Iowa farm boy William ‘Bill’ Kvidera, CM3c , of the United States Navy, was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and wrote this sweet and touching letter home to his mother Helen Kvidera. Eleven days later, Bill was killed during the attacks at Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941. Helen and James Kvidera were my grandparents who had six sons; the oldest being Bill and the youngest was Ralph who was my father. In between them were brothers Steve, James, Charles, and John. Dad was only 8 years old when he learned that he had lost his big brother Bill in that terrible day. This letter, transcribed below, shows the simple love and reverence that Uncle Bill had for his mother, and all the while not knowing they would be his last words to her. ~ Clarice (Kvidera) Lakota
Well I got your letter, so better answer it. Well, how is your cold by now? I hope you feel better. So the men feel a lot better when you can’t talk, that is pretty good ha ha! But it’s nothing to laugh at… I again would like to hear your voice but maybe someday that day will come. How is the weather out there? Well it’s not so bad out here this time of the year but it gets awful hot during the summer months. I sure would like to get a feel of that cold weather.
How is the corn picking coming? Sure would like to be back there to be picking some of that corn… bet a guy could make a few dollars – guess that would not be quite as easy as in here, but a lot healthier! Guess we are going to get a ten dollar a month raise in pay. Not bad that we are going to get that from the 19th of August, so we will get a little back pay so you maybe will get a hundred and fifty dollar money order sometime around the first of the year and you also ought to be getting the thirty dollars a month sometime in December, so you let me know if it gets to you or not.
How are the kids down south getting along? Guess as good as ever; that’s where I should be instead of here. Maybe next summer I will have a chance to see them, I hope. So the old landlord is not doing so good to get along with? Sure hope you get something better one of these days.
You asked me what I would like for Christmas. I know that you would like to get me something but that is hard to do so you better not go to any bother getting me anything; we can’t keep very much personal stuff aboard so save it till some other day and I know that you will make up for it. Don’t feel bad if you get something from me. So just say the Rosary for me and that will mean more to me than anything else. By the way when does my papers expire if you would renew that for me I would send you the money.
How is dad and the boys making out sure wish you folks could have a lot of stock of your own. I think the farmers could make out pretty darn good for the next five years at the least don’t you think so? At the time I did not realize and there are a lot more people that don’t know that farming is one of the best no matter what you do, and there is no one else that will tell me different or there will be some tangles ha ha! So stick to farming.
How do the people back there feel about this war – sure hope that they settle it without much trouble. I think that in a couple more years it should be settled. Well, I really don’t know anything else to say. How is Jim coming along? Tell him to write so that he can give me some dope on what goes on down south, also thank Chuck for the few times that he wrote. Gosh, bet them boys are sure growing up, won’t even know them when I see them. Maybe they won’t know me either; maybe I will look older than dad ha ha – hope not! Well guess that I better sign off write soon.
Love to all,