The Wartime Memories Project - Letters

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Your site has been a great help. I have managed to gather more info in the last 9 months than the entire family had known since 1942. Thank you,

Rickey Fletcher

I was in Starkville, Mississippi on Memorial Day weekend, attending the Eagles over Mississippi air show. I volunteer at the local Air Force recruiting office, so I took along some Air Force recruiting pamphlets. I figured I could pass them out to all the young women and men I would surly see at the Air Show. What I quickly found was a lot of "kids" there with their families, but very few "recruitable-age" young people. What I saw the most of, were older couples. My impression was that a large percent of these "seniors" were veterans. They wore hats, tee shirts, pins and military memorabilia that was quietly declaring they were veterans. What I noticed was a lot of these "older" veterans who you might mistake as WWII era "troops", were actual Korea and Vietnam veterans. I was a little taken back, to find so many Vietnam veterans who looked like my grandfather. We see so many movies and TV shows about Vietnam and they always seem to portray that era of veterans as "young".

The truth is American service personnel were in Vietnam as far back as the late 1950s. The Korean War is over 50 years in our past. Our veterans are obviously getting older and every year; fewer are showing up at air shows and "reunions". Only, to be mourned by their comrades who are still with us. In the middle of writing this article I had to stop and phone Lt.Col. Floyd E. Smith. "Smitty" is a retired WWII, Korea and Vietnam, Air Force Veteran. He is in his late 70's and he is the man who convinced me to join the Air Force. I just wanted to make sure he was O.K. "Smitty" was in the hospital this past Christmas and to tell you the truth, the missing man formation I witnessed at Starkville, kind of got to me. I also called four of my uncles who served in WWII, one who served in Korea and a cousin who is retired, WWII Royal Canadian Air Force. Then I made a call to Major Anne Smith, USAF Ret. She was stationed in Alaska with her join-spouse husband, Lt Col Lane Smith during the same time; I was at Elmendorf, AFB. Lane retired on 20 years and was dead from cancer inside of three years. It is not just the "elder" veterans this country is loosing.

I remember in 1963 when the USS Thresher (SSN-593), a US Navy submarine, sank with the lost of 129 officers and men. As soon as he heard of the sinking, my father (who is retired Navy) was on the phone calling some of the wives, of the lost sailors he had known. I was in grade school, but I still remember the look on my father's face as he made those calls. He repeated these actions again in 1968 when the USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was lost.

My sister was at Arlington National cemetary a few years back and took a picture of Major Audie Murphy's grave marker and sent it to me. I was driving to school with my sister, when the news of Major Murphy's death in a plane crash, came over the radio. He had died on 28 May 1971 (Memorial Day weekend). I can not explain it, but I sill think of the man from time to time and I remember him not as a movie actor, but as one of the most decorated American veterans of the 20 century.

One of the "old" veterans I did not call that day (because it was Sunday and I only had his work phone) was a retired Air Force friend named Bob Day, of San Antonio. This I truly regret, because he died in a plane crash this past summer. I strongly suggest we young "veterans" pick up the telephone and called our "senior" veterans. Better yet, put your uniform on and go visit a retirement-home. I think you will be surprise how many veterans you will find there. I guarantee you, they will enjoy seeing and talking with you. A lot is owed to them and they will not be with us forever.

Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret.

Thank you for the wonderful thing you are doing in saving all these memories. Sadly as the years roll on Governments find it profitable to tell it differently for their own ends. Now we shall have a true record from the folk who were there.

Kath O'Sullivan (age 76) Waiheke Island NZ

My name is Whitney Gonzales and I am in the 11th grade and I attend Indio High School in Indio California. Right now my American Studies class is doing presentations on World War Two. We are presenting them as a news cast. The topic my group had was "children." We have to write a lead story, a secondary story, and a human interest story. I am the news anchor, I write the lead story and present it to the entire class. My fellow group members do the secondary story and the human interest story. We were given a picture of our specific topic and we are given the choice to use it any way we please. I am going to use mine as a background picture. Well, I hope this is enough information to want other kids to do this project, it is fun and it lets you be someone else for a little while. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Whitney Gonzales

Hi, I'm Becca, I'm only seventeen so dont have any memories of WW2 but just to say that your website has helped me so much with my theatre play. Its given me fantasic pictures of people so I can see what they used to wear during the war etc. Thank you.

No Going Back This is a wonderful site. Thank you. Here's why: My grandfather served with the 40th ID in the Pacific, and my grandmother worked with censorship in NY City during WWII. Unfortunately, he passed away when I was only 8. I never really got to know him - I have faint memories of spending time with him, but at the time never knew he served in the Pacific. My grandmother talked about her work experiences, but neither one spoke of what it was like to live during that time. As I've found while doing research and reading up on historical accounts of the great war, the veterans never spoke of their experiences in the years after the war. Some never spoke until as recently as the release of Saving Private Ryan, and even then with hesitation. This is by no means a criticism. Although I've never seen combat, I do serve in the military and I understand. Somethings cannot be said - if you haven't experienced it, you wouldn't understand. My whole point for writing this is to thank all the "greatest generation" for your sacrifices both on the homefront and on the battlefields. But let's not forget that this same generation who sacrificed on the battlefields, were the same people who sacrificed during the depression, and sacrificed to rebuild this country in the post-war years. Grandparents and great grandparents - I urge you to speak to the younger of your experiences. Children and grand children of the greatest generation - I urge you ask about the experiences of the war years. Talk to them before it's too late. And don't forget to just say "thank you."

Eric Frenzke

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