Letters & Papers from the Trunk in the Hall: Postcard – May 10,1944
- From: Miss Lois Brown
- Union Point, GA.
- To: Mrs. E. T. McKinley
- Greensboro, Ga.
- R.F.D. 3
Dear Mrs. McKinley,
Just a line to let you know that Leroy got off OK. He sure didn’t want to go, and he started not to go, but I told him he had better go.
I stayed with him until he got on the train. I got home around 9 last nite. Tell Helen I said hello, come to see me.
When I found this postcard, it puzzled me – who was this Lois seeing Leroy off on the train – had she been a girlfriend? I don’t believe he was heading to boot camp, as he had enlisted on Oct.16, 1943 and left on Nov. 16th for boot camp. He must have been home on leave, possibly it was the last visit home before going overseas; that was probably why the feeling he didn’t want to go. I’m sure it was always on their mind – would I return?
I don’t have his service papers, but I am in the process of sending for; they will provide me exact dates and places so I can better map his travel overseas.
In searching Ancestry, his actual enlistment date was Oct. 16, 1943 at Ft. McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia. Only one year of high school was listed – how sad to see that he didn’t graduate; why were boys pulled out of school? Leroy was 19 years old in 1943, so maybe the one year of high school was interpreted wrong – maybe he only had one year left. At age 19, that is old for high school – and there could be many reasons for that. He may have spent more time helping his father on the farm rather than going to school – Leroy was very mechanically inclined as he often took his father’s old model T Ford completely apart and then reassembling it; it made his father so mad.
It was noted that he “enlisted” but my mother always told that the principal, Mr. C. C. Wills had went to the draft board and told them that he wasn’t a good student and he should be drafted. On the very day my grandfather received the news of his death, Mr. Wills walked up to him to offer his condolences – my grandfather laid him out on the sidewalk and walked away. That action tells me that there must have been something that happened to back up that story my mother told me.
Mama remembers her father taking him one time to the train station, she stayed behind with her mother. One of her last memories is her brother waving from the car as it left the yard, him saying “So Long.” That final wave may have been on his last leave before going overseas. She vaguely remembers him coming home once, after going to boot camp.
Leroy was listed in “B” Rifle Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division. He would be considered a replacement soldier, as the division had been first formed in Ft. Custer, Michigan. Leroy was very skilled with a rifle and received the WWII Infantry Combat Badge Award Pin.
Leroy’s unit was behind the men who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. From several of his letters home, they read “Somewhere in Luxembourg.” His unit, the 2nd Infantry Regiment was there in wait.
The most brutal fighting occurred on the night of February 6th into the next when the Sauer River was crossed – those men crossed under heavy fire. I’m sure my uncle also crossed it, but not under fire that night. His unit came behind and did the clean up – it was during that clean up in the woods when his life was taken on February 19th, 1945; he was fighting alongside his 1st. Lt. Norman J. Mecklem, Jr. when he was shot. Lt. Mecklem, had previously been wounded just three days before, but would not leave his men; he received the Distinguished Service Cross.
Update: March 24, 2016 – After talking with my mother, she has pretty much verified that Lois’s last name was Brown. One problem solved! She thinks that Leroy may have dated her a couple of times, but she wasn’t sure why Lois took him to the train on that occasion; possibly it was a late train and she was saving his parents coming out that night. Lois didn’t seem to be exactly from Union Point – she did work in Union Point in the Chipman Mill and lived at the City Hotel – located directly across the street. She stayed there during the week and went home on the weekend – but mama doesn’t know where home was… she laughed and said, “who thought to ask her.” She also remembers that Lois may have later married a Roger Walker – an uncle to mama’s best friend, Willie Mae Walker. (Her parents ran the hotel) She also remembers that they were later divorced; in a future letter from my grandmother to Leroy, she mentions another man’s name that Lois marries – second marriage?
I searched on Ancestry for Lois Brown – so far – no luck! I would think I could have found her in the 1940 census in Union Point, but as she really didn’t live there – I don’t know when she came. If she married and stayed in the area, I might find her later in the 1950 census, but that has not been released yet. If anyone has any ideas on searching – please let me know…
I also have posted her name and this story on my Facebook Greene County History group; no one there recognizes her name or the photos I posted of Leroy with an unknown girl; that photo could very well be her.
To Read More: Letters and Papers from The Trunk in the Hall
For history on V-Mail: WWII: The History of V-Mail
© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco