Sue Scheible: Widow finds Milton WWII vet’s letter about combat 45 years later
An Army combat engineer, he survived the Battle of the Bulge, won a Purple Heart, came home and married the girl who took him to her senior prom – Mary Kleczek.
On their honeymoon in 1952, he had nightmares about the war, but never spoke much about it, except to tell their six children, “I was over there, you know.”
Dick Ferson died at age 62, and five years later in 1990, Mary found a faded letter he’d written in pencil to his Aunt Kay on May 25, 1945.
She read it and cried. It revealed his stoic endurance and some of the horrors he had kept silent about. Mary shared it with their kids – Kathleen, James, Debra, Jack, Joe and Bob. “We didn’t really know what he went through,” she said.
Tomorrow, Veterans Day, she will read the letter again. It will move her, as always, and she will feel thankful for both the man she married and the young men and women now serving their country with courage and commitment.
“I came over on the Queen Mary and we really traveled. We were about halfway across when the Germans reported sinking the boat. We sure got a laugh out of that.”
“We took the doughboys across on the first wave and believe me, it was rough, the Germans lobbed mortars right in our assault boats (plywood), and all you can do is paddle like hell and hope they don’t get you.”
“I didn’t even hear the damn thing come in. All I knew was I saw the big flash and felt the sting of the hot shrapnel hit me. God knows it’s a wonder I wasn’t kaput right then. I couldn’t walk to save my soul.”
“The doc took a pair of tweezers and took the metal out and gave it to me. He took my name, age and how long I’ve been in the Army and told me I had earned a medal.”
“The Germans were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at us ... a shell came in the cellar window killing four boys and knocking our radio out of commission ... (the lieutenant) sent a boy across the street to try to make contact with the other side of houses. The kid didn’t get half way when a sniper nailed him right in the head.
“That’s when I got my first Jerry. And I’m damn glad I did. The kid and I were talking about our plans after we got out of the Army, just a half hour before that happened. He told me he had cousins in Roxbury.”
I was ordered to blow up the house ... I did a swell job even if I do say so myself.”
In Saurlautern, I was under my first American barrage, and it was hell. I don’t know how I got out alive.”
“I received your swell package the other day. Thanks a million. Those candy bars were swell. And Bolsters, my favorite! They sure go fast here.”
You should have the souvenirs by now. I have a German officer’s sword that I took off him in Frankfurt after the Rhine crossing. Also, helmet, rifle bolt action, and a flag I got in Metz.”
Give my love to all the children. Hope everyone is all right. Our chow lately has been wicked. God bless you all.”
P.S. Months in Service: 16. Months Overseas: 10. Combat Stars: 3 Purple Heart: 1 for 46 points. (Servicemen could return home after earning a certain number of points.)