• The WW2 Letters of
    Private Melvin W. Johnson

    I never met my grandfather but he seemed to be a bookisly-inclined amateur soldier and his letters home dissembled the uncertainty and irritability that the war inspired. They hint at the plodding pace of war as he fought in France providing a glimpse into the hearts and minds of our fighting brave and their families at home and what they gave up to preserve our freedom.

  • Writing From a Foxhole

    "I'm writing this letter in a foxhole. I've been getting your letters regularly. It's been pretty rough going. Don't think I haven't been praying, for I have."

  • Killed in Action

    On 16 November 1944, while taking Fremonville, France, Private Johnson was wounded. Two days later he died of his wounds at the 51st Evacuation Hospital.

"Heroes are often the most ordinary of men." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Celebrating the spirit, courage and sacrifice of the men and women of WW2, an epic conflict that made heroes of ordinary men and women.

My Grandfather's Letters

These are my Grandfather's letters. Some are written many years before he joined the war effort and underscore the difficulty of living in that time. Other letters are written from boot camp, both at Leavenworth and Camp Wolters, TX. They describe a man sometimes confident and proud of his accomplishments, and other times unsure of his place in "this man's army", as he put it. The rest of the letters, at best, hint at the plodding pace of war as he fought in France. Because of the censor's watchful eye, his letters are almost benign as they speak of simple things like wishing for hot coffee, fresh pancakes, and music. Nevertheless, they allowed me to glimpse into the heart and mind of a man I never knew. To see what our fighting brave and their families at home gave up to preserve the freedoms we can so easily take for granted.

October 7, 1944
I'm writing this letter in a foxhole. I've been getting your letters regularly. Also one now and then from O.K. You mentioned not having heard from me for a long time. Maybe a letter got lost. It's been pretty rough going. Don't think I haven't been praying, for I have. I'm all right and I have good hope of continuing so. I think of you and the "young lady" constantly. I love you very much. Did you get the $25.00 I had sent to you? Tell Orv, Loty, and all the gang "hello".
Love, Melvin

My original goal was to simply put the letters on the web so they could be read by anybody with an interest. However, it has turned into a labor of love and the site continues to grow. I am continually amazed by all of those who bravely answered their country's call, and especially the brave men of the 79th Infantry Division. This site is dedicated to all those who fought and those who never came home, who lie mute beneath rank upon rank of white marble markers and other unmarked places forever known but to their god. ~ Michael D. Ketchum

A special thanks to my friends in France, Philippe Sugg and Gerard Louis, for leading me through the French countryside so that I may walk in the final steps of my grandfather and experience such a beautiful country that at one time, was the site of such an epic conflict. I'm also thankful to Pascale Gotterand, for adopting and tending to my grandfather's grave year after year. Words aren't enough for my gratitude.

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Heroes Remembered: Winston Churchill once said of World War Two that it was not a war of princes or chieftains, but of peoples and causes; a war fought by unknown heroes. Here we acknowledge the unknown heroes that Churchill was referring to; heroes that sacrificed much if not everything. We remember and honour in our hearts these heroes, war veterans, and all the affected people, who valued freedom above all else. If you know of someone who should be recognized here, living or passed, from any country, tell us!  Honor a Hero 

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