Letters from The Front: Putting the Medal of Honor Bowl in perspective

How we communicate with U.S. servicemen and women overseas has changed so much in the last two decades.

Writing letters has been replaced by emails and phone calls. Time has been compacted from the former days or weeks needed to deliver a message, to minutes and dial tones.

But tracking back through the handwriting from the fronts - sometimes shaky, sometimes illegible - can still deliver a sense of the terror of the battlefields and the loss of close comrades.

In advance of Saturday's second installment of the Medal of Honor Bowl, The Post and Courier asked readers to submit letters from family in the military.

Some of the notes from long ago are overly descriptive; others are apologetic, such as the words Sgt. Bennett wrote to the father of a fallen comrade.

"Please excuse this pencil and scribbling, but it is as good as a soldier over here can do," he wrote as a postscript.

The following letters were not corrected for spelling or grammar.

*****

My great-great-grandfather was John Miller McKinney. He lived in Spartanburg County. John Miller had a younger brother named George. George was about 27 years old when the Civil War started. He joined the Confederate army and was in Company I of the 5th South Carolina Regiment. George could read and write and regularly wrote letters home to his wife and family. As you can see, the attached letter was written to his wife, Sallie, in Spartanburg on Sept. 11, 1863.

There is a sad footnote to the letter because George was killed or died on Feb. 23, 1865, only two months before the war ended. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

Mary McKinney Teaster, Summerville

Camp 5th SC Regiment

Petersburg, VA

Sept. the 11, 1863

My Beloved wife,

I was glad to year of your good meeting at Buck Creek, it is a good blessing to have the Spirit of God in us. My health has been improving since I wrote you before. I am very near well now. I saw Martin McKinney today. He is well. ... Martin said that he would like to go by home but there was no chance, also saw Henry Parris. You will say to his wife he is well. Sallie, the times here are about like they were when I write last. We drill twice a day. We have beautiful weather. It is a little cool. The warm weather will soon be over for this season. We have an arbor built of bushes for our Chaplain to preach under. We have very good meetings. The first and second Regiments has Baptist Chaplains. Some one or other of them preach every knight and some times all of them. We have orders to cook four days rations, the result I cannot tell, if we do leave here it would not surprise me if we go to Charleston. We sometimes have moving orders but don't move.

We witnessed an awful scene today. There were two Soldiers who had deserted twice and were caught at home and brought back to camp and today they were shot to death with muskets. They were executed on our Brigade drill ground near our camp. The whole Brigade was drawn up to see them shot, artillery and infantry and every man except those who were excused from sickness by the Dr. This might have been just to show them ... tho I have been told that they were never done any good as soldiers. ... Those were the first men that I ever saw shot. I mean Confederate soldiers shot by Confederate soldiers. It put quite an indifferent feeling in me. They knelt down against stakes their faces toward those who shot them. They were not tied except their hands. ... you may guess they did not live long after they were shot. You must excuse this badly written letter, we went some distance from the camp to write and found our ink to be no account. I will try to do better next time. I believe I will close by asking you to write again soon to your loving husband. Give my best regards to all the connections and neighbors. I remain your loving husband till death.

George McKinney

*****

Mr. J.H. Patterson was my great-grandfather. Hercules Patterson was my great-uncle.

Victor Smith, Isle of Palms

Nov. 29, 1918

At a forwarding camp somewhere in France

Mr. J.H. Patterson

Waverly, Tenn.

My Dear Mr. Patterson,

Several days ago, Nov. 24th, was the day set aside by the government as Father's Day (see editor's note), and I think that nearly every member of the American and Expeditionary Forces that had the privilege of writing a real father's letter took advantage of that privilege. I was denied that privilege, as my father is deceased, so I thought at that time that I would sit down and write a few lines to the father of Hercules, who was so unfortunate as to have his life taken some six weeks ago.

Hercules was in my section, and I was just a few feet away when he was killed.

I am writing to you these few lines just to offer you our deepest sympathy and tell you that there was not a better liked boy in the battery or regiment and his death is a mighty big loss to us, and we realize what a big loss and shock this is bound to be to you. He was as good a soldier as ever put on the uniform, and it was just such boys as he, that won the great victory for the allies; but it certainly makes us feel sad, when we think of going home without some of our comrades, but they will never be forgotten by Tennessee or by the people of our country and especially by those who fought beside them in battle.

