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Thanks . . . But No Thanks! June 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People.

Continued from . . . Photography Again?!

On February 21st, dad wrote Margaret to thank her for the cookies she sent with the Mercury camera:

“Captain Harbin and some of the other officers have been trying to urge me to accept a warranty ~ that is to become a warrant officer.  The pay would be $216 a month but there is a drawback.  I would have to sign up for a year.  That would keep me over here until next March.”

“As it is now, I will start home the last of August or the first of September.  Therefore, to accept would mean staying in Korea about 6 months longer.  I told them that the extra money didn’t mean as much as to go home and get back to college.  At least it shows that they appreciate my work and would like to keep me.”

To his sister Marjorie on February 25th:

“Prevo is in Colorado and waiting impatiently for his discharge.  I don’t blame him as I am in a hurry to get out of the army now.  It isn’t as nice as college.  By the way, some of the folks have been writing that you plan to go to UVM in the fall.  I am glad.  If you go to college I don’t think you will ever be sorry even if you have to work some to pay your way.  The only reason I am in the army is to pay my college expenses.  I don’t like the army well, but college is worth it.”

He wrote his father on March 9th after a short trip to Taejon, Korea:

“I am back in Seoul.  Came on a train during the night.  When I reached here, I found that promotions had come out again.  Effective the 6th of March, I was a staff sergeant ~ $138 a month.  My pay has increased quite a little since I came into the army.  The first two days in the army, the pay was $50.  On July 1st, it was increased to $75.  Since then it has gone to $90 ~ $108 ~ $120 ~ $138.”

On April 6th, he wrote:

“I am enclosing the letter I received for one of my reports.  It is from Capt. Molina, who has charge of the Political Section of CIC in Korea.  When I was assigned to the case of the beating, it seemed to be an ordinary case, but General Lerch became interested.  Because I knew that one copy of my 4-pg report was going to go to him, I tried to do a good job.  It paid off I guess, because this is the first letter I have seen any of the agents get for writing a good report:

To:  S/A Hatch

1.  Very good report.
2.  Reports of this caliber is what makes a good organization.
3.  Keep up the good work.

There isn’t much else to write about.  Life here gets to be the same old grind.  I have done enough investigating to last me the rest of my life, I think.”

Continued next week . . . RATS!


1. Jill Weatherholt - June 2, 2014

I love his letter to Marjorie about college…great advice! Thanks for sharing, Nancy.

nrhatch - June 2, 2014

At this point (1/2 way through his enlistment), the novelty and initial excitement had worn off ~ he was ready to go home and get back to college. The Army had become a means to that end.

He remained a lifelong learner. After an Electrical Engineering degree from Northeastern, he got a Masters in E.E. from Stevens. He enjoyed reading about Sailing, Photography, Woodworking before putting what he learned into practice.

And his favorite light reading ~ biographies and world history.

2. katecrimmins - June 2, 2014

I always enjoy these stories. Have you considered putting them in a book along with your (always excellent) commentary? I know my brother whose military career kind of paralleled your father’s would enjoy reading it. He was in the service during the Korean conflict and came out to get an EE degree through the GI bill.

nrhatch - June 2, 2014

Thanks, Kate. I’m not sure I have what it takes to put together an e-book and MARKET it.

I wrote the summary of dad’s letters for my brothers, sister, and my aunt to add to dad’s autobiography. And after sharing it with them, decided to share some of the summary here as well.

If your brother is “on line,” feel free to share the link to the first post with him ~ at the end of each post is the link to the next:


Perhaps someday I’ll feel like I have the time and energy to adequately market his words. But I don’t think the time is now.

3. Don - June 2, 2014

You know Nancy, whenever I read about your Dad and his letters in these posts you’ve done, I’m always taken back to the writing of Studs Terkel, I’m sure you know him. The reason being that he felt it was essentially the every day person who actually wrote the history of the world. These posts about your Dad and his letters are the real stuff of history, small history, but great history intricately woven in to the all embracing story. Wonderful. Thoroughly enjoy them.

nrhatch - June 2, 2014

Thanks, Don. I have heard of Studs Terkel (what a great name!) and agree with his thoughts ~ the story of history requires a showing and a telling. The telling is the BIG picture, the over-riding conflict and conquest. The showing is in the details ~ how it affected real people and real lives.

