2003 Papa Bear Awards - Third Place
Most Unique Story
Mother's Day 1945. This story parallels the last month or so of our story End Game, April 7 through May 13 of 1945. It tells the story of the war's end from the Hogan family's home front perspective and culminates on Mother's Day 1945. We again do not make any claims on the original Hogan’s Heroes’ characters. All other characters are ours. But again, those characters are free for anyone to use, if you so choose. However, Toby still requires tender loving care! Our rating for this story would be PG for strong language. Enjoy!
Any text written in Bold/Underlined/Italics is a Newspaper Headline.
Thanks to Jelfia for supplying us with the last name for the characters of Ed, Sue, Stephen, Kathy, and Dan (Parker). Thanks to Kits and Bianca for beta-reading this 'game'.
In the United States, Julia Ward Howe suggested the idea of Mother’s Day in 1872. Howe, who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, saw Mother’s Day as being dedicated to peace. Ms. Howe would hold organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, MA every year. Later Anna Jarvis, in the late 19th century, tried to establish "Mother’s Friendship Days" as a way to heal the scars of the Civil War. In 1907 Anna Jarvis, Jr. from Philadelphia began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, W.VA. to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the second Sunday of May. By 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a National Holiday that was to be held each year on the second Sunday of May.
April 7, 1945:
Yanks capture German gold reserve 84,000,000 in gold @ $35/ounce
Also 3,000,000 in paper Reischmarks and 2,000,000 in US Dollars
and 440,000 in English Pounds, 100,000,000 in French Franks
and 4,000,000 in Norwegian Crowns and lesser amounts in other currencies
April 8, 1945:
Gaunt Yank prisoners found in POW camp in Limburg on starvation diet. Liberated by 10th Army.
Captured Nazi Doctor admits to killing 8000 by poison injection at Shudder House
April 10, 1945:
1500 Yanks from Nazi prison camps arrive home in the US.
Anti-Nazi rising in Germany, 500 Nazis shot for defeatism,
as well as Mayors of seven big cities publicly hanged
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dead
Vice President Harry S. Truman sworn in as new President
April 16, 1945:
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid to rest in Hyde Park at family's Estate.
President Truman pledges to win war, telling US troops that the nation won't fail them.
April 17, 1945
Horror of Nordhausen Robot Plant's slave labor revealed,
2017 shot and killed just hours before Allied troops arrived.
Washington DC, USA, Pentagon, Office of Colonel Joseph Hogan, Brother to Colonel Robert Hogan,
April 19, 1945, 1040 Hours
6000 US Prisoners forced to march across Germany, so Allied Bombers would think they were German.
President Truman and Prime Minister Churchill warn Nazis against more atrocities.
Third Reich split by General Patton: Magdeburg falls and Leipzig nearly ours.
Germans say Reds already in Berlin suburbs.
Colonel Joseph Hogan, a member of the Pentagon’s Covert Operation’s Management Team, stared at his new orders for a moment with mixed emotions. He had been worried that with the passing of FDR that these orders, the ones he and his men had been waiting for… might be rescinded or postponed. But it looked as if President Truman was not going to stop anything that was already in process. He and his team were being sent to London, in three days time, to begin Covert Operator debriefings of the underground agents returning from Germany. It’s everything my team and I have spent the last year and a half preparing for! The war is truly coming to an end! Incredible! It’s been a long time coming, but thankfully Hitler and his henchmen will be no more. And hopefully life can return to normal... but, what’s normal? Hundreds of thousands dead. Maybe even millions gone because of some madman.
And what of my own family? My little brother John, shot down and left handicapped, albeit recovering. My big brother Rob missing and very possibly dead. And now me, just heading into the fray? I know how hard it’s been on my parents and sister. I only hope that while I am at Allied Headquarters in London I will be able to find out about my older brother Rob. Last we knew, Rob was still a POW and had been for the better part of the war. But, we haven’t heard from Rob for close to nine months now. It's been hard on everyone. My family needs closure where Rob is concerned, one way or the other.
God. I still remember the day, early last year, when that intelligence report came across my desk, listing all the different German POW Camps in order by the number of escapes made by Allied soldiers. The top camp had over 200 escapes made in the two-year period surveyed. But way at the bottom of the list was Luft Stalag 13, and its ominous zero. In two years, there had not been one successful escape from that Camp. Not one. I couldn't believe it. And almost every subsequent report, except the most recent ones, have been the same... no one ever having successfully escaped from Luft Stalag 13.
I know Rob is, or at least was, the Senior Officer at Luft Stalag 13. And I can truly understand why he might have stayed, not wanting to desert the men under his command. But how could it be that not even one of his men has ever successfully escaped? Maybe sadly, the answer rests with the word 'successful'. Maybe too many of those men have tried, and died in the attempt? I wonder how that might have affected my older brother? Could being interned at the toughest POW Camp in all of Germany have truly broken him? Will I still know the man he has become? Do I even want to know how he might have changed? Goddamn. If that is the case, I will miss my fun loving, do anything, older brother's irrepressible spirit. But honestly... his return to our family is the only thing that really matters. Anything else, we will deal with.
If he’s even still alive, that is.
Those last couple of reports didn't give me much hope of ever seeing Rob or any of the other men from Luft Stalag 13 alive again. That POW camp has completely disappeared from the list of Allied prisoner escapes. And when I made inquiries as to why… All I got was red tape or dead air for a response. It's almost as if Luft Stalag 13 no longer exists. And adding to that just today... having read about those poor bastards that had been sent on a death march across Germany, with possibly 1300 dead and scores more so ill that death might have been preferable.
Could that be what’s happening to Rob and his men? God forgive me. If that's true, they might all be better off dead. Nazi bastards. I just don't know what to think, feel or do. I would give anything to see my brother alive, whatever his condition. But I can't fathom the suffering he may have endured at the hands of the Germans.
Joe’s thoughts were interrupted as his aide entered the office. "Sir, there's a train leaving tomorrow morning at 0950, arriving Bridgeport Connecticut 1420," Captain Greg Nelson reported to his commanding officer.
"Excellent. See that I have a ticket, will you Greg?" asked Colonel Hogan. "I'll be back on the 21st, and we'll be on that military flight to London, leaving early on the 22nd. Make sure the whole team is ready to go," Joe ordered.
"Yes sir," Greg Nelson replied with a salute and left the office.
Joe wanted to make a quick trip home to Connecticut, to tell his family in person about his transfer to London. He knew that his parents would not take the news well. From their perspective, he was their only son that had always had a safe position in the United States. Sorry Mom, Dad. It’s time that I do my part. My brothers have already done theirs. I may never achieve their level of sacrifice, but I do need to feel that I've contributed something to this cause.
Bridgeport Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan, Parents of Colonel Robert Hogan,
April 20, 1945, 1430 Hours
Russians only 14 miles from Berlin
Leipzig captured, Top Nazis in Leipzig commit suicide as city falls
More American POWs freed by Russians
Thousands tortured to death in camp @ Belsen
Charred bodies found two days ago reveal Nazi barbarity elsewhere in Poland.
