Published January 13, 2016
Lt. Eugene Scroggie’s poignant letter home illustrates the dangers faced by American soldiers in France and the lack of even simple necessities. Disease posed an ever-present threat to American troops even in areas of relative safety, far away from the Front. This letter brilliantly emphasizes that those men who succumbed to illness died as heroes, same as their comrades who died in combat. (U.S. Air Force photo)
As indicated in his letter, Scroggie’s flight training was delayed due to a lack of prescription eyeglasses. Later, he received his glasses and resumed flying. After completing advanced training, Scroggie was assigned to the 94th Aero Squadron. He downed his first enemy aircraft in September 1918 and was later shot down and captured by German forces on Oct. 3, 1918.
January 10, 1918
Hope you are both well now— I am—quite. Have been travelling about a good deal lately, but will stay here now as one of my men died. 9 are isolated as suspects and the rest of my 40 are in quarters quarantined—all on account of Meningitis. Hope the 9 others don’t get it too—there is an awful lot of it among [American] troops over here. Held the funeral yesterday—full military honors—he died for his country as much as any others will and as bravely. Am not afraid of getting it myself.
Can’t fly—my eyes are too bad—I’m afraid perhaps—but I won’t think of that. I wish my glasses would come soon—I need them. Received the sweater, helmet, and wristlets and Peggy is sending me a scarf. It’s still cold and snowy here.
Am glad to see in today’s paper that the war will not end till the Kaiser is licked and comes down to earth. I’d think it all useless if any other outcome would bring peace.
Give my love to all my friends—had a letter from “Chick” Evans ATA and two from Peggy—also dad’s good one—though the cigarettes and Xmas package haven’t shown up yet. All love to my folks from their boy.
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The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at:
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433
(near Dayton, Ohio)