Respectfully yours,

W.M. Bennett

(Editor's note: Stars & Stripes, the official newspaper of the American Army in France during World War I, asked each member of the Army in Europe to write a letter to his father on Nov. 24, 1918, as a Christmas gift, initiated by the Postmaster General's office.)

*****

My father, Captain John Wallace Cathcart II, served in World War II in the Philippines. He was born in Winnsboro, S.C., and graduated from Clemson University and the Medical College of S.C. In 1944 he was assigned to the 24th Infantry Division and commanded the battalion's medical unit. He served his comrades and our country as a front-lines physician.

The letter enclosed is the letter he wrote to me on hearing the news of my birth. Tragically he never lived to fulfill the thoughts expressed in this letter as he was killed four months later. He was killed in action by a Japanese sniper as he attended to wounded soldiers in the field. Truly an honorable death.

Jenny Cathcart Reves, Charleston

Jan. 19, 1945

My Darling Daughter,

A telegram from your Uncle William came today telling of your blessed arrival. I am so sorry that I could not be there to greet you personally, but "Uncle Sam" thought it best for me to be on a small island in the Philippines to help defeat the Japs and establish a lasting peace in which you and countless other children can grow. Though I could not be there your dear, sweet mother was - not only be necessity but because she wanted to be. And so you grow into childhood, adolescence and on to be a lady she will always be with you to guide and care for you. In this she will do a wonderful job, and you will grow to be a wonderful, beautiful lady just as she is. During your first year, or even perhaps two, I cannot be there to help with your rearing, but she will be there and will do a wonderful job.

It is a pity that you were born into such a war-torn world as this, but by the time you grow up to understand, all this will be in the past, and I shall be home to help your mother and you. By then you will be a little lady walking around and prattling away in your baby talk; when I show up you will probably not know me, but we shall get to be wonderful pals and the three of us will have grand times together and perhaps later there will even be a fourth to join our midst.

... It is almost dark now and as yet we have no lights so I shall have to close for this time. I love you dearly and can hardly wait until I can see and hold you in my arms.

All my love,

Your adoring Daddy

*****

This was written by me, a young U.S.N. boy entering the service as he received his draft notice and joined the Navy instead. A country boy never away from home before and still growing into manhood.

Robert Palmer, Walterboro

April 27th, 1965

Da Nang, South Vietnam

Dear Doug,

Finally getting to answer your letter, but they've been keeping me pretty busy. I'm mess cook for 90 days. Something everybody has to do, and it's my turn. It consists of making salads & mostly washing dishes & cleaning. You get up 5:30 in the morning & you don't get done until 7:00 or 8:00 at night.

Before I answer your letter or write anything else, I'm going to tell you of our run-in with the Viet Cong.

Our job consists mostly with taking U.D.T. (Frogmen) & Recon Marines into beaches, so they can map the depth of water, rivers, kind of jungle, etc. Well on Wed. (Apr. 21), we anchored off this beach, sent in 12 Marines & 30 U.D.T. for their work, same on Thurs. (Apr. 22), then that night we went to sea, about 25 miles out & at 6:00 in the morning we came back to the same beach so the U.D.T. & Marines could finish their job. Well they got to the beach & were dropping the Marines off, when the Viet Cong ambushed them. There was about 100 of them, they killed 3 of our men, one a buddy of mine (a sailor). He was about 22 years old & 51 days left in the Navy. Another sailor they killed was a man with a wife & 2 kids, he was about 30 years old, & also a Marine about 21. It was a nightmare!!! A shock!!! Here was 3 guys I ate breakfast with & now they were laying on the deck, dead. It was hell, blood all over & well, they were the first dead men I've seen. But now we're sitting in Da Nang harbor, waiting for new orders.

... This is a funny war going on over here, one day a buddy of yours gets killed and then 3 days later you're having a beach party getting drunk.

Bob Palmer, "The Fox"

*****

Enclosed is a copy of my 1967 Christmas Eve letter to my wife-to-be, Penny, written from the 6th Convalescent Center in Vietnam. I was a 1966 Citadel graduate and Penny was in her senior year at the College of Charleston. It was a very lonely Christmas for both of us, which is why each of the past 46 Christmases has had a special meaning to us.

Denny McKeever, Charleston

Dec. 24, 1967

Dearest Penny,

Hi love, it's Christmas Eve now. I don't think I have ever realized the spirit and feeling of Christmas as much as I do tonight, when I think of the occasion we celebrate. It is such a shame that we can't always live by the meaning - Peace on Earth. I think I'll go to church tonight and pray that we can offer our children a better world through this spirit.

