Letter from Lieutenant Colonel Mark
Lance to Major General Albert Blanding, 1944.
In 1940, prior to direct American involvement in World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt initiated the first peacetime draft in United States history, and mobilized elements of the National Guard. Most members of the Florida National Guard, which was part of the Thirty-first, or Dixie Division, went into Federal service at this time. After a long period of training, the Thirsty-first was sent to the Pacific Theater, where it participated in campaigns in New Guinea and the Philippines. The following letter was written by Lieutenant Colonel Mark W. Lance, then serving in the southwest Pacific, to retired Major General Albert Hazen Blanding. In the letter Lance briefly describes military operations against the Japanese, but he focuses on the issue of Florida Guardsmen receiving extra retirement credits for active service during World War II.
Born in North Carolina in 1898, Lance served in the U.S. Naval Reserve in World War I, and then joined the Florida National Guard in 1927 as a captain. He was mobilized in 1940 and served with the Thirty-First Division in the Pacific. Appointed Adjutant General of the Florida National Guard in 1947, he retired in 1962 as a major general. Lance died in 1966.
Albert Hazen Blanding was one of Florida's most prominent soldiers. Born in Iowa in 1876, Blanding moved to Florida with his family at the age of two. He joined the Florida State Troops in 1895 and within four years was commissioned captain. As colonel, he commanded the Second Florida Regiment on the Mexican Border, and in 1917, soon after the outbreak of World War I, he was promoted brigadier general. Blanding was sent to France, where he commanded a brigade in the Twenty-Seventh Infantry Division. After the war he served as commander of the National Guard's Thirty-First Division, and in 1936 President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Blanding chief of the National Guard Bureau. The general retired in 1940, but during World War II he served as military advisor to Governor Spessard Holland and as head of the State Defense Council. Blanding died in 1970.
Netherlands East Indies
20 Nov 44,
Since you have seen Gen Parsons there is little that I may add as to the Divisions activities that he doubtless has not told you. Since he left us we have had two small operations which were carried out successfully. There has been a number of staff changes, none of them of interest to you with the exception of Miller, who is now with Eighth Army in the transportation Section.
Lowry and Hesterly and Hutchinson are still here although it is rumored the first two have asked for release from active duty.
I do not happen to be at the Division at this writing, having come down to Army Hqrs for a conference, so do not have you[r] last letter before me, however I shall try to clear up any misunderstanding of actions taken to provide double time for Federal active duty of Guardsmen in