Rebecca West: Words & Music

Suzanne's Arrival

by Bob West

Here is a photo of my drafting department while we were assigned to the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing at K-13 during 1954. Left to right is Lynn MacNaught (we called him "Mac"), me, Gilbert (I don't remember Gil's last name), and Art Gusa.

Bob and fellow draftsmen

Art had been in Korea about three months when I arrived, so he went back to the states before my time was up. I had not known that he and his wife would be going by West Palm Beach to see Sylvia, so I was surprised when I received a photo of him standing beside Sylvia. He was holding Suzanne, my new daughter, and grinning from ear to ear. He included a note that Sylvia and Suzanne were doing fine and looking forward to my return, but I also received his subliminal message that said, "Ha! Ha! Ha! I saw and held your daughter before you did!"

Mac and I had much in common and became very good friends. Neither of us smoked or drank alcoholic beverages or used filthy language. Mac had married shortly before his transfer to Korea just as I had. Much of our spare time was spent at headquarters or in the day room or some other quiet place writing letters to our wives. Our barracks was too noisy.

It was already a little after bedtime when we arrived at our barracks one night. I found my way to my bunk without turning on the light to avoid disturbing those who were already in bed. When I sat down on my bunk I was surprised to find puddles of water on my blanket. I decided to turn on the lights whether anyone liked it or not. Then I saw how bad the mess was!

It looked like someone had gone through the barracks with a fire hose. I started cleaning up my area and demanded to know what had happened. I was told that one of the airmen had been drinking, came in drunk, took the fire extinguisher off the wall and went from bunk to bunk demanding that each person stand up and salute. He squirted anyone who didn't obey with the fire extinguisher. When he got to my bunk, I didn't respond because I wasn't even there. So he used the fire extinguisher on my bunk. Fortunately, the blanket was waterproof enough to keep the rest of my bedding fairly dry.

In addition to writing to me every day, Sylvia also sent me greeting cards and photos. Here is a photo of her early in the year (before maternity clothes) and one of her taken months later wearing the maternity pedal pushers and top that she had made in sewing class.

Sylvia before maternity Sylvia during maternity

I designed the birth announcement, made copies in the base hobby photo shop and sent them to Sylvia in advance. She filled in the blanks when the time came.

Suzanne birth announcement

Suzanne was born October 11, 1954. Two weeks later I received the news in a letter from Sylvia. The following day I received the telegram that her mother had sent two weeks earlier. Sylvia's letter arrived before the telegram. Later I received these photos of Sylvia and our new daughter.

Sylvia and Suzanne 1954 Sylvia and Suzanne 1954 Sylvia and Suzanne 1954

I made our Christmas cards the same way I did the birth announcements and sent them to Sylvia in October so that she would have plenty of time to address and mail them in early December. I was present in the scene on the Christmas card I made, but I would not be there in person. I would not be able to leave Korea until January.

West Christmas Card

During this time I continued to write and draw a new episode of Over And Back twice a month for publication in base newspapers in Korea and Japan. I had also begun a series of single-panel cartoons called Ruff And Reddy. The heroes of this series were T/SGT Ruff and A/3C Rediford. Here are a couple of examples.

Ruff & Reddy cartoon
Ruff & Reddy cartoon

I used a different theme for each episode of Over And Back. Part Ten was about the weather. Here are three panels from that episode.

Over And Back cartoon
Over And Back cartoon
Over And Back cartoon

The following two Over And Back panels about Food Service from "Part Eleven: Kimchi Kitchen" find humor in the contrast between the airmen's mess hall and the non-commissioned officers' dining room.

Over And Back cartoon

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