A war letter from the past

Published 9:32 pm Monday, November 10, 2008

Dear Editor,

In honor of Veterans Day, I would like to share the following letter that was written to the veterans of World War II.

“How many times did we see you sink out of sight underneath the waves of an angry North Atlantic sea, only to see you finally bob up once more riding a crest several stories high? It was mighty dangerous out there in 1943 and 1944 for a crew member like myself on a T-2 tanker loaded with airplane gas on our way to Europe. As a merchant mariner, I often sat on the fantail watching with amazement as you rode those rough seas up and down. We bet cigarettes on whether or not you would come up from a trough in the waves or just keep going down.

It was very comforting to know you were there circling our convoy. You reminded us of a mother hen watching her chicks. It was sad when you lost one of us, but mighty exciting when you found a German U-boat and started dropping cans at full speed with your sirens blaring as you darted in and out. You scared the heck out of us, for we never knew when a torpedo would hit us next.

We carried P-38 airplanes strapped to our decks. When the cables holding them down snapped like loud rubber bands and the planes slid overboard into a heavy sea, we were surprised you guys didn’t pick them up out of the water and keep them for souvenirs.

When the Germans gave up, darned if you weren’t following us in the Pacific riding up and down those giant swells. Remember? Thanks a million. But for you, a lot of us wouldn’t be here.”

– Jack Whaley, Clanton