This collection is made up of roughly 100 letters that Master Sergeant Theodore R. Johnston ("Ted") wrote during his service with the United States Army Air Forces' 5th Bombardment Group in Hawaii and in the Pacific theater during World War II. Johnston wrote primarily to his mother and to an acquaintance named Robert Ocha, and discussed aspects of military life both before and during the war.
Johnston's letters, dated between January 27, 1941, and July 16, 1944, cover most of his military service abroad, which included training at Hickam Field in Honolulu, Hawaii, and active duty in the Pacific Theater. Though Johnston primarily corresponded with his mother, he also occasionally sent letters to his siblings and to a friend, Robert Ocha ("Bob") of Detroit, Michigan. Johnston wrote 11 letters from Hickam Field prior to the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, with content on the base, classes, and preparations for possible war. In a letter postmarked December 29, 1941, he described his experiences during the Pearl Harbor attack.
After the formal declaration of war, Johnston was stationed in several areas throughout the southern Pacific, including the Admiralty Islands north of New Guinea. He assured his mother of his good health and safety, but occasionally mentioned participating in battle or witnessing air raids. He also reacted to war news and discussed various aspects of military life, such as his drinking habits, military leave in New Zealand, and his attempts to be reassigned to the United States. Johnston also shared his desire to find a wife.
Johnston wrote several early letters on illustrated stationery, and enclosed some of them in illustrated envelopes. These include a depiction of the 5th Bombardment Group's insignia and a printed map of air routes between Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Johnston drew a small map of a mess hall in his letter of February 6, 1941, and sent his mother a V-mail valentine on January 18, 1943.