Monday, January 23, 2012

While He Was Away…

Sometime just after Frank Stevens left home again to head to Mexico—or perhaps even before he left Chicago—an official-looking document was delivered to the Stevens household. The letter was sent from the office of the Secretary of the Navy, then under the direction of James Forrestal. While I’m sure this was, in essence, a form letter, it attempted to bring a fitting closure to the rugged war years that Frank, and many other men serving in the Navy, had experienced.

                                                                  January 26, 1946
My dear Mr. Stevens:
            I have addressed this letter to reach you after all the formalities of your separation from active service are completed. I have done so because, without formality but as clearly as I know how to say it, I want the Navy’s pride in you, which it is my privilege to express, to reach into your civil life and to remain with you always.
            You have served in the greatest Navy in the world.
            It crushed two enemy fleets at once, receiving their surrenders only four months apart.
            It brought our land-based airpower within bombing range of the enemy, and set our ground armies on the beachheads of final victory.
            It performed the multitude of tasks necessary to support these military operations.
            No other Navy at any time has done so much. For your part in these achievements you deserve to be proud as long as you live. The Nation which you served at a time of crisis will remember you with gratitude.
            The best wishes of the Navy go with you into civilian life. Good luck!
                                                Sincerely yours,

                                                James Forrestal

Mr. Francis Zavier Stevens
5945 S. Eggleston Ave.
Chicago 21, Illinois


  1. Mr. Forrestal expresses the thanks that I have too - and in much better words than I'll ever have.

  2. This is fascinating. My in-laws both served in the Navy during WWII. I wonder if they received something similar. Something to check.


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