I’m not sure exactly why it is, but this letter just tears me up. I’ve come across it a few times now, and every time I hear or read it, it affects me deeply. It’s a letter from Lt. Col. John Butler of the 5th Marine Division and was written to his son, John Jr.. It was one of many letters sent from father to son while dad was far away, fighting in a terrible war.
February 18, 1945
Dear Johnny Boy:
Tomorrow morning Dad is going to play war with all his strength, so that Mommy can sing you “A Wee Little Lad” and mean every word of it.
Red will be right along side Dad. You would laugh to see the way we are dressed. I am carrying so many guns, and they are sticking out on all sides.
As the man of the house, Dad is counting on you to continue in helping Mom in every way.
When I come home, I will have many stories to tell you about those ships and planes and jeeps and trucks.
Thanks for praying for Dad.
Your Proud Dad.*
The morning after sending this letter, John Butler hit the hard coral beaches of Iwo Jima. Just days later he was killed in the performance of his duties. This letter was the last one Johnny Boy ever received from his Proud Dad.
As quoted by Douglas Phillips in The Little Boy Down the Road.