Letters to a Lost Soldier - Daddy is no longer a Prisoner of War!


Dear Daddy,
(I originally wrote in May, 1945) We are crying tears of joy since you phoned Mommy to say you were liberated by the 7th Armored Division of the US Army and whisked away from Nazi Germany on a C-47 transport plane to Le Havre in France. We are grateful you’re being treated at the 77th Field Hospital at Camp Lucky Strike. You might be there for a little while before you can come home. The doctors want you fit enough to spend over one week on a transport ship across the Atlantic. Instead of a Prisoner of War, you are once again a soldier in the United States Army, under US military control and protection.
Mommy said that you were deloused, given showers, new clothes and check-ups. She added that when they issued your regular size uniform, it was too big. Your recorded weight is 40 pounds lighter than your induction weight.
I told everyone in the neighborhood and at school except the part about being deloused. It was a little embarrassing for me.
“We spoke briefly,” said Mommy. “Daddy is writing a letter and will phone again. He has stomach aches and tender feet. The Army is careful about sending ex-Prisoners home too soon because there is an abundance of food on the troop ships and they want the ex-Prisoners to learn to eat wisely and sparingly after enduring months of little food but black bread with sawdust. She said that you and the other Prisoners of War were starving and emaciated when rescued. You need to be nursed back to health with bland food and nutritional education. Some ex-Prisoners died on troop ships returning home because they overate.”
“Camp Lucky Strike provides boiled chicken, non-alcoholic eggnog and soft foods that are easily digested. They also serve cocoa and ice cream in small portions. They want to rehabilitate your Daddy so his stomach and feet are OK before he can return home on a troop ship.”
There has been good news lately since we heard that Hitler killed himself on April 30th. Everyone is celebrating the death of a tyrant who said “what luck for rulers that people do not think.” We are learning to think in school so we will not vote for tyrants.
I am happy that you are getting good food now and learning to eat small portions at one time. Maybe we will be able to get ketchup again, which is unavailable because it was declared essential for the war effort.
I’ve thought about you every day, Daddy, since we learned you were Missing in Action and then a Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany. This is my 27th letter to you after other letters came back home stamped: Return to Sender - Missing in Action. My letters are hidden in your living room books for you to read when you’re home. This letter goes to 77th Field Hospital, APO 562, Camp Lucky Strike.
I’ve been holding my breath for six months and can finally breathe again. I got down on my knees on the side of my bed next to the window, so if anyone came in my bedroom they wouldn’t see me. I quietly thanked God for bringing you to safety where doctors are taking care of you. I shouted inside my head: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! Mommy says there is no God. I think she is wrong. What pushed the American Army and gave them the strength to find you and get you on a C-47 transport plane to Le Havre, where you are being treated in a field hospital?
I’ve read that some soldiers carry Bibles with them for strength to endure battles. Were you and the other Jewish American Prisoners of War saved because you were singled out to work hard in a slave labor camp? Mommy said all 19 of you survived your ordeal but some soldiers left languishing in the Stalag gave up hope and died.
I am grateful that you are alive and can’t wait to hear that you are recovering. Please write soon.