Veteran’s Day Letters From the Front
As we approach Veteran’s Day, when we honor all those who have served our country in the armed forces, I have been looking at letters from the front written by some of those sailors and airmen (no infantry in this batch of my family). Like most letters from men and women in battle, they generally reflect a longing for home mixed with a desire to reassure the folks at home. But what makes these two letters from uncles to their nephews so poignant is the way they show hopes of peace that came to naught.
A Letter From the South Pacific During World War II
In the very first paragraph of his letter to his nephew, Uncle Bill Anderson hopes that this World War really will be the last one and his nephew will not have to take part in another.
WWII Letter Transcription
WWII Letter from Wm. J. (Bill) Anderson to nephew Paul William (Bill) Kaser who was born October 25, 1944. Uncle Bill Anderson wrote many letters from the front to the folks at home. This one is special because it presents such a vivid picture of the Solomon Islands and the life of a SeaBee during the war in the Pacific.
[Note: there were no paragraph indentations in the original letter. I have added some to make reading a little easier.]
Unfortunately, his wish for permanent peace did not come true.
The letters from the front continued. 25 years later, the baby he wrote to–Paul William (Bill) Kaser– who received that letter from the Navy C.B. in the South Pacific had grown up.
In 1969, a second “Uncle Bill” served as a Lieutenant in the Air Force, assigned to Vietnam.
Letter from Vietnam
The second “Uncle Bill” sent a letter to his nephew, 7 1/2 year-old Kenneth Paul (Butch) Badertscher in Scottsdale, Arizona. Paul W. Kaser, the second “Uncle Bill, stationed at Bien Hoa air base wrote an illustrated letter to “Butch” who was 7 ½ years old.
This letter, one of many letters from the front sent by the journalism major turned soldier, was another special letter because of the illustrations and descriptions attempting to make the war understandable to a small boy.
The airman plays guitar for Vietnam orphans during the war.
Transcription of Letter from Vietnam
World War I was not the promised “war to end all wars,” World War II did not fulfill Navy man Bill Anderson’s hopes to guarantee that his nephew would not go to war. And the chain of family members in service to their country continued.
The “Butch” in Bill Kaser’s letters from the front grew up to join the Navy nuclear submarine force during the Cold War. In his case “the front” spread across all oceans. Although he did not have a nephew, he did have a son.
And as the navy-air force-navy-air force rotation continued, Kenneth Paul Badertscher’s son (Also named Kenneth Paul) joined the Air Force and served in the mid East.
David William (son of Paul William Kaser, AF veteran), saw combat as a Marine in Iraq.
Now both those 3rd generation veterans, David and Kenneth Paul II, have small sons. Will they escape the unwanted tradition that has continued unbroken for three generations? Will they be writing e-mail letters from the front, Skyping and otherwise communicating from the front to children at home as they explain some exotic far off land where American troops are fighting? We can only hope, along with Uncle Bill Anderson, that the chain will be broken before a fourth generation.
The Veterans We Salute
- William J. Anderson, Navy, World War II South Pacific 1944
- Paul William Kaser, his nephew, Air Force, Vietnam 1969
- Kenneth Paul Badertscher, his nephew, Navy, Cold War 1980
- David William , son of PWK, Marines, Gulf War 2, Iraq 2003
- Kenneth Paul , son of KPB, Air Force, Gulf War 2, Iraq 2006
These five veterans follow in the footsteps of all the other family members and ancestors we honor on Veteran’s Day. We thank all of them, not just on Veteran’s Day, but every day for our Freedom.
I wrote earlier about Uncle Bill, and drew on history of the Special 12th Battalion. That history says that the battalion stayed in the Russell Islands from January 1944 until May 1945 when they went to Okinawa. Apparently, the history was off. if Uncle Bill is correct at least his contingent were on a tiny island in the Solomons in November 1944. I do not question that he was in Okinawa later, because he brought home Japanese pottery as souvenirs.
I am no closer than ever in figuring out what exact island he was on, as sources only talk specifics about the five or six larger islands in a cluster of 1000 that make up the group, and one that is 15 miles by 5 miles does not warrant mention.
The battles of the Pacific are detailed in this article with many photographs. And the map below comes from the U.S. Marines record of the battles. To put things in perspective, the entire Solomon Islands could sit inside the state of Maryland.
BIEN HOA AIR BASE in 1969