By Emerian Rich
Sometimes the scariest stories come from real life. Imagine dying before you get to live out your dream. Imagine being a continent away while your wife gives birth to your only child. Imagine facing a war in extreme temperatures while clinging for your life to the side of a treacherous Italian mountain, or going for days without food and water. Imagine your feet freezing so bad, you can no longer walk. Imagine being ambushed in a German-filled quarry and dying before you ever get to see your child.
When I first met my husband, he talked about his grandfather that died in World War II, but the story didn’t really sink in until I read Henry’s letters. Being the only child of the youngest daughter in my family, I had never been with anybody in combat, but Henry’s letters changed my ideas about war and gallantry.
The letters were written at a time in history when the world was in conflict and young men like Henry joined the Army to make a difference. He joined before the war and was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco, where he met his wife, Madeline. Shortly after the letters begin, he is shipped off to war, leaving his wife and unborn baby in California.
The letters tell of a dream Henry had of building a life and a family. Of coming back to the United States, and living out the American dream. For a young man from a small town in Louisiana, all he wished for was a family of his own. The war would not afford him that.
Join Henry as we hear about his hopes, dreams, and frustrations during this four-year battle for his life and country.
Henry Carroll Brewer was born in 1918 in Simpson, Louisiana. Henry was a sergeant in the 30th Infantry for the United States of America in World War II and died in 1944 in France fighting for his country. Henry fell in love with an Oakland girl, Madeline Aguiar, about 1940. These letters not only tell of their love affair but of the life he wanted to have with her that was unfortunately cut short due to war.
The following is an excerpt from a letter just after he was told they were going overseas to war.
January 19, 1942
I will write although I haven’t got any letter but I can always write the one I love. I know it’s hard for you to pass away these lonely Sundays. God only knows how much I would like to see you.
Madeline, gosh, they are killing themselves around here. Two soldiers killed themselves last night. Too bad. I may be crazy, but Darling, you need not worry about that. Long as you are waiting for me, Darling. If only I could hold you in my arms. Little Bit, kiss me. If I could only see your hair when it’s combed out.
Just think, Madeline, our little curly-headed boy. Darling, life wouldn’t be worth living without you. I go to sleep praying that we can be together. Darling, they say by the last of this month we can get off. So be ready because I’m sending after you.
Love always, Mannie
- I will send for you so don’t worry and be sweet as ever and keep your chin up for me, will you, Darling?
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About the Book
Experience Henry and Madeline’s lives through their letters in The War Letters of Henry C. Brewer. The book includes letters, postcards, and other correspondence from 1941-1944, a timeline for easy reference, pictures, and hand-drawn maps.
You can purchase the book on Amazon here.
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About the Editor
Emerian Rich, editor of The War Letters of Henry C. Brewer, is an author, artist, and podcast hostess. She is the editor at HorrorAddicts.net Press and was editorial director at SEARCH Magazine for three years. You can find out more about her at http://www.emzbox.com.