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To Major General Daniel Van Voorhis
May 10, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Van Voorhis:
I feel that I have neglected you sadly in the past few weeks, particularly in view of the fact that you did such a splendid job in connection with the fire disaster in Colon. I did draft a radiogram for the Secretary to send you, which reflected the views of both of us. The Ambassador from Panama, our State Department and apparently, the President were all very much gratified and pleased with the rapidity with which you acted, and the completeness of your arrangements. Mr. Norman Davis, of the Red Cross, was especially complimentary in his relation with you in the matter of funds, etc.1
I have taken rather a busy day to write a letter because since midnight last night when the word came in of the German move on Holland, we have been very busy with special estimates and other proposals, which the President will now approve. I have just returned from the White House an hour ago and am having a number of detailed statements prepared which I must take up with Mr. Morgenthau and the Budget people at 9:15 tomorrow. Meanwhile, to make everything extremely simple, Mrs. Marshall is on the verge of receiving about 2,000 people this afternoon at a reception and garden party. I say she is doing it, because it looks a little bit dubious about my getting there at all.
I do not think I have written you since my trip to Hawaii. That journey was delightful and astonishingly quick. My time from Honolulu to Shreveport, Louisiana, was 27 hours, I could have come into Washington in 30 hours had there not been foul weather over the Rockies and a sleet storm in Washington. I learned a great deal in Hawaii about the general status of affairs and the personnel and an understanding of their problem and the general Army problem. As a matter of fact, I have found these hurried trips of mine of incalculable value in giving me a reasonably sound basis for determining the relative priority of requirements, as well as a splendid opportunity to acquaint myself with general conditions and the point of view of the local personnel.
Unless the European situation prevents, I expect to leave here the latter part of June for Alaska, and that should complete my foreign garrison inspections for some time to come. I do have to go to the Maneuvers in Texas and Louisiana next week, and I will have to go clear around the United States to drop in at each Army maneuver in August.
Some day I do want to sit down and enjoy a period of lazy contemplation, but with the world growing more desperate and chaotic, the outlook for a rest in the near future is not very inspiring.
Please give my warm regards to Mrs. Van Voorhis; incidentally I am still in a battle with the Customs people to give me a clearance to permit the entry of those grass rugs. They have been almost a month answering my last letter.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. On the night of April 13-14 about one-third of Colon burned, leaving about 10,000 persons homeless in the tenement section. General Van Voorhis sent troops to patrol the city—at the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal—and to set up a large number of tents and field kitchens. The American Red Cross cabled $15,000 for relief on April 14. The next day, Marshall wrote the following radiogram for the secretary’s signature: “Your prompt action to assist and succor the people of Colon is to be commended. The War Department feels confident in trusting to your good judgment as to the further requirements of this situation.” (Woodring to Van Voorhis, Radio, April 15, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 208-209.