Letters from the War Zone

Letters from Bob Spiroff to Cassie Spiroff

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Monday night, September 18, 1950, 7:30 p.m.

My Dearest Darling Wife,

Hello again Sweetheart.  I wrote you a letter this afternoon while I was on the train.  I gave it to an officer to mail for me when we got off.  the train took us straight to the dock where we got right on the boat.  I am writing this letter from the lounge on the boat.  We just pulled out 10 minutes ago.  We are now leaving Japan and in about 12 hours we will be in Korea.  From there who knows what.  I have pulled myself together and my nerves are more settled than they were this afternoon on the train.  You have given me the courage and the strength to carry on like the soldier you think I am.  I won't let you down Baby.  I want you to be proud of your husband in whatever he does.  For I am doing everything for you Dear.  I can just close my eyes and see your sweet, beautiful face before me and the wonderful memory of our short time together and I know that there is nothing in this world that will keep me from coming back to the one I love.  And that is you, my darling and only you.  Keep that in mind Darling--and thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration to me.  For with you as my prize darling, I don't see how I can fail.  The only thing I ask you is to remain as brave as you have been and just pray for my speedy return.  For that is all I have to live for now Dearest--is my return to you.

I can't write much more Darling.  The water is awful choppy and rough and I am beginning to get sick.  I feel like throwing up right now.  I never could take the water.  Even those couple of moonlights we went to I got sick.  But I didn't let you know. -- Excuse me darling, but I feel it coming now.  Ooops.  No, Cassie.  It didn't quite come up.  As far as my throat and back, but I don't think I can continue writing anymore.  I'll try to write you when we get there if I can.  Gee, I'm really sick in the stomach.  There are a few others sick too.  It's just a small Korean boat and it's packed.  Gee whiz, this is an awful feeling Cassie.

Let me know how long it took for this letter to reach you.  But I don't know when I'll get your answer.  I'm so anxious to hear from you Cassie.  You also showed me what true love is and what living can be like when you are with the one you love.  When I can smell the sweet fragrance of your hair against my cheek and kiss your sweet lips the way I used to.

Well Darling, I'm going to have to lay down.  I feel worse all the time.  The wind is really rough out there.  So long for now Sweetheart and take care of yourself.  Keep your chin up and don't forget that your husband is right this minute thinking of you and wishing for you--as ever.  All my love Baby to the sweetest wife in all the world.  I love you.  Your own, Bob

P.S. - Don't write to this address after you answer this letter.  I will have a new one.  I am going to the 1st Cavalry Division which is now at Teague.

Saturday, September 23, 1950

Here I am once again Cassie.  Still in the same place.  I don't know what time it is.  My watch stopped during the night.  Time doesn't mean much anymore.  I know it's sometime Saturday morning.  I've been in this hole for three days now.  Honey, this is plain hell on earth.  They are still firing on us, so we can't move around much.  I never felt more miserable in my life.  I wonder what you are doing now Baby.  Maybe you are writing to me too. 

It's really getting hot now.  The sun is just beating down and the flies are enough to carry you away.  Last night it was bitter cold.  I still haven't taken my clothes off.  I'm glad I brought this writing tablet with me Cassie.  We wasn't supposed to for they said we wouldn't get any time to write.  And we wouldn't if we weren't being held up by the Koreans in front of us.  I just hope they don't attack.  They seem to be pulling back on the other fronts.  A jeep just came up from Headquarters with a bag of mail.  But I didn't get any yet.  They say that it will be at least a month before I get mail in this outfit.  I hope not.

How is everything with you Darling?  What have you been doing with yourself?  I suppose it's starting to cool off in Linthicum too by this time.

There is a river flowing about 400 yards to the right of us.  I'm going to sneak down there and get me a helmet full of water after while.  There is only one thing the matter with that though.  There are a bunch of dead Koreans in the river.  There was a big fight on this hill and this area about four days before I got here.  In the field in front of me is a ditch with about 200 dead in it.  It must be a little later than I thought.  Here comes a truck with some more rations for our dinner.

Later afternoon - after noon - They surprised us and for dinner they brought us lima beans and franks in tomato sauce and warm coffee.  It usually is cold by the time it reaches us.

