July 2, 2001
by David Tarrant of the Dallas Morning News
© 1999-2001 Santa Barbara News Press
Letters written in time of war differ dramatically from other types of
correspondence, Mr. Carroll says. Powerfully cathartic and life-affirming,
letters to and from war zones serve as lifelines connecting children and
parents, married couples, sweethearts and best friends.
"You're talking about life and death," he says. "You don't mince words
in a foxhole. You can't beat around the bush. You may not be alive tomorrow,
so you tell people things you probably wouldn't tell them otherwise."
Such is the case of Capt. George Rarey, who flew air missions over German-
occupied Europe from England during World War II. Capt. Rarey could barely
contain his emotions after learning that his first child had been born. In
the letter, he exclaims his joy to his wife:
* * * * *
"Darling, Darling Junie!
"Junie, this happiness is nigh unbearable -- Got back from a mission at 4:00
this afternoon & came up to the hut for a quick shave before before chow and
what did I see the deacon waving at me as I walked up the road to the shack?
A small yellow envelope -- I thought it was a little early but I quit breathing
completely until the wonderful news was unfolded -- a son! Darling, Junie!
How did you do it? -- I'm so proud of you, I'm beside myself -- Oh you darling."
A somber footnote follows from Mr. Carroll: Less than three months after writing
his letter, the 26-year-old Capt. Rarey was shot out of the sky by German anti-
aircraft guns. He did not survive.
There is no amount of marble in the world that could create a more fitting
memorial to Capt. Rarey than his own words.
At the end of his letter, he writes:
"Oh Junie, I wish I could be there -- I think maybe I could be of some help --
There are so many things to be done. What a ridiculous and worthless thing
a war is in the light of such a wonderful event. That there will be no war
for Damon! Oh my beautiful darling, I love you more and more and more --
Gosh, I'm happy! Sweet dreams my sweet mother.
Love -- Rarey"
In Memory of CPT George W. Rarey
Here is the inscription on the back of the book that Andrew Carroll sent
to Damon . . .
"To Damon Rarey:
"Your father is a hero in my book (literally), and I cannot thank you enough
for sharing his letter. It is truly the letter that has affected me the most.
Best, Andrew Carroll"
Damon Rarey writes:
It's hard to know what to say about the letter itself. It's been so much a
part of my life. It exemplifies so eloquently the cry of the heart of every
man who was at war when his child was born - or who had to leave a child at
home without knowing if he would ever return. The institution that suffers
the most brutally from war is the family - to that we can all attest.
KIA 27 June, 1944 over France