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March 22, 2010


Good stuff, here, and important, given how much of the post-WWII project was devoted to putting the lid back on women's social roles. In that effort a huge chunk of history was given short shrift.

Apropos of this...

<http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/03/10/female-wwii-aviators-honored-with-gold-medal/>Female WWII Aviators Finally Honored. And I also recommend The Good War by Studs Terkel as a further supplement to building a better picture of what WWII was like in America.

Not sure where the link in that last comment went. The article I tried to link is here.

Wow! Thanks for posting that. I love reading obituaries for that very reason: the stories are incredible. I had become fascinated with WWII books in the past few months and only recently realized it was due to these amazing people I'd been reading about, having lost my chance to talk to them in person. Your suggestion to hear their stories now while we can is an excellent one.

Hi RObert, It is nice to have you back.

Thanks Wonkie!

Good suggestion Nous.

I agree completely LKT. So many times I've heard stories that start "we had no idea what Grandpa did until after he died and we found a locker in the attic filled with photos and papers from (insert name of world event here)"

Having already seen the series entire thanks to a critic's screener copy: The Pacific will address the role of American women in the war before the end. Not as heavily as one might like, perhaps - but it does do it.

Mrs. Nash sounds like she was a pretty incredible person.

My personal family history with WWII:

Father served belowdecks on troop transports in the Pacific as a machinist's mate. Most of his war was spent in engine rooms, but he did watch the carnage at Iwo Jima from offshore. I have the mimeographed general orders for his ship, along with his comments, from that day tucked away in the bible his mother gave him when he went to war.

For some reason, he wasn't able to get word back to anyone when he came home after VJ day, he just took the subway back to my mom's family's home in Richmond Hill from wherever the Navy dumped him off in NYC. Spent about a month sitting in the living room staring at the walls, depressed and confused as hell, then he dragged his sorry behind out the door and went and looked for a job like about a million other guys.

Step-father landed in North Africa in a tank, hit a mine, was captured, traveled from North Africa back to Germany with a German prison hospital. Fell in love with a German nurse, who was, inexplicably, killed by the SS along with the rest of the German hospital staff, while the prisoners were let go. Found his way back to some kind of Allied organization, returned to duty, finished the war back on a tank.

Father-in-law spent the war tramping around the Philippines. One of the things in his life he was proudest of, before he passed away, was that only one guy in his unit was killed, and that was a suicide.

Mother-in-law built Corsairs in Akron.

With the exception of mother-in-law, they're all gone now.

Re: PTSD, the father of a good friend spent his war in tanks in Europe. He saw a lot of folks die, and he killed more than a few of them. He's a lovely, charming, accomplished guy, an inventor, author, oenophile, world traveler, and raconteur.

He's in his early nineties now, and spends his nights thrashing around in his bed as he relives the war, 65 and more years later.

I will not soon forget the 24-hour period during which (in the course of my duties as a caregiver) I sat all night at the bedside of a Pearl Harbor survivor, and then discovered I was sitting across the breakfast table from a different one.

Oh, and re PTSD: Both men also said they had never really recovered from that day.

Wow, what a gal! I live in Pasadena where she spent some of her amazing life. Wish I'd had a chance to talk to her. The quote about how to arrive at the grave is one to be remembered. Thanks for linking to this.

An interesting place to look for oral history from the WWII generation is in asbestos litigation depositions. I deposed probably several hundred WWII sailors and soldiers, and depending on the jurisdition we might spend a week or two asking detailed questions about their service. There were amazing stories of survival and loss.

Except for the submariners, who were sworn to secrecy 70 years ago, and refused to discuss life aboard a submarine even in a lawsuit that they filed, knowing that without discussing it, they might lose.

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