Dear Howard -
I don't have much time right now - only a few minutes but I did want to thank you for the present from you and your family. I know I'll enjoy it very much and I'm sure I will use it often. Thanks again and thank Jean and the baby, too. Well - I've finished instruments and am just about ready for advanced squadron. I applied for fighters, you know, and luckily I got them. I have a few more days in gunnery here and I'll move Saturday to the fighter squadron where I'll complete my training here at Corpus. - then my commission. I report at 08:10 in the morning to Colonel Norman (who is the big boy down here now) for an interview and lecture before I leave for fighters. I'm looking forward to meeting and talking with him, you can be sure. He's a Marine, of course, and has been with the Marine Air Corps since last war. He's quite a fellow, I understand. The weather at the present is pretty bad down here. A storm blew up Sunday night and it's been cold and rainy ever since. It's beginning to break off a little, however. With good weather I may be through here by the first of March - maybe a little sooner. I'd like to think sooner. Naturally, I'm awfully anxious to get through and do some good. I'm not much use here in training, you know.
I'm a first classman now, too, and that gives me a few extra privileges. When I came down here as a third classman that first class pin looked a long way off, but it's gone "zip" and I know these last few weeks will go even faster. Well, boy - I must close. It's time to shove off for gunnery. Be careless and let me hear from you again soon. Your brother Guy
Lt. Col. Lawrence Norman, USMC
Former Officer in Charge Cadet Regiment
Lt. Col. Norman
Shortly before Guy's graduation from Corpus, Lt. Col. Norman was assigned to command Marine Air Group 13 (MAG-13) in the Pacific under Brigadier General Lewie G. Merritt, wing commander, 4th MBDAW. The following was published in the Corpus Christi Slipstream:
"Lieutenant Colonel Norman, former Officer in Charge of the Cadet Regiment is a veteran Aviator, having seen years of active service with the Marines since winning his wings at Pensacola in 1929. He has had a varied career since first receiving his commission after a course of study in Washington, D.C. in 1926. His service record includes tours of duty in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, San Diego and Quantico, Virginia. He has been awarded the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and the Second Nicaraguan Medal.
Lieutenant Colonel Norman was, in turn, a battalion commander, Executive Officer and Officer in Charge of the Cadet Regiment. Leaving an enviable record of duty aboard this station, he was detached in February for duty with Marine Aviation in the Pacific."
Field of SNJ's
Guy's letter dated January 12, 1943:
"I'm at Kingsville now and have been here since Saturday. Everything out here is swell, but I can't say much for the fair City of Kingsville. It's okay, just a one-horse town with one picture show and nothing else. Of course, we don't have time to go to town much anyhow, so it doesn't matter.
I'm crazy about the fighter squadron. I haven't gotten far into it, as yet, but I've broken the surface and it looks wonderful.
... Tell Roy I'm flying SNJ's now. He can perhaps tell you a little about the plane. It's a nice baby with a 650 horsepower engine. We cruise at about 140 and has a top speed in acrobatics of about 250. And believe me, that's not coasting. They have hydraulic retractable landing gear and hydraulic flap control, variable pitch propeller, etc. Really a nice ship. We get to make a lot of gunnery runs with them later. Those 30mm machine guns have a pretty good lick, too. I'm anxious to do some strafing in it. And am I looking forward to my acrobatics in those babies. They say you can really wrap 'em up. I'll get about a hundred more hours in this squadron. That means I'll have about 250 flying hours when I get my commission. Probably about 100 more in transitional before I go to duty. I should really know those babies by then...
.... I had a wonderful time this afternoon. It was raining and they secured us from squadron about 2:30 PM and from 3:00 until 6:30 I had a jam session. There was a fellow here who has his sax (alto) and clarinet down here and he brought them down to my room and we had a fine session. He'd play sax and I'd play clarinet a while then we'd change around. I've been itching to play for a long time now and, gosh - I enjoyed it. The room was stacked full of kids in no time and it stayed that way until we quit. We really put on a show."
Then, in a January 23rd letter:
"Well, I've been pretty busy since I've been over here in fighter squadron. Sof far I've done mostly formation work and carrier landings. However, as soon as it gets daylight I have three hours of acrobatics and a two hour oxygen hop. We'll go to about 20,000' on the oxygen hop. They're a lot of fun. We put on our oxygen masks at about 12,000' and then climb on up. An on a clear day, you can see pretty far from that height.
When I said 'as soon as it's daylight' I mean just that. You see, I'm over here at squadron now and we always get here about 30 minutes before daylight. I'm pretty sleepy this morning. We were over here last night until about 12:00 for night flying. Twelve used to seem early to go to bed, but not anymore. Even 10:00 is late for me.
Mother has been wanting a picture of me in my uniform. Tell her when I'm in Abilene on leave I'm going to have her a nice big one made in my dress Marine uniform - color and all.."
Doc Marker remembers:
"I think we first started flying the SNJ in instrument flying where the student spent most of the time in the rear cockpit. Flying the SNJ was not a big step up from the SNV in controlling the craft but there were many more things to be aware of; retractable landing gear, stearable tailwheel, constant speed prop which brought manifold pressure into the picture and hydraulically actuated flaps. All the systems that were on a combat aircraft were on the SNJ.
Fighter training was conducted at Kingsville and mostly consisted of aerobatics and gunnery. All flights were in the SNJ. The SNJ was, for me, a very comfortable and considerate aircraft. It would never surprise you. It would do exactly what you wanted if you put in the right control movements and pressures. All told, I probably had well over five or six hundred hours in the SNJ while in the service and not once did I have a problem with the aircraft."
Guy's letter to Mother dated February 25, 1943
"I do hope you can come down. Of course, graduations like this aren't what they would be in peace times, but I guess they're okay. They leave off the fluff and feathers now - only the meat left. I think they just say, 'Here it is!' Maybe a little more than that."
Letter to Howard
Friday night April 2, 1943
Dear Howard - First of all - Thanks for the call the other night. It was quite a surprise - and a very pleasant one. My orders still haven't come in , but they seem to think they will be in tomorrow as some of the orders came in today for some of the fellows in my same flight. Therefore, I should graduate Wednesday and be home Thursday. I surely hope it works out that way. I'm very anxious to see you and the rest up Abilene way. I dread the trip as it will take 18 hours from here to there and crowded as buses, etc. are now days - well, you can well see it's going to be no fun. I'm sure we're going to have lots of swell visits while I'm home. There are going to be so many things to talk about. I'm looking forward to it with such anxiety. I know we're going to have fun. I wish I had some tires on my car so I could use it while I'm home. Maybe I can use Dad's some. I do hope so. I'm going to want to go to Sweetwater a time or two while I'm home, too. A matter of a "dear" friend!!!
Then, too - if you get the women in lilne for me - you, Jean, Madame H, and I will go dancing some evening. I'm a little rusty on my dancing but maybe I won't make such a bad showing. A fancy step here and there may do the trick. If that doesn't work - I'll throw in a couple of slow rolls, a split-S, and end with a precision spin. That ought to do it and If not - I can always add something else. Anywho - we'll have fun. Just you wait and see.
If they make me a @#!!%@! instructor, I'm going to try to get the tire board to give me some tires for my car because if I'm an instructor I'll have to have a car. If I go to Miami a few weeks, then San Diego - I won't need a car. Cars are no good out in the Pacific islands. And how I hope that's where I go. Well, boy - kiss all the yearning women for me and I'll send you a wire letting you know when I'll be home. Give everyone my love and I'll see all of you soon. Your brother Guy