Sue Parker, daughter of Michael and Mary Hogan, was waiting with her younger brother John and husband Ed at the Hogan family home for her parents to return from the train station. They had gone to pick up her older brother Joe, who was arriving from Washington DC. Joe said, in his phone call, that he wanted all of us to be here when he arrived, that he had something to tell us and that he wasn’t staying long… just overnight. Joe hasn’t been home since January when he took leave to come to see John after he was released from the VA Hospital in Hartford. Now he arrives out of the blue… I’m not sure I really want to know why he’s making this trip home.
Sue sat quietly stroking the head of her parent's 12-year-old black Lab Toby, as she watched out the window for her father's car. She couldn’t help but fear that Joe was coming home to give them bad news about Rob. What else could Joe be coming for? Joe would have told us 'good news' over the phone. Oh Dear God.
Tears welled in Sue’s eyes as her thoughts turned to her oldest brother. Oh Rob. We've haven’t heard from you… in months. Nothing since last October, and even that letter was dated August 22. God. You’ve been a POW for so long. I really hope everything is all right, but I realize that it probably isn’t. The news is full of horror stories of what those and other camps were like. We've tried everything we could to find out about you and the other prisoners held at Stalag 13. John and I have even contacted two of the families of the men you mentioned most in your letters, Andrew Carter and Ivan Kinchloe. We had limited our contacts to the States, as contact overseas is almost impossible, or the Newkirk and LeBeau families would have heard from us too. It got us nowhere, neither the Carters nor Mr. Kinchloe have heard from their sons for almost the exact same length of time. We're all operating in the dark here, and scared that our loved ones won't be coming back. I've called the State Department almost daily for news of Stalag 13. But so far, we’ve not been able to find out anything at all. It’s almost like Stalag 13 never existed. And that scares me most of all.
"Are they here yet, Sue?" John asked anxiously interrupting Sue’s thoughts, as he limped into the living room followed by Ed. John had asked Sue to help fix a shelf in his bedroom, more to just keep them both busy than any other reason. But Sue had asked Ed to help him. She had just plopped herself down in front of the window with Toby's head cradled in her lap. She had yet to move.
"Not yet," Sue replied still watching out the window. "I'll let you know the moment I see Dad's car."
"Sue, you realize that this quick trip home is either news about Rob or…" John said quickly then stopped. John knew that Joe had kept his possible transfer to London from the rest of the family. Joe had told John because Joe knew that at least John would understand. John truly expected that Joe’s trip home was to tell them that he was going to London. At least… I hope so.
"Or what?" Sue asked quickly with a mix of anger and fear in her raised voice. Sue saw her younger brother flinch at her tone.
"That Joe has been transferred to London," John said quietly. He watched as Sue’s face went pale. This just isn’t going to go over well. Either way… whatever Joe is coming here to say…isn’t going to be something anyone is going to want to hear. But I’m sure we’ll accept the better of two evils. Joe, please say you're going to London.
Sue took a quick intake of breath. "Oh God," was all she said. Oh Joe. Not you too?
April 22, 1945:
Russian armies storm into Berlin on three sides and rip Berlin apart.
April 23, 1945:
Goebbels flees Berlin urging the German people to stay and fight.
Bridgeport Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan, Parents of Colonel Robert Hogan,
April 24, 1945, 1430 Hours
Big Allied link up due today.
Reds @ Elbe, Berlin overrun. Patton tanks hurtle towards Munich and Hitler’s Alpine Fort
Moscow reports armies meet Northeast of Leipzig
Mary started violently when the doorbell rang, as she had not been expecting the chimes. She was alone in the house. Well not quite, John was asleep. She hastily finished folding the freshly dried towel that she held and hurried to the front door to see who was there. Her heart nearly stopped when she recognized Frank Long, the elderly man who delivered the telegrams from the Bridgeport Western Union office on Main Street.
With trepidation she opened her door. "Hello Frank," Mary said in a shaking voice. "What do you have today?"
"Another telegram for you Mary," Frank replied quietly handing her the dreaded yellow envelope. "It's from London."
"London?" Mary repeated trying to smile at Frank. "Thank you for bringing it." She closed the door, returned to the kitchen, and tossed the telegram on the table quickly almost as if it was on fire. She just stared at the telegram nervously, her heart beating wildly. I can't open it. Not after those other four awful telegrams…
Three and a half years ago… I had torn open that first telegram. I was so excited and anxious for any news from either of my sons stationed overseas. I had expected the telegram to be from either Rob or John wishing their sister well with her wedding, which was to take place the very next day. But the news it had contained was devastating. It had told us that Rob was missing in action. His plane had been shot down over Germany. And it wasn't until five excruciating months later, that finally, the second telegram came to inform us that Rob was alive, but was a prisoner of war being held at Luft Stalag 13.
And then just nine months ago… that third telegram came announcing that John, my baby, was also missing in action. What a horrible blow that was. Two sons. My oldest and my youngest. One missing, one a prisoner of the enemy. And though we didn't realize it at the time, it was then that the last letter we were to receive from Rob had come as well.
But we did get a fourth and final telegram, just a month later. This one however had contained a small miracle. John had been rescued and was coming home. He’d been seriously injured, and was being medically discharged. It wasn't until later that we found out the extent of John's injuries. But the fact that he was coming home was a blessing.
Then nothing for eight long months… until today. Rob's letters, which had always been sporadic, had just stopped coming… We haven't heard anything from him, or about him since. Oh God. When is this going to end?
Mary tried to go back to folding laundry but her mind remained focused on the un-opened telegram on the kitchen table. I can’t open it. I can’t take any more bad news. My middle son is over there now. What if this telegram is about Joe? I don't think I can handle that. A third son... missing, injured or dead? But maybe it contains another miracle. Good news about Rob. Dare I still pray for that? With everything that has come out about the treatment of prisoners by the Nazis, can I still honestly hope that somehow my son has been spared?
God. What should I do? Michael is at the hospital. Iris Wiltmyer is having her twins today. He could be hours still. How can I hold out till then? Maybe I should just wake John? No, I shouldn't wake him... he needs his rest.
When John first came home from the hospital, he had been confined to a wheelchair. During all that time, he was able to only do a few things for himself, and had still required a lot of assistance even with the smallest of chores. But after eight long months, he has finally just regained the use of his legs, something that the doctors told us that he would probably never do again.
Now thankfully the wheelchair is folded against his bedroom wall, unused. And, on his own, he is capable of so much more. He can get up by himself, and he can walk. He can't walk far, or for long periods of time, but he is able to navigate the house without too much difficulty. The one thing he can't do very well is stand still. But his balance is improving, and his strength is more with each passing day. Only a month ago he hadn’t been able to do even this much. He has made so much progress in the past eight months. Thank God. So no, I won't wake him. He needs his rest.
"Hey Mom, who was at the door?" John called as he started to leave the den that had been converted into a bedroom for him, but couldn't because Toby had laid down across the threshold. "Come on old boy. I know you like that spot. But you gotta get up," John coaxed the old dog.
Mary had been so preoccupied with her thoughts that she hadn't heard John's door open. "Oh John, you startled me. I thought you were alseep. -- Come on Toby -- You've gotta move -- That's a good boy," Mary began also trying to coax the old dog. "It was Frank Long from Western Union John," Mary continued after Toby got out of John's way. She was actually very relieved to see John making his way slowly towards the kitchen. Now I don't have to wake him... to open the telegram that I can't.
