Tag Archives: Vietnam

Reading Letters from the Front on Veteran’s Day

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.]

Twelfth U. S. Naval Construction Battalion (Special)

c/o Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, California Nov. 20, 1944

Dear Bill –

I will call you Bill as they say that is what you will be called and they tell me you got that name from me. I don’t know why unless it is because I am over here in the South pacific trying to get this War over, the one to end all Wars, as they say but that was what the last one was for to{o}, so don’t think that there won’t be one for you to see. We hope that you won’t but if you don’t see one you will be able to say you helped pay for one any way as this one will keep us all paying for a long time.

I am in the solom {Solomon} group of Islands. That is all I can tell you now. The island I am on is about 5 miles across and 15 miles long about ½ of it is covered with coconut trees the rest is jungle and so thick you can hardly get through It is very hilly and steep. It is a coral island, not much top soil, but there are some large trees back in the hills. It is very pretty. You can see 5 or 6 islands from here and the sunsets are very pretty over the water. It gets very hot here in the day time and it rains about every day.

My Battalion is a Special as you can see by the heading on this letter. We unload and load ships. Have been here 11 months now and handled over a million tons of war supplies of all kinds. I am a store keeper by rate. That is a checker. We check the cargo on and off the ships and send it to the different destinations.

The army moved all of the women off this island. They are on another island about five miles from here but we can go over and see how they live. They live in grass houses, not very big and no floors in them, no bed or table of any kind. They sit and sleep on the ground. It is plenty dirty all over and they have sores all over the most of them. If one lives to be 35 yrs. Old, he is considered and old man so don’t believe all the pictures you will see of the pretty girls over here. All they wear is a short skirts.

Have not seen any real action. Had 2 bombings when we first got here and nothing big since. We are getting ready to move now but do not know how soon or where to as they don’t tell us for fear the Japs might get the news and be waiting for us some place out on the sea.

There are a few natives here on this island. They are not very big, about 5 ft 2 or 3 and very black and skirt around their waist. The men and women dress alike and cut their hair the same way. The little boys and girls do not wear any clothes till they are 7 or 8 yrs. old. They get married at 10 to 12 years of age. They are very thin but picturesque as you are to be taught. There are no wild animals here except pigs but a lot of different kinds of birds. A lot of white and green parrots, a few snakes, and lots of rats and all kinds of bugs. We sleep under mosquito nets all the time and live in tents with wire screen all around.

Well, I guess this will be enough for your first letter as you are not very big yet but thought you would like to have a letter to put in your scrapbooks from the South Pacific as when you get a little older, you will have to learn all about this war from history, so good-bye for now. Will be seeing {you} before long.

Your Uncle (CB) William J. Anderson SK2/c

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

1 April 1969


Dear Butch,

Here is a map of North and South Vietnam. {Drawn down the right side of the page.}

I am writing this letter from a spot near the airplane on the map. It is called Bien Hoa Air Base and is near the large city-capital of Saigon

I am also sending you some Vietnamese money. It is called “piasters.” Share it with your brothers. The picture is of King Hue who helped free Vietnam from the Chinese many years ago.

This is a very hot country and has many jungles and rice fields.

The people in the country are poor and their children do not have good schools to go to as you do. They often have only half as much food to eat as you do.

But, the people are friendly and one of them, an old man from Hanoi (see map) is teaching me to speak Vietnamese.

We have a Squadron mascot named “Ruben” who looks a little like Bitsy. [Dog of Butch and his brothers].

I will write another letter soon and send more pictures. Read this letter to your brothers.

Uncle Bill

{Drawing of a dog with a Vietnamese

cone-shaped hat.}

& “Rubin”

Wars Continue

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.

More Details

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.

Solomon Islands

Map of Solomon Islands Campaign showing U.S. and Japanese bases.


Veteran’s Day Tribute to Family Veterans

This is a story of men at war. I glance at a handy list of the dates of American wars and the birthdates of (until recently only) men who might have taken part in those wars. The overwhelming fact driven home by this list is–too many wars.

World War II Family 1942

World War II Family 1942

Last year on Pearl Harbor Day, I wrote a little about our family’s World War II veterans, and how rationing affected the home folk. You can read about the World War II effects on family here.

I have started a running list of ancestors who were veterans of various wars in our country’s history. Almost all survived. The list continues to grow, but here are some of my ancestor/veterans I have discovered so far, with birth date, place they enlisted, and relationship to me. If you know of some information I have missed, please tell me in the comments below.

Indian Wars Monument

Marker in honor of settlers and veterans of Indian Wars, Sudbury Cemetery

Veterans of New England Indian Wars

  • Major Peter Bulkely (b. 1642) Concord [8th great grandfather]
  • Capt. Joseph Bulkely (b. 1670) Concord [7th great grandfather]
  • Captain Joseph Hubbard (b. 1689) Concord,  [6th great grandfather]
  • David Stone (b. 1646) 1675, Great Swamp Fight, Framingham) [paternal grandfather of wife of 5th great-grand uncle–Ezekial Howe of Howe’s Tavern.]