I miss you tonight. Nothing can replace being with your loved ones at Christmas, and I hope before long, you and I will be sharing them together.

All my love,

Denny

*****

This letter was written by my father, Sgt. Marvin B. McKie, 9th Army, 405th Infantry, 102nd Div., Company C. He fought in France, Belgium and Germany. This may have been his last letter. The letter was dated 11 Feb., 1945. He was reported Missing in Action on 26 Feb., 1945. He was later declared Killed in Action.

From what I'm told, my father was a simple man who was drafted into the Army and went to war for the freedom of his country. He was originally from Wilcox County, Georgia and he just wanted to get back home to his family and be a farmer. I was born 15 Dec., 1944 and he was killed Feb. 26, 1945. We never got to see each other.

Marvin W. McKie, Summerville

Feb. 11, 1945

To My Wife and Children:

1. Each night before I go to bed, I say a prayer with low-bowed head. Praying to God, for him to keep and watch over my family while they are asleep.

2. And every night it seems as I wake from my dreams in the heavens, there's always a star reminding me of your love, dear, and just how beautiful you are.

3. There's Shirley and Wendell and I bet they're both yellin to be held in your arms all the time. Their eyes are blue and their hair curly too, and darling, they are both yours and mine.

4. Our Lord gave them to you, a mother, so true blessed with your love and your care. I know you are yearning for my returning and if I had my way, I'd be there.

5. O how I pine for that family of mine that I surely wish I could be, on the floor with the toys, for my little girl and boy, so I could watch them grow up you see.

6. So goodnight my love, and my children too. One more night to dream, if my dreams could come true. I hope and pray that there'll come the day that I'll come home safely to you, darling.

Love always,

Your husband, Marvin

*****

My husband served in the United States Marines from July 1964 till August 1968. He was sent to Vietnam in 1966 for a 13-month tour of duty where he was a machine gunner with the 26th Marines. On his last combat operation he was wounded and Medevaced to Khe Sanh near the DMZ. When he was discharged he became a detective with the Suffolk County Police Department on Long Island, N.Y. He retired in 1990 and moved to S.C. where he has resided since.

This letter was written to my husband's parents in April 1967 and printed in the local newspaper. The writer was S/Sgt. Victor Oliver Nunez, the weapons platoon commander of the machine gun section.

Helen Mahoney, Charleston

April 16, 1967

Phu-Bai - Vietnam

I am writing to you these few lines to inform you that I have had opportunity to work with your son, Brian, for the last 8 months or so, first as his squad leader and now as his platoon sergeant. We have been through a lot of patrols and sweeps together. The last one, a "sweep" type operation about 10 miles northeast of here was a real hard one. We took several casualties that day and, as I had attached myself to your son's squad, I had a chance to participate in the action . the hardest fight we had was when we had to cover our company's withdrawal. We came under intense fire from automatic weapons and mortar fire.

Your son's machine gun was there answering the enemy. He again and again exposed himself to deliver accurate fire on the V.C. across the place from where we were (a rice paddy dike).

He really showed me he's an outstanding machine gunner and a darn-good Marine for his actions that day.

I had the pleasure of recommending him for the Bronze Star Medal with a "V" device for combat. I hope he gets it . because he sure deserves it.

Sincerely,

Sgt. Victor M. Oliver Nunez, USMC

*****

John Wood, father of Oren Wood, '74, was a pilot of B24 bombers during WWII. His plane was affectionately called "Wood's Chopper."

We have most of his letters written home to his parents and sister during his time of service with the 449th Bomb Group, 718th Bombardment Squadron. The war broke out while he was a student at Furman. Much to his parents' dismay, he left to fight for his country at a very young age, safely returning home after 51 missions.

Susan Wood, Hollywood

May 26, 1944

Southern Italy

Dear Folks,

Well, I now have 36 missions in. Been kinda busy for the past month. I have flown 13 out of the last 15 missions. It's too much, but I asked for it. I want to get through. I stay pretty tired and nervous, but I can get a long rest at home when it's over. We have a Sunday jinx and a 40 mission jinx. We lost every ship the squadron has lost but one on Sunday. Then this mission's jinx started last week. Harper had 44 and they got him. Then Silvers came up with 44, and he went down. Now we've broken it. Webb has 47, Carter 45, Staley 40, myself 36, and Minow 31. These are all of the old boys, and we are really fighting it out. I was leading when I hurt my hand. Tough break I guess.