"A telegram? From who? What did it say?" John asked anxiously as he carefully eased himself into a chair at the table. That was stupid. You idiot. You know Mom hasn't opened mail in years. Ever since that first telegram about Rob.
"I haven’t opened it," Mary replied softly.
"I'll open it," John said quietly. "If you want me to?"
Mary nodded her head and turned away. John picked up the envelope. He didn’t share his mother’s aversion to news. He wanted to know what was happening with his brothers, even if it was bad news. He opened the envelope. It was from Joe.
Great news! Stop.
Rob is ALIVE. Stop.
Still being held in Germany. Stop.
Rob's status has been confirmed. Stop.
He is alive. Stop.
Love Joe. Stop.
"It’s from Joe Mom. He says that Rob is alive!" John said reading the telegram with amazement, though his common sense niggled at his thoughts. How could Joe possibly know that? He’s only been in London at most… a day. How could he have found out about one POW among thousands? Even if the POW in question was a full Colonel?
"Alive?" Mary repeated dazed. "Joe says that Rob is alive? You’re sure?"
"Yes Mom, I’m sure. Here, read it for yourself. Rob is still being held in Germany though," John said quietly, handing his mother the telegram and smiling, not wanting his mother to sense his concern. God. Rob is not out of the woods yet, but at least ‘alive’ is a good first step in the right direction. Let's hope.
Mary read the telegram repeatedly, her tears falling steadily. It’s another miracle! What have I done to deserve these tiny miracles? Whatever it is, I hope that I can continue to be worthy. Mary had been so lost in her own thoughts that she had almost forgotten John was in the kitchen with her. She was only brought back to the present when John stood and moved towards the refrigerator. "What do you need John? I’ll get it for you dear," Mary said to her son and followed him to the refrigerator. She realized as she came up behind him that John had not spoken another word since handing her the telegram. I wonder why? I know John is very susceptible to mood swings, has been ever since his injuries. But I wouldn't have thought that this news would cause him to be so quiet. "Is everything all right son?" Mary asked worried.
"Everything’s fine Mom. Really," John said enthusiastically. "I’m just going to get a glass of milk. I’m a little thirsty is all," John replied, knowing that his mother had quickly picked up on his mood. She was very perceptive that way. So to reassure her he continued, "Hey. Isn’t it wonderful that Rob is okay?" He reached out and hugged his mother one-handed, leaning against the counter with the other hand. God. I can’t let her pick up on my misgivings over Joe’s news. "Everyone’s been so worried about him! But, he’ll be home before we know it!"
Mary hugged her son back and watched proudly as he, standing on his own two feet, filled a glass with milk from the refrigerator. This past year has been unreal. So much uncertainty. So much worry. First over Rob, then John and now Joe as well. Thankfully though, John was nearly recovered, and Joe has to be fine since he sent the telegram. And Rob. Oh God. Rob is alive! Mary picked up the rumpled telegram and read it again. "I can’t believe it’s real," Mary confessed. "I keep expecting the words on the telegram to change."
John hugged his mother one more time before seating himself again at the kitchen table. Once Mary saw that John was settled, she dialed the hospital needing to tell Michael the wonderful news. "Yes, Grace, this is Mary Hogan. My husband doesn’t happen to be at a good stopping point. I’d like to speak with him? -- Oh all right then. Can you please get him a message for me? --Yes -- Thanks -- Tell him that Joe telegrammed that Rob was alive, but still in Germany -- Yes that’s what I said -- He’s alive! -- No I don’t know anything other than that --Thanks Grace. Yes, tell whomever you want -- Yes, tell Michael to hurry home! -- Thanks. Bye."
Mary hung up the phone and turned to face her youngest son. "Grace said your father was really busy. Mrs. Wiltmyer was giving him a hard time at the moment," Mary explained. "I’ll call your sister next…."
John knew that he couldn’t truly enjoy the news, not with his own misgivings, but he was determined not to ruin the happiness he saw on his mother's face. All I can do, is hope that I am wrong, and that Rob will very soon, walk through the front door, home for good. Until then, I will just keep up appearances.
John then sat quietly, watching his mother spend the next couple hours on the phone, happily spreading the miraculous news to her friends and the rest of the family. Poor Mom. She has tried calling Sue a number of times between her other calls, but she hasn’t been able to contact her. I know Sue, Ed and Stephen are coming here for dinner this evening. They can be told the good news then, but I’m afraid Mom is going to have a nervous breakdown before they show up.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan, Parents of Colonel Robert Hogan,
April 24, 1945, 1830 Hours
"Mary, John, I’m home," Michael called excitedly as he entered the house, trying to dodge Toby's welcome. He had too much on his mind right now. He had barely hung his coat on the rack and put his briefcase on the floor before his wife was flying at him. He wound up holding her in his arms. Not that I mind… Not at all!
"I got your message! What wonderful, exciting news!" Michael said, holding his wife tightly and spinning her around, barely missing Toby in the process. "Where is the telegram? I have to read it for myself!"
"It's in the kitchen," Mary said, patting her hair back in place and eagerly pulling Michael into the kitchen by the hand. They were followed eagerly by a very excited Toby.
"Thank God," Michael said upon reading the telegram that John had enthusiastically handed him. "What wonderful news! He’s alive. Rob is really alive!" Michael reached for his wife again, the telegram clenched in his fist. They both shared a joyous embrace, whiles tears of relief streaked both of their faces.
John watched his father and mother, though his own smile dimmed. I still can’t see how Joe could possibly know this… But I can’t imagine that Joe would send such a telegram without his being absolutely sure. If he’s sent this on a rumor, raising our hopes only so they can be crushed later on… I’ll kill Joe myself.
John heard the back door to the kitchen open, and he turned just in time to see his nephew Stephen come barreling into the room and run smack into a big wet kiss from Toby. He was followed closely by his parents. Ever since Joe had gone to London we’ve taken to having the evening meal together whenever possible. Then we listen to the day’s broadcast on the radio. The war is definitely coming to an end. It wouldn’t take long now. But somehow, it’s easier to deal with the horrifying events being reported, as a family.
"Oh no! What’s wrong?" Sue asked seeing her parents crying and holding each other, she had quickly assumed the worse. Something must have happened to Rob, or God forbid, Joe.
"Nothing Suzy. Not a bloody thing is wrong today!" John said quickly to calm his sister. "Joe telegrammed. He said that Rob is alive! But he’s still being held in Germany," John finished quietly. "Mom tried calling you all afternoon, but you were out."
"Rob’s ok? Really!" Sue replied surprised and almost weak with relief. "Honest?"
"Honest. Swear to God. Joe said Rob was alive," John replied with a great smile, which got wider when Ed whooped and swung his sister around the kitchen.
