The Souhrada Family Website
CAPT Loren R. Leslie, USNR Ret., Author – “So the War Goes On”
Letters to home, from Richard Francis Souhrada (1923-1945), Army Air Corps, WWII
The book is available from Amazon.com
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The book is “Dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Olga Souhrada, and to all Gold Star Mothers”
Lieutenant Richard Francis
Souhrada wasn’t an acclaimed war hero, at least to anyone other than his
family. In terms of military history he was merely a statistic, one of 2.4 million
young men who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Furthermore, he
was among the ranks of the 292,131 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines
listed as KIA, killed in action.
Richard was my uncle, the youngest of my mother’s siblings, but only ten years older than myself. We lived on adjoining farms and he became my surrogate big brother. He was my idol and I wanted to be just like him. Especially, when at the age of eight, I was told that he had joined the Army to become a pilot in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Although I had many personal memories of Richard as a young man growing up on the farm, his last years as an Army Air Corps pilot were mostly lost. Until one day, while cleaning out my grandmother’s attic, l found an old box containing all of Richard’s letters to his mother, my grandmother, during the period of his military service. In all, the box contained over 500 letters spanning three years. His letters to home contained not only his flying experiences, but also his emotions, impressions, personal relationships and the intimate thoughts a son would share only with his mother.
As a former Naval Aviation Medical Officer, I know that the everyday events in military pilots’ lives are as important as their exploits in the air. The two are unavoidably interrelated. War is a sobering and maturing agent to those who undergo its rigors of physical and emotional stress. Enduring physical hardship, living with fear, benefitting from a sense of camaraderie, mastering previously unknown skills, seeking and finding love and dealing with an uncertain future require the use of exceptional personal resources.
This book is based on the correspondence preserved for over sixty years in my grandmother`s attic. The letters have been transcribed as originally written and describe not only the sequence of events in the training and combat actions of a P-38 fighter pilot, but also the wartime life experiences of this 18 year old farm boy. I hope that the readers of this account will come to regard him, as I do, an outstanding person, patriot and hero.
CAPT Loren R. Leslie, USNR Ret.
Author, Loren R. Leslie, USNR Ret.
Loren R. Leslie and his wife Arlene reside in Lutsen, Minnesota. Loren is the son of Carl and Viola (Souhrada) Leslie, grandson of John Joseph and Olga (Prochaska) Souhrada.