V-MAIL: World War II Soldier Writes to Parents Back Home

Before there was e-mail, Twitter, Facebook or any of myriad ways for American Soldiers to communicate with loved ones back home, there was V-MAIL.  Below is the text of a V-Mail (a.k.a., “Victory Mail”) message dated Oct. 10, 1944.  Written by a 20-year-old Army private serving on the the front lines of war in Northwestern Germany, it carried thoughtful messages as it was delivered to his parents in Promise City, Iowa:

Vmail Exterior

This is what the outside of a V-MAIL message looked like in 1944.

Dear Dad + Mom,

Vmail Ltr

Below an address block, this is what the interior of a V-MAIL message looked like in 1944.

I just finished a couple letters so I think I’ll write a few lines to you.  The sky is very clear tonight and it is turning awfully chilly.  By morning it will be very nippy I imagine.  My socks are a little damp so I am going to put on a dry pair before going to bed.  Between the bumps, cold + my rifle in bed with me to keep it dry, I admit I have had more comfortable beds.  We’re supposed to get two more blankets soon so it will improve the situation alot.  I hope.  I got three letters today.  They started with the eighteenth, the first mail I got + have been going backwards.  Today they dated back to the 11th of Sept.  I heard you weren’t feeling so good about that time.  I hope you are much better now, mom.  You should take your regular vacation in Florida again this winter.  Right?  Well it’s time to put the cat out and wind the clock for tonight.  Goodnite.

Your loving son, Ted.

Dad's Official Army Photo

Dad’s Official Army photo

The American Soldier who wrote the letter above was my dad.  Fortunately, he and all three of his older brothers who served during World War II came home alive!

Veterans Day remains special to me, in part, because I served and several of my siblings, in-laws and friends also wore the uniforms of this country’s Armed Forces.  It is, however, my dad’s Army experiences that stand out the most.  To learn more about those experiences, read the 12-part series, My Father’s War Stories from World War II, which debuted in this space May 25, 2007.

Final note:  Please share this with anyone you think might appreciate it.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Help Me Find World War II Hero

While doing some legal gun trading Thursday, I struck up a conversation with Greg Grimes, co-owner of Trail Creek Trade Co., and the visit I expected to last about 15 minutes turned into a 45-minute stay during which I listened to a man tell me about a work of art adorning the wall of his antique firearms shop in the St. Louis suburb of St. Ann.

Do you know this man?

Do you know this man?

After negotiating the terms of a transaction involving two very old handguns, conversation followed and Grimes began to lament the declining interest many Americans have in guns as well as history in general.  A few anecdotes later, he directed my attention to a black-framed portrait of an American Soldier hanging on the wall and an associate of his lifted it off the wall and brought it over.

Grimes proceeded to tell me he came into possession of the framed artwork after a friend, who had rescued it from a pile of things bound for a dumpster and then held on to it for a decade, gave it to him.  Since then, it has hung on the wall at the gun shop.

In addition to the fact that the artwork features a pencil sketch of an American Soldier, several other aspects make it special:

• It appears to have been drawn and signed by one of the German POWs for whom the Soldier was responsible;

• It features an honorable message (i.e., “In memory of your prisoners of war”) between one-time adversaries in a horrific war;

• It bears a date, 2 June 1945, that came only 25 days after the date on which hostilities in Europe came to an official end (i.e., “V-E Day” or “Victory in Europe Day”); and

• Finally, the back side of the portrait bears what appears to be the signatures of a total of eight German POWs, one of which matches the signature of the artist on the front.

I asked Grimes if he had ever tried to locate any of the people whose names appear on the piece, front and back.  He said he had, but without success.  That’s when I told him I would take photos of the piece and share details about it with my online readers, readers of my nonfiction books, Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO (both of which can be ordered here), my contacts in the traditional and non-traditional news media worldwide and with my friends in patriotic and veterans organizations.

I don’t know if the man in the portrait is still alive, but my goal — and that of Grimes — is to see that the portrait is returned to this man or to a member of his extended family prior to June 2, 2015, the 70th Anniversary of the date on the portrait.  To accomplish this goal, we need your help.

Did You Know This Hero LoRez 11-02-13If you recognize him, please send details to me via email at BobMcCartyWrites (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment below.  If you do not recognize him but want to help, please share this information far and wide.  Thanks in advance for your help!

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Headline Would Make Most Veterans Smile

I firmly believe that surviving veterans of World War II would be jubilant to read the headline shown in the doctored photo above:  OBAMA QUITS.

Seriously though, I salute all who’ve worn the uniform of their country on this day we commemorate the sacrifices made at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.

