It was a special time for the trainees each day when "Mail Call" was announced. The soldiers would cluster around the Mail Clerk who would call out the recipient's names. Letters, postcards, magazines, newspapers and parcels were eagerly received. Some of the mail was quickly opened while a large portion was read and then re-read in the relative privacy in the barracks. It was the time to get caught up with the happenings at home with family and friends. It was disappointing when no mail was received, but often the prized letters themselves caused bouts of homesickness. The trainees were resilient however and quickly made friends with the other trainees in their training company, who served as a new surrogate family. Home-baked cookies and cakes were generously shared with each other, and newly received photos were passed around. Good natured comments accompanied the sharing of photos: "How did you rate such a good looking girl - she must be half- blind!" or, "Your family looks good, I bet you can't wait for leave to see them again - maybe I'll come with you and say hello to your cute sister."
Rarely was any offense made or taken from the friendly banter as the mail usually brought such a surge in morale for the recipients. It also brought another problem - that of the obligation to answer the correspondence. First of all, the rigorous training didn't allow much time to properly answer the writers, and secondly, besides describing how their training was progressing there wasn't much substantive news to send home. Passes were scarce, and the brief trips to Mineral Wells or Fort Worth didn't provide much out of the ordinary to write about. Parents were told that things "were o.k." and that "the chow was not too bad." It was important to the trainees to put a positive spin so their families weren't worried unduly. The brief letters home were often finished just before lights out and the letters sealed and quickly deposited in the Mail Box in the company area for collection each day. No postage was required and the word "Free" was written where stamps were normally affixed.
To all of the Armed Forces fighting across the globe during WWII a letter from home was the biggest morale booster.
Private Merriam Curtis was from Michigan and wrote a letter to Mr. Norman Hammer at the E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company location in Flint, Michigan. It appears that Merriam had worked with Mr. Hammer at one time and from his request to "tell all the boy's hello for me and tell any of them to write. I'll try and answer them" shows he was probably was home-sick and missed his friends and home - a very normal reaction for young soldiers who were often away from home for the first time.
Private Varro Tyler was from Nebraska City, Nebraska, and was at Camp Wolters just as the war was ending in Europe and the Pacific. His letters were obtained from an estate sale and provide an interesting insight to the Infantry Training Replacement Center. It is easy to follow the transition Private Tyler made being a new, naive inductee to a confident, ready-for-almost-anything soldier who has completed Infantry training, His letters are representative of the millions of civilians who joined the Armed Forces in WWII and had to undertake training far from their homes. They were well trained and equipped, and after crushing the Axis powers were able to return home to continue their disrupted lives. They were truly "America's Greatest Generation."