... I'm kinda proud of the "Chopper." She has 42 missions on her. More than any ship in the Squadron. There are two of the original ships left in the Squadron and 19 in the Group. She has more hours than any ship. Of course I've had four new engines, a new rudder, and a new wing section, and new bombay doors. She really looks funny. They put a yellow dot over all the holes, and it looks like a polka-dot plane. I wouldn't trade her for one of these new silver planes. She's gotten me this far - I'll finish with her.

Have to close now. Be sweet, and don't worry. I'll be home soon.

All my love,

John

*****

My son (Matthew John Knowlson) is a US Marine. He was an LCorporal Combat Engineer in Task Force Ripper 1st Bn 7th Marines 1/7 during the Gulf War. He was in a decoy unit the farthest West and North when the air war started.

He was also in two other conflicts in the Philippines before this.

Polly Knowlson, Hanahan

Hi there from the war zone!

January 23, 1991 - Wednesday

Dear Mom,

Hi there from your favorite man in the sand! How have you been doing back in P-burg & the good ol USA without me? Wishing I was home, but I'm fine & well and will be home soon enough. I think Bush is doing great so far! He's got a lot on his mind right now, but I'm glad we're taking care of the problem now while Hussein is small and maybe my son won't be here in 20 years. I'm not here for no oil Mom, I'm here so maybe my son's future will be protected and he won't have to worry about another country taking over ours. Like Iraq could someday.

... I then got back to my post, that Lcpl Stephanachick was serving with me, just in time to see the sky brighten up up north with bombs exploding. I got a strange feeling inside seeing how close we really were to the Iraqis and the border. You could see the fire from the rockets that jets were firing all across the sky and it looked like Christmas lights flashing in a dark room with the glow of candles in the corner.

You know what Mom, I think I was smiling and glad, though, cause I know I was closer to home and there is no more waiting.

Love from your son the Marine,

Matthew

*****

Enclosed (is a copy of a letter) that my Uncle Gerald O'Quinn sent home to ... his brother Jake (my dad).

Uncle Gerald wanted the war to end, he wanted to come home, and especially wanted to go fishing at Buckhead or Bells, two local fishing spots just outside of Williams, S.C. I understand that he and my dad spent a lot of time together fishing once he returned home from the war.

I was born on the morning of the Invasion of North Africa, he was there, and it was understood that the baby would be named for him - whether it was a boy or girl. I ended up being a baby girl and was spoiled rotten by Uncle Gerald and Aunt Dot because they never did have children of their own.

Uncle Gerald remained military all his life and was a Service Officer in the National Guard in Newberry County at the time of his death in December 1977. His funeral procession was one of the longest that I have ever seen, attended by people of all walks of life and color. He was admired and loved by all who knew him.

Gerry O'Quinn Naumann, Charleston

14 April 1944

Dear Jake,

Bet you are strutting around like a rooster since you are expecting an addition to your family. You can let me have Gerry for I'll be too damn old to have any kids when I get home. Send me some pictures of the family.

How are the fish biting? Bet you & Mr. Tyler are getting your share. I go fishing here but catch only eels. I also use hand grenades and get a few mullet.

Jake, write me a long letter & give me the news from home. How is your business?

Give Mama, Huddy, Genie & Gerry my love. Hope Genie is doing fine. Trust that you are O.K. Maybe we can end the war soon or return home.

Love,

Gerald

*****

Francis G. Shorter was born in Charleston and entered the United States Army in February 1943 at Fort Jackson, S.C. Before the war he was a mechanic and the Army used those talents by assigning him to service in the Italian theatre in General Mark Clark's 5th Army, as an Ammunition Bearer.

... He was honorably discharged as a Private First Class on January 31, 1946. Mr. Shorter passed away on August 5, 2001. I am very proud of my father's service to our country.

The following is a short note, to my father's last employer, sent during his military service in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Francis "Frank" G. Shorter Jr.

South Carolina Power Co.

Charleston, South Carolina

December 9, 1943

Dear Mr. Hastings,

Thanks for the Xmas package and I want you to know that I am more grateful to you and the company and it gives us a good feeling to know the company and fellows were still thinking about the guy who once worked there. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all.

