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When his mother passed away years ago, his family discovered more than 70 letters she had kept written by his father who served in the U.S. Medical Corps during World War II. The letters, many of them still in their original envelopes, were dated from 1943 to 1946.
In this special feature, Chris shares a few of these letters and the powerful stories behind them.
"Darling I just received your Valentine…"
Throughout the summer and the long fall of 1944, Mitch slogged through the bitter Italian campaign. On 10 Bullard Street, A.J. fought the battle on the home front of rations and deprivation for the war effort. But they both faced the timeless battle fought by lovers throughout the ages - uncertainty - born of time, distance, and doubt.
Oct. 6, 1944
Just received your letter of Sept. 8, and how I would have loved to have been there sitting with you against the sea wall. What a difference in atmosphere. I am writing this letter in one of the worst storms we have had this year by candlelight. It is raining, thundering, and lightening, and I expect this tent to go down soon. We are fortunate though – as we have acquired a nice stove, which keeps us warm and dry. I am glad I don't have to go out tonight – my heart goes out to those Infantry soldiers out there in holes filled with water. The mud in these mountains is knee deep. Even in this tent the mud is ankle deep and the stove has been going continually for three days. Enough of my complaints.
Listen my sweet one what gave you the idea I was coming home with a nurse? Let me get you straight on this matter. I do know a few nurses, but none well enough to take home, nor any that I want to take home. I haven't seen anything in my travels that I want to take home. Since I met you there has been nobody but you. I hope you are straight on this subject. You better be or your little ears will get the cutting instead of my big ones. Don't worry about the nurses honey we are seldom very near them, occasionally we are set up near a field hospital, but usually we are quite a few miles in front of them. Even if they were with us there isn't any of them that can get you off my mind…"
"Darling I have but one wish and that is to get back on the other side of the pond to you and the sea wall. How about throwing me a rope?
My sweet I will close this letter, as the wind is coming up again, and the candle is about to blow out.
All my love,
Through uncertain times, their letters held them together and their faith.
Dec. 26, 1944
"Darling it has been a long time since we have been separated. But as you say God is good, he will bring us together soon again."
By the end of 1944, Mitch and A.J. had suffered through another Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years apart.
Jan. 4, 1945
"…Your Xmas card was wonderful. I still put it under my head when I go to bed. Really darling I don't know what I would do without you. You are what keeps my spirit going thru all this mess. All I want is to get home to you. I have never had anyone mean so much to me. Gee darling I am praying my heart out, but I am very lonely for you …"
From one lonely heart to another, Mitch sent A.J. his Valentines Day Card of 1945:
From One who Cares
You'll never know how much I care –
How much I think about you –
Words cannot tell you how I feel,
So far away, without You –
But meanwhile, all my thoughts are in
This Valentine I'm sending –
A world of love, and wishes, too,
For happiness unending!
All my love,
Mitch continued to pour out his heart.
Feb. 21, 1945
"Let me start off by telling you how much I miss you, and how I long for the day we are together again. Darling I do love you so. I get a lump in my throat by just looking at your picture. Darling I do want to get home soon. I am so sick of this war, but it looks like the end is in sight – I hope so."
"In your letter of Jan. 26 you mentioned having attended a wedding in which there was no head or tail to it. What kind of a wedding do you want my sweet? Or should we wait until I get home so you can tell me. It will be much nicer to talk about than to write about.
Darling you don't have to fear about the nurses and WACS over here even if they were Hollywood's best. Your are all that I want.
I will never forget how I felt that night I left you on the train in the Grand Central Station. It was then that I was sure, oh so sure, that I had it bad … "
All my love,
Mitch (or Ves)
Then Mitch received A.J.'s Valentine.
Feb. 24, 1945
Darling I just received your Valentine, which I had been waiting for. It was very nice.
This is Saturday night and always the loneliest night of the week for me. Oh! Darling how I would love to be with you, to have you in my arms, to talk and talk. I wonder what you are doing tonight. I sit and brood over how we are cheated of so many precious moments on account of this terrible war. I am not complaining darling. I also get a lot of enjoyment dreaming about you and the things we will do when I return.
War news is again looking good. Although the end is in sight the war will be as hard or even harder than before. Everyone over here has given up predicting the date of its end, but hoping it will be over soon.
Will close darling hoping all is well with you, and that you are thinking of me tonight.
All my love for you,
"This terrible war" as Mitch called it was "as hard or even harder than before." Battles fought for months from the next ridge to the next mountain to the next valley left the men and machine of the Fifth Army weary and exhausted. They still faced a highly skilled and stubborn foe. Yet as the winter of 1944 turned into the spring of 1945, the Fifth Army stood on the cusp of its final advance of the war. The North Apennines campaign pushed the Germans past the vaunted Gothic Line and the Allies prepared for the campaign towards the Po Valley. By Valentines Day 1945, the world may still have been at war but spring and the scent of the war's end was in the air. Mitch hoped - and prayed - one day soon he and A.J. would be together.
Used with Permission: @ Dearest AJ.