A letter written by Owen Darling to Bill Sollars, 1978:
Scanned Letter: Page 1, Page 4
As you have already concluded, I am the worlds worst correspondent. I was quite taken back by the receipt of your letter since I have never heard from anyone from the old Kretchmer since leaving her in Saipan late in November 1945 to catch a ride to the states aboard a baby carrier U.S.S. Kula Gulf. The last I heard at that time she was scheduled for some kind of patrol duty off the coast of Manchuria.
After you left (as best as I can recall) we went to Norfolk, Va as home port. From there we took 2 fast convoy trips (15 knots) to Naples, Italy. After 2nd trip took convoy to Curaco in Dutch West Indies - then we moved to New York (Brooklyn Navy Yard)as home port from where we took several fast convoys (15 knot) to United Kingdom arriving at such ports as Cardiff & Swansea Wales, Grenock Scotland, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southhampton England - about 4 or 5 trips at least - 7 days one way - about 8 1/2 the other with about 3 or 4 day layover on each end. We enjoyed quie a bit of N.Y. city liberty that was such a welcome relief after Shit Cities (1) Norfolk and (2) Charleston.
Somewhere around June 1944 we were transferred to the Pacific Theater of Operations via the Panama Canal Zone. Went to the Destroyer Base San Diego first then to Pearl Harbour, Enievetok, Marshall Islands, Guam and Saipan in Mariannas, Leyte Gulf in Phillipines, Manilla P.I., Iwo Jima and Okinawa. We operated out of Okinawa til end of war. Couple of days before treaty of peace officially signed we took a large group of P.O.W.'s out of northern Formosa. We ferried them out to the carriers we were operating with. Very few Americans (survivors of Bataan death march - most were Aussie, Canadian, British, many of whom were captured in fall of Shanghai in 1939. Needless to say I was extremely happy to hear of the pending Jap surrender since I had had a peek at the secret invasion plans of Mount Olympus of Japan in the Captain's Chart Station and the Kretchmer was scheduled for close shore bombardment support in the initial wave. It was scheduled early in October. Came back to Saipan then to Frisco and then by cattle car to Great Lakes and was discharged December 15, 1945.
Returned to U. of Illinois in Jan 1946 for two semesters & received B.A. Dropped out of Law School in Jan 1947 primarily for financial reasons (sole support of mother). Figured I would work for 1 year & then return - never did. Took job with State of Illinois Service .........agency responsible for paying the World War II bonus to veterans - stayed until Oct 1950 getting married in Jan 1948. Was inadvertently called back to active duty from inactive reserve unit & was scheduled for an LST in Astoria Oregon before a duty Lt. discovered I had too many dependents to be eligible for recall. Was discharged from Gt Lakes shortly thereafter. Worked briefly for Illinois National Guard until Jan 1951 when I decided to run for elective office - Commissioner of Streets & Public Improvements (the same position held by my father from 1939 until his death in 1942). I was elected in April and reelected in 1955 and 1959 & served 3-four yr terms for a total of 12 yrs until April 1963.
The gal that I married had been married before and I inherited a step daughter, then 6 yrs old (Judy). Then had five children of my own. Patrick, Dennis, Maureen, Michael and Cathy Lynn. All but Patrick are living today & scattered to the four winds - only one living in Spfld. Pat was killed in an automobile accident in the St. Louis area in Oct. 1969, just a few months prior to his 21st birthday - what a tragic waste.
After 15 1/2 years of marriage was divorced in October 1963 - the same month I went back to work for State of Illinois in Highway Dept. as a claim negotiater (sic) and adjuster in their Claims Section.
Although I swore to high heaven at the time that I would never remarry - I met a most wonderful gal (Nancy) in 1965 and we were married in Oct. of that year. She had been married before and had a daughter (Carolyn) who was about 12 at that time. Nancy works for the federal government & has about 22 years of consecutive employment with them. Carolyn is an art student working on a teaching degree at a local college, (Sangamon State University) & living with us in a nice home in western suburban area of Spfld. I have had several happy years of marriage and we are looking forward to our 13th anniversary this Oct 30th. Altho Nancy is several years (15) younger than me - the age differential has never presented any problems. My first wife has been remarried for quite some time - lives in the same general area of town but out of contact - which suits me just fine. I do correspond with my children regularly altho I'm afraid my response time isn't a lot better than responding to your letter.
I left Highway Dept. in 1967 and since that time have been working in Management Information Systems Section (Data Processing) as a Systems Analyst for Dept of Mental Health (State of Illinois.)
I bowl regularly & play a helluva lot of golf (in season). For the past three years I have been going to Orlando Fla area for golf package outing with a group (about 50) from Spfld. Am leaving this Friday for two weeks. Several wives go along (golfers & non-golfers) & they have a helluva good time visiting the area attractions, playing cards, etc. Most of the courses we play are of championship calibre & they are really a challenge after playing much easier courses here in Spfld. area.
Well, I started this out to be a reply of moderate proportions but once I started I have really rambled on and on. Again, it was a pleasant surprise hearing from you & would enjoy an encore. However, be forwarned that a reply may be slow in forthcoming - hopefully not as slow as this response.
With kindest personal regards,
P.S. Have you by any chance ever had any contact with 'The Nose', Robert Evans who came from Grand River or something like that - somewhere in the Ashtabula area from where his ass hole buddy Whalen came from.