War Department

Headquarters Signal Corps, Aviation School

Kelly Field, South San Antonio, Texas

February 20, 1918

Mrs. Celeste Bracket (sic) Newcomber (sic)

Harper’s (sic) Ferry, West Virginia


Dear Mrs. Newcomber (sic):

The letter which you wrote to the Secretary of War, regarding the death of your son, was forwarded here for remark and will be sent back to him through official channels with full report of the facts. However, I want to write you this personal letter regarding the matter.

Your son had an attack of measles which, as so many of these attacks have done at our camps, turn into pneumonia of a very serious kind.  This, the Surgeons tell me, attacks men of robust constitution much more quickly than it does others and one of my best friends here, an officer whom I knew several years ago when he was Captain of the Princetown (sic) Football Team, died in exactly the same way after only a few days illness.

Your son’s death, I am convinced was not due to neglect nor lack of care nor failure of his Officers to provide with sufficient clothing or bedding. It was simply a case of a comparatively new form of pneumonia which they do not so far seem to have learned how to combat.

You mention the cold which he complained of.  I myself have never been at a place where the cold seemed to penetrate as it does here. I have lived in a country where, for weeks at a time, the thermometer was from ten to twenty below zero and never felt as cold as I did here this winter, but the doctors say that this is a healthful climate and that this chill which the atmosphere contains does not have a bad effect on anyone. If you could look at statistics regarding the health at various cantonements (sic), you would find that Kelly Field has, from its establishment, been right at the top. There has never been a time when as high as 3% of the command were on sick report—that means three men out of every hundred—and gthe death rate has been the lowest of any of the big camps.  I write you this because I want you to see that this is not an unhealthy place and also I want to assure you that the men do have enough clothing and blankets and that a man sent here is really in less danger through disease than one sent to almost any other camp in the country.

I wish personally to extend my heartfelt sympathy over the death of your son. For every man who dies at the camp I can assure you that the Officers feel a personal loss. I know, of course, how you feel at this time and realize it is a blow which you can never get over, but please believe your son did his part just as much as if he had been killed in battle and be proud all your life that he made his sacrifice in our great cause.


Sincerely yours,


Lieut-Colonel  A.S.S.C.

This letter was typed but signed in pen.  I cannot make out the signature, and am researching the actual name of this person.