Friday, November 22, 2013

Will I Ever Find Lieutenant JGJ? Probably Not

I have some WWII postcards that I call the "too tough pile." Try as I might, I can't find the soldiers who wrote the cards or their families. But being persistent (a polite word for "stubborn") I pull them out now and then and give them another try in the hope that maybe some new information will have popped up on the Internet.

Perhaps the most frustrating postcard in the "too tough pile" is one that only has the sender's rank and initials, not his name. 

See the images of the card below. Not only is the message intriguing, so is the card itself. Take a look at how it describes "stewardesses" as "Jills-of-all-trades." 

From the message on the card I know the sender was a Lieutenant, and his initials were JGJ. He was in the Army, not in the Navy, so I've ruled out the possibility that he was a Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade, abbreviated Lt. j.g.

The card was postmarked Nov. 22, 1942. Lt. JGJ wrote the card while on a flight from Washington, DC to Nashville, where he mailed it. The card is addressed to a woman named Barbara in West Haven, Connecticut (I'm not using her full name). The salutation is "Dearest Barb" and the card is signed, "My Love, John," so I know his first name. One can surmise that he and Barbara were more than just friends.

I found Barbara in the 1940 census, living at the same address as on the postcard. The census information included her age and middle initial, which made it possible for me to determine that Barbara married a man named Charles in 1955. Barbara died in 2006 and Charles in 2011. They had one son, whom I tried unsuccessfully to contact to see if he knew the identity of the mysterious JGJ.

I also searched the National Archives database of World War II enlistments, looking for men named, John, middle initial G, last name starting with the letter J, who were from Connecticut. I found several possibilities, and eventually weeded out all but one. The one remaining looked promising -- he was of about the right age, came from a town near West Haven, and was an officer. However, he died in 1970 and all attempts to locate his children failed.

So, what was the relationship between Lt. JGJ and Barbara. Did their romance die out? Was he killled in the war? One intriguing fact is that Barbara's husband, Charles, was in the Air Corps during the war. Did Charles and Lt. JGJ know each other?  I suppose we'll never know.

One final note -- I'm writing this on the morning of Nov. 22, 2013, the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. I was 13 at the time and remember it vividly. By coincidence, Lt. JGJ's postcard is postmarked Nov. 22, 1942.

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