WWII shipmates reunite, gets more than 100K birthday cards.
It started with a Facebook request from a Second World War veteran’s daughter asking for birthday cards for her dad, and now there are two houses’ worth of more than 100,000 birthday cards wishing him a special day — more than a month after turning 96.
The idea of asking for birthday cards came as Duane Sherman was about to celebrate another big birthday, but his daughter Sue Morse said he may not get many as many of his friends were no longer alive.
She told CBS News she wanted to try and make his day special, as these days the only mail he receives are bills.
“So I put on my Facebook that my dad was turning 96 and he is a Purple Heart World War Two vet and I would like to get some birthday cards to make him feel special,” she said.
Instead of the “half a dozen” he said he expected, he received more than 50,000 cards by mid-January.
Those letters kept coming, however, and according to Morse they now fill up the rooms of both hers and her friend’s home. There are still more bins to pick up at the post office, as well.
Sherman said receiving so many was an emotional experience.
“I was amazed, shocked and appreciative,” he told The Orange County Register. “All the good comments people made … it just brightened my day.”
The cards have come from military officials, football players including the Pittsburgh Steelers, schools and musicians from across the U.S., as well as from people in 10 countries around the world.
But it’s not only cards. Sherman also received an American flag that flew over Pearl Harbor, a scale model of a battleship and a plaque carved out of wood from the U.S.S. Constitution.
On his birthday, Dec. 30, he also was visited by 10 Navy chiefs from San Diego.
It was shortly after Pearl Harbor when Sherman joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Lamson.
Three years after Pearl Harbor, the Lamson was attacked by kamikaze planes on Dec. 7, 1944, while in the Philippines.
“We saw this plane coming in from the starboard corner,” Sherman said. “It hit the two stacks and went into the bridge superstructure. I was up on the bridge. We jumped out because the bridge was on fire.”
Nearly 30 crew members died in the incident.
Sherman was hit by shrapnel and floated in a life raft until he was rescued by another destroyer.
He later received the Purple Heart and an honourable discharge. According to the OCR, shrapnel is still lodged in his back.
One of the other men who survived, however, also ended up being one of the letter-writers who sent Sherman a card and the pair met recently for the first time in almost 75 years.
Bob Apple, 97, said he wanted to send a card after learning of the idea.
When the two finally met, Apple brought one additional gift: a painting of the Lamson on fire.
“I said we should have given him a nice card with that. Maybe a nice little birthday card,” he joked to CBS.
Morse and her friends are now working to get through all the cards, but said they plan to read him every single one — even if it will likely take the rest of the year.
But she said it’s a worthwhile endeavour.
“He truly is part of America’s greatest generation and they saved the world,” she said.