Camp Hill, Newport News, Va., Sept. 6, 1918
Dear Mr. Nixon,
We are at our port of embarkation now; have been here for two weeks and are ready to leave for the boat most any minute.
It’s a holiday for us, so I am writing a few letters and I didn’t want to forget you. Your talk to us the nite before we left was comforting and encouraging to us. Just as you said, we soldiers are the closest of brothers, right now, and even on the train down to Wadsworth we began to mix. Anytme we need anything the other fellow has, we take and use it and we’re always willing to help each other.
It took the Minnesota boys to get ready in a month. And we were glad to leave South Carolina after a couple days of 135 above. One day after an inoculation when we were a little weak, 190 men were carried off the field. It kept the ambulance busy. I managed to keep on my feet thru the worst of it and several times I helped carry others to their tents. After three weeks in the Pioneer Inf. There, some of us, Kaplan, Kirkpatrick, Maschke and myself, were transferred to the Anti Aircraft and we were well pleased with the change. After a couple of weeks we left the camp for this camp or our port of embarkation. I was promoted to Corporal here and think I did well in beating men with experience and this is considered a very high branch of service. Our Captain took us non-commissioned officers out one day and gave us a little talk. He told us after reaching the other side, we officers would go to school, perhaps under English officers if we land in England; that we as yet do not know.
The James River comes within two blocks of my barrack, so we go down and try to get used to the water. Last Sunday I got a pass and went to Buckroe Beach about ten miles from here of the Chesapeake Bay and had my first ocean swim. Saw lots of big boats there too.
Labor Day we Camp Hill soldiers helped in the parade at New Port News, Va., which is the nearest city, only 2 ½ miles from camp. It was great while marching in line to look back at the endless line of men all ready for “over there.” It sure was a bunch; our battalion of 750 men was there. The papers are looking good every day and if the boys keep it up till we get there, I think we’ll soon have it over.
Nearly noon now so will finish. I’ll write again after we land across and tell you about all the submarines we saw. Ha, Ha! Don’t suppose there’ll be much more to see, unless more water and the boys say we live on that for two weeks. We’re all planning on getting sea-sick. Must go.
Sincerely yours, Ernest Hagquist