Enlisting in the Cause – Early 1942

The Japanese attack on Pearl harbor took place on Sunday, December 7th, 1941.  By the following Wednesday, America was formally at war with Japan, Germany, and Italy.

As the United States entered the conflict, it had 1.8 million citizens in uniform. Over the next twelve months, that number would more than double as another two million men and women enlisted or were drafted. By the end of the war, over 12 million Americans would be serving in America’s armed forces. 8.7 million of them went overseas.

My mother and father were two of the 8.7 million Americans who served on foreign shores during World War II.  But, in January of 1942, they were still civilians and 5 full years away from the chance meeting my existence would depend on.

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Veterans’ Day – November 11, 2016

During World War II, both of my parents and all three of my uncles served overseas in the United States Armed Forces. Only four of them came home.

Above, from left to right…

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1. Learning the Art of War – Pre-Flight

During the first two weeks of April, 1942, the war news was pretty bleak.

In Europe, Adolf Hitler was planning a summer offensive against Russia’s oil fields in the Caucasus and a move to seize Stalingrad.

In the Pacific, Japan was gaining control of the Philippines and, on the 9th of April, over 60,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war began a forced relocation that is now known as The Bataan Death March.

At sea, the Japanese Navy sank the Royal Navy cruisers, HMS Cornwall and Dorsetshire, the aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes, and the Royal Australian Navy destroyer, HMAS Vampire. Continue reading “1. Learning the Art of War – Pre-Flight”

A Girl from Maine Goes to War

On June 6th, 1944, allied forces crossed the English Channel, stormed the beaches of Normandy, and began pushing the Germans back towards Berlin. The long planned and eagerly anticipated D-Day invasion was the beginning of the end of the Nazi nightmare that had gripped Europe since September of 1939.  

However, at that moment, no one knew exactly when the war would be over. No one knew it was going take 11 more months of worldwide death, destruction, and heartache before Germany finally surrendered and another two months after that before Japan capitulated.

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Pearl Harbor & Going to War

My father graduated from Jamestown High School in Jamestown, North Dakota on June 1, 1939.  He was 17 years old.

That day, newspapers all over the country featured at least a couple of stories mentioning Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.  While the articles contain an undercurrent of concern, there was nothing specific in any of them that would indicate war in Europe was just 91 days away.

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A Murder in Queens

The above photograph was taken in early August of 1933.  The woman on the left is my father’s mother, Virginia.  She is posing with her friend Marian Cunningham. They are in Colorado.

That year, America was fully and firmly in the grip of the Great Depression.  Jobs and, by extension, money were very hard to come by.  Virginia’s husband was working in New Jersey and their only child, my father, was living with Virginia’s parents in Atlanta, and Virginia was in Colorado simply because that’s where her job was.  This situation was not uncommon in America in 1933.

While researching the company my grandmother worked for in Colorado, I stumbled across newspaper accounts of a sensational crime in New York City that Virginia and her husband and her parents would have undoubtably been following that August.  It was in all the papers.

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Finding a Box of Old Letters

Just before Christmas of 2009, my parents, then in their late eighties, decided they needed to move. My father, in particular, felt they were no longer capable of living completely on their own.

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