About this blog

As the author of this blog, Karen L Garner Martin Messick, I am the daughter of an American soldier, Wilbur (Bill) C. Garner, Sr. and Women's Royal English Navy service woman (British Wren) Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins, who met and married during World War II. They lived and loved for over 50 years before Mother passed in 2000. When she did I helped Dad with every day chores when I could. One day I was helping him clear things out and I lifted a plastic bag out of the seat of Mom's piano stool, asking Dad, "Whats in this bag?" to which he replied, "Just some of Mary's old letters." Mary, his older sister, was still alive at the time, residing in an assisted living facility, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I put the letters back in the piano seat thinking he did not want me to open the letters.
When Dad passed two years later, I inherited Mary's letters.
When I began to read them, I found they were mostly letters from Dad to Mary while he was in World War II ("The War"). I could not put them down. I wished I had opened them the day I first saw them so that Dad and I could have had conversations about them, but that was not to be...so as I read through these "Letters to Mary" I began to get a glimpse into Dad's young years when he met Mom and his time as a soldier. I have researched events during World War II to enhance my understanding of what was happening in the war as each letter came to broaden my understanding of what he might have been experiencing. I knew he landed on the beaches of Normandy, France D-Day plus 1 as he recounted his memory of that day to me when he was dying from Leukemia. It was horrifying. There were also letters from a companion Mary had met while in Minneapolis, he had been deployed overseas. I have entwined them chronologically with Dad's letters as it gives a greater dimension to the war itself. I intend to editorialize as necessary to explain personal relationships and situations as the story unfolds through the "Letters to Mary." I welcome any questions, comments and feedback. As the "Greatest Generation" fades away, I felt compelled to share these letters and story in hopes of continuing the legacy they left for the world. Let us never forget the untold years and lives that were sacrificed for freedom!
If you have stumbled upon this blog I have added a blog archive at the bottom of the blog page. Continue to scroll down to access the Blog Archive. The posts are chronologically listed and to follow the story it is best to start with the first post in December 2013.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Letter #16 from Henri Romieux May 8, 1944

One of the many Maritime Commission ships used by the Navy under Bareboat Charter in World War II, John Land departed San Francisco on 25 April with 1,523 sailors and marines for passage to Hawaii, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 2 May. After joining Transport Division 30, Fifth Amphibious Force, the transport shifted to Kahului, Hawaii, on the 8th to embark Fourth Marine Division support troops. She then conducted a week of rehearsals off Maui and Kahoolawe between 14-19 May before loading stores and fuel at Pearl Harbor.

H. Romieux, SK1c, USNR
U.S.S. John Land
c/o Fleet Post Office 

San Francisco, Calif.

Mary Garner, SK2c USNR
U.S. Naval Air Station
Minneapolis, Minn
c/o Disbursing Office 

8 May

Mary Dear,

     Just a note in haste. At last I got what I have been after for 2 1/2 years. Have had liberty a couple of times and seen the country - whites are the liberty uniform.

     Well Mary how are things by you and hope your WAVE officers treat you a little better by now. Are you still in the same apartment and on subs and quarters?

     Have not heard from you for quite a while and hope mail catches up with us before long. Is Dick still in transportation at the U of Minnesota? Hope you continue to arouse his curiosity and don't give him any satisfaction. As far as me, I sure am thankful to be out of that dump and away especially from those 10 day jerks. If only some people I know in my life were near all would be wonderful. No kidding you would like it.

     Take things fairly easy and drop me a line when you can.
                                                                      Love Henri.

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