Memorial Day 2016: Letters to Uncle Joe, Stationed in the Pacific during World War II

Joe Brodacki in uniform before heading to the South Pacific to fight in World War II.

Joe Brodacki in uniform before heading to the South Pacific to fight in World War II.

Copies of sixteen letters written in “V-Mail” to Joe Brodacki, my uncle, were recently given to me by his daughter, my cousin Sandra Eynon. The letters were written by his sister Mary, in her mother’s voice, as if to her son, no doubt as they sat at the kitchen table in the old farmhouse at Route 2, 2590 Romeo (aka 32nd Mile) Road, Romeo, Michigan. They date from September 1942 to January 1945. Sandra also showed me copies of his honorable discharge papers, dated 13 December 1945. They say he was “36526 Tec 4″ in the Army of the United States and “Certified for Michigan Veterans Military Pay” 4-21-47; the documents are signed by Major W.E. Keeley and M.A. Cross, Infantry Captain. V-Mail was short for Victory Mail, a system used during the Second World War in America to send secure correspondance to soldiers stationed abroad. The original letter was transferred through the military postal system, censored, copied to film, and printed back to paper upon arrival at its destination.

The discharge papers note that Uncle Joe engaged in “battles and campaigns” in New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Southern Philippines, and Ryukyus (aka Okinawa). According to my mother (his sister Lucy), Joe came back from the war “a different person.” For his service, he received a “Victory Medal, American Theater Ribbon, Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon w/4 Bronze Battle Stars, Philippine Liberation Ribbon, 5 Overseas Bars, 1 Service Stripe, and a Good Conduct Medal.”

Here are the letters, verbatim, sent to Uncle Joe from his mother. The return address most often is given as “Mrs. A. Brodacki,” occasionally “Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Brodacki,” with his father included. Almost all are signed from “Mom and Dad.” Interesting to me that they were not signed “Ma and Pa,” which is what their seven children called them. The second youngest child and the youngest daughter (even though she refers to Joe as her “little brother,” probably her way of joking that he was six feet tall), Mary probably thought “Mom and Dad” sounded more American and would help make up for the fact that her parents spoke and wrote Polish but could barely get by with English. Unfailingly upbeat, these letters probably did more to get Joe through the war than the USO. Accompanying the letters are photos that Joe sent home from the South Pacific. They are written in tiny script, using abbreviations like “U” for “you” and sometimes ending with “I hope you can read this.”

In the Philippines during World War II.

In the Philippines during World War II.

April 14, 1943

My Dearest Son,
We got your first V-Mail letter today and boy! let me tell you we sure were glad to hear from you. The fact of the matter is, we were not only glad but happy too. You see we didn’t even as much as hear a word, for over five wks. and that wasn’t at the least any good, for us I mean. Now, it’s as good to know you arrived safely at your new place. I knew you were going across, when I didn’t hear from you for so long, but I didn’t know where. Now I do. / The other day we got a card saying, that you are a T/S I guess that stands for some sort of a Sargeant. Doesn’t it? And Oh! yes we got a letter from Stan yesterday. He’s alright, thank God. And he also said he received a letter from you, saying you are a sargeant, too. So-o-o are you??? By the way do you get a litter from Stan once in awhile? / We’re all fine. It sure was good to hear that you are too. Surea and how are you now?? Signing off now I’ll wish you all kinds of good luck & good health & May God Bless You. Take care of yourself & be very careful. Write very soon. With Love & Kisses Mother & all

April 20, 1943

Hello! Son,
We got another V-Mail letter from you today, and golly we sure were glad to hear from you. Even if you’re far away from home, if you just keep on writing as often as you are, and we’ll keep writing to you, home won’t seem so far away, now will it. By the way can you read my V-Mail letters? It seems as though I write twice as much on than you, that’s why I ask. We can read yours alright, even if it is rather small. / Everyone at home is well and how are you way out there? I was glad to hear you like it there, but do you really?
I received on check so far. (I mean of the allotment.) I think I mentioned it in one of my other letters, but maybe you didn’t get it yet. There’s still snow on the ground, but really it’s suppose to be spring, when it’ll come I don’t know.
Easter is onlyu a couple days away, so we’re all wishing you a Happy Easter and so next Easter we can all be together, too.
Hoping to see and hear from you soon I’ll close now, wishing you all kinds of good luck & good health and May God Bless and keep you safe. ‘Bye now. With Love & Kisses Mother & Dad.
P.A.S. Please Answer Soon

May 3, 1943

Hi! Ya! Joe ol’ kid, how’s my little brother getting along, huh? I didn’t write to you for ages or maybe even longer, but I did write to you for mother, so it’s allmost like it was from me too, or is it? Well, in this nice world of destruction I’m getting along well, Oh! course now and then I don’t, but I get over it right quick. You know how it is or do you? Well, just in case(now mind you I’m saying just in case) you don’t I’ll give you a litle hint. You know with you and Stan gone it’s quite lonely around this joint, wo when I get to thinking about it, it makes me sad and when I’m sad, I get crabby and when I’m crabby I don’t at the least feel very good, so that’s the way it goes, for me I mean, but otherwise I’m O.K.!Hey!! Joe why don’t you try and write to me I shore would like to hear from you. I’m going to ask you a question or two so you’ll have to answer. How do you like it out there? Is it like they say it is in the books. Oh! (yes & by all means how are the Australian girls!! ha! ha!) I can’t get much on these V mail letters so I reckon that means 1) Bye now 2) Good luck 3) Pray God Bless You 4) answer soon 5) Be careful and remember 6) a toodle oo from me to you / Your big sister Mary

Joe Brodacki talking to a Filippino girl, World War II.

Joe Brodacki talking to a Filippino girl, World War II.

April 27, 1943

My Darling Son,
It’s a rainy day today, as that being the case I thought I’ll drop you a line or two, since I can’t do anything else. Now then here’s hoping this letter finds you in good health, for that’s how we all are, even though at times we do get spring fever. You know that’s when your’re tired, sleepy and even lazy. / Well Easter has been here and now it’s gone already. Did you have a Happy Easter or didn’t you even know it was? Lucille & Johnnie came over, so it wasn’t quite as lonely. Agnes was here, too. And she brought a nice Easter flower, I don’t know what the name of it is, but it’s real nice, or I should say purt-tee. It’s a flower that’ll stay nice for about twenty years so I’ll still have it when you come home. Oh! yes and Steckers came over, too, that they came 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Just Carl and his wife, Oscar and another guy and Martha. Saaaay did you know Martha is married. Well she is. You know Bill don’t you? I know you saw him, but I don’t know his last name, anyway that’s her husband now. And he’s in the Army now, too. If you waon’t be able to read this, see if you can’t gfet a hold of a magnifying glass. I think that’ll work swell. Well until I hear of write to you So Long, good luck and Pray God Bless & keep you sage. Bye now. With Love & Kisses, Mother & Dad.

May 5, 1943

My Dear Son Joseph,
Well here I is, writing to you A-gain, there isn’t much to write about, but just the same I’m going to write what I think you’d like to know. First, I received another check yesterday, that’s only the 2nd one, so-o, so far I’ve got $70. And do you know what I’m going to do with it? (No what) Well I think it’ll be alright with you if I put it in war bonds. Anyway that’s where it’ll do the most good. Don’t you think so? Spring is in the ripe age of May already. Anyway the calendars say so. But really it’s not. The grass is green and the birds are here, yes, but that’s about all. We have nothing planted yet. But hope to have soon. If it keeps on raining, we won’t have though! If you didn’t know Russ Lynch is going to the Army, you’ll know now. John went to his Farewell party today. Until I hear or write to you again, so long. Take care of yourself and May God Bless & keep you safe. With love and kisses, Mom & Dad P.S. Write soon.

Joe Brodacki (left) in the South Pacific during World War II.

Joe Brodacki (left) in the South Pacific during World War II.

May 31, 1943

Dearest Son, Well my boy it was real good to hear from you again so soon, that’s alright. It’s good to hear from you & the more the better. Gee you really can write swell letters, & remember you said u wouldn’t know how to write letters, well u can’t say that now, can you? It’s funny Stan doesn’t write to u, maybe he’s too busy, huh? Anyway we at least hear from him, Sat. we got a letter from him. One was just a letter & the other was the first V-Mail we received from him. He says he’s getting along swell. & it’s funny Stan said, he received a letter from us, quite awhile ago, saying u were a Sargent, too. I wonder how that happened. You wrote quite a bit on this last V-Mail letter, & I say we could read it alright too. You know in this vast world of rainy weather, we’re getting along fine. By the way how r u? It’s still raining out here. The only thing we can take care of now is, the big herd of 9 cattle, and the pigs, horses, rabbits, and the chickens. Did I tell you we got 300 bsby chicks a couple wks. ago? If I didn’t I am now. The only sensible thing to plant is rice and then I doubt if that would grow here. Should we try planting it? Hmmmm I wonder. Oh! yes we got 4 little kittens a few weeks agot, and one’s dead already. The cow stepped on him, so naturally he died. Here’s hoping to hear from you soon. I’ll close now, wishing you loads of good luck, take care of yourself & May God Bless and take care of you. With love, Mom & Dad

Uncle Joe Brodacki (second from left) in the Philippines, World War II.

Uncle Joe Brodacki (second from left) in the Philippines, World War II.

June 1, 1943

My Dear Son,
Well here I am again, writing another letter, but that’s about the only thing I can do. U see it’s been raining and about 15 minutes ago it stopped. But man! it’s not right to just say it’s neen raining, because it was more of a hurricane and that’s no lie either. It was so-o windy I thought the house would go down & not only windy, but thunder & lightening also. Now it finally stopped a little bit, but however it’s sprinkling, thundering and lightening.
It’s the first day of June today & if we don’t get anything planted this month, well then I reckon we just won’t be able to plant anything. So in that case John said he’s going to enlist either the last of this mo. or the early part of July. That is, if it doesn’t stop raining, anyway, I think John will have to go sooner or later, so it my’s just as well be sooner than later & besides I think it’ll take a good man to fix this mess. John’s that man (I thinkk) Oh, but they couldn’t win without you and Stan either. / We’re all getting along fine, excepting for me (me–is for mother) You know, the damp weather doesn’t agree with me, but still I get around. / I hope it did cool off out there, rememeber the last time U said it was awfully hot out there & I & I know it is, but I doubt if it ever cools off there. I hope it does though. And it’s good to know U go to church every Sun. Just keep the good work up & everything will turn out okay. No! I’m not kidding about tht flower, the man Agnes bought it from said it should be good for that long. Answer soon and take care of yourself & May God Bless You. I hope you can read this. With Love & Kisses Mother & Dad. I hope you can read this.

Joe Brodacki with fellow soldiers in the Philippines.

Joe Brodacki with fellow soldiers in the Philippines.

June 22, 1943

My Dearest Son,
I got a letter from you today, this one which was written June 3rd, it sure was a nice letter and golly I haven’t heard from you for over 3 wks, so that letter came in mighty handy. Son, I was real glad to hear form you & to know you’re alright, is what made us most happy. U said you’d write more often if U know what to write about, well heck U don’t have to write much, just so’s ya let me know how your’re getting along, is enough. So next time U state thinking of not knowing what to write just remember I’ll be glad to read whatever U write even if it won’t be much–There isn’t much news around this joint, but if U want to call this news O.K. 1) We’re all fine, ecept Hank. He got the measles I think. I’m not sure that’s why I say (I think). If he doesn’t feel any better by tomorrow I’m goiing to call the Doc. 2) We’re all so busy around here the days aren’t long enough, but John’s got the corn & beans in & the oats r about 4 inc big already. That’s pretty good for being planted in so late. Don’t U think? Had more to write but an’t get it in, so good luck & May God Bless You. Take care of yourself. With love, Mother & Dad & all