I also shaved Darling.  Just for the heck of it I left my mustache on.  I wish you could see what your husband looks like.  I feel a little better with all that beard of f my face.  But it sure hurt shaving in that cold water.  As I was shaving two tank shells went zooming over my head.  But they were way over honey.  About 20 or 30 feet.  But still I almost knocked my helmet over dodging them.  I sure need a shampoo Baby.  I can feel that my hair and scalp is really dusty and dirty.

I have your picture before me now.  And I think you are the most beautiful sight in the world and that is a fact darling.  I believe you are the most beautiful girl in the world (to my eyesight anyway).

I am now out of my foxhole.  I'm sitting under a tree facing the hill where the Koreans are.  They're about a half a mile or a little more to our front.  Naktong River separates us.  Tonight I will place my men along the river bank in case they send a patrol over.  I hope they don't.

As I'm sitting here Darling it doesn't seem like there is a war going on.  The grass is green and birds are flying over and around the tree.  Around me there are some Korean flowers growing.  I also see some daisies and morning glories further on.  I don't know what kind of a flower this is.  It's right by my foot.  And just think--down the road and across the hill there is bullets and death.

This is all for now I guess.  I will try to write you again the first chance I get.  Stay sweet for me Baby and keep loving me.  All my prayers are for you.  May God bring us together again soon.  Say "hello" to everybody for me.  How is my Aunt getting along?  Tell her I said "hello" and give her my love.  Keep thinking of me Darling, for I'm always loving you.  Yours forever.  Your own, Bob

Tuesday morn, October 17, 1950, North Korea

My Dear Wonderful Wife - Good morning Darling.  Here it is another day without you, but nevertheless you're forever on my mind.  Yesterday I received my second letter from you.  The one with Al's letter in it.  You'll never know how happy your letter made me Darling.  It was just like giving me new life and strength to carry on.

I don't know if you got my letter which I wrote you Saturday or not.  The one I told you that we were moving out to make an attack.  Well, we did Honey--on Sunday.  We took two villages and a high mountain.  Cassie darling, you'll never be able to understand how horrible it was.  We fought all day and advanced about two miles.  And we paid for it Honey, in life and blood.  I don't think I'll ever be the same again after that.  I went through it in a daze with a prayer and your name on my lips with every step.  The resistance we got from the enemy was more than Headquarters expected.  And if we didn't have the tanks with us, we never would have made it.  One of my squad leaders got cut in half by machine gun bullets right before my eyes. We were all pinned down to the ground by the fire from the hill.  I lay down on the side of the road and pretended I was dead.  Bullets whizzing all around me.  This soldier was in front of me and to my right.  He got hit in the leg and fell down.  Then he started to crawl for the ditch.  They saw him crawling and I think they all started using him as a target.  Then there was nothing left of the lower part of his body.  And for a few minutes, Darling, I know I went out of my head.  I dug a trench as I was laying down with my bare hands and a piece of rock.  I dug it deep enough to get my head and neck into it.  Pretty soon our tanks arrived and opened up, which knocked out the enemy position and forced the rest to run away.  When we advanced further on I saw our mail clerk laying on the road shot through the eye.  I know that he had two of my letters in his jacket pocket--one to you and one to my aunt.  He didn't get to mail them Saturday night.  But the letters should have been sent after the medics picked up all the dead and wounded, and his pocket was full with outgoing mail.  But I thank God darling that we got through it and did our job as we did.

I am writing this letter on some captured enemy paper.  At the present time, I have twelve men with me and am guarding 80 enemy prisoners.  My company is further up front holding the high ground.  We are back here at Battalion Headquarters.  It's a break for us Darling and I hope it lasts for a while.  Don't worry about me Dear.  For as far as soldiering goes and maneuvering around the enemy, I can well take care of myself.  These people are not as smart and can't shoot as straight as the Germans.

P.S. - Here are a couple of North Korean officers we captured.  Also some North Korean money.  I love you.

Thursday, 7:30 p.m., October 18, 1950, Kaesong, Korea

My Dearest Darling - Hello honey.  Here I am once again with all my love to you.  I am fine and I sure hope this finds my baby the same.  Did you receive my letter that I sent the day before yesterday.  In it I told you that I was guarding some eighty prisoners with 12 men.  Well, before the day was over I had over 120 and yesterday the total reached 200.  I had more than we could handle, and they were getting pretty restless for they had nothing to eat in over a day and a half and I had nothing to give them.