Francis G. Shorter

*****

(This is) a piece of V-mail from World War II. My dad wrote it to my mother before they were married 12/27/44. They met when he was already in the Army and she was in the Salvation Army. They remained married until my mother's death in Dec. 1992. Without her, he didn't last long. He joined her in death March 1994.

Jan Lipscomb, Hanahan

July 8, 1943

Dearest Faye,

Just a few lines to let you know how things are running. Received a letter from Lois today. She says that I have an open invitation for hot biscuits & anything else, even fried chicken. How come she doesn't know how to fry a chicken? Sure hope you can cook. Can't stand this English food. They serve hot meals in the (?) & if a fellow can digest that stuff he's good. Think of it, I had my supper there tonight - pork & bean pie & boiled potatoes. These people make a pie out of about anything except old rubber.

All my love,

Lee

*****

James A. Ham was born in Florence County on December 2, 1936.

He graduated from The Citadel in the class of 1959 and was commissioned in Army Air Defense Artillery.

... In Vietnam he was stationed in II Corps in the Central Highlands as a platoon leader in the 73 Aviation, holding the rank of captain.

James A. Ham, Charleston

Capt. Arty., Vietnam 1964-1965

Friday 1964

My Dearest,

It is Christmas Day and very different from any that I have spent before. Last night we had a party and Christmas tree at the club. It was a quiet affair. We drew names and gave silly little gifts. Bill Riser, a fat warrant officer, dressed up as Santa and gave out the gifts. No one was in much of a party mood so it broke up about 9:30. I came back to the Hooch to write you a letter, but frankly I was in no mood to write. Instead I went to bed.

This morning everyone got up about light as we had no missions. We all opened our presents and compared the loot. I had a sneaking suspicion about your project and I am glad I was right. Mary, the pictures are exactly what I wanted. The game set is out of this world. Everyone wants to play a different game. I was very pleased with all of my presents. That silly aunt of mine gave me five shirts. She is just too much. I guess you know what everyone else gave me. The people in the Hooch gave me a present that has a story behind it. Last week I was shooting up some V.C. and several of them ran into a big two-story building. I had four rockets left, and it was a beautiful target. I made a rocket run and missed the whole damn building. They have been teasing me about not being able to hit the V.C. Hilton Hotel. I opened the present and inside was a pop gun for shooting up hotels.

... Happy anniversary my darling. I can say that without any reservations. I don't have to be with you to know that I love you and am happily married to you (but I sure would like to tell you to face to face). You are all that anyone could ask for in a wife my darling. I do love you Mary.

Your Husband

*****

Back in 1968, my older brother, Jimmy, was deciding what to do after his high school graduation the following year. He chose to pursue an education in mechanical engineering. He was a good student and was quickly accepted at a school out of state. Without warning, Jimmy cancelled his enrollment days before he was to leave. Apparently, he experienced a severe case of homesickness. That was just going two states away and now the US Marine Corps was going to make that distance trivial as walking across the street.

I kept them all, the Selective Service notice, the letters he wrote home from Parris Island, Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton. You see, he didn't just go straight into the Army but while in the draft report line was part of a random selection into the Marine Corps. He never regretted it.

Fortunately, my brother came home from the Vietnam War, bought that new car and happily got back to life in a small town. ... Unfortunately he died suddenly in 1996 before I could tell him I found his letters.

Jacquelyn Partin Hall, Mount Pleasant

(To his mother)

... If you see something in the bushes you have to call the OD & he comes to your bunker to see if he can see it. You can only shoot when shot at if not told by OD on the line. You can only have so much ammo, so many grenades, etc. They give you just enough to make a little noise & then you haul ass, at least I will.

Love you,

Jimmy

PFC Jimmy Partin, United States Marine Corps, Radio Relay Platoon, Comm Co. Hq. Bn., 1st Marine Division

*****

Okinawa, through the eyes of a 19-year old.

That was in the letter that reached E.C. Goldberg ... from his son, Herbert, radioman third class aboard an auxiliary-personnel-attack transport.

- From an article in the Asheville, N.C. newspaper, submitted by Herbert S. Goldberg, West Ashley

"Dear Mom, and Pop and Sis,

I have just come back from making a telephone call to you. I had to call twice, because you weren't there the first time and then I had tried at Eckerds and they were closed ... I am glad to see the States again, but I don't think I am going to be here long, and where I am going next I haven't the slightest idea.

