I’ve started looking ahead through the remaining correspondence, all of which I hope to scan, review, analyze, and discuss before the summer.
Although the lead-up to Pearl Harbor naturally lends itself as a dramatic historical narrative, it is by no means the sum total of my grandfather’s experiences during the war. Here is a brief list of some of the topics the letters (and I) will cover over the next few months:
- Grandpa’s adventures on the Chew, 1942-1943
- Elmer’s train trip across wartime America in 1943
- Officer’s training in Cape Girardeau, Missouri
- The Lucketts on the home front
- An introduction to Rose Schmid, Elmer’s future wife
- Women in uniform during World War II, The WAVES program, and Rose’s service in Washington, D.C.
- Elmer and Rose’s love letters
- The USS Mink, an oil tanker and Elmer’s new ship in 1944
- Grandpa’s travels throughout Australia and the South Pacific
- Elmer’s experience during the Battle of Leyte Gulf
- The last months of the war and Elmer’s reaction to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- Grandpa’s eventful journey home at the end of the war
My grandpa and grandma’s war stories both shed light on some of the less often discussed pathways towards service: the Naval Reserve, the Navy engineering corps, destroyers, auxiliary ships (like tankers), and the WAVES program. However, despite not serving on the frontlines, both had critically important jobs while managing to take part in what Tom Brokaw once called “the adventure of their lives.”
I’m excited to tell their stories, both here and in my book. And I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens next.
Have a happy and healthy 2020!