(Couldn’t come up with a catchy title tonight…)
My grandmother saved over 300 letters that grandpa wrote to her during World War II. This letter, dated June 7, 1944, was the first opportunity he had to write her after D-Day. It took a little while to reach her, and I’m sure she was going crazy with worry, knowing that he was stationed in England just prior to D-Day.
What I love most about these letters (other than all the personal history, obviously), is the every-man view of the war, and the effort he took to keep love and romance alive with his beloved although separated by war. Their courtship is an amazing story. They met in Los Angeles at a USO dance – Grandpa and his buddies “ordered up” three girls to accompany them to the dance, Grandpa and his buddy flipped a coin over who got to ask the redheaded California girl out, and Grandpa won. After a whirlwind 6-week courtship, he was transferred to Louisiana, and just before he shipped out to Europe, he had her meet him in New York City to get married. He telegrammed one night, she got on the train in LA, met him in Manhattan, and married the night before he shipped out.
While he was at war, she worked as a “Rosie the Riveter” and later as a secretary at Hughes Aviation. When she left the company in early 1946 due to pregnancy (with my mom) the last task she was given was to start a new file called “N.A.S.A.”
Here is the June 7, 1944 letter:
When he finally arrived home in September 1945, they celebrated at the Hollywood Palladium. They’re the couple on the left. Dashing!
Today they rest together in the Veterans’ section of Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina. My youngest son and I visited them just last week.
Thank you, Grandpa, for your service – going in right behind the D-Day forces and keeping the communications going all the way to Berlin and beyond. And Grams, for all the worried nights and for rolling up your sleeves and working hard to keep the country going.