Last Letter Home: Stories of War, Love and Remembrance
by Josh Grossberg
Privately published, 2012, 153 pages
The contents of this book of stories surprised me when I started to read,
since my expectation was that the stories would be about the last letters that
different soldiers sent home before their deaths on the battlefield. I have
great interest in this topic since most Japanese kamikaze pilots wrote farewell
letters to their family members after they knew that they would go on a suicide
The book's collection of previously published stories is a wide variety of
remarkable accounts written by Josh Grossberg, a journalist with 30 years
experience who originally had the stories published, mostly in the Daily Breeze
newspaper in southern California. They all deal with American veterans in some
way. The author allows individuals to tell their stories in their own words.
The title Last Letter Home comes from a five-page story included in
the book. A Japanese soldier wrote a letter to his pregnant wife while fighting
in the Marshall Islands. An American Marine, surrounded by corpses of 4,000
Japanese soldiers, found this letter in the dead soldier's shirt pocket. He took
it and stored it away when he returned home. The letter remained unread for over
50 years, when he had a Japanese friend translate it so that he could find out about the letter's contents.
Through clues in the letter, the veteran was able to locate the soldier's
daughter and widow living in Matsuyama City and sent the letter to them. The
wife describes her feelings, "The emotions are overwhelming. It's like receiving
a message from the past. He was thinking about her at the last moment and now
she knows that."
The stories in the book cover an assortment of wars and branches of service.
A couple of stories relate to persons who serve as honor guard for military
funerals performed for any veteran. Several stories come from veterans of the