Either that same day or the next, a heavy wind and rainstorm blew down many of the tents and we had to start all over, then in a muddy condition.
I never kept a diary, or log, so dates have been long forgotten. But shortly, we found that there were grape arbors nearby. So, Hutto and I took a large container basket and picked it full for distribution. We later learned that bouncing betty mines were nearby and that we had made a somewhat thoughtless move by entering the arbor.
Soon after arriving in Comiso, we set up a tent for an officers' club. And, I assume that the enlisted men did the same. We were on black out at night due to the Luftwaffe being based in Greece. I remember playing poker with the great commander John Cerny using a flashlight to see our cards, or by candlelight in the club. This was the first time I had the opportunity to study and know the man.
Missions were mostly courier types after we settled in. The air base was a former German air base with tower, having a concrete runway adequate for the B-17's that used it for an alternate in a time of stress.
Officers stayed in a two-story building and enlisted men in a three-story across an avenue. The Luftwaffe often made milk run bombing raids on Malta to little avail.
I'd like to tell a story here. We were notified to shop for and ship early any Christmas presents. One day, we got into Comiso and visited a little gift store. It had a number of fine silk items for sale. The young woman serving us was wearing a nice blouse and pants suit. She turned to wrap the items I bought and on the back was stamped "Property of United States Army," or whatever the Army used to identify government property. All of the silk items had been made from American parachutes which the natives had been retrieved from the grounds and trees after the drops in Sicily.
Several weeks before Thanksgiving of 1943, I remember in Sicily that a sergeant that could speak Italian and I were responsible for combing the areas around Comiso to see if we could barter for chickens and other edible fowl. We ran across a little farm where the farmer and his wife had a large tom turkey. He said we could have it if we could get him a pair of shoes. We returned to the base, and one of the officers had an extra pair. Size was not so important, but what we got was large enough to fit.
When we got back to the farm, we had a problem. The farmer wanted high cut working shoes. He was greatly disappointed, but offered us the turkey anyhow. These people were as poor as you can imagine, out in the boon docks of Sicily. I refused the turkey, but left the shoes. He insisted on my taking them back. Regardless, I left the shoes with him, bidding buorn giorna. He said, aspetta (which meant pardon the Italian), and yelled to his wife to bring out a large piece of cheese, which we took, leaving the turkey with him.
Compassion or bartering, you name it. I felt good in my heart and that is compassion for me.