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William Fenton Tyree, Jr.
(December 23, 1912 - April 24, 1945)
WILLIAM F. TYREE, II (my Brother, Bill)
Bill was not quite two years older than I. When we passed the toddler stage., people used to ask my mother if we were twins. This went on for years and I became increasingly AWARE of it and eventually said, with all the scorn I could muster, "Are you a twin?"
The family has reminded me of this many times; although I was too young at the time to remember it.
But to further support the impression that we were twins, if one had a birthday, the other also got gifts. We were always referred to in one breath -- "Bill and Andy".
Puberty does come along. Bill had wavy blond hair, was more personable and gregarious than was I. I was the plodder, conservative. After we moved to Dallas, Bill had girl friends; while mine were few and casual. When we were in our teens, Bill used to wear out the streetcar lines going through down-town Dallas across the Trinity to Oak Cliff, visiting a girl by the name of Maco Richards.
Bill, like I did, went to S.M.U. He too could type and take shorthand. For a long spell we worked for Pop at the office in the Republic Bank Building. I remember Pop saying, "Bill has a memory like a tar-bucket."
Bill was working for the Goodrich Tire Company when he finally met a wonderful young lady by the name of Rosemary Hunt. They were married. William F. Tyree, III was born. Bills' application for deferment was refused; he was drafted into the Army and sent to the Pacific. He served in an ordinance company; his Captain was Paul Keene.
The War was winding down. Bill was on his way home, but temporarily in a dormitory in Luzon when Jap planes bombed it taking Bill at the age of 32, the second break in our circle of nine. Ellie and I attended the military funeral in Dallas. Later, Bill's Captain, Paul Keene, visited Mom and Virginia in Dallas. He lives in Bardstown, Kentucky and sends flowers to Virginia every Christmas. Ellie and I met him and his sister in Bardstown on a recent trip.
Rosemary died of muscular dystrophy many years ago. Their son, William F. Tyree, III has had a career with New York Life in California, is married to a lovely Dallas girl, Joanetta. They have a large family, multi-national, all adopted. Bill, III used to come to Miami for visits regularly, but regrettably we have not seen him or his family for much too long. I hope he reads this.
There is one thing about my brother Bill that Ellie will remember. When visiting with us and wearing shorts, he would glance down and often say, "Gad, what a leg!" I often wonder what it would have been like if Bill had survived the War. What impact he might have had on our lives.
A Letter from Bill
Transcribed by Thomas H. Tyree in 1994.
Pvt. Wm. F. Tyree, Jr. 38279377
Somewhere in the Pacific
26 December 1943
To Whom It May Concern:
The person that gets the original copy of this letter would never know the difference, if I hadn't intimated it. However, circumstances make it necessary that I go in to mass production insofar as letter writing is concerned and tritely speaking, kill ten birds with one stone. Getting letters from my friends and specifically speaking my family seems to have forgotten my address, with exceptions here and there and I can recall those letters as a pleasure of the dim and fleeting past. Calling specific names is useless and needless; if the shoe fits you you have no fear of corns or bunions. To put it mildly, if anything is deserving of a little time, that time can surely be found, or maybe my feelings of being deserving are vastly out of proportion. None of you can say that I have been selfish with my letters, though I will admit that the past few months I have not maintained the standard and regularity that I have endeavored to keep, however, things with me now are entirely different and I can only grab time by the last hair on its tail as it flashes by. Have I made myself muddy!?
