's WE WILL REMEMBER honors a very special man who served
courageously in the South Pacific during World War II. The following was written by columnist
Ann DeFrange and appears in this eColumn by permission of the author and
The Oklahoman,
where it first appeared on January 31, 2002.

For more about Robert Boyd Delano, go to his
tribute to
the 187th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) of the United States
Army, with whom he served in the South Pacific during World War II.
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Cleaning out the closet…Bob Delano places the story in context.

The box had sat in the closet for years and the letters had been tied in neat bundles
for decades. Before that, they had been a thick link on thin paper in air mail
envelopes between a young private at an island battleground and his people back
on the Oklahoma Panhandle farm.

Such old letters are in a lot of closets now, and a lot of them are being taken out for
reading because they are the last ties to another generation that fought another
American war. We read them to learn how these older men and women did what
they did so well.

In these particular letters is the story of one American Soldier. Robert B. Delano
left Guymon in 1944 at age 18 to enlist in the U. S. Army. Trained as a paratrooper,
he served in The Philippines and the Japanese occupation.

They include so much more, much that can’t survive in
an e-mail or a phone call or even a typewritten document.

Some are written in pencil; some came out of an ink
bottle. Handwriting is hurried and tightly fit in the limited
space, and as visually personal as are the words his
mother sent him.

    Guymon, Okla., May 1, 1945
    Dearest R. B.:
    Rec’d your good letter last Thurs. and sure
    glad to hear from you…

Eula Delano wrote her son from the home which had
never seen a palm tree such as Bob lived until then.

    …am sorry you don’t get our letters, but
    maybe they will catch up with you soon.

Accustomed now to 30-second transmissions from our
personal computers, we are hardly patient with snail-
slow mail, and hardly appreciative of these rare and
precious contacts.

Eula Delano had three sons in the service. She wrote to Bob:

    Sounds like you are ready to go into combat, and
    also sounds like you are ready for what comes you
    way. I’m proud of you, my precious. Feeling the way
    you do about it makes it easier for you and me too.

Her fountain pen notes the news from home—the baby chicks
and  her garden, Pop’s sore knee and Clyde’s plowing schedule,
the family babies and their progress in walking and talking.
Mixed in with those important facts is world history, compiled
then more slowly than networks and Internet servers currently do.

    Yes, it was a terrible shock to hear of Pres.
    Roosevelt’s death. I suppose it broadcast around
    the world in a few hrs. When and how did you hear
    it, if you can give that information?

    We are expecting to hear Germany has surrendered
    any min., but seems they keep holding on. The
    report came yesterday that Hitler is dead. But how
    do you know? Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t.

The letters preserve the feelings that flowed across oceans from
mother to son and back. One letter in August 1945 from Eula to
her young soldier concludes:

    Well, I must quit and go to bed. It’s 10 min. to
    midnight. Have to get up early, too. Again I say
    Thank God this terrible conflict is over. You can
    lay down your gun forever, I hope.

Not every American soldier got to do that. Robert Delano read
the letters recently, and at age 76 he looks back on World War II
with a pensive mind.

“Everyone I knew,” he says now, “believed we were fighting for a
just and righteous cause. It is my hope and prayer that this belief
will not be lost or distorted in our history books, but will be
emulated by following generations.”
The Delano Family during happier times prior to World
War II (photo taken during 1936 at Guymon, Oklahoma)
(Top Row Left to Right) Clyde, Fred
(Third Row) Dale, Thelma, Robert Boyd
(Second Row) Cecil, Chance, Eula, Merle
(Front Row) Darlene, Lyla
R. B. Delano (1944)
Messages were sent back from WWII soldiers
to families to inform, inquire and attempt to
maintain contact with home. Above, in a letter
postmarked June 11, 1945, Private Delano
wrote from the Philippines to tell about
completing parachute training. Below, in a
letter postmarked September 8, 1945, R. B.
wrote from occupied Japan.
Read Robert Boyd Delano's powerful post-World
War II novel,
The Happy Immortals. Click here for
more information.