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To Colonel Morrison C. Stayer1
December 29, 1939 Washington, D.C.
Your letter of December 16th arrived before Christmas, and I was very glad to hear from you. I intended to answer it by air mail at the time, but it got away from me, clipped accidentally to the back of another paper.
I was much interested in what you had to say about your work. Your name was mentioned in a cable a few days ago regarding a former Panamanian, a German, removed sick from a British prize passing through the Canal.
You refer to the contrast between your work with purely civilian groups and that of the life in Army circles. I am experiencing something similar because there is no comparison between the War Department’s hurly burly and an Army post.2
I was in Benning the other day for 48 hours, but moving at such a terrific pace that I did not have much time to look about. After inspecting the First Division cantonment on the Cussetta Road south of Harmony church, I did ride horseback through the post over the Marne Road. The following morning I got up at five for a dove shoot and got my limit by eight o’clock; looked for quail until nine, killed a pheasant, changed into uniform, and arrived by plane at Camp McClellan at 10:15 to inspect the division there. I completed that at three o’clock and was in a turkey blind at Benning at 4:30, but no turkey. Stayed with Singleton. Katherine motored down in advance of my departure from Washington, and joined me at Benning. I dismissed the plane there and returned by way of Savannah, with one day there for hunting. I was to have gone to Tampa and to San Antonio, and to have had a day or two hunting near Tallahassee, but a White House engagement brought me back.
My plans are very uncertain now, complicated by uncertainty as to hearings before committee of Congress and other similar matters of great importance. There is to be a big maneuver on the West Coast the third week in January, which I want to see, but may not reach. But I am planning to insert a trip to Panama at the first opportunity.
With affectionate regards to Mrs. Stayer,
G. C. Marshall
P.S. I may add I am in splendid shape, though I tap wood. I am riding every day after the office, usually into the dusk; walked home yesterday on account of the snow and ice, 2_ miles. I feel so well and have such a good appetite that it is very difficult to keep down my weight, but I am getting good and hard again. I am not working at night and am keeping clear of most of the social-official obligations. So far all goes well.
Document Copy Text Source: Morrison C. Stayer Collection, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter signed.
1. Stayer, the chief health officer of the Panama Canal Zone, had been Marshall’s physician at the Infantry School. (On their association and Stayer’s knowledge of Marshall’s health, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-444 [1: 538-40], #1-545 [1: 682-84], and #1-556 [1: 696-97].)
2. After noting the intensity of work in the Canal Zone and the Health Department’s accomplishments, Stayer observed: “I can not help but wish for the days that I spent at Benning when I could ride as I did many times with you. At present I am unable to take any exercise. We work every day until 4 or 5 o’clock, including Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays. The work is very interesting, very strenuous and needs a great deal of planning, but I am homesick for the Army with which I associated for many years. It is my first experience with civil people in my 32 years of Army life. I can not help but go back and recall how fine my tour of service was with you at Benning.” (Stayer to Marshall, December 16, 1939, GCMRL/G.C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 129-130.