So, we begin with his first letter as he journeys eastward upon the great Atlantic ocean:
I surely am glad for this opportunity of writing. We have had an excellent time very good food, and as quite a number of the fellows play the piano we have quite a bit of music especially after dinner. The weather has been cloudy and for the last day or two the water has been rather rough, so far all have made very good sailors. We are out of regular lanes of travel we have seen no ships. On the second day out we went through a school of porpoise. This has been the only happening to break the monotony of the water.
I received your letter saying that the sweater had been mailed but did not receive it before leaving it will be forwarded but there is no telling where it will catch up with us.
I am sorry that I was unable to see Raynor^ in New York and I surely hope that he didn't make the trip without hearing from me but I didn't receive his telegram until we were forming to leave and there was no possible chance to answer it there. I wish that you would call him up and explain as I will be unable to write to him at this time.
Tell Cousin Estelle to write and send her "piece." Tell every one to write but not to expect interesting letters as both the incoming and outgoing mail are censored and we are not allowed to say anything that could be of use to the Germans and as there is no telling when they might get their hands on our mail we must say nothing.
Aviation Section Signal Corps
American Expeditionary Force
Via New York, NY
P.S. I haven't received my commission yet. Please write to Mrs. Lamien and ask her to send it home if it comes. Then forward. J.
*John's mother's name was Anna E. Rentch (nee Kline, married to Milton Lee Fairall then a partner of John Elmer Rentch).
^Raynor is John's maternal uncle - Isador Raynor Kline.
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1 "Maryland Military Men, 1917-18," database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 21 February 2011), entry for John Tyler Fairall.