I’m glad you’re enjoying the unfolding of this bit of showing.

4. Pix Under the Oaks - June 2, 2014

Yep he is ready to go home and get on with his life. It is still hard to believe how young he is!

nrhatch - June 2, 2014

Our oldest nephew is about to graduate from college ~ that seems YOUNG . . . until I think that at the age he was when heading to the Univ. of Chicago, dad was already on a slow boat to Korea.

5. Photography, Again?! | Spirit Lights The Way - June 2, 2014

[…] Continued next week:  Thanks . . . But No Thanks! […]

6. nancytex2013 - June 2, 2014

“I don’t like the army well but college it worth it.” <– I love how real and practical he came off in this sentence. Smart man, good choices, great letters. Fascinating post/series, NH.

nrhatch - June 2, 2014

Thanks, NT. From what I’ve observed, you would sail through basic training (with kids 1/2 your age) with flying colors.

Keep moving!

nancytex2013 - June 2, 2014

I’ll take your word for it. 🙂

Then again, I’d get a giant F (as in Fail) on chin ups. Can’t do one to save my life!

nrhatch - June 2, 2014

And they might send you to the chaplain for language counseling due to the F-bombs. 😎

7. Sandra Bell Kirchman - June 2, 2014

I decided to take the time to look in on your blog, Nancy. What I saw hooked me. Your dad’s letters are, in his words, “fine art.” Very expressive and yet compact. Maybe you get your storytelling gene from him?

My dad was a pilot officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. It’s a shame he never wrote the kind of letters your dad did, especially since he was quite eloquent and had done some fiction writing previously. I regret not knowing my dad better. You are lucky in this regard.

P.S. Of course, after reading this post, I was forced to go back to the beginning one on this subject and read it and the intervening blogs. Fascinating!

nrhatch - June 2, 2014

Glad you enjoyed, Sandra. Dad gave me the aptitude for mathematics & logic which, I suspect, ties in with my writing voice ~ straightforward with minimal embellishments. Mom did a fair amount of creative writing which she shared with me.

If your dad wrote letters home, to whom would he have sent them? My grandfather is who I have to thank for these letters ~ dad wrote them but grandpa kept them. And dad got them back when his father died. In contrast, the letters dad received while in Korea didn’t come back to the states with him (as far as I know).

8. Grannymar - June 2, 2014

We hear in the media about those who went to ‘war’, but little about those of many generations waiting for word and rereading those letters over and over until the next dispatch arrives.

nrhatch - June 2, 2014

Back then, the options were few ~ letters, postcards, or telegrams. Now service men and women often can Skype to stay in touch. That would feel like a real life-line.

9. Val Boyko - June 2, 2014

This first hand account is so fascinating Nancy. He seems young and yet, over time shows growth with practical decisions and insights about what’s important. I had to smile at “It (the army) isn’t as nice as college”!

nrhatch - June 2, 2014

Understated elegance. I laughed at several statements in dad’s letters ~ like his nonchalant attitude about people passing out at parties. It’s interesting to be an adult while seeing your parents on the cusp of adulthood.

10. jannatwrites - June 3, 2014

Your dad was smart – college is a good investment in ourselves. How cool someone noticed his work and took time to comment on it!

nrhatch - June 3, 2014

I wonder if dad noticed the typo in the letter ~ 2. Reports of this caliber is . . .

My inner editor wanted to edit it out.

colonialist - June 3, 2014

If he’d dared to put (sic) it probably would have been referred back to the officer – mail was usually vetted!

nrhatch - June 3, 2014

That might well have been the case. A few of the things dad mentioned surprised me for just that reason. Although he didn’t share any of the Top Secret stuff in his letters home.

11. colonialist - June 3, 2014

It does seem that the spell in the army turned out to have been a good Korea beginning! (I could hear that groan all the way from here!)

nrhatch - June 3, 2014

Korea definitely got his korea off to a good start! Thanks for the laugh, Col.

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