Bridgeport Connecticut, Home of Daniel and Kathy Parker, In-laws of Susan Hogan-Parker,
April 26, 1945, 1800 Hours
Hitler's House Blown to Pieces, British bomb Berctesgarden Hideout
Partial List of Nazi POW Camps overrun by Allies published
3 Armies Linked; Yanks, British and Reds Meet
Link Up Crushes Reich, Yanks rush unopposed through Austria
Kathy Parker had just arrived home from the park with her grandson Stephen where they had spent a couple of fun-filled hours feeding the ducks. She expected her husband Dan home shortly, so she had wanted to get home and start supper. And she knew that their son Ed would be coming to pick up little Stephen. Today had been yet another of John Hogan's physical therapy appointments. Poor Johnny. Twice a week Sue takes him to his appointments. I always watch Stephen to give Mary some time to herself. It has been a tough year for the entire Hogan family… with Johnny coming home from the war paralyzed and Robbie still unaccounted for, well at least until just two days ago. And then on top of that, Joey was just transferred to London. The war had not been kind to the Hogan family. It is the least I can do, taking my grandson for a few hours twice a week.
"Gamma I hungry," the toddler announced as they entered the kitchen.
"Yes Stevie, I'm getting dinner now. Your grandfather will be home shortly. Why don't you color me a picture while we wait?" Kathy answered, seating her grandson at the kitchen table with a blank piece of paper and several crayons.
"Kay," Stephen replied happily, picking up a bright red crayon before bending industriously over the paper.
Dan Parker arrived home just a few minutes later. He scooped his grandson from his seat as he entered the kitchen, "Hey my little man, whatchya doing?"
Stephen squealed with delight, "We fed the ducks today!" as his grandfather tossed him up in the air.
"Did you now?" Dan asked catching the little boy easily and swung him to his hip. He carried his grandson across the kitchen where he gave his wife a kiss hello.
"Yup. An' there was some little ones too!" Stephen continued excited. "An' then there was a little Toby at the park. Gamma said he give me puppy kisses. But yuck, not like the kisses Toby give me," Stephen had babbled making a silly face.
"Well no one is like good old Toby for sure," Dan agreed with his grandson. He carried Stephen back to his seat to examine the toddler's drawing, allowing Kathy to continue with her dinner preparations.
"Where are my Mamma an' Daddy?" Stephen asked, after showing his grandfather his picture.
"You know that, Stephen. You Mamma took your uncle John to the doctors. Your Daddy is coming to get you in a little while. You'll see Mamma later. Ok?" Dan replied smiling. Stephen always asks me where his parents are when I come in from work. Never fail. Like he expects my answer to change from his 'Gammas'.
"Kay," Stephen agreed, busy coloring again.
"Dan. Sue told me yesterday that they've signed Stephen up for a day-camp at the church," Kathy said pulling the casserole she'd made from the oven. "Some of the older women in the parish are volunteering their time, willing to watch the youngsters, so their mothers can have time for themselves. I think it’s a great idea. And it will be good for Stephen to be around more children his age."
"Really? That sounds like a lot of fun, eh Stevie. Are you ready to go to camp?" Dan asked.
"No, no, no!" Stephen protested loudly. "No CAMP!" Stephen ran from the kitchen and hid behind the sofa in the living room
"What's the matter, Stephen?!" Dan asked, running after the toddler, his wife not far behind. "Do you know what's wrong?" he asked Kathy.
Kathy shrugged very concerned. "I don't understand. He's been so happy, all afternoon."
"What's the matter, slugger?" Dan asked, kneeling near the sofa where the toddler was hiding.
"Don't wanna go to camp. No come home from camp. Mamma says uncle Rob at camp, he not come home!" Stephen cried, throwing his hands around his grandfather's neck. "Don't make me go! Don't make me go Gampa."
"Shh, Stephen. You don't have to go to the camp. It’s all right son. You're ok. You're safe now," Dan comforted as his heart broke. This damned war is even affecting innocent two-year-olds! Stevie shouldn't be worried about those places. Camp to him should be a place of excitement and adventure. Not a place where people don't come home from.
Kathy and Dan exchanged a look of heartfelt sorrow as Dan settled Stephen back at the kitchen table. Dan helped Stephen color another picture while Kathy completed preparing supper. The meal was a quiet affair, neither grandparent quite knew what to say, so they just kept Stephen occupied with the mundane chore of eating supper.
Ed had called during dinner to say that he had to cover for the next shift and that he wouldn't be leaving work for at least another four hours. He told his parents, that as soon as Sue was done at her parents, she would come and take Stephen home. Since Stephen would be staying for several more hours, Kathy got him ready for bed. They had turned Ed's old room into a nursery for their grandson.
Soon Stephen was sound asleep and Kathy and Dan had retired to the living room. "Poor Stephen," Kathy said. "This whole situation is even affecting him."
"I guess it was inevitable. We all talk, like he's not there. He's so young. Who knew he was really taking all of this in?" Dan said shaking his head with sadness. "Robbie in that POW Camp, Johnny coming home paralyzed, Joey leaving for England... It has been so hard on Mary and Michael. Poor Stephen was bound to pick up on everyone's anxiety. Even when he is here, in our home, we talk about those things too."
"But what can we do?" Kathy asked. "The war is everywhere, and touches everything we do. How can we protect him from that?"
"I don't know," Dan sighed. "We probably can't. It is on the radio when you turn it on, it is in the papers when you read them, it is the conversation in the stores, at work, and on the street."
"I know that. I guess that we should just count our blessings. We've been so lucky. We just have to listen to others talk," Kathy agreed with a sigh of her own. "Neither of our children are personally involved in the war. But, imagine how much tougher it is on Mary and Michael, where they have all three boys involved. Although, you know Dan… I’ve always felt the Hogan children could have easily been ours."
Dan nodded. "I know, I know. Have you heard anything from Mary? Do they know anything more about Robbie?"
"No," Kathy shook her head. "Just the telegram Joey sent home day before yesterday saying that Robbie was alive, but still in Germany."
"Well at least they've heard from Joey. But poor Robbie has to have been through Hell. I feel so bad. You are right Kathy... Robbie, Joey, Sue and Johnny are almost like our own kids," Dan replied thinking about how long they’ve known the Hogan children. The Hogans live three doors down from us, and all of our children grew up together. Hell, Michael Hogan delivered both of my own two kids! And for a while there I thought I would have Robbie for a son-in-law. He had dated our daughter Josie all through high school.
But Robbie had gone off to West Point, followed a year later by Joey. Then it was time for the youngsters to get in the act, with Ed dating Sue. And little Johnny... he was always under foot. Hell, if I'd had another daughter perhaps Johnny would have been dating her!
Then the war had come bringing disaster in its wake for the Hogan family. But for my own family, well... we've been lucky. Ed had become a policeman right out of high school, and he'd made detective a year before the US entered the war. Then Stephen was born in 1943. Somehow because of those two factors, and a lot of luck, Ed's draft number has never been called. Thank God. But I still can't imagine how it would have felt to have a son of mine, never mind three sons, involved in this madness.
"Yeah. I know," Kathy had begun to say. "The Hogan children were in and out of this house, just like it was their own! And our own two kids were at the Hogan's just as often. It was so wonderful watching the six of them grow up together," Kathy agreed. "How sad that the world has changed so."
