Thankfully, he left me several typewritten versions – several without recipient’s names and one which was addressed to Hon. Sheridan Downey, a lawyer and Democratic U.S. Senator from California from 1939 to 1951.
November 19, 1945
Hon. Sheridan Downey
United States Senate
Dear Sir: -
You are receiving this letter from a father of one of the thousands of boys now serving the AAF after being called to active duty under the air corps enlisted reserve program. I was a pilot with the army air forces in World War I, and I will not sign my name to this letter as it has been stated that communications such as these have been turned over to army and navy officials who, in turn, doled out severe punishment to our sons.
These were the teen-age boys in colleges who patriotically answered the government’s appeal for air combat crew volunteers . . . they were willing to give their lives under the stress of war.
These boys have served many months, and just at the time when they were entering AAF technical schools were ordered overseas to man the occupation forces. But the only reason they could find was the old army policy of “everyone do his share.”
However, it appears that these younger boys are being the victims of discrimination in discharge methods. Practically all of the involved AAF men who were called to duty before May, 1945, are separated from the service by now, while these younger boys who enlisted on the same basis and under the same qualifications are being sent overseas to do their share . . . the 30,000 pre-cadets are not being asked that sacrifice.
This is a problem which involves more than just getting out of the service. It involves, very probably, the future of the democracy that we strove to uphold. It involves, very possibly, the world war of the future which we dread to face, armed or otherwise. We understand the necessity of occupying our defeated enemies’ countries, but we ask if it is necessary to continue to send these men with educational ambitions off to a life of boredom? Are there not enough men in the armed forces with no educational ambitions who can man the army of occupation? Or do we have to continue to break off college educations which may, in the very near future, mean the peace of the world. It is not a silly story—and it is for us who have failed to keep the peace of World War I to give the next generation a chance to do a better job. As a father and a veteran, I say we should have learned a bitter lesson.
If the army’s answer is that men are drastically needed to replace overseas veterans, why were older boys in the AAF discharged and these younger ones left with the burden to finish up the job on their shoulders. And also, why are present draft boards now deferring men who are engaged in college educations? Is it fair to penalize these men who volunteered their services a year or two ago and who have done their share already?
Let us hope that American will never repeat another Pearl Harbor within our borders. These young boys, previously designated as the cream of the nation, may have the key to a better world. They should be given half a chance. We ask you, as a capable representative of our chosen form of government, to ask for the fair rights of these highly educated boys who bear the finest characters of your youth.
I quote from H.H. Arnold, Commanding General, Army Air Forces, under date of 1 May, 1945:
“We are most appreciative of your interest in the AAF and the fighting spirit that prompted you to volunteer as a member of an AAF combat crew. It has been possible to train our flying personnel ahead of our present planned needs. Therefore, future training will be mainly for ground crew, precluding entirely your opportunity to train as a member of the air combat crew.
“I hope you will continue your interest in aviation. The AAF is grateful to you for wanting to fight on our team, and I take this opportunity to express my personal appreciation of your desire to serve with us.”
As the war was in tense progress, these patriots accepted the option of whatever training the AAF had to offer.
Now the war has supposedly been over for many months. Why can’t this group be returned to their studies and educations as the balance of the AAF team.
That is why we look to you guardians of democracy to look to your leaders of tomorrow and guarantee them a rightful chance to fight for the peace as they volunteered to do in war. Our country’s fate lies in their hands more than it does in ours . . . this is why we feel they are the ones who should be given the real chance. We are looking for your public answer. We have won the war—now let’s really try to win the peace.
AN ANXIOUS FATHER
Looks like Sig was trying every avenue he could think of to get his youngest son, my father, back to his college education at Stanford University. And since he was such an avid newspaper ‘clipper’, he also spent some time clipping some interesting articles.
Here’s an example.
I just can’t imagine the desperation he felt and the energy he spent trying to do something. ANYTHING. But, unfortunately, it was not to be and off he went. You can read about his time as an Editor and reporting from the Nuremberg Trials here.
I guess I’ll never know if AN ANXIOUS FATHER's letter made a difference in the lives of the young men.