I sent a man up to where the Battalion Headquarters was and to find out what I should do and when he got there, there was no one around.  The whole regiment went forward and forgot all about us.  For a while I did not know what to do.  But I knew that was no place for me with only 12 men and all those prisoners.  So I went on the road and flagged the first four Army trucks coming from the front and heading for the rear.  I piled the prisoners in and brought them here to Kaesong, which is about 40 miles from where we were.  I turned the prisoners over to the MPs here.  Got here late last night.  We spent the night and all day today in a school building.  I am writing this in a classroom.  But there are no seats anywhere.  I am sitting on the floor and using a candle for light.  Here is a melted drop of my candle.

It was sure good sleeping in a building again.  Even if I only had one blanket and a raincoat to sleep on, and the floor is hard, it is good being indoors for a change with a roof overhead.  My outfit is at this time six miles from Pyongyang the capital and is meeting stiff resistance from the enemy.  That's the news that came down today.  I will leave here with my 12 men tomorrow and join them again.  I hope things are under control by the time we get there.  For Honey, I'm so sick of shooting and fighting.  I'm just plain tired of it all.  As much as I hate the North Koreans, I get a sick feeling in my stomach every time I pull the trigger.

Right now it's raining hard outside.  It's been cold and rainy all day.  I'm sure glad I'm away from the foxholes, even for two or three nights.

Enough about me for this time.  How are you Honey?  I sure miss you Darling--more each day.  I dreamed of you last night, but it was all mixed up.  I can't remember what it was all about now.  I guess this is about all I have for this time Cassie.  I'm really tired and I want to get some sleep as I will have to get up pretty early.  Please tell my aunt that I am o.k.  I'm too tired to write any more tonight.  I will try to write to you both as soon as I can.  Please don't worry about me sweetheart.  I'll be o.k.  I'm sure anxious to hear from you.  I hope I have a letter from you when I reach my company.

Give my regards to everyone Darling and please remember that I love you with all my heart.  Until the next time dear, I'll close with all my love.  Your husband, Bob

P.S. - Please excuse the writing.  I can't hardly see with this small candle.  Outside is pitch black.

Sunday night, October 29, 1950, Chinnampo, North Korea

My Sweetest Wonderful Darling - Hello Baby.  Here I am again tonight.  I wrote to you this afternoon.  I told you I had to go to Headquarters.  I had to have my allotment changed--all the married men.  Instead of getting $67.50 a month for our apartment, they will give me enough to make $147.00 if I put in 480.00.  So that is what they will send to you.  But I also had a Class "E" allotment made for $52.50 to make it an even $200.  So instead of getting one check for $200 you will receive two checks--one for $147.50 and one for $52.50.  I hope it doesn't mess things up as far as my records go.  They could not tell me whether you got the allotment for this month.  All they said was that you should have gotten it.  I hope so.  It's pretty dark now and I'm writing to you by candlelight.

My Darling, I don't know just what the papers back home are saying about this war.  My aunt says that according to the Baltimore papers it's actually over or just about over.  But that's wrong Cassie.  It's far from over as far as the troops here are concerned.  There are a lot of enemy troops still hiding out in the hills carrying on guerrilla warfare and underground.  And they are dangerous.  They always attack the small groups of soldiers, and the supply convoys and hospitals in the rear.  And they are hard to catch and track down, for they change clothes into civilian and you never know who they are.  But I don't see why the South Koreans can't take care of them.  I believe they can if we give them the equipment.

Baby, I've got some bad news to tell you, but my luck still held out.  You know about that 30 man patrol that went out today that I told you about.  The one that I was supposed to go on but they didn't send me.  Well, they were on a truck coming back and on the way the truck overturned.  Nine of them got hurt bad.  One with a broken back, another with a smashed chest.  Another a broken leg.  One a broken arm.  And the Sergeant who went in my place got a smashed shoulder and a cut across the eye.  And there were more with minor hurts.  Who knows what would have happened if I were along.  I thank God that I wasn't.

