Excerpts from some of the letters sent to cartoonist Bill Mauldin:
"Dear Bill, ... Willie and Joe were like a secret weapon on our side. Our platoon driver brought out chow to our gun section in big green containers. He also brought us the Stars and Stripes that was far more popular ..."
Carl Siegel, Carol Stream, Ill.
"My grandfather had been on a destroyer in WWII and to a young boy, that was heady stuff. However, my mother strictly forbade me from ever asking him about it. Even then, It war was not like the movies where you could close your eyes during the scary parts and go home to your own bed afterwards.
"One summer, I discovered a copy of your book 'Up Front' on my grandparents' bookshelf and read it cover to cover in an afternoon. I must admit it was the cartoons that attracted me at first, but once I read the text, I felt like I understood a little of what my grandfather had been through...
Mark S. Richardson, 31, Raleigh, N.C.
"One thing about the U.S. Army — they never change. It took me 56 years to get my Bronze Star medal, which I earned in 1945. The Army advised their records were destroyed in 1976 in a fire in St. Louis. I had to enlist the services of my congressman ... to get the award. Then two months later they sent me duplicates of all the medals to which I was entitled. This is the kind of stuff that Willie & Joe ate up!"
Patrick Rooney, Ambler, Pa.
"From one 80-year-old G-I to another 80-year-old G-I, Just to let you know I was one of the G-Is who always looked forward to your cartoons in Europe. I was in a 4.2 mortar battalion that supported the 3rd Division infantry many times, especially on Anzio and southern France. I always admired your Willie and Joe because I think every combat unit had the Willie and Joes, including myself."
William Gallagher, Philadelphia.
"Dear Bill, I want you to know how much you came to mean to our soldiers and their families during World War II. The first time I heard of Bill Mauldin was in a letter from my fiance (who later became my husband for 45 years) written from somewhere in Italy and dated November 10, 1943. It read 'I sent you a Christmas greeting today which was drawn by Bill Mauldin, the boy who draws for the 45th Division.' William Russell Criss, a Mississippi boy, joined the Army in 1941 and served with the 45th in the Medical Detachment of the 160th Field Artillery until September 1945. He passed away ten years ago."
Sara Criss, Greenwood, Miss.
"I bought through a military book club your Willie and Joe books and shared them with my son who was in the Army at the time. He said 'Same snow, same rain, same mud.' He thinks maybe they just ship it around to the next battle zone."
Calvin Jerney, San Diego.