William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
Finding aid created by
Theodore Johnston Correspondence, 1941-1944
Marvin Brandwin and Meg Hixon, July 2012
Theodore Johnston correspondence
Johnston, Kate S. and Ocha, Robert
0.5 linear feet
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. He discussed aspects of military life before and during the war.
The material is in English
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
Theodore Johnston Correspondence, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.
Theodore R. Johnston ("Ted") was born in July 1918. His mother, Kate S. Johnston, divorced his father before 1920 and eventually moved to Marquette, Michigan, in the mid-20th century. Ted had at least two siblings: Stewart and Suzanne. He enlisted in the United States Army before November 1940, and served with the 5th Bombardment Group of the Army Air Corps (later the Army Air Forces) as a clerk and in other positions. He was stationed at Hickam Field, Hawaii, during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and served throughout the southern Pacific during the war.
Collection Scope and Content Note
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.
- Admiralty Islands (Papua New Guinea)
- Hickam Air Force Base (Hawaii)
- Marquette (Mich.)
- New Zealand--Description and travel.
- Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), Attack on, 1941.
- United States. Army. Air Corps.
- United States. Army Air Forces. Bomb Group, 5th.
- United States. Army--Military life.
- World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations, American.
- World War, 1939-1945--Pacific Area.
- Johnston, Theodore (Ted), b. 1918.
- Letters (correspondence)