Sweetheart, I don't think I can write much more tonight.  It's too dark now and my eyes are sort of hurting.  I will try to finish this early tomorrow morning.

Hello again, sweet stuff.  In a few minutes we will have dinner, but until they start feeding, I will continue to write.  All morning we have been busy and this is the first chance I've had.

Today is not as cold as it has been.  The fire is out.  Last night I got very little sleep.  I've got an awful cough, Cassie.  Just coughed all night.  Remember how I was last year at your mother's when I coughed so bad.  Well, it's the same way now.  But my throat is not sore anymore.

I hope they get us out of here soon.  How much longer can this last?  How I hate this--living like an animal you might as well say.  I get so sick when I think of the nice apartment we have and I have to be out here in this lousy place.  But not only me Darling.  I guess every one of us feel the same.  The only thing that makes me so mad is that I've got so much time overseas now and still they don't consider that.  But I guess that's the Army--and complaining won't help.

I have a captured North Korean flag that I would like to send you but I can't do it now.  I hope I'll be able to hold on to it till I can send it to you or bring it to you.  Gee Darling, I would like to send you something nice but there is nothing around here to be had--and then there is no way to send it.  I sure miss getting you little things.

Well Dearest, I guess this is about all I have for now.  It is time for dinner anyhow.  But I will try to write to you again later.  All my love.  Your husband, Bob

Sunday - 11th Dec '50 - Sunchon, Korea

My Dearest Darling,

I don't know how to start this. I don't even know if you will receive it. This is the first chance I've had to write in over a week. I can't explain everything now. All I want to do at this time to let you know that I am O.K. and for you not to worry. I will try to write you a longer letter tomorrow. I've got to hurry this off, Darling. The past two weeks have been nightmares-simply hell. I could never begin to explain just what happened. I'll try to in my next letter. I only hope this gets to you. I know you must be worried. Please don't dear-don't worry-just keep loving me and praying for me. It's so cold now I can't hardly write. I also drew this Christmas card for you. It's the best and only thing I can offer you this year Darling, other than my love. And you've always had that.

I hope you are O.K. Cassie. Please take care of yourself and please stay strong. All my thoughts are of you Darling-and you're the only reason that I've made it through so far. I love you more than ever Cassie and more so each day.

Forever yours, Love Bob

Outpost - Dug in around hill - waiting approaching Chinese

January 3, 1951, 9:30 a.m.

My Dearest Darling Wife,

Honey, I don't know when I'll be able to mail this letter. I won't hardly have time to write it. I'll have to hurry. I just thought I'd let you know that so far I'm O.K. and that I still love you more than ever. Right now Darling I'm in an old shack trying to get warmed up a little. On the hills around me I have my men all dug in in their fox holes. We have been here 2 days and nights now. The Chinese are on their way. We are the out post line - that is - we are about 2 miles in front of our regiment. I have 50 men with me. The enemy will hit us first - or else we will fire on them as soon as we see them-then pull back to our regiment. I hope everything works out all right. It will if they don't cut us off. (If you get this letter - then you will know that we made it O.K.) This is a very dangerous and important job for us. I just hope they don't attack us at night - for we have only one trail to use to get back to our lines. Everything else is mined and barb wired. But we will make it Darling --- for we have God on our side and I have your love to guide me.

Well Dearest - I hope this finds you well. Please see my aunt and tell her this. I'll write you both the very first chance I get. Till then Darling - please don't worry and remember that I love you. I will forever.

With all my love, Bob

Somewhere in Korea

In Case of Accident:
Please Deliver to Mrs. Bob Spiroff, 405 Hammonds Ferry Road, Linthicum Heights, Maryland

October 3rd, 1950

My Darling Wife -

I hope you never receive this letter-unless I show it to you myself. As I am writing this, we are out on patrol. Right now we have stopped for a rest. I've had these few sheets in my pocket so I thought I'd write you this letter. I hope I get it finished in time.

