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Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project (Voices of War)

The end of war was not an end of duty, and it was difficult for many GIs to accept that once the shooting stopped, they were not free to return home. At the end of the world wars some were pressed into serving with the occupying forces. And there were more painful homecomings for those who fought in Korea or Vietnam.

Image of V-J Day Celebration
A V-J Day celebration, August 1945. After nearly four years of scrifice and restraint, America cut loose upon hearing of the Japanese surrender. (page 248)

Image of Paul Steppe

On Christmas Eve, 1951, Marine Corporal Paul Steppe was crouched in a bunker in Korea when two grenades landed nearby. He was able to avoid the first one, but the second explosion wounded him in one foot and the buttocks, injuries serious enough for him to be evacuated. That was the beginning of a very long, often painful, and too often harrowing trip back to the States.
Learn more about Frederick Stilson Learn more about Paul Alexander Steppe, Jr. (pages 247, 286-289)
Jump Down Jump to other stories featured in Chapter Six
* Page numbers refer to the pages in Voices of War on which the veteran appears.

“Strangely, my sympathy was quickly going to our former enemy, the German civilians.”      –William Whiting

Image of Bruce Donald Fenchel

"...Lie on your back and put your steel helmet over your face..."

Bruce Donald Fenchel's story
(pages 270, 283-284)

Image of drawing by Sally Pullman

"...That evening I decided to edit the box of letters..."

Sally Hitchcock Pullman's story
(pages 264-267)

Image from William Whiting's manuscript

"One of the popular songs that fall was "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and we hoped we would make it.

William B. Whiting's story
(pages 257-259)

Image of Corbin B. Willis

"...We were on our 22nd bomb mission -- only needed 25 to go home..."

Corbin B. Willis Jr.'s story
(pages 284-285)

Image of John Caspar Wister

"...I did not like the army. I never met a soldier who did..."

John Caspar Wister's story
(pages 251-252)

William Thomas Barr (page 250)
Senator Max Cleland (pages 273-274)
Denton W. Crocker (pages 252-253, 269)
John Enman (page 270)
Bruce Donald Fenchel (pages 270, 283-284)
Sen. Chuck Hagel (pages 267, 279-280, 281)
John Philip Manger (page 268)
Jeanne Urbin Markle
(pages 274-276, 277)

Catherine Neville (page 278, 279)
William Frederick Nice (page 264)
Robert Lee Olen (page 248, 258)
Rhona Knox Prescott (page 270, 282)
Vincent Cornelius Reed
(pages 253-256)

Patricia M. Seawalt (page 269)
Rosalind Westfall Sellmer (page 272)
Donald Spencer (page 261)
Joseph Steinbacher (page 259-261)
Frederick Clarence Stilson
(pages 262, 263, 271)

James Walsh (pages 282-283)
Ronald Winter (pages 281-282)
  Home >> Chapter Six: Coming Home
  The Library of Congress
  March 17, 2005
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