July 28, 1943 (Wednesday)

“Cactus,” Carney Field, Guadalcanal

Have been down to the beach every afternoon the last few days and have now assumed a complexion darker than Gandhi’s — all over. A group of us go down (Kooy, Thomas, Hall, and Forbes are the regulars, others usually come along) and swim, walk for miles along the beach, and play ball with empty coconuts. Lately we’ve had a mattress cover, which when wetted and filled with air makes an admirable pair of giant water wings or super air mattress. These would be good to carry in our jungle packs. With the new shark repellent oil one can float comfortably for many days at sea if forced down.

Savio took the patrol out today (the Nauru sector — “once around the short course”). He’s got our old #6 back. She’s recently returned from Button where she had her engines changed (comparable to a woman’s having her face lifted). The old engines had about 675 hours on them. That’s a hell of a long time for an engine to run without wearing out anywhere or failing at a crucial moment. I feel something very closely akin to actual love when I look out the cockpit window and see those Pratt & Whitneys (built by Buick) humming along, smoothly and effortlessly for hours on end – 2200 revolutions per minute, 142,000 times an hour.

Hargraves, who flew #6 up from Buttons, said that now, with its new engines, it was the sweetest and fastest plane in the squadron.

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