard near the house and their band played The Star Spangled Banner. Our flying officers are instructing a group of Ecuadorian cadets whose training planes are kept near our base. It seemed to me that the best of feeling exists, and cooperation is very good here as everywhere else.
By one-thirty we took off for the Galapagos Islands, where we arrived in time to get an idea of the amount of work which had been done to create the Army and Navy installations. Much building is still going on. We had supper with a representative group of enlisted men, and found among them a boy who said he had worked in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. for several years.
We went back to our quarters and emerged an hour later with a great feeling of satisfaction because of the work we had done. We went over to the Officers' Club at seven, where both Army and Navy officers and civilian engineers were gathered. This must be a very pleasant place to come to after the day's work is done.
We spent an hour talking with various officers. Among them was a young man from Washington, D.C. who said that I had spoken at his high school. He is now a flier, and with him was another young flier whose wife works in the District. I hope he will give me her name so I can call her up on my return, though he could not find a pencil and paper at the moment to write it down.
Some of the boys feel the monotony and the loneliness of this particular post, and would like very much to be nearer to what they feel is active service. Yet the job here is essential and must be done, as so many other jobs depend upon it.
Saturday morning we went to our enlisted men's mess at six-thirty a.m., leaving our quarters a little before six. Saturday was one long succession of visits to day rooms, service clubs, post exchanges, gun positions, the chapel, the cemetery and the Army and Navy hospitals. In all of these there are certain similarities, since there is a standard set for each place according to the size and need of the installation. But one has to realize in looking at them that for each man this is his particular achievement, and vitally important to the well being of the group.