WWII veteran searches for lost pen pal

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By Shaina Stockton, Staff

When the mail arrives for soldiers stationed overseas, the contents of the mailbag can make or break the mood at camp that day.
A letter from husbands, wives, parents, children or even a stranger is all it takes to give a soldier that important connection to the home they are fighting for, along with the means to escape their surroundings for a minute or two.

For Jack Sutherland, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, these letters gave him something to look forward to. “In the year 1945, I was on ship number CA-72, a Pittsburgh heavy cruiser,” he said. “When we were serving back then, there was a pen pal service, where people were encouraged to write to servicemen.”
Out of the list of names, a young woman from Galax was matched with Sutherland, and they exchanged letters over the course of a year.
The exchanges created a close relationship between the woman and Sutherland, but after he finished his service, the two of them lost touch. “I got out of service, and got married... I never met her,” he said.
Today, Sutherland is settled in Florida, but his mind still wanders back to those letters, and he is curious about what happened to his pen pal.
Curious to see if she remembers him, he asked The Gazette for help to find her again.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t have too much to go on. He doesn’t remember her name, he no longer has the letters or a picture to help him narrow down where she could be. However, he does remember one clue that he hopes might jog her memory.
“She once sent me a gift when I was in Okinawa, which I shared with the other sailors on my ship,” he said.
He has shared the contents with The Gazette, but asked that the secret not be shared publicly. If someone claims to be her, she will already know what was inside, he explained.
“I would really like to get back in touch,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland asks that, if the woman he is looking for sees this article and remembers him, to contact him at (219) 510-3514. Further inquiries can be directed to galax@galaxgazette.com.