January, travels by train, via Chicago, to Los Angeles. While there, receives notice to report to the draft board for induction; returns to New York via a southwestern route.
February 7, meets fellow Romanian émigré artist Hedda Sterne, who had admired his published drawings and invites him for tea.
Several months earlier, Harold Ross had enlisted the aid of James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, and General William (“Wild Bill”) Donovan, head of the fledgling Office of Strategic Services, to find a military position for ST that would suit his talents and enable him to continue to supply The New Yorker with drawings.
February 19-20, thanks to Donovan’s intervention and over the initial objections of Naval personnel in Washington (“this applicant has about everything disqualifying him that could exist”), ST receives a commission as an ensign in the US Naval Reserve and US citizenship.
March 2, reports to Chief of Naval Operations, Office of Naval Intelligence, in Washington.
April 12-24, “Drawings in Color by Steinberg. Paintings by Nivola,” organized by Betty Parsons at the Wakefield Gallery, New York.
May, boards a troopship in San Francisco for transport to the Far East; June, arrives in Colombo, Ceylon, travels by train to Calcutta; July, flies to Kunming, China. Reports for duty in Happy Valley (Chungking), where he is assigned to the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO), an intelligence arm of the Navy, officially a joint operation with the OSS.
His duties there remain uncertain; in an Officer Qualifications Questionnaire for the Navy, he describes them as “prepar[ing] background for future Psychological Warfare operations in China.” Off duty, he makes drawings of military life in China, which are sent via Navy courier to The New Yorker. “Fourteenth Air Force: China Theatre” is published as two portfolios in the magazine, January 15 and February 5, 1944; a third on March 24, 1945. Another drawing is used as the January 13, 1945 cover.
Early December, Donovan travels to Kunming, seeking to resolve conflicts between SACO and the OSS. Has ST reassigned to Morale Operations in Algiers, where the OSS has sole control.
December 19-January 1, ST flies to Algiers via Chabua, Agra, Karachi, Khartoum, and Cairo, arriving on January 1.