Dad’s WWII letters a treasure |

Dad’s WWII letters a treasure

The Union StaffLeon Crandell as a young soldier on his way to fight in World War II.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

My dad, Leon Crandell, would have been 77 years old on July 16, 2002. My dad was a World War II veteran, and his dad was a World War I veteran.

My dad was my buddy, yet sometimes I regret that there are so many things I don’t know about his life.

I know when he was older he liked to square-dance, liked country music, and liked John Wayne. He loved my husband’s barbecued ribs. He loved the jays and deer and squirrels around his home. He loved my kids and all his family. He loved God and his country and the flag.

But I wish I could sit with him just one more time to learn what he was really like, especially when he was younger. What did he and his friends do when they “hung out”? How did he get along with his parents and brothers? Did he like school? And what was it like to be in the war?

Well, much to my delight, my mom recently give me a stack of letters written by my dad to my grandparents during the war. To me, they are priceless treasures. Maybe as I share a few of my favorite quotes from these letters, you will think of someone you know or love who served our country.

Thanks to all who served and now serve, just like my hero, my pal, my dad.

October 1944

Paso Robles

Well, I’m happy here. We have several Oakies and Texans, and one guy has a Spanish guitar, so of course we sing Oakie songs, and some of those Texans can really yodel and sing, like over the radio.

April 10, 1945

East of the Rhine

I think I lost about ten pounds today, but that’s because I got my first shower in two months, and boy was it nice! . . . Some of the German people thought us guys were English because they had been led to believe that the Americans wouldn’t ever get into Germany.

April 18, 1945

East of the Rhine

Guess who I saw? A couple jeeps and an escort of motorcycles passed by us, and in the jeeps were General Eisenhower and General Bradley.

May 4, 1945


We sure have a collection of characters in our squad. Me and Willie from California and then Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New York, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Kansas and Indiana. Quite a mixture, huh? Anyway, they are all a swell bunch of guys and swell to get along with.

May 1945

Clipped from “Stars and Stripes”

Just give me a man

with a million or two.

One that is handsome

would happily do.

A dashing young fellow

is swell any day.

Or one that is famous

would suit me okay.

But if the man shortage

should get any worse,

Go back to the very

first line of this verse.

May 8, 1945


Ah me, maybe I should be whooping and hollering like most of the people probably are in the States now, since we’ve just heard that the war is supposed to be over here … Course, I’ve already thanked God many times.

May 12, 1945


We have been designated a certain area for us to have an occupational force and from all appearances, it will be a pretty good deal except for a little thing called K.P. The guy from Texas in our squad had a birthday today, so Brixey and another fellow and I dunked him headfirst in a water tank. . . We got rid of our long-johns and got some summer underwear again, which sure feels swell.

May 2, 1945

. . . Right now Brixey and I sleep together in a bed in the upstairs of a home, but a lot of times there aren’t enough beds to go around the squad so some of us sleep on the floor, which is OK with me anytime as long as we can get in a place where it’s warm and dry … Of course, there’s been times when we dug a hole around 3x6x3 or so and had a shelter half to put in the bottom and a couple of blankets and two guys sleep together. Course, I have seen the times when we couldn’t get those blankets and it was snowing, and boy, did those holes get cold.

May 20, 1945

Out of my original squad as it was when we left Luxembourgh, there are only five of us left. The rest are either in the hospital or else you know what.

Dec. 27, 1945

Camp Campbell, Ky.

Christmas sure didn’t amount to much at all around here. It was raining all cats and dogs . . . Most of the guys naturally were pretty much under the weather from too much Christmas cheer.

Wendy Cena lives in Nevada City.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User