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Memories of War: Thanks for your letters, photos and stories

From tales of falling in love to tragic heartbreaking loss, the response from readers has been overwhelming since The Oklahoman began its Memories of War project in December.

More than 150 readers have emailed and two dozen more have called. We've received family photographs, diaries and even  World War II-era ration stamps.

A dozen veterans have been interviewed in person. The story of life on the home front will be told through the eyes of women who lived it in a future story in The Oklahoman.

Twila Gonzales never met her father, but she got to know him through a series of 200 letters her mother saved for her. Her story and that of her father will be told later this year.

Other stories have been shared on The Memories of War page on NewsOK. And letters continue to arrive. Kristin Vermillion shared the story of her parents, Robert and Francille Harry, and their service in a recent letter:

My parents were both in the Army during WWII. My Mother, born in Minnesota, was a surgical technician and worked in a Utah hospital, where 5,000 amputees were healing from their War injuries.

My Dad, was in the first ROTC class at OSU, graduating in 1943, and all his class entered the Army as officers. Dad was in Patton's 3rd Army - Acorn Division, and was Company Commander. During the Battle of the Bulge, in February, 1945, Dad was severely wounded; while riding in a jeep on patrol with two other soldiers,  the jeep ran over a land mine, planted by the Germans, and he was thrown a great distance in the air.

While lying on the ground, waiting for help, one of the other men with him, cried out in terrible anguish; my dad crawled over to him and comforted him by praying with him; the prayers calmed the soldier until medical help arrived. As it turned out, Dad was the most severely injured of the three; his right leg, and specifically his heel, were injured very seriously; this resulted in the amputation of his right leg below the knee. For many years, the soldier my Dad prayed with, sent him a Christmas card.

Dad was sent to the Utah hospital after his amputation, and yes, there he met my Mother; they quickly fell in love, married and she became pregnant with me, so she could be discharged from the Army!

My parents were such an inspiration to my siblings and myself; memories abound of our lives that would fill many chapters in a book - their Faith in God, their love of Country, the fun activities growing up.

I do see WWII veterans occasionally and when I do, I think of my folks, and it is almost like thanking my parents in person for their service and sacrifice.

 - Kristin Vermillion

 The photos, letters and phone calls are invaluable when it comes to telling the story of a generation that put their lives on hold to battle tyranny around the world. For those who would like to submit a story, letter or other memento please contact mpatterson@oklahoman.com or call 475-3359.

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›