Happy Mother’s Day!

In honor of Mother’s Day 2011, I share the photo above of my Mom and Dad shortly before he deployed to Europe to fight German forces in Northwest Germany during World War II and she went to work in an ammunition factory in Iowa.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, and thanks for everything you’ve done for me during the past 50 years!

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read some of my dad’s stories from the war, click here.

If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

Story of Four Not-So-Famous Brothers Inspires

One of the most popular stories about members of the “Greatest Generation” is that of “The Fighting Sullivans” who died aboard the U.S.S. Juneau during the Battle of Guadalcanal.  That story is heroic, in part, because it has to do with five brothers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country during World War II.

Whenever I hear talk about the Sullivans, however, I can’t help but think of four not-so-famous brothers — Max, Verle, Guy and Ted — who also answered their nation’s call.  Like many thousands of others, they set aside any personal plans they had for a while and went into harm’s way to fight for freedom.

Max, the oldest, was among the first to be drafted into the Army.  Next in line, Verle went to the Navy.  Guy followed, donning Army green.

By March 1943, only the youngest son remained at home.  That fact prompted a conversation to take place between the 19-year-old Iowan and his father.

“Ted, do you want me to declare you essential to my farm work?” his dad asked, knowing that one son from each farm family could be deferred from entering service if he was needed to work on the farm.

Ted took little time to answer.

“No.  If my brothers can go into the service, then I feel that I should go also,” he said, adding, “Besides, I want to do my part in the war” and “Dad, you really don’t need me.”

It wasn’t long before Ted was drafted and assigned to the Army’s 406th Regiment of the 102nd Infantry Division at Camp Swift near Austin, Texas.

Though I don’t have many details about the service records of the three oldest brothers, I do know that two of them — and Ted — saw front line combat.  Most importantly, I know all four brothers returned from World War II.

Private Ted McCarty

Ted summed things up best when he was interviewed by a high school student more than 60 years later:  “I had three brothers in that war, and we all came home alive!’

This story is important to me, because the men in this story were — and still are — important to me; they are my dad, Ted, and his three older brothers, my uncles (a.k.a., “The Fighting McCarty Brothers”).

After the war, Max and Verle went on to own and operate a successful water well drilling company in Promise City, Iowa.  Guy went to work for the federal government and play an important role in the effort to harness atomic energy.  My dad became a petroleum geologist, active in oil and natural gas exploration and development in Oklahoma for several decades.

Today, only my 86-year-old dad remains to talk about the “last great war.”

To read my father’s first-hand accounts based upon his time served as a low-ranking enlisted man in the U.S. Army during World War II, I invite you to read World War II Stories Shared to Honor Veterans.

PERSONAL NOTE: To my dad, my uncles, my brother Jack, sister Barb, brothers-in-law Dennis and John, and all of the men and women with whom I served in uniform, thank you for your service!

UPDATE 11/11/10 at 10:45 a.m. Central: Cross-posted at BigGovernment.com.

World War II Stories Shared to Honor Veterans

Each year as Veterans Day approaches, I share “My Father’s War Stories From World War II.”

Written by my 86-year-old father, Ted, the stories first appeared in his self-published 1992 autobiography, Some Events in One Life: Mine!, and offer firsthand accounts based upon his time served as a low-ranking enlisted man in the U.S. Army during World War II.

While my dad recorded these stories as a means to provide his children and future generations a glimpse into one man’s participation in one of history’s most harrowing events, I share them as my way of honoring my fellow veterans, past and present, living and dead.

This year, I’m offering the stories in an easy-to-share PDF format.  You can click here or on the graphic above to download the document 20-page document.  As always, please feel free to share them.

Stories Shared to Honor Heroes on Memorial Day

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, I share “My Father’s War Stories From World War II” as my small way of paying honor to those who’ve served and/or paid the ultimate price in service to their country.  Links to each of the 12 segments appear below.  Each is accompanied by a brief excerpt of what you’ll find in the segment written by my father who served as a low-ranking enlisted man in the U.S. Army during World War II.

  • My Father’s War Stories From World War II — Part Twelve — My right foot went numb as though something heavy had dropped on it. I looked at it and could see a hole in the top of my shoe on my right foot. The shell fragment had nearly severed the toe next to my big toe and broke the smaller one next to it. Both pant legs were slit in three or four places by the fragments. The one that went through my shoe had also sliced the skin on the calf of my right leg before taking off my toe.

Thanks in advance for sharing this post, especially with young people who might not be familiar with the sacrifices of those who serve and have served.