During the years 1941 through the end of WWII in 1945, Fred wrote Dorothy over 418 letters, which she kept. Fred could only keep a few of her letters. Most of them had to be burned. Fred brought no letters home. Everything a soldier had on him was carried in his rucksack. It was imperative that most of those items would be essential to survival.
In reading his letters it is fascinating to watch the training process up close and personal through Fred’s eyes. They never knew when they’d be told to “pack and be ready to leave in 30 minutes; and then they’d be told to unpack.” Plans had been changed. And, then it would happen again. They followed orders while controlling their tongues.
Through his letters, Fred brings WWII to life for the reader just as he did for Dorothy and I. Reading Fred’s letters is like a tour of a part of history that many of us only heard about from our own fathers, grandfathers, or read in history books; Fred is very detailed in his descriptions of places adding names and famous people and landmarks all with descriptive color. When he talks about standing in line for chow during a dust storm in the desert opening his mess kit to receive his ration of food, he tells you exactly how much sand you get in relation to the food received. It’s as if you are the person standing in line behind him trying to breathe through your gas mask temporarily being used to save you from choking to death on the sand.
His letters tell everything he sees, experiences, and feels. Reading Fred’s letters as close to being a war participant as possible.
Through Fred’s letters will watch as he and his GI buddies went through training, field maneuvers, and more training while still in the United States, and then in the war zones overseas.