Seven Sons Go to War

The seven Hanehan brothers went to war -- one did not return.

Feb. 28. 1944

Dear Kate and George

Your letter made me feel alive once more—an inspiration, so to speak, for one existing in a place so remote from even a resemblance of civilization. I bow before thee on bended knee, offer my many thanks. You mention the presence of my good spirits. Might I add, in good spirit or in bad spirit, we live “only in spirit” over here. Hopes for the future, of course.

How come this fellow you mentioned could tell you in such great lengths about this place? We are strictly prohibited from it. I wouldn’t want you to know anyway. Of course, its not the paradise that so many people think it is. I, for one, think it affords one, especially a “youth” like myself, great opportunities. It is virtually a vast domain of unexplored territory. Perhaps his tale covered the New Gujinea front. I have attended that place but am no longer there. I have advanced to another island which, at present, is of an undisclosable nature. Exciting as it is, we are all enjoying it very much. Again, I repeat, plenty of experience available to the up and coming young man with hopes for the future.

George, congratulations on your 2B classification. I wish to hell I was one of those damn 4Fs.
Take it oozie, kids and don’t forget “If you don’t write you are wrong.” Kate Smith and I agree.

Much Love, Leo

-- Leo Henehan, one of 7 brothers serving in WWII. Only one didn’t make it back


Leo Henehan

June 10, 1944 US Navy, Sampson, NY

Hi folks,

How is everybody in civilian life? Things are going along pretty good down here. The final week was the worst. It is damn hard to change overnight to be a sailor but I guess I made it. I wouldn’t advise anyone to get in—stay out as long as you can. It isn’t what I thought it was. I am counting the days already. I want to see my family. Tip a beer over for me now and then. I don’t get any here. We don’t get much time to ourselves.

-- Cliff ??, married to Helen Henehan who had 7 bros. In WWII, writing to in-laws


Sunday morning, April 16, 1944 Fort Ord, California

Dear George and Family,

From my address you can probably figure out what I am doing here, just in case you don’t I am in an amphibious tractor battalion. What they plan on doing with me is beyond me. I have had six hours of driving a tank so I guess I am supposed to be good, yeh! I don’t even drive a car—that is, I never have. And I certainly am not a sailor. For one thing, these tractors have a different motor in them than the M4 tank did. (after the birth of a son Al had not seen)

One of the Hanehans


Sat. April 29, 1944

Dear George, Kate and girls,

I’m just fine but would damn sight rather be home where I belong. Have you gotten to see the baby yet? Boy, wouldn’t I like to be able to see him and Liz. They expect me to be able to keep my mind on school but I just cant. I’m damn sick of school anyway. So far, I’m getting by but that is all. I understand Cliff is going in the Navy. I’m sorry to hear that. If he doesn’t do any more than I have he wont do anything. I’m the school kid and when not in school the K.P, kid. That makes a fellow feel as though he was doing an awful lot to get his war over. You can see what I mean. How do you stand in the draft, George? I hope you don’t have to come in. you can do more good where you are.

New Guinea, 30 July, 1944

The Henehan Brothers

Kate, George, and Family

I have been informed by my mother that you people have a very enjoyable week at the lake, some class I call it. But don’t start bragging to me about hose luxuries or I will really pour my good fortune on. In the first place, a while back I took a short ocean cruise which ended here in scenic New Guinea. After my arrival I got for myself a home on a long white sandy beach with ocean at my own disposal.

Every time I feel the urge for a dip in some cool refreshing salt water I merely don my bath attire and proceed on my merry way. I had better stop now or you will all pull claims and venture into this very luring tropical paradise. Now you tell me about your wonderful vacation at the most beautiful of the Great Lakes.

If you are interested in the voyage across the blue Pacific, it’s a great experience. To get the full enjoyment of it you will have to cross it yourself. As for myself, I enjoyed every minute. Perhaps because the ocean remained calm almost the entire time or else I was used to the water from my stay at Monterey. One thing: the ship’s crew made a big fuss about crossing the equator. They had the usual ceremony of initiating all the scallywags. I am now one of the tried and true shellbacks.

Naturally, I cant tell you where I am, what’s here or what, if any, our plans are. In a nut shell, anything military. That only leaves the ocean and the jungles and perhaps how little work I have done. I have finally got my mansion on the beach set up which I share with five other persons because of the war.

-- Al Henehan, one of 7 brothers serving in W.W.II. Only one didn’t make it back

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