My father's home on Ie Shima, where he heard the news of the end of the war. He lived in the pyramidal tent from April through September 1945. It looks primitive: but he did have a radio.
It is sixty six years ago this week that World War II finally came to its end. I was at an event this past weekend that honored those who served and marked the war's end. I was so impressed by the numbers of people of all ages who walked from table to table; listening, talking about family members who served, and, I was impressed by the pride and patriotism I saw there.
It made me look back to my father's letters from Ie Shima, the little island off Okinawa where he was serving when the war finally ceased. Where the Japanese bombers came over each night. Where the mud was so deep it sucked off their boots. Where the mosquitoes were so thick they wore their shirts buttoned at the wrist, even in the hottest weather. This is what my father--who was not yet my father--wrote my mother when he heard the news. They had been apart since February 1945, and had been married not yet a year:
Wed 15 August 1945
No mail again today!
The War is Over!
It really makes us all feel swell and elated. This morning while censoring the mail, I was listening to the radio as usual. I had a pretty good American station broadcasting news I think, when at 8:05 A.M. by my watch, the program was interrupted by the announcement that the war was over. We had no celebration or anything. We just kept on working.
Pacific time is 16 hours behind us, so you should have received the news at 4 P.M. Tuesday, 14 August. Is that right? I expect that since it was so near quitting time that you didn't do any more work. Right? I expect you'll get a nice holiday. I do hope so.
Now the $64 dollar question. When will I come home? Well, no official announcement has been made as to how we will be returned and put back into civil life, but I have confidence that our government will be sure and give a good deal to those who have been in the army a long time and who have been overseas a long time. Of course, someone has to occupy Japan and I don't know what the policy will be, but I don't believe I'll have anything to do with that--I certainly don't want it and don't feel it is my duty. I really think if I got out of the Army tomorrow my part would be done. I've been in long enough and I'm ready to get out. [Isn't it interesting how he wants to make sure he's 'done his part?' He had been in uniform since his reserve unit was called up in July 1941 and had served overseas twice.] Let's throw away that old estimate of 18 months [apart] and count time now until Christmas. Won't it be wonderful to have Christmas dinner together?
It is exhilirating to be able to look forward to living again in the near future. I'm really happy tonight. Faye, dear, I'm going to thank heaven tonight that the war is over and all this killing and destruction is at an end. I know you will offer a much better prayer than I can but we'll both convey the same thoughts.
Tell me about the celebrations you all had. I'm listening now to different cities celebrating. They are all having a big fun.
Know what? Tonight we had a long air alert but no planes came over. Some of them don't know the war is over. I don't understand it.
Honey, I love you so much that I can't tell you and the thought of being with you soon is so great. I hope it is soon.
I love you with all my heart,
Together for Christmas. My mother and father were together for the next 65 years. Mom also kept those saddle shoes the rest of her life!
Subscribe to Robin Chapman News