Letter brings back memories of a father saving lives

Suzy Williams proudly displays her father’s letter written just before the D-Day invasion.  Photo by Bill Derby

Suzy Williams proudly displays her father’s letter written just before the D-Day invasion. Photo by Bill Derby

Editors Note: This article was originally published in the May 31, 2014 edition of The News & Neighbor. We are republishing it here for the 74th anniversary of D-Day.

By Bill Derby, Publisher

Lt. Col. Robert Harvey, sent his daughter a letter from his duty station in Oxford, England three months before the D-Day invasion. He knew, by only a slight mention in the letter, that something really big was about to happen. Suzy Williams still cherishes and displays her dad’s letter written to her that day when she was only three-years old.

Lt. Col. Robert Harvey, military physician

Lt. Col. Robert Harvey, military physician

Even though D-Day was 70 years past, many veterans still re-live those horrible memories silently held back for years. Suzy’s dad, the commanding officer of an Army hospital in England, had been operating and treating wounded soldiers for over two years. Many were patched up and sent back into battle while the more seriously wounded were sent home. Col. Harvey saw the results of war, torn bodies and death. His letter to Suzy only hints of the trauma he faced daily.

Lt. Col. Harvey made his home in Erwin in private practice after receiving his M.D. degree from Vanderbilt University in 1935. He was commissioned as a first lieutenant in 1940. After the invasion Col. Harvey along with his hospital team followed the American army through France and then on to Germany putting the broken bodies back together saving countless lives after each battle. He returned home to Erwin after the war finally ended in July 1945.


Oxford, England
8 March 1944

Dearest Suzanne,

By the time this letter reaches you, you will have passed the third Milestone on the Road of Life. Daddy is sorry that he can’t be with you to lend a little pleasure during that event. Unfortunately, everyone in the world is not secure and peace loving like your Mother and Daddy. There are certain people who are possessed by the idea that they alone must rule the lives of the rest of the world. Instead of using a Gospel of Peace as our Lord did, those people, eager to grasp what could never be theirs, employed the God of War to enable them to reach their goal. They killed men, women, and little children who opposed their ruthlessness and brought shame and dishonor to a peace-loving world.
That world, of which Mother, Daddy and yourself are an integral part, started out unprepared to oppose those war mongers. We made a lot of mistakes, sacrificed a lot of young men and set civilization back several years while the nation prepared to defend themselves from aggression. Now, that preparation is completed, and the Forces of Righteousness are assembling for the final assault. That victory shall be ours has never been doubted.
Your daddy was swept in the wave of preparation and has done his part to see it completed. He doesn’t like being away from you and mommy but he feels that he is doing his share. Maybe sometime in the future we can all be reunited and make up for the time I have been away. We’ve got a lot of things to catch up on. If Daddy doesn’t get home soon you grow up and be a “big Girl” – always obeying Mother and helping her whenever you can. Mommy has only you to take my place so you’ve got two jobs until I get back.
Tell your Mother that we’ll all get together “when the lights go on again” and what fun we’ll have – a couple of hugs and a million smooches.

I Love you ten tens,
Bob Your Daddy


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