April 27, 1945:
Japan refuses to shelter fleeing Nazis
US Jeeps Overrun 11 Nazi Prison Camps
April 28, 1945:
Himmler surrender bid rejected
Dittmar predicts Hitler's Death and War's end
April 29, 1945:
Truman denies Peace rumors
On the Road between Bridgeport Connecticut and Hartford Connecticut,
April 30, 1945, 0930 Hours
Death of the Duce (Mussolini)
Yanks conquer Munich and Milan
110,000 Allied prisoners freed from Mooseburg, of which 27,000 are Yank Airmen
Nazi Doctor admits he killed 20,000 at Kiev Institute
Sue drove through the early morning traffic towards Hartford and the VA Hospital there. It was time for John's bi-monthly checkup. This is the first time I’ve been able to take him alone. All of the trips before this one Dad had to come along to help John from the car. I'm not strong enough to lift him by myself. But now, John only needed someone to lean on and he could get out himself. He had come so far in the last few months! It was true that he still needed the wheelchair to go any great distance… but he could walk now, and was getting stronger and better at it every day. She glanced aside at her brother who was staring out the window.
"Penny for your thoughts," Sue said with a grin, hoping to jolt him out of his current silent period. John's been through so much, sometimes he needs to be reminded that life, his life in particular, was still worthwhile, still worth living. While he'd been paralyzed it had been a full-time job sometimes keeping him from wallowing in guilt and depression. John had hated to be a burden for his family.
"They're not worth quite that much," John replied, still staring out the window.
"Come on John, talk to me," Sue said. "We've got another hour before we arrive. I thought you could at least tell me why you've been so quiet lately. I thought you'd be ecstatic over Joe's telegram."
John heaved a sigh and dragged his attention back to his sister. He would tell her. He owed her that. Together they'd done a lot of searching over the past three months, trying to unravel the puzzling silence that surrounded Luft Stalag 13 and the location of their brother. "I don't believe Joe's telegram."
"What?!" Sue said, nearly driving the car off the road.
John put his hand out to the car's dashboard to steady himself. "Easy, Sue! Stay on the road!"
Sue concentrated on her driving for a moment before she demanded, "Why in the world do you say that? I don't believe Joe would lie about that. Rob has to be alive. He has to be."
"Are you saying that because you want to believe it… or because you do believe it?" John asked. "Joe sent that telegram when he had been in London for less than 24 hours. That's simply not enough time for him to report in, get his orders, inspect and settle his men in their new surroundings and then go on a personal quest for the location and status of a single POW… among thousands. He quite simply, didn't have the time to learn anything. I don't know why he telegrammed. But, as much as I want to believe it… And I want Rob to come home as much as anyone else does. Logistically Joe can't possibly know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Rob is alive."
Sue was quiet for a very long moment and then she asked. "What do you think Joe's telegram means?"
"I don't know," John replied. "I really don't know."
May 1, 1945:
Hitler is dead XTRA
May 2, 1945:
Nazi's confirm Hitler's death
How dead is he?
May 4, 1945:
Report of Hitler suicide
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Milligan’s Diner, Downtown Bridgeport,
Sunday Morning, May 6, 1945, 0730 Hours
Russians hunt for Hitler’s body; believe Hitler fled Berlin
Soviets hear Goebbels also killed himself
Million Nazis surrender in Italy
Nazis quit in 3 countries; Holland, Denmark and NW Germany
Michael Hogan had just left the hospital after spending most of the early morning hours waiting on young Jenny McCarthy to deliver her first child. No such luck. False labor pains. Michael had Jenny admitted to the hospital, not really expecting the wait to be too much longer. But he knew from experience that he did have some time, so he decided to go just down the street to Milligan’s Diner for quick breakfast. He wanted to check in with his buddies anyway… knowing full well that they would all be there, as they were every Sunday morning. Michael peeked into the diner as he approached. Yeah, the whole gang is here. Jack, Gerald, Mickey and Frank. Michael and these four men had been friends for more years than he could remember.
Jack Milligan was the owner of Milligan's Diner. He and Michael had been friends almost all their lives. Jack was as close to a brother to Michael as one could get. Both men had always played the part of surrogate fathers to each other's children. Jack had two girls, Kathy who was a telephone operator and still single, and Maybelle who was waitress and just recently married. Maybelle’s husband Stephen had been drafted into the service, but Stephen was stationed in the United States. So Jack’s family was lucky in that regard as Stephen had never been in harm's way because of the war.
"You’re late Michael," admonished Jack Milligan. "And no Toby! How dare you leave him at home? Poor old boy."
"Ah Jack," Michael began. "You need to blame Jenny McCarthy. She had me up all hours. I think she’s about to pop, but that little baby doesn’t know it yet," Michael smirked. "I’m just here to get a quick bite to eat before heading back to the hospital."
"Michael my boy," started Gerald Collins excitedly. "So. You haven't yet seen the paper this morning... The war is coming to an end! With those bastards Hitler and Goebells dead, the Nazis are surrendering everywhere! It will be over soon!" Gerald came over and handed Michael the newspaper and patted him on the shoulder. "See for yourself Michael... Your Robbie and Joey will be home in no time! Don't you fret any more."
Gerald Collins was the old man of their group, eighty years young. He'd been a bachelor all his life, except that he's always had a thing for Mildred Bonner, a librarian at Bridgeport's local library. But their relationship had never been more than a comfortable friendship, neither seeming to want more. Gerald had always been the one who would try the hardest to be supportive, and always tried to be there when you needed cheering up. He always tried hard, but wasn't always successful. He always seemed to stick his foot in his mouth.
"Thanks Gerry," Michael said looking up from the newspaper just in time to see Mickey O'Flynn avert his eyes from the group. Damn Gerry. You never stop to think. Poor Mickey and Patricia have lost both sons to this war. Their youngest, Jeff, was killed early on in a bombing raid. And poor Chris killed just three months ago in a military training exercise. It's just so senseless. They're lucky that they still have their daughter Becky. And that they still have something of Chris to cherish as Chris's wife Deloris and son Derek have always been an integral part of their lives. Unfortunately poor little Derek will have to grow up never getting to know his father... or his uncle.
Michael gave Gerry a dirty look and a negative shake of his head as he walked away and went to try and comfort Mickey. As Michael reached Mickey he put an arm around his shoulder. Mickey tried hard to not let Michael's touch affect him, but he just broke down. Michael walked with him into the back room of the diner. "Mickey. I'm so sorry. Gerry doesn't think sometimes. You know that," Michael began. "He didn’t mean anything by it. Are you going to be okay? Want me to take you home?"
"No Michael. I'll be fine. It just that it hurts so bad sometimes, you know?" Mickey began, finally making eye contact with his longtime friend. "I know you understand Michael. It's just that Patricia and I miss them both so much." He paused and took a deep breath. "Michael. You know I don't begrudge you anything. I want Robbie and Joey to come back safe to you and Mary. I know how hard the 'not knowing' has been for you. And then Johnny being as sick as he was..." Mickey paused and this time couldn't continue.
