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Lost and Found: WWII Readers Share Their Loved Ones’ Memories of the War

By World War II
9/21/2009 • World War II Web Extras

This was told to me by a World War II veteran. They were and are the greatest generation. He was a rifleman from the 102nd Infantry Division. Their association disbanded in 2008. The following words are what he said:

“After the war, I wished I could have brought my rifle home, covered it in salt, set back in a chair, and watched it rust.”

Robert Granger
Olean, New York

My father, Joy Aaron Mayo, rarely spoke of his experiences in the navy during WWII. He enlisted in the navy in September 1939, because, he said, “I knew we would be in it sometime.” In 1942 he was aboard a ship stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He and another sailor, only identified as an Italian American who could practically see his home in New Jersey, were the same rank and only one could stay. The captain said to decide among themselves. They flipped a nickel and dad lost. He spent the next three years in the Pacific theater. Dad looked so sad when he spoke of the other sailor, for the ship was torpedoed and went down its next time out.

Nancy Mayo
Portland, Oregon

I learned something that surprised me on finding a copy of my brother, 1st Lt. R. Reid Sanderson’s discharge from the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed in England, flew P-47s, and during his service was awarded two Bronze Stars. I never knew of these awards and I am sure neither did our parents. When I asked him to tell me how he got them his answer was, “They pass them out to everyone.” He is gone now and the circumstances of these awards will remain a mystery to me unless there is some way I can find an answer.

In reverence for all those who saved our country in World War II I am

Mary J. Sanderson
Ocala, Florida

Twin sisters Isabelle and Lorraine Clemons worked in the U.S. Navy's intelligence department. (Photo courtesy of Gert R. Ording)
Twin sisters Isabelle and Lorraine Clemons worked in the U.S. Navy's intelligence department. (Photo courtesy of Gert R. Ording)
While working as a nurse at the VA I met Lorraine Clemons. Since it is rare to see a World War II female veteran I asked her to tell me about herself. Lorraine and her twin sister Isabelle volunteered for the WAVES. This is their story.

On December 7, 1942, the twins were sworn into the U.S. Naval Reserve in Houston, Texas, for the duration of the war. They became the first identical twins in the WAVES. Upon completion of basic training and clerical classes the twins posed for photos to be used on official navy recruiting posters. The twins then received orders to report to Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C., with assignments to work in the cryptanalysis and decryption department.

At the time, naval intelligence was involved in an effort to break the top secret Japanese Magic and Purple codes. Lorraine and Isabelle were assigned to work with the Navajo code after accepting a top secret clearance. The twins worked with a Navajo code talker who would take messages in code for the twins to type in English.

At times one of the twins would perform extra duty working on the Japanese Purple code using a special keyboard that was part of the decryption process. Due to nature of the work, the twins never learned much about other personnel they worked with. One of the civilian cryptologists who worked across the hall had translated a message on December 6 that warned of a Japanese attack on Honolulu but was dismissed as unimportant by her superior officer.

The twins stayed in the navy until they both married men in the service. Isabelle died in 1987. Lorraine lives in central Texas. She still has her top secret identification card, which she will show with pride. “It was an honor for my sister and I to have served.”

Gert R. Ording
Bryan, Texas

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