WORLD WAR II LETTER HOME
The following letter was written on 16 August 1943 by Corporal Claude DuWayne Hazen to his brother and sister-in-law, Alson and Nellie McIlwain Hazen, of Corning, New York. It is the only war letter from Cpl. Hazen known to have survived the ravages of time.
It is believed this letter was written while Corporal Hazen was enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation in Australia after the Guadalcanal campaign which began on 7 August 1942 and before the December 1943 start of the Cape Gloucester campaign.
Cpl. Hazen, age 20, had participated with his fellow Marines in the Battle of the Tenaru (Ilu) on 21 August 1942. He served with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal which was the first major Japanese land attack in the Pacific. Like everyone who fought on that island, Claude would never forget the horrors of Guadalcanal. Vicious battles on the island and in the seas surrounding Guadalcanal, malaria, starvation, jungle rot, and Washing Machine Charlie were never to be forgotten no matter how many years had passed from those times. The loss of a good friend, Leo Carvalis, at Guadalcanal would forever be etched in Cpl. Hazen’s mind. The Japanese assault on the sand spit at the Tenaru was never to be forgotten as it was during this battle a fellow Marine saved Claude’s life by grabbing a grenade that had fallen on the ground between Claude’s legs, and tossing it at the enemy. Cpl. Hazen also remembered the furious onslaught and how he grabbed another box of grenades and began throwing them as rapidly as possible at the advancing Japanese troops. As he celebrated his 21st birthday in December of 1942 on Guadalcanal, he knew that malaria and malnutrition had taken their toll on the Marines.
In early 1943 the war-weary Marines, replaced by fresh troops, struggled to climb the nets on the sides of the ships that would take them to badly-needed rest and relaxation. Many, too weak from their long ordeal, could not pull themselves up those nets and the sailors aboard ship, with tears in their eyes, would climb down to help their fellow Americans. After a stop at Pavuvu, which was a bad mistake as its climate was very similar to that of Guadalcanal, the Marines were sent on to Australia to recuperate.
It is amazing, when reading this letter, to learn how very much Cpl. Hazen managed to keep a positive attitude about his future. Whether he truly felt this positive about his chances of survival during war time or whether writing a letter that had to pass the censors played a part, we will never know for certain.
Mr. & Mrs. Alson Hazen Cpl.
Claude D. Hazen
Rose Hill, R. D. #2 Co. G, 2nd Bn, 1st Marines
Corning, N.Y. U.S.A. c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California
Dear Alson and Nellie,
Don’t know your address so am sending this in care of Gerry’s address. Do hope you get this.
Am still waiting to hear from you, Nellie and Barbara.
Miss you folks not writing to me. You haven’t forgotten me, have you?
I don’t know whether I owe you a letter or you owe me one. But that doesn’t matter just so I get one from you.
How is Barbara Ann coming along? Does she still miss her Uncle? I miss her so much. Do you still play the guitar yet? Don’t give it up. We must get together again and have a few songs played.
Well, I must write to Gerry and Marge yet. Then I have completed a letter to all the family. Will be waiting to hear from you all.
Cpl. Claude D. Hazen
The poignant sentence “you haven’t forgotten me, have you” expressed a fear that many Marines/Soldiers/Sailors had in their hearts when they received little or no mail.
Corporal Hazen would serve with “G-2-1-1” through several campaigns until he was wounded in his left leg by shrapnel on D-day +3 (18 September 1944) in the Battle of Peleliu.
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