Michael watched as tears filled Mickey's eyes. Michael said nothing, but pulled his old friend into a bear hug. Both men didn't move for a long moment, both shedding the tears that had needed to come for some time. I just don’t know what to feel, thought Michael. My boys chose the military as their professions. Rob and Joe are both West Pointers and John an Annapolis graduate. Mickey’s sons were both drafted. Chris was a schoolteacher and Jeff was a journalist. Goddamn. Too many innocents have died because of this bloody war. Should I take some solace in the fact that if my boys don’t come back that they died doing what they wanted to do? Don’t think like that. You heard from Joe and he said Rob was alive. But that was two weeks ago now and with everything that’s starting to come through in the news reports… I just don’t know what to think.
Just then, the fifth member of their little group interrupted them... Frank Marshall, Bridgeport's Deputy Mayor cleared his throat as he entered the diner’s back room. "Excuse me Michael," he began. "I'm sorry Mickey… Michael, you are needed back at the hospital," Frank explained. "They just called looking for you. I guess Jenny McCarthy is almost ready to deliver."
Michael then broke the bear hug with Mickey and said, "Thanks Frank." He then gave Frank a look that said 'take Mickey home.' Michael saw Frank nod in agreement. I know Frank will take care of Mickey. Frank's a good guy. He and his wife Mildred have been lucky throughout this whole thing though... they have always been one step away from the war, as they never had any children.
As Michael entered the main dining room, he realized that Gerry had left. Michael looked up to see Jack just shrug. I guess I'll have to work out that little misunderstanding with Gerry later. Michael gratefully accepted the ‘breakfast to go’ handed to him by Jack and left the restaurant without another word. He then rushed quickly back to the hospital. His thoughts for now, at least... not on death, but on a new life.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan, Parents of Colonel Robert Hogan,
May 8, 1945, 0930 Hours
War is over in Europe!
Michael Hogan sat quietly holding his wife Mary in his arms. He and Mary had quickly found themselves alone in their living room after President Truman's speech this morning. He, Mary, Sue, and John had gotten together this morning to listen to the President address the nation, informing everyone that the war was over in Europe. But now only the sound of silence permeated the Hogan household.
John had excused himself and headed for his bedroom immediately following the speech. Poor John, thought Michael as he glanced down the hall toward John's bedroom, not at all surpised that Toby was again parked outside the door. God. John has been so quiet lately. I know he is worried about Rob and Joe, and until this morning I hadn’t thought about how he’d feel about the war being over in Europe. His face showed a mixture of relief and sadness. His worries about his brothers may soon be over, one way or another. But that still didn’t answer the question of the war raging in the Pacific. All the men he had served with, and friends that he made on the USS Enterprise were still in the midst of that life and death struggle. I could see all the conflicting emotions on his face before he had excused himself. I don’t know what to do to help him.
And Sue had quickly left with her son Stephen, saying that she wanted to be home when Ed got in from work. Oh Sue. I saw the tears. You’ve always tried to hide them from your mother and me. Just once it would have been okay to stay and let it out. But you, in your own way, are as stubborn as the rest of the Hogan clan. All of us needing our own space to deal with our feelings. I know how hard this has been on you. You’ve done everything you can to support your mom and me. And with everything you’ve done for John… I wish that just once, you could have let us take some of the burden off you.
Damn, thought Michael as he glanced at his wife and gave her a squeeze. This was supposed to be such a happy day. The war was over in Europe! But what a bittersweet time it has turned out to be. We still truly know nothing about Rob and haven't yet heard from Joe again since his one and only telegram. So many things could still have happened, with Rob still in Germany and Joe not truly safe in London. Though, with the war over, we should get our answers soon. But can we handle them? It's odd. With the war still on, Mary and I could always hold out... hoping and dreaming that Rob, and now Joe, would survive and return home to us. Now, knowing that the answers to all our questions will be only a short time in coming... Do we really want the answers?
Mary was the one to break the silence. "Michael, do you think Sue and John will be okay? God forbid. But what if neither Rob nor Joe come home? Do you think they can handle that? Both have always looked up to and cherished their older brothers," asked Mary.
"Dear Mary. Always worrying about others," Michael began. "Have you even once asked yourself how you would cope with neither Rob nor Joe coming home?" Michael saw Mary's face flush with sorrow.
"Of course I have. It has been in my thoughts every minute of everyday for this entire war. I've thought of nothing else. First Rob and John, now Joe," Mary responded quickly. "I can only hope and pray for Rob and Joe, but I have two more children that will need my support, even if those prayers remain unanswered."
Michael responded only with a gentle kiss on Mary’s forehead and Mary took her husband into a tight embrace. Then with an unspoken understanding, they sat quietly for a long while, hoping beyond hope that maybe -- just maybe -- they would be lucky and their family would be whole once again.
May 9, 1945
Georing captured by US 7th Army after unexplained disappearance
Georing demands bath and clean uniform before any pictures to be taken
Prisoners of War airlifted to England from Germany
May 12, 1945
Goering indicted as war criminal on 8 counts
4,000,000 Nazis to face trial over war crimes
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan, Parents of Colonel Robert Hogan,
Mother’s Day, Sunday May 13, 1945, 0530 Hours
Toby always seemed to know when it was Sunday morning. The dog knew instinctively that it was the day that Michael took him for a long walk. Michael’s ritual generally never changed -- unless one of his patients needed him. Every Sunday Michael would walk into town with Toby, sit and have breakfast at Milligan's Diner with friends and get the Sunday newspaper.
Today was to be no different, in that regard. Toby woke his Dad with a big wet kiss. Michael groaned and rolled out of bed. He patted Toby on the head, and as if he needed to explain himself to Toby said, "Okay boy. Let’s go. We can’t stay long today though. It’s Mother’s Day and your Mom will be expecting us back early. She has that big meeting today and then Sue, Ed and Stephen will be coming for dinner after visiting with Ed’s parents. And you know I always do the cooking on Mother’s Day." Michael leaned over and gave his wife a peck on the cheek. "Good morning dear. Happy Mother’s Day," Michael said softly in Mary’s ear. She was still sound asleep and had only stirred slightly on Michael’s touch.
After checking in on John, Michael and Toby quietly left the house and began their walk into town. Michael had always used these Sunday walks as a way to think. Michael knew that with the war over, he should be happy. But, even though we’ve heard from Joe and got his assurances that he was okay and that Rob was alive… We haven’t heard from Joe since, three weeks now… and we still haven’t gotten anything from Rob… All that Joe was able to tell was that Rob was still being held in Germany. With so many stories being reported about the horrors committed by the Nazis in the final days of the war, I just can’t help but think that I will never see Rob again. And I can’t say any of this to Mary. I’ve tried to be strong and never show her my own fears. I just don’t know what to think, feel or do anymore. And even talking to John about it has been hard lately. He seems to have clammed up, and hasn’t said much at all.
Meanwhile back at the Hogan household, in the upstairs master bedroom…
Mary had heard her husband leave for his walk with Toby. She got herself out of bed and headed directly into the bathroom. It had become her ritual to take a long hot bath on Sunday mornings after Michael left. She had done this for a very long time now. It was the only place where she knew she had an hour of quiet time to be alone. She never told Michael, but she sometimes just needed a place to cry. Running water did wonders to hide that fact from the rest of the household. She just didn’t want to burden him or John with her fears.
