Soldiers shared stories from the front

Hinsdale was well-represented among the nation's Armed Forces during World War II

Series: Hinsdale 150 | Story 45

Eight decades ago, America was at war in the largest, most deadly conflict the world has ever seen.

Hinsdale residents, like those of every other town across the country, waited on any word that their native sons and daughters serving in distant lands were alive and well.

In 1944 the The Doings newspaper reached out to homegrown U.S. service members for letters to include in the paper's 50th anniversary issue the following year. In observance of Veterans Day, we include excerpts of the responses here as tribute to the sacrifices made in defense of freedom.

Pvt. Walter Klinkig wrote of the charming scenery from his post in England.

"At my present location, one can readily enjoy and appreciate the real beauty of England in the spring and summer," he penned.

Activity at his base had increased significantly since the D-Day invasion, Klinkig noted, and he lamented a dearth of news from back home for months - until a bunch of Doings issues suddenly arrived all at once.

"It has given me more than enough ample reading material to catch up on all that has been going on away back in 'Little Hinsdale,' " he rejoiced.

Sailor 1st Class Arthur Pielet reflected on his intense combat duty in the Pacific, for which he was awarded a Presidential citation.

"In all my experiences, especially those on Guadalcanal, where death was constantly around us and above us, living became a desired obsession," Pielet wrote, observing the effect battle had on his fellow troops' spiritual life. "We all feel God is with us because we are fighting for a righteous cause and for the ultimate survival of the human race."

Capt. Edward Eaton in England said optimism was growing as Allied Forces made gains.

"If the present successes continue at the same rate, perhaps we'll be able to spend the next Christmas at home. We're all hoping for it anyway," Eaton yearned. "We don't have much of a front seat for things here, but we have our hands full taking care of the boys who do the work. We are glad that our small bit is helping the boys of the 8th Air Force hang up such an excellent record for itself."

Lt. Theodore Gasper included a pin with his March 1943 letter from India serving in the Pacific theater.

"(It) is a bomb fuse safety pin, and this particular one came from the first load of bombs dropped on the enemy by a B-29, our ship," Gasper wrote. "At present the monsoons are keeping us busy with the usual wet weather problems - mildew and mold, insects (larger ones than Hinsdale ever had) and occasional snakes.

"We live in straw and bamboo covered buildings, and recently we had electric lights installed," he continued. "Our food is fair and milk is the one food we miss most. You can bet we all look forward to the day the shores of the States come into view."

- by Ken Knutson

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean