Tuesday, September 20, 2011

These Moments of Connection are the Best

 This whole family archive ride is such a wild one sometimes!  I have been on a vacation visiting the hub's side of the family, so I've been out of the groove of these archives and was a bit reluctant to dive back in because I can get so lost in it all.  However, dive I have, and I am having such fun again (and once again totally lost in a good way)!

I've been going through more WWII letters to and from Grandpa, and will be for some time I think.  The first thing I scanned tonight was a letter from January 1945, which Grandpa wrote after the biggest battle his ship participated in, and after not receiving mail for two months. Imagining what that might have been like is incredibly difficult for me (as I just now run downstairs to soothe my kiddo as she sleeps and kiss my husband).  To me, my grandpa was not a violent or macho person or even one to mention his war experiences particularly, so it's strange to read his accounts of things and hear the necessary hard edge that I would imagine he would have to have gained quickly to get through it.  That, too, must have been strange for him.  And then in the next line after describing his war duties, he reminds my grandma of how much he loves her and misses everyone.  I am incredibly grateful to get to witness the nuances of his experience and personality at the time. 

As I was pondering all of this, the next document I came to was a timeline of sorts of his ship, the LCI (R) 226, which was a Landing Craft Infantry rocket ship.  I didn't even know that much at the time, but do now because as soon as I started reading his timeline I started googling.  I almost lost my mind for a moment because as soon as I started searching I was finding pictures of his ship, other people's timelines of the ship, and other odds and ends like that.  I could actually compare his timeline with some of the others and see them match up.  I can't quite recapture why exactly it blew my mind, but it was a really wonderful moment of connection that has come to be one of my favorite things about going through these archives.

This was the first thing I found: http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/15/150226.htm
That's his boat!!

I'm still a little amazed, and not feeling fully coherent about why this is so exciting, but for now I'll work on it in my head some more, and leave you with another picture.  The first picture was of the crew of  the LCI 226 on August, 1945.  This bottom picture is of the Illinois contingent, with Grandpa's caption for names.  Grandpa is the oldest of the bunch (most likely), standing on the far right.

[Reads: Illinois members of the crew of LCI (R) 226.
Left to right:
Back row - Hurley - Chief Pharmacist Mate.
                  Warwick - Ships Cook 1/c
                  Goodwin - Quartermaster 3/c
Front row - Zelinski - Seaman 1/c
                   Hoffman - Fireman 1/c

Taken aboard ship somewhere in The Philippines, April 21, 1945.]

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