August 25, 1943

Hello! Joseph my son,
Just a note to let you know everything’s fine out this way, that’s including us too.
Now then the question is, how are you? At the beginning I called this a note, well that’s what it is, I can hardly call it a letter, it’s so-o-o small you know. Don’t you agree? But I wonder if I write too much on here. Do I? I mean can you read it alright?It seems as though I write quite a bit more on V-Mail than you. That’s why I ask.So if you’d let me know, why then I won’t write quite so much.
Joe my boy, Mary and I put in a pretty hard day’s work today, and I’m not kidding either.You see during this beautiful “hot” (I can’t say warm because it definitely was hot and that’s the only word I can use to make it right) day of “only” 95ĚŠ in the shade, we canned 25 qts.of pears, and i, anyhow you know a little of what it’s like, d-d-don’t you? Or do you?
I didn’t expect to get this much on here, so that’s why I’m writing this bigger, it’s just in case you won’t be able to read that above, but here’s hoping you can, Until I either hear or write to you again, good luck, take care of yourself and May God Bless You. Ans. soon. With Love, Mother and Dad.

September 7, 1943

My Dear Son,
Since my motto is, to write at least once a week I thought I’d write today, even if it will be only a few lines. Well, my boy, how are you? Oh! how I hope fine, for that’s how we all are–Well yesterday was Labor Day, it was also my birthday. But we celebrated it Sunday. You see Lucille & Johnnie invited us for dinner, for the intention of my birthday. They had to work yesterday that’s why they made it for Sun. So we all went & I ate the most delicious dinner. Lucilles turned out to be a good cook you know and Agnes bought a bea-u-tiful cake & boy! it sure was delicious & for a birthday gift she bought me a dress. Lucille and Johnnie gave me a cross necklace gee it sure was purt-tee-e. I’ll show it to you when you come home, O.K. So despite all my loneliness for you & Stan, I must say I had a happy birthday on my 49th year. But on my next, let’s pray we’ll all be together again, huh? And I’ll be hoping to hear from you soon, so just as soon as you get time why sit down & answer this O.K. Good luch and may God Bless and Protect You. With Love, Mother & Dad.

November 1, 1943

Dear Son–I received your letter today, which was written Oct. 16, so it didn’t take very long for it to get here. Did it? And Oh! we were so happy to get it. (The letter I mean.) We got a letter from Stan today, also, so that made this day almost perfect. Even the weather was swell. Why it was almost like a nice spring day, and that’s real unusual vecause otherwise it generally rains or something. / Even if you don’t get a letter every day you certainly get a mess at once. Twenty is what I’d call a lot or is that a little according to what you use to get? You sure do know what to write, even though you say it’s hard for you. Boy! what I’d give to know how to write swell letters like you. It’s good to know you can sleep good out there and to know you get good food is another good thing I like to know about. It’s alright to know you’re gaining a little bit, too. Yes, I received the money order, but I didn’t do what I said I would with it. I won’t write what I did with it, but you know what I mean, don’t you? Take care of yourself. May God Bless You my boy. With Love & Kisses, Mom & Dad.

November 29, 1943

My Dear Son,–Boy! but it sure was good to hear from you again. Honest! As if I have to tell you. I guess it must be the same with you [word unclear]. Anyhow here’s hoping “this” finds you in good health and in good condition.
I suppose by the time you get this it’ll be around Christmas time, so that being the case we are wishing you a Holy Christmas and a blessed New Year. And even it we aren’t all together let’s try to make it happy, also, O.K.
Your letter found us all O.K., so I take it you must have been hoping quite hard.
I don’t care for warm weather, either, or I should say “hot,” then who does. I mean care for hot weather. It’s cold out here now and I guess it’ll stay that way for some time. I’m putting some of that cold weather in here. So let me know if it’ll be any cooler when you get this letter, huh?
By the way did you get your Christmas package yet, I mean the one we sent to you? “If” you did I hope you like the things in it. I know the one thing you wanted most isn’t in there, but maybe later on I’ll get you one. I’m afraid I have to close for this time and it’s a good thing, because for some reason I had a hard time of knowing what to write tonite & that’s odd because I usually have a lot to write. Well, good nite and May God Bless & Protect. Answer soon. Yours with Love and Kisses, Mom & Dad