Now to make history and prospect with the future. I guess that I have become more or less resigned to this long, though temporary, separation from my wife and my son and my family and friends. Not that I am consoled to it but when one has a fact to face, there being no immediate way out or solution to it, I find that I had just as well make the best of it and find as happy a medium as possible. I guess that I have pretty well reached that stage. Managing to keep very busy, time is passing fairly rapidly. As most of you know, I am no longer in Australia, but have been here for quite some time now. Geographically, I can not give you any information; descriptively speaking, I can say that the jungles and I are getting to be quite good friends, and frankly, they are even more jungly than any books describe. The foliage, the insects, birds of every type, size, color and description, and the noises one hears, especially at night time, are as weird and spooky and gruesome as one would dare to imagine. I have a swift, delightfully cool, clear jungle stream to bathe in only a short distance from my quarters. The days are, surprisingly, not too hot and the nites, most of them necessitate a blanket. Every nite that I go to bed, necessitates a minute inspection of my bed and mosquito bar to see if I have any amiable companions in the way of spiders, insects, tree crabs, snakes, worms and what have you, who wish to spend the nite with me. I fail to see my personal attraction. (Maybe Rosie could tell you). They are very persistent in their desire for human companionship, but being a married man and very particular I dispose of them with disdain. Morning brings the same problem but this time I give my attention to my clothes and shoes, to see who wanted to spend the Day with me on various parts of my anatomy. So far, I have managed to elude any of these friends. All in all though, 'tis not a bad place to be situated, quite pleasant in a restricted sense of the word. I know of a lot worse places and seeing them soon would not surprise me in the least. Am fit as a fiddle; getting tan and rugged, of course in a lesser degree than Tarzan, for as you know my work is more or less confined to office detail for the most part. However, I help keep myself fit with our weekly hike of ten or more miles; play softball, swim and hiking on my own. A little trip down to the beach, on foot, a matter of a round trip of around eight miles is really a pleasant postman's holiday. My life is not too lonely now since I have been in the army as long as I have, for I have made a lot of new and fine friends. We always manage to quarrel, grouse, pull jokes and pranks on each other and have quite a bit of fun and tomfoolery offsetting the drab seclusion of our current way of living. For my private means of entertainment diversion, I read what books that I can get my hands on, and good books are as scarce as a woman with a brazzier on in these parts: read my Bible nitely and attend church more or less irregularly, to tell the truth. Need I suggest to you that you have an organization known as the Book of the Month Club. Seriously speaking though, maybe you could get hold of some frayed volume of a good book and send it to me through the ever available channels.
This is my second Christmas away from my wife and my boy, my family and my friends. I won't be surprised if I have another one; one can't escape fact and duty, especially in view of what we are now involved. It is not my desire to do so, but I surely do get lonely and that is putting it mildly. I am not lonely in the sense of having friends and companionship, but lonely for the ones I love and I need. Happenings in my every day life are of varied degrees, pleasant, surprising and at times aggravating. Tojo manages to be more or less consistent in remembering us with a few tokens from his brave and esteemed airmen, presenting us with a few loud reminders that he thinks the Amelican soldier is a lot better use to him spread over a ten acre lot, that is if he is lucky enough to find the guy that hasn't found out that you can't outrun a bomb. My slit trench is getting to be quite a familiar habitation with me, and will probably be more so as time goes by. 'Tis a comforting place and I wouldn't trade it for a Seeley mattress right now, in spite of the fact that one occasionally plunks himself down in the slit trench finding a nice cushion of goo and water and a few of natures crawly, revolting and ever present creations.
We had big feasts for Thanksgiving and Christmas; really felt sorry for you poor rationed civilians. I attended Midnite Mass Christmas eve in the Catholic Chapel, hewn out of the jungles. It was a very impressive ceremony and well attended. I managed to take a few snapshots of the alter and the choir of soldiers, which I hope turn out all right, for the chapel was very beautifully decorated with jungle flowers and fern and candles. It is out-doors, of course, and the service was held under a star studded sky as the roof and the jungle grass and foliage as a place to kneel in humble prayer and supplication to our God. I turned over in my mind and my mind's eye the picture of these hundreds of men kneeling in humbleness before their God, seeking refuge from their worries and cares and seeking the strength and fortitude to carry them into battle, sustaining them in their hour of trial. The hope and fortunes of this world are encased in these magnificent American boys, and knowing them as I do, it leaves little to the imagination, mind or eye, to see in them the Greatness that makes up America. To say that I am proud of being an American, proud of my heritage, is putting it mildly. America is great because of its people and for what America stands for, and from what I have seen of this mad world and its people, there is really no need to take the time to make a comparison as to what we have and what they lack. We all, you and I, enjoy the privilege of being an American, but so few of us realize the privilege, blessing and heritage that is ours, handed to us on a silver platter. Waxing patriotic is normally not in my category, but at the same time, I am Not Too close to the forest that I can't see the trees. Inquiring into your health and your life is gleaned from my love and devotion to you. I do hope that everything is well with you and yours. I think of you constantly and needless to say am ever looking forward to the day when I can be with you again.
This is a sleepy drowsy Sunday afternoon, so I think that I will conclude this letter and go take a snooze before chow time; after chow a plunge in my private stream; Then to a show tonite, then to bed, then comes the inevitable, ever present, ever persistent, ever there, Reville. (mispelled). So, for now, goodbye, and God bless you and yours. I am looking forward, eagerly, for a letter. Waiting too much time, would be disappointing.
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