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Bringing War Home: ID tags and a journal help a man tell his story

She always saw her husband as a hero, though it wasn’t until the end of his life that she would finally learn of his war experiences in the Pacific Theater of WWII.

Original air date: April 6, 2023
KATIE WHITE: This is Bringing War Home, the show that connects listeners with the history of war through sharing wartime objects and the personal stories that surround them.

This collaborative project is led by Utah State University professors Susan Grayzel and Molly Cannon at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

I’m Katie White, producer of the series.

As we now know, war leaves wounds often invisible at first glance. Prior to the Second World War, the U.S. military believed soldiers suffering from combat fatigue had preexisting conditions which made them more vulnerable to the mental stress caused by combat. By the end of the war it was clear — a soldier’s psychological resilience to combat could neither be predicted or screened for.

Over half a million servicemen who saw combat suffered some form of psychiatric collapse —40 percent of medical discharges during the war were attributed to combat stress and other psychiatric conditions.

After the war, readjusting to civilian life brought its own set of challenges. For Marjorie Anderson’s husband Art — as for many others — the war and everything connected to it became impossible to talk about. At the beginning of his military service, Art kept a diary — an artifact which speaks to what could not be said.

MARJORIE ANDERSON: This was an identification. They wore this on a chain around their neck that they had on them to identify them in case they got wounded or got killed. My husband— I think he was 19 when he was drafted, and he didn't come home until the very end of the war. 1946- he came home. And that's when I met him. He was a hero to a high school kid in her junior year.

When I was dating him, he was very reluctant to talk about it. And one time when he started to, he all of a sudden just clammed up and broke out in a sweat. And I decided to avoid the subject. We were married 65 years when he passed away. And it was just before he died that he told me about how he was affected.

He served in the Philippines. He brought back wounded and dead during the war. He drove a duck. They called it a duck. It was an amphibious truck that went out to the ships to unload them. And it held either weapons or troops. And he was in on that invasion, when MacArthur did his "I shall return" thing. He was explaining to me that they went to the ships loaded 'em up, and it was very slow moving in the water. I said, you're out there like a sitting duck. And he says, "How do you think they got their name?" They had to make fun of everything. He felt very vulnerable out there, I’m sure.

And, he had a diary that he was writing in everyday until an incident where there was an ammunition dump or something that blew up. And it killed a bunch of his buddies, and he never wrote in it anymore. He drove supplies to the front in his duck- food and stuff to the troops- and picked up his dead buddies and brought them back for burial. It affected him a lot.

I'm not real familiar with what he brought home. He never got 'em out, never talked about 'em. And it's my understanding that a lot of men had the same attitude.

KATIE WHITE: Support for Bringing War Home comes from Utah State University, the National Endowment for the Humanities Dialogues on the Experience of War, and Utah Humanities. Introduction written by Annika Shinn. More resources available at

Katie White has been fascinated by a multitude of subjects all her life. At 13-years-old Katie realized she couldn't grow up to be everything — a doctor-architect-anthropologist-dancer-teacher-etc. — but she could tell stories about everything. Passionate about ethical and informed reporting, Katie is studying both journalism and sociology at Utah State University.