John Howe Jr. (b.1640) Sudbury, Killed in battle at age 36 [7th great grand uncle]

 Veterans of American Revolution


This is a photograph of the statue representing Captain John Parker sculpted by Henry Hudson Kitson and erected in 1900. This statue in Lexington, Massachusetts is commonly called “The Lexington Minuteman” Photo from Wikipedia

  • Lt. Samuel Stone Jr. (b. 1748) Died 1775, Buried in Rutland MA Cemetery.[1st cousin 6 x removed.]
  • Ezekial Howe, (b. 1720) Lt. Col in MInutemen 1775, Col. of Regiment 1776-June 1779. Led Sudbury troops to Concord Bridge April 19, 1775. [5th great-grand uncle.]
  • Ezekial Howe, Jr., Minutemen. (b. 1756)  Ran 16 miles from Sudbury to Concord on the sounding of the alarm April 19, 1775. [1st cousin 6 X removed.]
  • Jeduthan Stone, (b. 1748) Minuteman, Pvt. in Militia from Rutland MA, Fought at Concord [4th great grandfather]
  • Note: Father John Fife Sr. and sons William and John Jr. all served.
  • John Fife Sr.,(b. 1721) Pvt. 4th C., 2nd Battalion in Washington County PA militia. [5th Great Grandfather]
  • William Fife (b. 1751) 12th Virginia Regiment 1777-1778, Captain in 4th Co., 2nd Battalion. Washington County PA Militia 1782. [4th Great granduncle]
  • John Fife Jr.,( b. 1756) Enlisted in Washington County, PA militia. Capt, 4th C. 2nd Battalion. [4th great grandfather]
  • Samuel Bassett,(b. 1754) Fifer, enlisted at Keene New Hampshire, slightly wounded at Battle of Bunker Hill [4th great grandfather]
  • Note: Brothers Israel, Benjamin and Stephen Barrett Jr. all served.
  • Israel Barrett (b. 1757) Enlisted in 1775 and second time in 1781. Served as Private under Col. Tupper, then in Nixon’s regiment. Taken prisoner and held in Quebec for about nine months. [4th great-grand uncle, step-son of Elizabeth Hubbard Howe Barrett]
  • Stephen Barrett, Jr. (b. 1753)  [4th great-grand uncle, step-son of Elizabeth Hubbard Howe Barrett.]
  • Benjamin Barrett (b. 1759 ) [4th great-grand uncle, step-son of Elizabeth Hubbard Howe Barrett]

Veteran of War of 1812

1812 Grave Marker

William Cochran Grave with War of 1812 Marker, Stout Family Cemetery, Guernsey Co.,Ohio

William Cochran [b. 1793]Enlisted in Ohio. Served six months in 1812 and one year from November 1813 to November 1814. [3rd Great Grandfather]

Veterans of Spanish American War (1898)

Although there is a Spanish American War medallion in the Stout family graveyard in Guernsey County, Ohio, it is not clear to whom it belongs.

Veterans of Civil War

  • William McCabe Anderson (b. 1841) Enlisted in Ohio, September, 1861. Discharged October 1864. Served in Co. B, 16th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  Was held captive for part of his service, but not in Andersonville as speculated in his obituary. [Great Grand Uncle, brother of Isabella McCabe Anderson.]
  • Benjamin Franklin Stone (b. 1782 ) Enlisted in Rutland MA in  1872 and reenlisted in 1873. Advanced from Pvt. of Company C, 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry to Adj. General of the 11th Army Corps.  Fought at Manassas, Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain and was part of Sherman’s March to the Sea. [1st cousin 5x removed.]
  • Henry Allen Butts

    Great Grandfather Henry Allen Butts

  • Henry Allen Butts (b. 1835) Pvt. Enlisted twice, and was part of Sherman’s march to the sea. [Great grandfather , grandfather of my father]


Erasmus Anderson (b.1830) Pvt. in Company E, 16th Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry, enlisted in 1871. Killed in battle at VIcksburg in 1872.  Read the series telling his story here. [Great grand-uncle, Uncle of my maternal grandfather, Guy Anderson]

Veteran of World War I

Earl Fair

Earl Fair

Kenneth Earl Fair (B. 1898 ) From Ohio. [Uncle. Married to my mother’s step-sister.]

Veterans of World War II

World War II

Herbert and Bill Anderson and Frank Fair

  •  Herbert Guy Anderson From Ohio. Member of Navy Construction Battalion–SeaBees. Pacific Theater. [Uncle, mother’s brother]
  • William J. Anderson  From Ohio. Member of Navy Construction Battalion–SeaBees. Pacific Theater. [Uncle, mother’s brother]
  • Robert Anderson ,From Ohio. Navy–Pacific Theater [Cousin, son of William J. Anderson]
  • Frank Fair, From Ohio Army Air Force Fighter pilot in Europe. [Cousin, son of Rhema Anderson Fair]

Veteran of Vietnam

Brother, Paul Kaser, Vietnam Veteran

A visit from a Vietnam AF officer, Paul Kaser Scottsdale, circa 1966

Paul W. Kaser, From Ohio. Air Force Lt.  stationed at Bien Hoa in Vietnam [Brother]

Veteran of Cold War

Kenneth Paul Badertscher, From Arizona Navy, nuclear submarine. [Son]

Veterans of Iraq War

  • David Kaser, From California. Marine [Nephew]
  • Kenneth Paul Badertscher II, From Arizona. AirForce [Grandson]

 *Family members in picture

Top Row: Pauline McDowell Anderson, Herbert G. Anderson, Vera Stout Anderson, Frank Fair, Ruth Fair, Rhema Anderson Fair, Kenneth Earl Fair, Sarah Warner Anderson

Second Row: Dick Fair, Harriette Anderson Kaser, Leonard Guy Anderson, Paul Kaser, William J. Anderson

Bottom Row: Vera Marie (Bunny) Kaser, Joann Anderson, James (Jimmy) Anderson, Romona Anderson, Larry Anderson.

Picture was taken on the lawn of Vera and Guy Anderson’s home in Killbuck, Ohio.