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

By World War II 
Originally published on Published Online: September 21, 2009 
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A few weeks ago, while looking through old family photos, my mother-in-law came across a photo of her father, Joe Tetrault, with a little black cocker spaniel named Scrappy. The photo was taken in the spring of 1945 during a Presidential Citation Medal awards ceremony aboard the USS Enterprise. It turns out that Scrappy had somehow managed to become the unofficial mascot of the Enterprise. Grandpa Joe, as he was known to me, had slipped the dog onboard the ship during his tour of duty on the USS Enterprise in World War II. Grandpa Joe could be a sneaky one so this really didn't surprise me. That cocker spaniel "served" almost 4 years on board that ship! He was totally devoted to Grandpa.

During the ceremony, Scrappy laid at Grandpa Joe's feet not moving an inch, which was a good thing too because Grandpa Joe had on his dress uniform! My mother in-law is happy that she found the picture. Grandpa passed away in 1999. He and his WWII stories are deeply missed!

Dana Stratton
Huntsville, Alabama

I was born in 1953, so I listened to my dad and uncle's stories about World War II and the real "tough guys."

However, this past year I lost my heroes. When my father passed, Mom gave me a map he had when he was in the U.S. Navy. I never saw it before, but he had it from the time he left the United States to the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. Every day is on it, right up to the big day.

When my uncle passed I got another treasure. A 101st Airborne Screaming Eagle patch he wore at Bastogne. He was fortunate to survive there, despite the Nazis throwing everything they had at them.

So to me, the members of this generation are my all-time "tough guys." I can't imagine either one of those ordeals today–going onto Omaha Beach or holding onto Bastogne.

Ken Schilling
Ocala, Florida

My father never talked about his war experiences until a few years ago when the History channel aired a program about Peleliu. After that show, he shared some of his experiences on that island with us.

George Dietrich Jr. was a member of the 5th Marines, 1st Division who fought on Peleliu. Their first assignment was to secure the airfield. The men were told it would take a total of two or three days to capture the island. It actually took 10 weeks. On the first night they crossed the island to the airfield and dug in. Seven Japanese tanks passed onto the airfield, but they were stopped by the marines. The next day the airfield was secured, and marines continued on to their next mission. They went up into the mountains, were driven back twice, and finally captured the hill on the third try. On day seven, they were replaced and given a hot meal on the beach.

Because Peleliu is not far from the Equator, the heat was intense and 50-gallon diesel drums filled with water were distributed. George drank from puddles after witnessing the men in his squad becoming ill from drinking water tainted with fuel.

With their area secured, they chased the fleeing Japanese across a narrow strip of water to the neighboring island of Nicasemus. As his squad reached the far side of the island, George came over a hill leading down to the beach. Suddenly, the enemy stood up in the water and shot him in the leg. When the battle began, there were 21 men in his squad, and only 3 were left when George was wounded. He was transported to a hospital ship where doctors want to amputate his leg. George refused, and after a year in a hospital in Idaho, he made a full recovery.

Carol Ripper
New Brighton, Pennsylvania

Click here to read Rick Atkinson's take on how the study of World War II history will change when those who lived it can no longer tell their stories.

The content of this post was contributed by World War II magazine readers. The views and stories expressed are theirs; Weider History Group is not responsible for their content.

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2 Responses to “Lost and Found: WWII Readers Share Their Loved Ones' Memories of the War”

  1. 1
    Polly Singley says:

    My brother WM D. Murray was killed in france on june 21,1944,he was from Texas I wanted more info about his unit but was told there had been a fire and those records were lost..In vmail letters it looks like
    Co C 1st Batt 8th Inf. the last letter was dated 5/31/1944 somewhere in England. Does anyone out there have info about this unit?

    His sister Polly Murray Singley

  2. 2
    jessa says:

    Hi good day to all…
    I just want you to share to you about my grandfather, he is now 89 years old. His name is Juan Sayson and he is one of the veterans of the world war II.. As what he said to me that he is a veteran but not received his pension until now. I just try to have research about this and maybe I can help him.. I just hope that there will be a response on this comment of mine…He also shared to me on what my grandfather experienced during that time…but some of his story that he shared at me was forgotten by me..and we cant talk clearly to each other because he is a little bit deaf and cant hear what i would ask from him. We already try asking some help but until now there's no response yet..
    Thanks a lot for giving a chance to read this column. Thanks and God Bless.


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