American Views Abroad

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
A long lost letter written by my father on the last day of World War II resurfaced recently. He was born in 1917 and entered the US Navy during the depression when he was 17. His reason for joining the Navy was a personal one. He did not want a 'white collar' job sitting in an office which was his mother's dream. He wanted to get out and see the world. There wasn't any talk of war in 1934 and he never knew what he would later face: fighting the Germans in the North Atlantic before war was even declared; surviving the explosion of the minesweeper he was serving on off the coast of France on the night before the invasion; grasping the unimaginable horrors of the war in the Pacific, particularly Okinawa. David M. Kennedy in Freedom from Fear - The American People in Depression and War on Okinawa:

'On the same day (April 5, 1945), Japanese fliers launched an enormous kamikaze attack on the U.S. fleet offshore. For weeks, waves of suicide planes in squadrons of up to three hundred aircraft, some three thousand sorties in all, defied steel blizzards of antiaircraft fire to zero in on the American ships. They sank 36, damaged 368 others, killed 4,900 sailors, wounded 4,824 more. Abroad the ships anchored off Okinawa, a correspondent wrote, the terror of the kamikaze onslaught 'sent some men into hysteria, insanity, breakdown.' (page 833)

August 14, 1945
10:40 p.m.

Dear Ann,

Believe this to be as fitting a day as any in history to sit down and write a letter to you folks. Can't express my joyous feelings at the glad tidings ending this terrible conflict of almost 4 years duration. I feel like an inner tube when somebody suddenly lets all the air out - that is just the way all of my pent up emotion left me when the news hit us at 4:05 p.m. this afternoon.

Give my love to Mother and Dad and thanks to all of you for praying for me through all these years of strife and conflict because that belief is one of the biggest reasons for my being able to finish this war sound in body and mind. Like they say, honey, there are no atheists in foxholes and brother Joe can bear that out.

Give my regards to all at home and in the neighborhood. For you, honey, a special hug, kiss and a big thank you for your wonderful letters to me during these trying times; letters that kept my moral up when times were a wee bit tough and depressing. God bless you all and protect you.

Your brother,

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