My uncle Eugene, the oldest, and Richard had joined the navy. My uncle Robert, the youngest, had joined the army. Eugene and Richard were assigned different duties and different ships because they were family members. So each was alone, like any sailor or soldier in wartime.
Robert became a medic in the army, and was stationed in the South Pacific, and so when he saw a certain ship in port, he hurried down to mail call, hoping to ask for news of Eugene, for Eugene had been on that ship some months earlier.
The canteen building was crowded, elbow to elbow, sailors and soldiers jostling for their mail, which sometimes held treasures of cookies or cakes! The sargent read out the names, and Robert was again disappointed. No mail today, on Christmas day. No word from folks back home; no word from his brothers far away.
“Sailor,” he said to the fellow next to him, “are you on the ship in the harbor?” The sailor nodded.
“Yes, sir!” the sailor replied.
“Do you know anything of a navy man named Eugene Hurn?” my uncle Robert asked of the sailor. The sailor shook his head.
But from behind where Robert was standing, a man spoke out.
“Why, Bob!” the man said, “What are you doing here?”
[Merry Christmas to you and your family from our family.]