By Sami Hinsz
Dear Momma, Dad, and Jessie,
How are you? How’s the farm? We’ve been at sea for so long I can hardly remember what grass looks like. You wouldn’t be able to imagine the size of the ship, Momma. It’s bigger than our corn field, maybe even the pastures as well. There’s a lot of people on board, guys like me who’ve only been enlisted since the war began. There’s whole bunch of folks here from all over, from Kentucky to New York. Hell, I just met a kid from California a few days ago. And by kid I mean kid- his face was about as shiny as my boots, if you can imagine that. I hear Washington is putting on the pressure to enlist back home- might explain all the the young kids we’ve been getting recently. Those damn Nazi’s have been raising hell all over Europe, from Poland to Denmark, hell even over in France.
The food here ain’t nothing like your cooking at home, Momma. We’re darn lucky if it ain’t cold by the time we get to it, and even if it’s warm it ain’t nothing to write home about.
I sure do miss y’all back home. Has Dad managed to get the tractor running since I’ve been gone? Is he managing the farm alright without me there to help him? How’s Jessie doing? It plumb near broke my heart to leave her carrying our child. But we’re here to serve our country, and to take out those God-forsaken Nazi’s. I hope you’re proud of me Momma, as I am proud of you. I ain’t stopped bragging about your fried chicken yet, even though the guys would surely like me to. I ain’t real sure when I’ll be able to write again, but I will first chance I get. I love y’all, and be sure to give Jessie a quick kiss from me. -Colver
Dear Momma, Dad, and Jessie,
I hope when I write this letter y’all are faring much better than I am. It’s been a rough month, I can’t lie. We landed somewhere in Africa, and it’s hotter than a million suns. The army went and outfitted us with these fur coats, which we quickly discovered weren’t any help at all in this heat. In fact, it doubled the chance of heatstroke. Their quite fluffy though, with nice gray fur and a thick coat of it too. Our guns are all nice and factory new, and some of the guys have taken to naming theirs.
Momma, I was in my first real fight yesterday. We were heading towards a city inside the country to give them a hand. The front of the line crested a dune and were lit up by gunfire. You wouldn’t believe the noise of the cannons- it’s like the tractor backfiring and fourth of july fireworks and a shotgun shot all mixed into one, and given the wrath of angels. We scrambled for cover behind the dunes around us, and set to firing back. I’m ashamed to say it, but I was real scared Momma. I ain’t never fired at something that’s shooting back at me. Luis was right next to me- you know him, my bunkmate, the Mexican I wrote you about, the one who carried that cross everywhere he went no matter if it was cumbersome. He had it with him then, stuffed in his back pocket.
A huge burst of enemy fire swarmed our position, and I ducked down, praying I wouldn’t be called home to God yet. They moved off, and I looked over and saw Luis coughing. They got him, Momma- and I can’t quite put it into words what it was like. Ask Dad what our hound Johnny looked like after that boar got him a few years back, and you’ll get a good idea.
I drug myself over to him, real low so as not to draw attention. He was coughing up blood Momma, and it was all over, soaking into that sand. I tried to hold him up, but he was struggling something fierce and I couldn’t get a grip. I yelled for a medic, but it was chaos Momma, and there was yells and gunshots and cannonfire and nobody heard me. Luis stopped struggling a little, and I sat him up against me, trying to find the wound. It took me a minute, but I figured that Luis hadn’t stopped struggling.
He died, Momma. He went and died right there, right against me. He left six siblings and a whole mess of family back home- I wrote them yesterday, telling them the God-awful news.
He still was carrying that darn cross; I don’t know how he held onto it, the thing must have weighed four pounds of silver. I took it with me when we retreated back to a easier held position.
God took him right there Momma, and I still ain’t changed out of them clothes. I’ve still got his blood all over my chest. I want to hurl a little every time I think about the whole ordeal.
We’re moving out again tomorrow Momma, I don’t know where. I don’t know if I can keep going through this, this whole war has soured for me.
Give my best wishes to Dad, and to Jessie especially. Tell her I can’t wait to meet our little girl.
Dear Momma, Dad, Jessie, and Darla,
Well, we’re finally here. It seems like the whole of the Allied force is here, Momma, and it’s a sure sight to see. I can’t tell you where we’re at specifically, with it being a classified mission and all, but we’re just outside of where great-great-grandpa Alfie was born. It’s the big push in a few days- gonna make a huge landing, the whole bunch of us. I’ve got no clue when I’ll be able to write after this, as the mail carrier said he was making one last run before we make land.
How’s Darla going along? That picture you sent about made my heart burst. You’re right, she’s got Jessie’s blond curls and looks, no doubt about that. I was worried she’d take after her father for a moment.
God, may he watch over me, so that I can see you all again soon. This war ain’t a pleasure to fight, some moments it’s downright hellish. I’ll spare you the details, as it ain’t much for the fairer sex. I do swear sometimes, it’s as if the Devil’s minions have crawled out to make war on us poor souls.
I am afraid, Momma, more afraid than I’ve been since that first
Skirmish. From what’s been coming down through the ranks, it’s going to be a bloody day. A whole lot of us are expected to not make it. Luckily, I’ve been assigned to the last group to land, to come in after the main bunch has taken the fire. It gives me hope, Momma, hope that I might come home to see this year’s winter wheat grow and to watch Darla run around with the dogs and chickens. I’ll write again when I can.
Momma, I ain’t got much time to write this letter as the mailman is waiting for me. I’ve been reassigned to the first division- the shock troops, as they’re calling us. Momma, the Germans have got tanks and cannons and all sorts of horrors in store for us.
Momma, I don’t think I’ll be home for the winter wheat harvest. I may not be home for any harvest, Momma. I don’t want to hurt you too badly, so know if I die, I die happy, thinking of y’all back home. Know I die smiling in the face of those damn Germans, with Darla’s little face in my mind. Tell my Jessie, tell her that I love her more than my words can say. Tell her there was never any other girl in Greenesville that could compare, that there ain’t no gal in Europe or America, in Heaven of Hell that would suit me better than her.
Tell Dad I’m sorry I won’t be back to help with the farm, and that the Larkin boy is a hard boy and to look him up if he ain’t been drafted already.
Momma, when I get on that boat, I’ll be thinking of your fried chicken and hugs and all that you did for me as a boy and a son. I love you Momma, more than I can say.
I got to go, the mailman is getting impatient. I love y’all, and please don’t cry too much for me, I’d rather you happy.