A Letter to Walter

A Letter to Walter

At the end of Leo’s first person account is a faded handwritten note to a man named Walter dated March 13, 1975.  In the note, Leo clarifies some of his exploits at Guadalcanal and his departure.  The G.F. Jones was Martin Clemens’s personal launch that ferried Leo and Ray from Guadalcanal to San Cristobal.  Once at San Cristobal, they boarded a Chinese schooner with “a crew of limited nautical abilities.”  Leo took charge of the Chinese schooner and was appointed skipper at the time of voyage.  They headed back to New Hebrides and then Villa Efate, two islands east of the Coral Sea controlled by American forces.  Once on board the destroyer John Paul Jones, Leo and Ray were headed back home to Pearl Harbor.

According to the handwritten note, Leo and Ray re-joined VT-5, torpedo squadron 5, at Pearl Harbor for the Battle of Midway where the USS Yorktown was sunk.  Following Midway, VT-5 was disbanded with some of the pilots joining VT-3 and others headed to Pensacola, Florida to help with training.  Leo doesn’t specify which path he took.  In comparing his written account to the transcribed one, we seem to have some contradictions as Leo and Ray listened to the Battle of Midway on the carrier back to Pearl Harbor after Guadalcanal.  I’ll have to do some research on the Battle of Midway to see if they make an appearance.

Besides pouring on some additional details, Leo mentions that he is sorry for the delay in responding to Walter’s letter and knows that his book already went to press.  Intrigued, I googled Walter South Pacific World War II and came across Walter Lord’s canon of books.  An accomplished historian, Walter wrote on a variety of World War 2 subjects such as the Battle of Midway (Incredible Victory) and The Coastal Watchers of the Solomons (Lonely Vigil) but is best known for his minute by minute account of the sinking of the Titanic (RMS Titanic).  It seems, by some simple deduction, that Walter had contacted Leo to do some research for a book and Leo responded by mailing Walter a recorded reading of his personal account on cassette tape.  Bill found this tape in his parent’s stuff while helping them move a few weeks ago.  Now we are getting closer to the origin of the tape and why Leo took the time to record his water landing at Guadalcanal.  I checked out both Incredible Victory and Lonely Vigil from the library and, according to the index, Leonard “Spike” Ewoldt is on page 15 of the Lonely Vigil.   Looks like we will be starting with that one.

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