Through weeks and months, thoughts of Jennie never left him
The pair met at a YMCA dance on Nov. 1, 1941.
Jennie Liput and Howard Dobson.
The handsome young man and the lovely young lady courted for almost a year until Howard enlisted in the Navy, on Sept. 10, 1942.
Howard served aboard the USS Essex, the “fightenist ship in the Navy.”
And, Jennie wrote him a letter every day.
“I don’t think I realized how much danger he was in,” Jennie shared.
“I numbered letters I wrote to him,” she said. “They were received in batches, so the number on the envelope enabled them to be read in order.”
Howard and Jennie were engaged while he was home on leave, on April 1, 1944, before he deployed to the Marshall Islands aboard the USS Essex.
It was obvious from Howard’s journal how much he appreciated Jennie’s letters and wanted to be home:
May 10, 1944: Sykesville (Howard’s hometown) was never like this, he said of the Marshall Islands.
Oct. 8, 1944: Hoping for mail but none.
Oct. 11, 1944: I received Jennie’s package. Gee the cookies were good. Gum was something new. First in six months.
Oct. 15, 1944: I wrote Jennie a letter.
Oct. 22, 1944: 38 sacks of mail brought aboard.
Oct. 28, 1944: Chow sure is rotten. Bugs and moldy is about all it amounts to.
Oct. 30, 1944: Received five letters from Jennie. We are doing so good, that is Jennie and I.
Nov. 9, 1944: We received mail today. No news.
Nov. 17, 1944: Spent time in sick bay for cold and fever.
Nov. 28, 1944: Expect some mail soon.
Dec. 18, 1944: Hope to go home where everything will be quiet for a change.
Dec. 25, 1944: My poorest Christmas since I was born. May God be good and make next year brighter. Am I asking too much?
Dec. 31, 1944: Happy New Year “Jennie.”
Jan. 8, 1945: Received three letters from Jennie.
Feb. 20, 1945: 5 letters from Jennie today.
Despite the war, the danger and the constant threat of attack, there was time for kicking back. And, and Howard kept his sense of humor:
Oct. 4, 1944: Won $25 crap game.
Oct. 5, 1944: Lost $40 crap game. Not so good.
Oct. 30, 1944: Lucky me made $40 in crap game. Will lose tomorrow.
Nov. 8, 1944 (Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to his fourth term as President of the United States on Nov. 7). Just another four years and I’ll retire. Will he? Stormy weather. Dull day for me.
June 3, 1945: I saw the first white woman in over 13 months. She was an Army nurse. Just before movie call, three Army nurses came aboard. Boy, what wolves.
At the end of the war, Howard returned the the U.S., and they were married – while Howard had a 30-day leave – in DuBois on Oct. 30, 1945.
Howard was honorably discharged from the Navy in December, as a Radarman 2nd Class.
Howard and Jennie moved to Warren in 1961. They had three children, Jill Anderson of Kane, Warren Dobson of Alaska, and Georgeann Chamberlain of Warren. Howard was active in the Lions Club for 40 years. He received the Lions Club Melvin Jones Fellow Award posthumously for humanitarian service. He also served in many leadership roles at First Presbyterian Church, Warren.
He died in 1998 from complications of Parkinson Disease – from which he suffered for 20 years.
Howard worked for Westinghouse early in his career then for Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania from 1950 until his retirement in 1981.
For his service in the U.S. Navy, he earned the Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, 12 stars for the Asiatic Pacific Campaign, two stars for the Philippine Liberation, and the Good Conduct Medal.
Howard and Jennie attended four USS Essex reunions, in Nebraska, Wisconsin, New York and South Carolina, where they caught up with friends … many of whom have since died.
“Many of the Navy veterans are gone today,” Jennie said.