Edward Fischer '37 | December 24, 2018
Editor's Note: This piece is part of "12 Days of Classics," a holiday series drawn from the magazine's archives and published at magazine.nd.edu from Saturday, December 22, 2018, to Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Merry Christmas!
A journey that began on the other side of the world ended in the jungle on Christmas Eve. Upon entering at dusk, we were surprised to hear Bing Crosby’s voice singing “Silent Night.” The record player looked out of place there on the ammunition box in front of the tent.
We had endured. Three days by train from Kansas to California. Two weeks of waiting at the port of embarkation. Thirty days by ship to Bombay. Eight by train across India to Assam. Three down the Ledo Road by truck. And now this clearing on the Irrawaddy River, near Myitkyina, in Northern Burma.
I entered the tent and handed my orders to a disheveled Major who reeked of bourbon. He squinted at the mimeographed sheet, held it nearer the candle, and read it with moving lips. His face went a little off-center while he paused, as though trying to decide how best to say it.
“Lieutenant, we don’t really need you.”
Christmas Eve. On the other side of the world. And they don’t need me!
“We don’t use mule trains anymore. We air drop. Fly in low, and kick the stuff out by parachute.”
Four months earlier at Fort Benning, Ga., I was writing training manuals at the infantry school. A notice on the bulletin board asked for volunteers to organize Animal Pack Transportation Units. Mule trains.
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