A Memorial Day tale to warm even the coldest hearts: The actress Donna Reed corresponded personally with World War II GIs, keeping hundreds of the letters, which her children just made public.
Soldiers wrote lots of letters to pinup girls during WWII, but few of these ladies had the down-home appeal of Reed, who went on to star in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and surely none were as prolific. From the article:
At 84, Edward Skvarna is retired and living in Covina, Calif. But in 1943, he was fresh out of high school in a mill town near Pittsburgh, newly enlisted in the Army Air Forces and training in Kansas to be a right gunner on a B-29 when he met Ms. Reed at a U.S.O. canteen and asked her to dance.
I had never danced with a celebrity before, so I felt delighted, privileged even, to meet her, Mr. Skvarna recalled in a telephone interview this month. But I really felt she was like a girl from back home. She was from a smaller community, and we were more or less the same age, so I felt she was the kind of person I could talk to.
Sent to Asia, Mr. Skvarna kept up a sporadic correspondence with her as he flew reconnaissance missions. On May 7, 1945, based in the Marianas, he wrote of receiving a letter of hers that made him jump with joy and of a visit he made to a rajahs palace in India; he also sent photographs of himself and asked for a snapshot of her in return.
Its amazing to me that she kept so many of those letters, Mr. Skvarna said. It tells you something about the caliber of person she was.
Click here to read the whole story and see a slideshow of images of her letters.