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In honor of and with deep appreciation, this goes out to our veterans.

 

The envelope measured four inches wide by six inches long. It has held up rather well. It almost has a waxy feel to it. I am sure that it was white at one time, but is now a dark beige color.

 

In the top, left corner scribbled in pencil is: “after 5 days return to Pvt. W. H. Goodrich, Fort Leavenworth Kans.”

 

At the top, middle of the envelope is a postmark that says: “Fort Leavenworth Kans., 9 am, Aug 31, 1942.

 

In the top, right corner of the envelope are the postage cancellation lines and the word “free”.

 

The envelope is addressed: “Mrs. Walter H. Goodrich, Truro, Iowa”.

 

Inside the envelope is one page of what appears to be paper torn from a pad of school note paper. It measures five and one-half inches wide by nine inches long. Written in pencil is the following:

 

Fort Leavenworth Kans., Sunday

Dearest Lela

Just a few lines to let you know I got down here OK. Got in last nite about 9:30 and got up at 4:30 this morning. Sure was a change for me. Well how do you feel by now. I hope you are fine. I sure hated to go to bed last nite all by myself.

I was talking to Carl P. today he said the folks was up at Winterset last nite did you go along if you did, did you have a good time? Well sweetheart I guess I’ll ring off for now And please take care of yourself and don’t worry about nothing tell all the folks I said Hello.

Don’t write till you hear from me again because I probably won’t be here long enough to get any mail. Over

Well honey I guess I’ll close this time. And until I see you I’ll be thinking of you all the time.

I’ll write later.

Oceans & Oceans of love,

Your Husband Gotch

 

My dad passed away in 1992, having served in both theaters of World War II. Yes; his nickname was “Gotch”.

 

Dad enlisted in the Army and was inducted on August 15, 1942. He was assigned to Battery E, 71st Coast Artillery (AA) as a private first class initially, but ended his service with the 1474th Engineer Maintenance Company as a Tech 3. He first served overseas in Germany and then went on to the Philippines. He was discharged on January 18, 1946. He was awarded a service stripe, Overseas Service Bar, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with Bronze Battle Star, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

 

Like many other soldiers, he said good-bye to his pregnant wife, his parents, his brothers and sisters and left to serve his country. I have his GI-issued Bible, a small, olive drab version that zips up. It is my most cherished possession of Dad’s. Inside is a uniform patch (Tech Staff Sergeant) and a picture of him on an anti-aircraft gun in Washington, DC; his gig before he left for Europe (Germany) in 1944. By then, Mom and Dad had fathered a son, Roger Allen in 1941, but who died just six weeks later; my sister Donna, who was born in 1942 and just 2 months after Dad joined the Army. Mom gave birth to another son, Walter, Jr. on December 11, 1943, while Dad was stationed in Washington DC. Junior was born with a defective heart and would die in February, 1944. Dad could not get home, because he had shipped out for Germany. I have the exchange of telegrams and it is heart wrenching to read of Dad’s futility and frustration of not being there for his family. I also think about the irony of the many parents who were being notified that their sons had died in the war, but Dad received word that his son had died while he was going off to war; his private sacrifice, if you will. And there has always been the emptiness in me of never knowing my two, older brothers.

 

My mother passed away in 1999. While we were clearing out her apartment, I found a small suitcase to the back of her closet and inside the suitcase were letters and cards that they exchanged while they were apart. Also in that suitcase were never-before-seen pictures of my two, deceased brothers.

 

This letter that I share with you is to show you what gave our soldiers their strength. Letters were the only mode of communication for the three years that Dad served in the war. He got one leave before he left for Germany, so he got to see my sister, Donna and father Walter, Jr. He would not see Donna again until he was discharged. He only saw pictures of Walter, Jr. I should note that both Roger and Walter, Jr. are buried at Babyland in the Osceola, Iowa cemetery.

 

No phone; no Internet; just letters written in pencil on tablet paper.

 

When we discuss the importance of writing; ultimately, the discussion will turn to those who don’t feel that writing skills are important.

 

But, I can tell you that writing letters that clearly communicated feelings exchanged between husband and wife; mothers and fathers to her sons and daughters; and boyfriends to their girlfriends gave those serving in the war the will to accomplish their mission.

 

And THAT is powerful!

 

Dad had beautiful penmanship and his passion and love that he conveyed in his letters were with crystal clarity.

 

I hope that Dad’s letter to Mom has given you all warm hearts and good thoughts on this day.

 

I miss you both, but Dad; I am so very proud of you and thankful to those who have served our great country.

 

Art

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Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on November 9, 2011 at 9:23am

"The Greatest Generation" will always be!

Today, what can amount to hysteria followed by some very bad decisions were dealt with back then in a calm collected manner that was second nature to these men and women. I never saw my father "panic". He lived the Depression, fought in World War II, watched a son AND a son-in-law die in his arms and raise a very large family with all of the associated family "emergencies".

I guess THAT will give you a certain "perspective".

I know that there were many who were like him, but he was very special to me.

Thanks for the comments John, Bobby and Mike.

Comment by Michael M. Dugan on November 9, 2011 at 7:50am

These Men, Art,  like your Dad and mine are what made this Country great. They fought for this great nation and then came home and live their lives. They never asked for anything and only gave by writing a blank check for our nation. When I say my prayer tonight I will say one for all of our Dad's who fought for this country and then returned to raise us to be the men we are today. Dad I can never say thank you enough!! God Bless you and Rest in Peace I will take it from here.

 

Comment by Bobby Halton on November 8, 2011 at 12:44pm
Art, Beautiful tribute to your Dad, he would be honored by your words. God Bless him and all Americans who have served this outstanding nation. Yours Bobby
Comment by John Mitchell on November 7, 2011 at 9:39pm
We will never truly understand the enormity of what these true patriots gave up to serve their country.  Thank you, Art, for sharing this very personal written insight of dedication, love, and pride.

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