I am a daughter of the generation who rarely talked about their earlier lives. Even in later years when their mortality became evident, there was no sharing of history. It’s only in the wake of their demise that clues appear in the back of sock drawers and attic boxes in photos and paper.
In 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Thursday the twenty-third of November a day of national thanksgiving.
On that Thanksgiving Day in the Netherlands, East Indies, members of the 989 Signal Corps at Base G, under the command of Captain John Gammon, shared a dinner of roast turkey, turkey dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, creamed peas and carrots, creamed corn and fruit salad. Parker house rolls were served with butter and jam. And for dessert there was devils food cake, pumpkin pie and coffee.
The meal was prepared under the supervision of the mess sergeant, Lloyd V Green, assistant mess sergeant Theodore J Sherian and baker Ralph L Bowman. Seven cooks prepared the meal, PP Urban, WE Hovermale, SV Schultz, JA Bozer, IA Johnson, C Branham, RC Click, M Lynn and L Downs.
My father left few clues to his time in the South Pacific. There were a few coins, photos, but only one sheet of paper, mimeographed and folded. On one side, a hand drawn sketch of a palm tree, a roast turkey and ‘Thanksgiving 1944’. On the other, the menu and the list of those who prepared the meal.
Why that menu traveled thousands of miles back to New Jersey remains a mystery. On this Thanksgiving, I thank the families of those who served with him, and on that day in 1944 helped create a special memory in the chaos of the South Pacific Theater.