My platoon has the mission of clearing out the surrounding villages of all enemy snipers who are hiding and shooting our troops one by one. Most of them are wearing civilian clothing. At the present time we have just cleared one village and are now taking a short rest before starting on the next one. This is a dangerous job dear. Anything may happen. I hope it all goes O.K. With God's help, it will. However darling, if anything should happen to me today-or before this war ends and I do not return to you, please do this one thing for me. I don't want you to break down and lose all hope. I don't want you to pine your life away. Please don't dear-for it won't help you any.

I want you to get accustomed to your new life and make your mind up that you will remain strong and face the future with a strong will. You still have a lot to live for Darling. You are still young and beautiful and have a long life ahead. I know it will be awful hard for you at first-but that is the way life is. For a while you will be well set as far as money goes. You will continue receiving my pay for 6 months and besides that you will collect my life insurance.

Darling Cassie, I want you to try to find someone else for you can't go on alone-and shouldn't! Only please be careful who you choose Cassie. Make sure it's the right one-for you deserve the best. I only hope whoever you choose will be worthy of you and appreciates you-for there is no one else like you, dear. God made only one like you and He made you mine.

I want you to be happy darling-for you deserve happiness. Just think of me as someone you just knew long ago-and remember that it's God's will that we had to part. And wherever I may be Cassie-I'll be wishing you happiness. And I'll hope that you'll have everything that I wanted to get for you-but didn't get the chance.

Above all else darling-don't wander away from my Aunt Mary. Don't forget her for she loves you too and will always continue helping you I'm sure.

So if this is my last letter to you my Darling-I want you to know that I left this world loving you-and only you. I didn't die here on the battlefield dear. I think I died that night at the station when I said Goodbye to you.

I want to thank you over again sweetheart for making me the happiest man in the world by marrying me. The days we spent together dearest were so happy and Oh! So few. But those few days were a whole lifetime to me Cassie-for right now they are the only days I remember.

My only regret dear is that you had to bear through all this heartache. For if you love me as I love you, and I'm sure you do-then I know just how you must have felt all these lonesome days. I'm sorry darling for causing you all this misery. For in marrying me dear-that is all you've had, misery and heartache. Rather, I should say Cassie-that since we've been married we have both had at least a month of misery for each happy day.

However-I'm asking you again to try to put that aside and start life anew. Life is what you make it darling so please-for my sake-make it as bright for yourself as possible. So in saying Goodbye, my darling-I want you to remember that I love you and have loved you till the end. May you have a happier life in the future than you've had with me. And if there is a life "hereafter" as they say-I hope someday to see you again.

Till then Beloved wife-I'll keep on loving you-even from afar. You're the only one.

- With all my heart and soul - your husband, Bob

[Editor's Note: Bob Spiroff made it out of Korea and has now written a book about his Korean War experiences. His bride Cassie (pictured above with Bob at Ft. Meade, MD on January 7, 1950) never received her husband's farewell letter from Korea.]

December 25, 1950

My Darling Cassie,

Merry Christmas Dearest. Here it is Christmas morning. Last night I wrote you a letter. After I wrote the letter I started to draw this picture. I hope it gets to you by our anniversary. I'm sorry I can't send you anything-not even a real card. You don't know how much I miss not being able to be with you today-and on our anniversary. Hope this finds you well darling-and not worrying too much. I hope we won't be separated too much longer. I miss you more than ever. I wonder what you could be doing today-and where you are. It is now almost 10:00 a.m. They are having Catholic services at 11:00 and I hope to go. Will write you later. All my love.

Your husband, Bob

February 1951, 1:00 p.m

My Dearest Darling,

Here I am once again Sweetheart. I wrote you a letter earlier, so I figured while I still had time I might as well draw you a Valentine card. Our patrol has not returned yet. I hope they didn't hit any trouble on their mission.

Honey-this will probably get to you too late for the 14th of February. But I want you to know that I'll be thinking of you on that day and wishing so much for you. I hope you like this Valentine card I drew. I can't do much better-here on the hill using my lap as a table. The sun is still shining nice.

I'll finish this later darling-we just got word to move out. How far forward we are going I don't know. I'll let you know later. So long dear. I'll see you later on. I love you.

Back again Baby-we just walked up the road a couple of miles. Gee, I sure am hungry. Didn't have much for breakfast and no dinner as yet. And it's starting to turn windy.

Yours forever. I love you. Your husband Bob XOXO


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