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.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Letter #23 from Henri C Romieux 3 July 1944

USS John Land  joined TG 52.15 (attack group) during a brief provisioning stop at Eniwetok on 9-10 June, but was then transferred to TG 52.9 (demonstration group) while en route to Saipan. Arriving off Saipan early on 15 June, the transport helped conduct a feint landing off Garapan that day before sending her boats to assist Calvert (AP-65) and Fuller (AP-14) unload their assault troops. At 1621 that afternoon, six John Land LCMs carried her first passengers ashore, a weapons company of the 24th Marines. Her guns then helped fend off an evening raid by Japanese aircraft. As the main landing progressed, the ship continued operations in the transport area, assisting other ships and unloading troops as called for on 16-17 June. Late on the 17th the transports retired northeast of Saipan as a Japanese carrier task force closed to contest the landings, ultimately fighting and losing a two-day battle against American forces in the Philippine Sea on 18-19 June. John Land returned to the now safe transport area to unload cargo on 23 June, a task completed three days later. During the latter stages off the island the transport received 93 casualties from the beach, many directed to her as hospital ships Relief (AH-1) and Samaritan (AH-10) were full of wounded and had turned away boats.

After retiring from the island on the evening of the 26th, John Land arrived at Eniwetok on 30 June.
The crew helped transfer wounded to hospitals there before mooring alongside Hector (AR-7) for two weeks of boiler repairs. 
This excerpt above regarding the activity of the USS John Land is from the DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER, dictionary of American Fighting Naval Ships

H. Romieux, SK1c,USNR
USS John Land
c/o FPO San Francisco

Mary Garner, SK2c USNR
U.S. Naval Air Station
Minneapolis, Minn. (6)
Disbursing Office

July 3,1944

Dear Mary,
Received several of your letters the past couple days also the snaps. Thanks, I always look forward to your newsy letters- keep up the good work. It really helps my morale or something.
Too bad you are having trouble with the University again hope by now it has cleared up and all is working smoothly. Yes I too miss our conversations about everything and once in a while business!

Is your land lady still trying to convert you? Well Mary, there really isn't much to write about except I do miss you a lot. If ever I do get a leave I sure intend to make tracks for MNPLS-because I kind of like that place and hope to see you still there.

The sooner this damn war is over and I can get back to the good old days will make me very happy.
Is Edwards still out there, say hello to her if she is. I have not received that letter from her yet.
take good care of yourself and drop me a line often.

Love Henri

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