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©2014, Aaron Elson


A Letter to Myself

Dale Albee

After 11 months in combat, during which time he received a battlefield commission and three Purple Hearts, Dale Albee put some of his thoughts on paper as he wrote a letter to himself. He kept it hidden for more than 50 years, but he revisited it at the urging of his brother Jake.

© 2014, Aaron Elson

Sometime in 1945

    How hard it is to share with someone who was not there the joy of knowing you were going home but at the same time the deep sadness that you had. The sadness of leaving friends who had shared the toughest, meanest, and most terrible years of our lives. Ones who had protected you and you them in the deadly game of life or death.

    To know that suddenly the world you had known of fear – loneliness – and that you could live or die all too quickly in one split second was now to be left behind. But ahead what? We had been away so long. So used to another way of life. We had become animals – now we had to convert back to decent, lovable, caring human beings again. Would people understand and give us help and above all time to reconvert ourselves? One minute we were trained killers and suddenly we were transported to another world. It had taken long hours, and days, for us to become full of hatred for our enemy and to learn to kill without feeling or remorse. I must train myself away from sights – sounds – smells. A red flash of light from a hillside, down the road or in a village meant enemy fire – how would I react to police and fire engines when I first saw their red light or saw even a sudden burst of light? Isn’t it strange to be a person that thought he had known all types of fear and now to be faced with one that eats at your heart even though those wonderful words have finally come. You are going home. Lord give me the strength to cope with this new and unexpected fear. To one who had resigned himself to death – with little hope of making it all the way without death or horrible mutilation was almost impossible for me to hope for. Now alive and with orders to return home I am so scared I could cry. Can I convert back now from a killing machine to the decent, loving and caring person my wonderful parents taught me to be? Please, Please Lord – help me once again.

An interview with Dale Albee