From Hawaii I went to Guadalcanal and Tulagi . There isn't much there but men in uniforms and some natives and some palm trees, and it was really hot there. We left there for Ulithi, which is in the Caroline Islands. (While going down to Guadalcanal, we had gone between the Marshall and Gilbert islands) ... Then we came to Ulithi, which is just a group of tiny islands. That hospital ship that was hit, the Comfort, was anchored on one side of us.

It was at Ulithi that we gathered for the invasion. We had Marines on board. We left there and everybody on board was jittery, because we knew where we were going.

On Easter morning, about 2 a.m., all hands went to their battle stations, because we were in the East China sea approaching Okinawa.

All over the horizon, there were bright flashes from battlewagons blasting the Okinawa coast. We went to battle stations early because Jap shells were falling close around us.

H-hour was 8:30 and here it was about 5 o'clock and it wasn't daylight yet. I was standing on one of the bridges when all of a sudden the whole horizon started blazing up when an enemy plane came over. You should have seen it as it was caught between the crossfire. Then it burst into flame and plummeted, like a falling star, into the sea ... I saw many planes go down that day.

When daylight came, one could see ships everywhere as far as the eye could see. There were a great many of them.

At 8:30 the first wave went in. We could listen to it over the TBS (ship-to-shore) and see it through field glasses.

We stayed there four days, and there wasn't any resistance on the beaches. At night we would go steaming out to sea and come back in the morning.

On the third night, a Jap suicide plane came diving at us; it had a bomb under its wing. It crashed 10 feet behind the stern of our ship just as we were turning.

We left, after four days, for Saipan. After five days we arrived there and stayed two days and then headed for Hawaii. On our way we just missed a floating mine by a few yards. So you see, Herbert is glad to be back in the states."

*****

I found this letter among my father's papers. It was written by my grandfather (Harry Mackenzie - last name spelling was changed somewhere along the way) to his older (oldest) sister, Molly (or Mollie), while he was serving in France during World War I (Dec. 26, 1918).

Laurel M. Seese, Charleston

Dear Mollie,

... You say that the papers had something in about us. Well I guess they got the right dope, for it sure was an awful tussle. We had to secure the enemies' main line of supply communication and they gave us an awful battle for it, but we finally got the best off them. They had all artillery and machine guns, good when we were at a distance, but when we got close enough to use a bayonet they quit.

Well Mollie, so far I have not seen a French girl that could ever come up to our own American girls and thusly have not fell for any and I am not liable to. We are now in ... the state of Haute-Saone and if you look up a map of France, you will see where we are. This town reminds all the boys of home because it is so different. We had a dandy meal yesterday and beaucoup candy and cigarettes. Enclosed you will find our menu and also the Musical Program. The General said yesterday that 6 days from now we could say that we would home be this year. I hope so.

Your brother,

Harry

*****

I am enclosing two letters written by my husband's father while he was in a POW camp in Germany during World War II.

James A. Queen was in the Army Air Corp and was an aerial gunnar on a B17 that was shot down over Italy in January 1944. He was on his 13th mission and was held for 13 months, he was only 19 at the time. He told of bailing out the airplane and having his boots fall off when the parachute opened causing him to land on the snow barefoot. The letter are really only postcards and have the censor mark on them.

James died on July 13, 2003.

Karol Queen, Mount Pleasant

March 16, 1944

Dear Mother,

Will drop you a few lines to let you hear from me again. I am OK and hope this finds you all the same. I am hoping to hear from you soon. Tell all hello and write. Do not worry for I am well and OK. Answer.

Your son, James.

*****

I am sending in a letter my brother wrote during the Korean War. His name was Cpl. Donald R. Daniels, better known as Dutch. He was in the 1st Marine Division 7th Marine Division 7th Marines 1st Battalion Charlie Company. Our family is from Nebraska and that is where we grew up - on a cattle ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska. He joined the Marines shortly after high school, did basic training at Camp Pendleton in California, and was sent to Korea in March 1951. After unloading the ship on April 3, 1951, he was "sitting on top of a mountain in a fox hole that used to be a part of the front lines yesterday morning" on April 5th. He sent many descriptive letters of his time there. He celebrated his 19th birthday in combat. During his brief time in Korea he became a fire team leader and made his Corporal stripes. He was killed in action June 9, 1951, and awarded a Purple Heart. Here is a letter he wrote after several days of combat and they get a break.

Rita Daniels Wilkie, Wadmalaw Island

April 25, 1951

Dear Folks,

I'm just going to write a few lines to let you know I'm all right and still in the fight. I don't know if this letter will get through as I'll have to give it to some truck driver going south.

I don't know how bad things are or how long they will stay that way but I'll tell you one thing it isn't as bad as the newspapers and radio will make it sound. I won't try to pull any punches because you might as well know we've been hit pretty hard. The whole 7th Marines were on line April 20th and started toward that "Quonico" line about 10 miles north of where we were. We were a day ahead of schedule (our company) by the 22nd and that night we took the ridge about a mile away from this line. Well the south Koreans on our left flank caved in and let 31/2 divisions ... in on us and we fought off their counterattack all that night but our whole regiment held our ground. We were forced to withdraw for 2 days but got out of it with all of our dead wounded and equipment. Charlie Company was the rear guard and the last to leave the parallel. As far as I know they are still trying to hold the line at the parallel. I do know that the withdrawal worked out to the split second and artillery and air power started in the minute the last of our company boarded tanks and left.

We are back here now, catching up on rest and chow so things must not be too bad or we'd be in the thick of it still. We need quite a few replacements before we are full strength again and can get back in the fight. Most of the wounded were only nicked a little and weren't hurt bad.

Well I need to sleep so I'll quit. I sure will have lots to tell my grandchildren when I get old.

If I ever believed in the power and love of God I do now. I believe that all of us that came through all right feel the same way.

Love,

Dutch

*****

My father (Capt. Jesse M. Jones) entered the Army at the age of 17 as a private. He landed on Normandy Beach in WW2 and fought the Germans until the U.S. crossed the Rhine River.

My father also fought in the Korean War. He entered this was as a Master Sargeant and received two battlefield commissions in Korea and returned to the U.S. as a second lieutenant officer.

Enclosed is a letter from my dad to my brother and me ... We were very excited that he would be able to get new bicycles with our dad.

Gene Jones, Meggett

Korea 16 Sept 51

Sun P.M.

Hi Jean and Shot,

Don't worry about your bicycles, because I will be home long before Christmas. I should be home in October. We can get new bicycles when we get to our new camp. How is school this year? I guess you boys were glad for school to start. When I get home you will have to stop school for two or three weeks, so we can go to Mexico to swim and see the bulls fight. Be good and I will see you soon. Study your lessons so you will not get behind when we go on our trip to Mexico.

Love,

Daddy

*****

George Louis Byrnes (7/9/1911- 10/9/2003), US Army War Veteran, World War II

My father, George Louis Byrnes, was born in Rye, New York, to parents Mary and Edward Charles Byrnes. He was married for over 50 years until his passing, and was the father to 8 children. His reputation was as a hard worker with a generous spirit. He had a keen sense of wit and was a man who went out of his way for others and his family.

He served overseas in the U.S. Army, along with two of his brothers, Walt and Jim Byrnes, during World War II. From the attached letters, it is apparent, he was also a dutiful son, who wrote endearing letters to his mother, Mary Byrnes, who was from Galway Bay, Ireland.

Rosemary Bricker, Charleston

Letter 1: Dated 9/1/1944

Dear Mother: I received your package and want to thank you very much for it. It is very nice. I also received your letters and was glad to hear that everything is alright at home.

You and others at home probably get a better account of how this war is going than we do. I don't think it should be long. I certainly would like to have my Thanksgiving dinner at home.

I have kind of given up hope of seeing Walt and Jim until this mess is over. They may be near, but you don't get the chance to look them up. We have been kept pretty busy.

I'm feeling fine and doing alright. Please give my regards to all and take good care of yourself. As for a Christmas present, I will come home for that. Will love you seeing it.

Your Loving Son, George

Letter 2: Dated 11/17/44

Dear Mother: Just a few lines to let you know that I am fine and getting along alright.

Somehow I get the impression that you all expect me home for the holidays. I don't want to disappoint any of you, so I might as well make it clear. I don't expect to get home until this mess is over. Of course, that should not be long.

There is nothing I would like more than to be with you for Christmas. I want to thank you for your Christmas package - it was very nice, and the fellows want to thank you for the fruit cake.

I expect this letter will find you all feeling the best. Please let me know when you receive my Money Order. Please give everyone my best regards.

I will write home again.

Your Loving Son, George