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Letter From Jesse Radohl, Hector Mirror, 10-17-1918: Letter From Another Hector Soldier Boy

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Arcadia, Florida, Sept. 18, 1918 to Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Hable.

My dear friends,

I received your welcome letter the 16th and was glad to hear from you. Also hope this finds you in the best of health. I am quite well and very busy. Well I am glad the crops are good up there then your work will not be in vain. You know it is very discouraging to work like thunder and then get a poor yield.

Well we are very busy here. We have finished training Cadets and this is now an advanced flying field; since the Cadets were commissioned we have done a lot of riding in the planes. We are given credit for the number of hours in the air so perhaps some day may have a chance to become a flying Sergeant. Did I ever describe my first ride to you? Well here goes. When I got into the seat and fastened the life belt the pilot asked me if I had been up before; upon replying no, he told me to keep my hands off the controls, because he said if you don’t you may just as well say your prayer. Well, I kept my hands off. We started after he got all the ships in position for the battle formation. The pilot opened the motor wide and we were off, we attained a ground speed of about 60 miles per hour and left the ground well. After we gained an altitude of 500 feet it was almost impossible to realize we were moving. Eight planes followed us 50 feet apart; at time the two ships following us were not 25 feet away from us. We were at an altitude of 3000 feet and the next thing I know was a nose dive of several hundred feet as a signal; that first one was surely a sickening feeling. Immediately after this dive it was nosed up for several hundred feet at about a 45 degree climb. We went thru 2 more and from there into a split air, one second I was looking straight ahead at the horizon, the next second was looking straight up at the sun and another we were falling side ways at a terrible rate of speed. Another quick change of controls and we went into a dive and from there to a flying level. Well I can’t say it scared me as I have seen hundred of then executed but the first split air was surely a sick feeling, the rest didn’t affect me at all. The only way you realize you are moving is to meet another plane and then you can see them go at a terrible rate of speed, those Curtis were supposed to travel 80 miles per hour. Our new Hispano Suiza travels at 110, the Thomas Scout at 125 miles an hour; they surely go like a streak. I have seen thousands of flights made at this field and of course a few accidents but there were five deaths since we landed here and that is a wonderful record. These deaths were nearly instantly caused by planes falling.

Well I have been on the field as an airplane mechanic for nearly three months, the last month I helped disassemble training planes that had been condemned, also helped crate them up to be shipped to a repair base. I then helped assemble the Scout planes, then worked on the Hispanos and am now on night work but do not like it very well.

So your baby can talk quite well and Russel is going to Hector school. I imaginge him and Marion would enjoy life together don’t you? Marion is going to school down home and likes it real well, he is in the 3rd grade.

Lena is getting along nicely, of course she is lonesome for me but she is feeling quite well, Little Virgil is just as quick as usual and just as much of a chatter box, ha, ha! Lena says they speak of their daddy real often planning on the good time they will have when daddy comes home on furlough. I tried to get a furlough for last Monday but didn’t get it so may go home some time next month if I am still here.

Surely quite a surprise that Dr. McKibbin is in Jacksonvill, Florida, just 12 hours ride from here. We will likely pass thru there when we leave here.

Well, hoping to hear from you again and with best of wishes, I close.

Respectfully, Jesse Radohl P.S. How is Mrs. Van Cleek? Give her my best regards and tell her Florida has a wonderful climate. It is still warm here always have a nice cool sea breeze here. A few nice orange groves in this section of the country will be ripe in about 1 ½ months all kinds of oranges. Jesse