21Country: “Army Guy, Red Cross Gal”

21Alive News at 5
Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 9:52 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUBURN, Ind. (WPTA) - Ellen England’s parents have been gone for many years, but they still talk to her whenever she wants to listen.

In 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor, Bill Husselman, an attorney and Auburn High School graduate, joined the army and was shipped overseas to fight the Germans. A year later, Mary Brnadon, another Auburn High grad, joined the Red Cross and was also shipped overseas.

Until the end of the war, Bill and Mary wrote to their parents back in Auburn... numerous letters, more than 400, telling their folks about their daily lives and duties, the horrors of war they witnessed, and how much they miss home.

Ellen England has collaborated with Auburn Author Barbara Olenyik Morrow to produce the latest of Morrow’s many books: ‘Army Guy, Red Cross Gal,’ an intimate look at those letters and the two young patriots who wrote them.

Bill would serve as a military policeman, joining Patton’s Third Army as it marched across Europe. He’s an insightful observer of war’s cost. He writes home as he marches through Germany; “This country is beat up worse than anything I have seen. Many towns are just a heap of rubble. Well, they asked for it, and they’re getting it.”

At the same time, Mary Brandon cares for wounded GIs at an R&R facility in Italy. She meets a badly frostbitten soldier who was a concert pianist before the war. She wrote to her parents about how the soldier managed to play Brahms and Bach “so beautifully even with his still black hands.”

Though Bill and Mary went to the same high school, they did not know each other but they met up after the war, fell in love, married, and had a family.

England knew little about her parents’ war service until she read their letters.