December 8, 1943

My Dear Son,
Hardly anthing different or exciting ever happens out here. So that makes it quite hard for me to know what to write. So if by any chance this letter is uninteresting you’ll know why. Anyhow how are you way out there? I’d like to know so kinda let me know. — Today was the day of our Blessed Mother. So this morning we all went to church at the 9:00 A.A. Mass. It was a Holiday, but after chruch we did nour daily chores & thensome. Tomorrow “if” it doesn’t rain John & Dad are going to butcher a pig. So I reckon we’ll have plenty to eat during the winter. / I don’t think Henry told you thhis so that’s why I’m going to write about it. & this is it. He’s trapping& already he caught, I mean the traps caught 9 musk rats. We sold 8 & just think, for those 8 rats he got 14 bucks.He’s doing alright. Don’t you agree? When he looks at the traps in the morning most of the time all he finds is the paws of the rats in the traps, so that makes him kinda mad. So tonite he’s fonna fool them (I hope). Already he’s in bed, but the truth of the matter is, he went when it was “only” 8:00 o’clock, & this is why, being disgusted & all that, well he set the alarm at 2:00 A.M. saying he’s going to get up at that time to look at the traps. But I wonder if he will, don’t you? / Answer soon & May God Bless You. Be careful and Mary Christmas & a Happy New Year. All our love Mom & Dad.

June 7, 1944
My Dearest Son,
How are you today? We are all in good health and are hoping this finds you in the same way. — For the month of June it is rather chilly today, in fact it has been like that for the past few days. It’s nice though. Everything and everybody is in good condition, even though John is leaving for the Army tomorrow. Of course it’s going to be tuff without him, but don’t worry we’re going to do our best. Dad’s leg is alright now and he feels pretty good, too. So I guess we’ll get along alright. –To finish this letter, Joe I want you to know we always think of you, love you, and pray for you. So my boy keep praying and keep your chin up. Answer soon and God Bless You. With all our Love Mother & Dad.

June 8, 1944

Joseph Dearest,
Greeting from home, my son, you are always in my heart. Chin up, God will protect you. I am sending you a pray [sic] that I would like to be said with me each day.
My Queen, My Mother,
I give myself entirely to Thee.
And to show my devotion to Thee,
I consecrate to Thee this day
My eyes, my ears,
My mouth, my heart,
My whole being–without reserve.
Wherefore, good mother,
As I am Thine own,
Keep me,
Guide me,
As Thy property
And possession.
Everything here is fine. I miss you and so does everyone else. Untill we’ll be seeing each other. So long & take care of yourself, my boy. All my love, Mother

January 1, 1945

Dearest Son,
Since it’s the first day of the New Year, I think a very good way to start this V-Mail is: We all wish you a Happy and Blessed New Year. I’ll do the praying and you do the lping that this war can be finished by end of this year.
How are you? Hoping this will find you in the best of health, for we all are. Matter of fact, if I’d feel better I’d start to worry. Just like that, everythiing is tops & derby.
The weather today is drifting and snowing. I can tell you it’s cold too, for that’s what I expect it’s winter now.
Stan is home until the 5th of the month. I mentioned to you before. It’s really grand to have him home for New Years & Christmas.
I’ll write some more, again, so sorry to say bye now. The best of luck and God Bless You, son. Happy New Year once again. Yours as always, Do write soon Mother & Dad. xxxxxxxx Rest too.

To be continued………………………………..

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