June Wandrey: “I wept uncontrollably, my tears falling on poor Sammy’s bandaged remains.”

Vintage black and white portrait of military nurse June Wandrey in a U.S. Army uniform. She has wavy hair, a service cap with insignia, and a warm, confident smile. Her uniform displays a nurse's caduceus pin on the right lapel and a 'U.S.' insignia on the left lapel, indicating her service during a historical period.
June Wandrey

Dearest family,

Despite Sammy’s desperate battle to live, he slipped away just as morning broke. It broke my heart. Desperately tired, hungry, and sick of the misery and futility of war, I wept uncontrollably, my tears falling on poor Sammy’s bandaged remains. Later this morning, our long overdue ambulance came to retrieve us. I couldn’t bear to leave Sammy; I sat on the ambulance floor next to his litter and held his corpse as we bounced over the pockmarked roads on his last trip to Graves Registration. When he died, part of me died too. His magnificent singing voice was stilled forever, but ‘til the end of my days, I will still hear him say, ‘Nurse, you have a smile like a whooooole field of sunflowers.’

So sadly, June.

Letter dated April 7th, 1945. Germany.

Notes:

  • June Wandrey, from Wautoma, Wisconsin, was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during WWII. She served in Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany from 1942 to 1946. She described Sammy as a “young, handsome, black-haired, married, Italian-American enlisted infantryman [with] an angelic singing voice.”
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June Wandrey: ‘I wept uncontrollably, my tears falling on poor Sammy’s bandaged remains.’” sources: War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars by Andrew Carroll