Today was to be no different, in that regard. Mary sank into the hot running water. Tears ran down her cheeks as all her fears came back to haunt her. My boys… My three boys…what I would give to have you all together again… Forgive me… Just a mother’s wish on Mother’s Day…
Mary wiped her tears as reality invaded her thoughts. Oh Rob. I fear that you won’t be coming back to us. I’ve tried so hard to keep you alive in my thoughts, but it’s getting more and more difficult, even with Joe’s assurances. I want to believe that you’ll be coming home to us, but I know I need to be ready, if that doesn’t happen… And Joe, with you now stationed in London… I’m afraid that even you are not safe… I know the war is over, but the world is such a different place… Please Rob, Joe. Come home to us… All I have now is John, my baby. And poor John has been through so much… And he’s been so quiet lately. It would devastate him to loose his older brothers…
And Sue… Oh God… I would never forget you? My only daughter… You have been so strong for your Dad and me. And you've done so much to help John in his recovery. I don’t how we would have made it through these trying times without you, and Ed by our side. And of course, little Stephen… has given us so much joy.
At the same time in the converted bedroom downstairs in the Hogan household…
John woke when he was slobbered on by Toby. Every Sunday without fail Toby bounded down the stairs to check in on him before heading out of the house with his Dad. Dad had always tried to give Sunday mornings to Mom for herself, even when we were young. He’d take all us kids out for breakfast with him. Nothing has really changed except that now… ever since I've returned home… Dad and Toby will start their Sunday morning ritual by checking in on me before they leave the house. Dad just wants to make sure that I will be okay for the couple hours that he will be out of the house.
And today was no different, in that regard. But the "yes, I’ll be fine" that I say to him all the time, has changed its meaning. Dad really doesn’t need to bother checking anymore. I’ve recovered enough that I can really do for myself now. I just don’t have the heart to tell him to stop. I know it’s been hard on both Mom and Dad. And I know that all the effort they have put into helping me recover… has helped to keep their minds off Rob and now Joe. So I just let them do what they ‘need’ to do.
John heard the tub running upstairs. Another Sunday ritual, but this one was Mom’s. It’s funny, as much as I know my parents genuinely love each other… it has become clearer to me, now that I’m older… that both my parents need this time alone. It gives them each a chance to refuel for the coming week. And I know today will be especially hard for Mom… Mother’s Day… I’m so sorry Mom. I wish there were a way for me to snap my fingers and bring both Rob and Joe home… alive and well. But that just isn’t possible. And I still fear that Joe’s assurances about Rob aren’t much more than just words written on a page.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Saint Brendan’s Church, Parish Hall,
Annual Children’s Charity Meeting and Mother’s Day Breakfast,
Mother’s Day, Sunday May 13, 1945, 0900 Hours
Yanks begin leaving Europe
Devens to discharge first 200 US overseas soldiers
100 more NE war veterans discharged today
190 prisoners home from Reich tell of cruelty
Mary Hogan had just arrived outside Saint Brendan’s Parish Hall. She didn’t want to go inside. She was very apprehensive about today’s annual breakfast meeting. The meeting usually drew over 100 members of the Children’s Charity group from the Connecticut Area. But it wasn’t the business of the meeting that she was worried about. She dreaded seeing those members that she hadn’t been in close contact with in the past year. She dreaded hearing about any more tragedies because of the war. It seemed that every year since the war began the news had just continued to get worse. And now with all the dreadful hidden truths being reported, I just don’t want to hear anymore bad news. But maybe, just maybe, there will be some good news. With the war being over, many boys are beginning to come home to their families. But then again, I don’t know if I can listen to other people’s good news either. Not with two of my boys still over there and John still handicapped. How selfish can you be Mary? I can’t believe all that has happened in this past year. Last Mother’s Day I knew where my boys were. We had letters coming in from both Rob and John. And Joe was only in Washington DC. Today… I haven’t heard from Rob for nine months and now even Joe could be in danger. And with John and all that we’ve been through with him… I just don’t know if I can face everyone.
As Mary entered the hall, the first person she saw was her friend Doris Roberts. Mary decided that maybe she could avoid most conversations today if she latched onto Doris. As much as she liked Doris… Doris was a very opinionated and strong willed woman and could easily overpower a conversation. So a lot of those involved in this group avoided any kind of conversation with her, because even a simple discussion could turn into a heated argument. But Doris and I don’t seem to have that problem. I think because early on I had told her off. And somehow that and our sons’ connection have made our relationship very pleasant.
Doris and Mary had met as acquaintances only because of the Children’s Charities group. It wasn’t until Mary found out that Doris’s son Edward had attended West Point at the same time as her sons that she and Doris had quickly become close. As it turned out, Ted had known both Rob and Joe. You know… I haven’t talked to Doris in a few weeks. I hope everything is okay. Doris would have called and told me any news, I’m sure. Ted is a fighter pilot and a Captain in the US Army Air Core. He is stationed in England, out of Heathrow.
As Mary approached the table where Doris was sitting, she noticed that Father Cohan, Saint Brendan’s Pastor, was also heading in the same direction. Only his expression was one of trepidation. Mary stopped in her tracks and watched as he came up to Doris, put his arm on her shoulder, and whispered something in her ear. There was shocked silence from Doris as Father Cohan led her from the hall, but Mary could easily see the tears streaking her face as she walked away. Oh no Doris. No.
Without another thought, Mary followed Doris and Father Cohan into the back office. By the time she got there Doris was sitting on the couch openly sobbing. Mary quickly sat beside her and took her into an embrace. Mary looked to Father Cohan for an explanation, but he just shook his head and said nothing.
"Oh Doris. I’m so sorry," Mary began. "Please tell me what’s wrong. I want to help. Is it about Ted?" When Doris just continued to cry, Mary held her tightly and motioned to Father Cohan that she would stay with Doris. Father Cohan nodded and left closing the door to the office behind him. He was responsible for starting this morning's meeting with a blessing. I know Doris doesn’t want everyone to know. It was just better to let Father Cohan go do what he needs to.
Finally, Doris was able to stop crying but was still breathing erratically. "Oh Mary," she said. "George called Father Cohan. Ted was injured in one of the final bombing raids to hit Heathrow." Doris again began to cry. "The telegram said that he’d lost both legs…" She couldn’t continue and collapsed onto Mary’s lap shaking and crying.
Mary held her tight. "I'm so, so very sorry Doris," Mary began to console, but couldn't continue right away. Tears welled in her own eyes, as the awful memory of the day that she had first heard, that John had been paralyzed, invaded her thoughts. Poor Doris, what can I say? Nothing I say will make this any easier. "Oh Doris, the important thing is that Ted is alive," Mary began again. "And he'll be coming home. I know it’s awful now. This hurt you feel will never go away. Things like this are just not supposed to happen to your children. Believe me, I understand. But Doris, you need to realize that you still have your son and he is going to come home to you," Mary consoled. "That is all that truly matters." Mary paused as Doris sat up and looked at her with eyes full of pain and sorrow. "Doris, let me drive you home. Come on. It will be all right," Mary offered.
