BIAK ISLAND

In June 1944, the 49th Fighter Group moved to a captured airstrip on Biak Island. The base at Biak was subject to nightly bombing raids by the enemy. The Japanese never gave up their efforts to destroy or degrade the American air fields. One night attack killed the entire headquarters staff of the 49th Fighter Group. Nobody was safe in their bed. The slit trenches outside each tent, dug with great difficulty in the hard coral of the islands, got a lot of use.

"...12 June...about 0230 an undetermined number of enemy planes came over and dropped bombs in the midst of the Group camp. Many were caught unaware, out of slit trenches or even in bed...Four offices and fourteen enlisted men were killed and thirty men wounded."
- 9FS Unit History, June 1944

Apart from what was suggested in the pictures Tom sent, little of this horror of war made it into his letters home. He continually sought to reassure his family while the nightly air raids continued and the friendly artillery close to camp seemed to fire continually, day and night. Tom was in the middle of some of the most fierce fighting of the Pacific war.

October 1944. Tom Wanta typing a letter home. Biak Island.

I don't want Mom to worry about me. It is'nt as if I was in an outfit like [my friend] Angus is. There is'nt a man in the army who does'nt expect to get home, and I'm certainly no exception.

Appeal for more blood. July 31 1944 including excerpt of letter from Cpl Thomas C. Wanta
David Atkinson 2017. All Rights Reserved.