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.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Letter #37 from Henri Romieux 24 September 1944

During the first two weeks of October 1944, John Land loaded provisions as well as troops of the 24th Division, U.S. Army. The crew then secured a radio broadcasting truck on deck and, on the 13th, helped embark Phillippine President Sergio OsmeƱa and nine members of his cabinet and staff. Assigned to Admiral Barbey's Palo Attack Group, John Land sailed for the Philippines that same day, entering Leyte Gulf without incident on 20 October. (DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER 805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060)

H.C. Romieux, SK1cUSNR
c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Calif.

Mary Garner, SK2c USNR
U.S. Naval Air Station
Wold-Chamberlain Field
Minneapolis, Minnesota

24 September 1944

Mary Dear,

Not much to write about out here but I will try anyway.
From your last letter I gather you don't know what to expect next at NAS Minneapolis, so am looking forward to news from you as to what finally took place, if anything.

Had a smoker aboard this afternoon, which was pretty good (unusual for this sort of thing to appeal to me by the way.) 

Some good boxing matches, some real good songs and a little skit. 

This was followed by a good supper-Turkey- ice cream-pie and all the trimmings. You know I think of Lees and the fried chicken - lemon and pecan pie - Do you still go there quite often - if you do have some for me.

Well dear, I have to get back to work for a while so will sign off today, write real soon and give me all the news.

Love, Henri

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