Together both women exited the Parish Hall though a side door. They met Father Cohan in the hallway before leaving and Mary asked him to call Doris’s husband George and tell him that she would be taking Doris home. Both woman got in Mary’s car and drove the hour to the Robert's home. Mary held on tight to her friend's hand the entire way. Hoping in some small way... to console another mother… on this Mother’s Day.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan, Parents of Colonel Robert Hogan,
Mother’s Day, Sunday May 13, 1945, 1300 Hours
Michael stood at the open door of the oven with turkey baster in-hand. "Well, it looks like we have another hour before dinner," he announced to the world in general and closed the door to the oven. Michael immediately began chopping the vegetables he had set out on the kitchen table. "When were Sue and Ed coming over?" Michael asked, as he absentmindedly tossed Toby a piece of carrot. When he cooked, Michael would get so absorbed, that he could easily have a conversation with no one. He wouldn’t even miss not getting an answer to his questions. And Toby always made out like a bandit.
Luckily this time, John was also in the kitchen. He had been helping to set the dining room table, as well as peeling the potatoes. One thing Dad had always insisted on was that, on Mother’s Day, Mom was to do nothing. And she… always had a hard time ‘doing nothing’. All I can say is that I’m glad that I can help out now or she would have been running around, cleaning the house, fixing dinner and helping me. As it is, she was able to go off to her meeting and church services already this morning. She should be getting home just as Sue and Ed arrive. "Sue said around 1:30 Dad. Kathy and Dan were going to have an early breakfast for them before heading to Josie’s house for dinner," John explained.
"That’s nice," Michael replied. "You know. I haven’t seen Josie in ages… or Kathy and Dan for that matter. Maybe when things settle down we should have everyone over for dinner sometime. Don’t you think so John?" Michael asked.
"Great idea Dad," John said knowing full well that his father was making small talk, as he did often when he was cooking. But John was acutely aware that neither his father nor his mother had spoken one word about Rob or Joe all morning, unless it was a pleasant memory. It was as if they had both made a pact to discuss only pleasant things today. Discussing the war seems to be completely off limits. I only hope that the inevitable breakdown doesn’t happen.
Sue, Ed and Stephen arrived shortly thereafter. Sue quickly took her brother’s place in the kitchen. John, and Ed had then gone outside to watch Stephen play with Toby. Mary had pulled into the driveway just as the ‘boys’ were beginning a game of fetch with Toby. She got a quick kiss and a ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ from them all before she entered the house.
Within the hour the entire Hogan family was sitting at the dinner table. Michael was carving the turkey and the food was making its way around the table. And to just liven up the festivities… little Stephen had stuck his fork into the mashed potatoes on his plate and ‘accidentally’ flung potato in the general direction of his uncle John. ‘Which in the old days,’ Susan added ‘might have started a mashed potato fight between my three brothers.’ And then the conversation continued, remaining lighthearted with only good memories being shared. Michael even asked Ed to invite his family over for dinner sometime.
John had come to realize that there must be some unwritten rule about pleasant conversation on Mother’s Day that he was not aware of. This, of course, being his first Mother’s Day home since he had been sent overseas. Sue and Ed had quickly fallen right into step. John was having a hard time, but said nothing.
Just at the point where John couldn’t take the overly ‘pleasant’ conversation anymore… the doorbell rang startling everyone. "I’ll get it," said John and made his way slowly to the front door. As he reached the door he saw Frank Long from the Bridgeport Western Union Office holding two yellow envelopes. Oh no. Not today. Not two. John’s heart broke as he opened the front door and took the telegrams from Frank. Frank quickly averted his eyes from John and left without saying a word.
John watched Frank walk away, using any excuse not to look at the telegrams. Frank has probably delivered more than his share of these telegrams -- God what do I do? As Frank disappeared around the corner, John realized he really had no choice. He turned slowly and headed back into the house from the porch. As he rounded the corner into the dining room, he heard his mother and his sister scream. His father and Ed had held back on their reactions to comfort their wives. And little Stephen began to cry… just because. John stood there looking at the telegrams almost as if he was again paralyzed.
Michael was the first to regain his composure and took the telegrams from John’s grasp. Mary was sobbing openly as she put her hands over her face. Sue, Ed and little Stephen were in a family clinch. John, not saying a word, approached his mother and put his hands on her shoulders to comfort.
Michael opened the first telegram. He had steeled himself against the expected news. He almost passed out as he read it to himself. It was from Joe! With great news! Michael quickly tore open the second telegram praying that it was from Rob. His heart almost stopped beating. It was from Rob! Oh God it was! Rob was really and truly ok. Michael looked up from the telegrams in complete shock… Both my boys are safe! He began to hyperventilate, but realized that his family was still looking at him in horror and despair. "Oh God. Rob is alive! He is in London. Joe is okay too. He wrote to say…" Michael said his thoughts all-rushing together. "God, Rob wrote too," Michael babbled. He had to quickly sit down before he fainted.
John took the telegrams from his father. His mother still sat in stunned silence, not moving. Sue and Ed were still holding on to each other, and Stephen, for dear life. John read the telegrams out loud. "This one is from Joe," John stated evenly, not trusting himself to feel anything.
Mom and Dad. Stop.
Mom, Happy Mother’s Day. Stop.
Great news! Stop.
Rob arrived London 12 May. Stop.
Haven’t seen him yet, but am told he is ok. Stop.
Will see Rob 14 May. Stop.
Will write then. Stop.
Love Joe. Stop.
"This one is from Rob," John continued almost on autopilot.
Mom and Dad. Stop.
Liberated 9 May. Stop.
Arrived safely London 12 May. Stop.
Am ok. Stop.
Hope all is well there. Stop.
Will write letter tonight. Stop.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Stop.
Send my love to everyone. Stop.
Mary Hogan approached her son John and took both telegrams out of his hands. Mary looked up into John’s eyes and then took her youngest son into a hard embrace, while still clutching desperately to the telegrams. I can’t believe it. Rob is ok. Joe is ok. Everyone is ok. My sons, my boys. The war stole nothing from me, save time. Time I am willing to sacrifice, just not the lives of my sons! Thank God that I did not have to sacrifice that. It's a mother’s wish come true! Well almost. But I’ll take what I can get!
Have you hugged your librarian today?
Special thanks goes to the staff of the Microtext Room at the Main Branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, Boston MA. The newspaper headlines contained in this story came from the Boston Globe newspaper published between April 1, 1945 and May 15, 1945. The authors took some liberties so that the headlines fit into our Hogan's Heroes Game Universe, but all are based on true headlines.
What a fascinating look into history!
And now, two more pleasant notes of interest from the Boston Globe published in April/May 1945:
First… Trans World Airlines (TWA) began a schedule of three flights a day out of Logan Airport on May 1, 1945. A big shindig was held to herald the expansion of Logan Airport’s passenger service.
Second… Nationally, a major issue of the day was betting on horse racing. A number of issues of the Boston Globe published during that time contained articles either 'for or against' the ban that existed on horse race betting. Both presidents... FDR, before he died, was going to reinstate the practice after the war. But, after FDR's death, Truman came along and wanted to ban it completely. FDR's followers won out. Almost immediately after VE day, 'betting on the horses’ was reinstated.
This copyright covers only original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.