Finding Aid for the Kieth L. Cook Second World War correspondence 2017.615.w.r

Benjamin Stevens
Center for American War Letters Archives
Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange, CA 92866

Contributing Institution: Center for American War Letters Archives
Title: Keith L. Cook Second World War correspondence
Creator: Cook, Keith L. , Private First Class, b. 1927
Creator: Ward, Dale S., Sergeant
Creator: Wenger, Russel J. , Sergeant, b. 1924
source: Ramp, Rebecca S.
Identifier/Call Number: 2017.615.w.r
Physical Description: .5 Linear Feet (5 folders)
Date (inclusive): 1945 May 09 - 1946 September 24
Abstract: This collection contains the correspondence of PFC Kieth L. Cook, USA while training during and after the Second World War ended and his overseas duty in Japan after the Second World War ended. Included are letters written to the Cook family from another family member serving, SGT Russel J. Wenger, and a family friend, SGT Dale S. Ward. There is also one photograph of PFC Cook and his sisters, as well as an honor roll pamphlet.
Language of Material: English .
Container: WWII 149
Container: 6-10
Container: 1-5

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Rebecca S. Ramp, daughter of PFC Kieth L. Cook, USA


This collection is arranged chronologically in the following series:
  • Series 1, Correspondence from Kieth to family
  • Series 2, Correspondence to Cook family and photograph

Biographical / Historical

Private First Class Kieth L. Cook, United States Army (b. 1/7/1927) was born in Elkhart, Indiana. He graduated from Jimtown High School in 1945. He registered for the draft on January 8, 1945, and his first letter began on May 9, 1945. PFC Cook trained as an Infantryman at Camp Livingston, LA. after completion of training he was shipped to Fort Ord, CA where he embarked to Japan. After the war, PFC Cook worked in a foundry, drove a school bus, and farmed/milked dairy cattle until he retired in 1991.
The other two writers included in this collection are Sergeant Dale S. Ward, United States Army who was a family friend and attended high school with PFC Cook, and Sergeant Russel J. Wenger, United States Army. Russel J. Wenger (03-13-1924) was born in Wakarusa, IN to Russel Lowell Wenger and Ruth Viola (Weldy) Wenger. He attended school in Wakarusa from 1st through 7th grades. He then moved to Ohio and worked on Meadow Home Farm while attending eighth and ninth grade at Russel School in Russel, OH. He attended Chester School for his grade 10 through 12 and lived and worked at Tellings Belle Vernon Farm in Novelty, OH. after returning from service in the army, he married Doris Russell (8-24-1946) and stayed within his sisters home, where the West Geauga High Scool building is now located.

Preferred Citation

[Item title / description; Box "n" / Folder "n"], Kieth L. Cook Second World War correspondence (2017.615.w.r), Center for American War Letters Archives, Chapman University, CA.
For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains 105 Correspondence from PFC Keith L. Cook, USA to his mother, Mrs. Cook, and the rest of the family during the Second World War. This collection also contains three correspondence from SGT Russell J. Wagner, USA to his aunt, Mrs. Cook, PFC Cook's mother, during the Second World War as well as one correspondence from SGT Dale S. Ward, USA to Mrs. Cook during the Second World War. Additionally included are one photograph and one honor roll pamphlet.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Armed Forces -- Correspondence
Basic training (Military education)
Church buildings.
Japanese paper
Japan -- History
United States -- Army -- Pacific Theater of Operations
V-J Day, 1945
World War (1939-1945) -- Japan
Ramp, Rebecca S.

box WWII 149, folder 7-9, folder 1-4

Series 1, Correspondence from Kieth to family 1945 May 09 - 1946 September 24

Physical Description: .4 Linear Feet(4 folders)
Language of Material: English.

Scope and Contents

This series contains letters wrriten by PFC Kieth L. Cook, USA
Folder 1:
The letters begin as PFC Kieth L. Cook arrived at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. While located in Indiana, PFC Cook wrote about the food at the mess hall, examinations, and daily life. He sent home his life insurance policy as well. After leaving Indiana, PFC Cook arrived at Camp Livingston, Louisiana where he planned to stay for 18 weeks of training. He wrote about the weather and training to be an infantryman. Wrote about Russia declaring war on Japan. Wrote about the end of the war, still thought he would be sent to Japan.
Folder 2:
After completion of training the military began moving him to his next location at Fort Ord, California. He wrote about travelling through St. Louis, Utah and Colorado. He wrote about the bay area outside of Fort Ord. His first letter overseas was written from Japan on October 30, 1945. He used Japanese stationery for some of his letters. He wrote about the weather and the basic work he was "dodging" in Japan. He was assigned to the 3075 Infantry Bakery Company, where he worked as a K.P. He worked one day on and one day off and wrote about the stuff he saw and did in Japan during his off time. He wrote about the country of Japan to his mother, trying to explain their culture. He included a typed letter to veterans serving overseas that complained about the rate of discharge and urged service members to write their congressmen.
Folder 3:
He wrote about getting restricted to base because an MP caught him in a Japanese theater. He wrote about sleeping through an earthquake and his friend losing some of his fingers. He complained about the lack of letters he received from his family. He wrote about the areas of worship the Japanese used and claimed they even had some Christian churches. He wrote about buying a Japanese "Banzai sword" and that he was looking to buy a pistol and send everything back home. He wrote he sent a photo of a Japanese man and described the man and his skill in Judo. He wrote he did not go out anymore because he got tired of seeing the "filth and hungry people." He wrote about fearing an outbreak of war with Russia and reported an attack on American seaplanes of three different occasions. He wrote he was going to cook and baker school on March 24. He wrote about getting sick and the medication and treatments they prescribed him. He sent his mother a Mother's Day Western Union telegram. He moved units frequently during this period, writing about them all.
Folder 4:
He wrote about moving to a new company area and being transferred to a warehouse job overseeing the Japanese workers. He claimed to have taken pictures of General Macarthur's boat and that he and Eisenhower were in the area, but he hadn't seen them. He wrote about his job in the warehouse. He wrote about playing baseball. His last letter he explained he was on his way home the next day.
box WWII 149, folder 10, folder 5

Series 2, Correspondence to Cook family and photograph 1944 December 18 - 1945 September 04

Physical Description: .1 Linear Feet(1 folder)
Language of Material: English.

Scope and Contents

This series contains letters wrriten by SGT Wenger and SGT Dale S. Ward, USA.
Folder 5:
The letters in this folder begin with SGT Wenger's three letters written to the Cook family, one of which is a V-mail. The first letter was sent from Italy and he wrote basic updates. The second letter (v-mail) he asked a bunch of questions about the family. The third letter is written from Luzon. He wrote about his potential discharge date, asked about PFC Cook and described his journey through the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
One v-mail is from SGT Ward. It was written from France and he thanked the Cooks for their birthday greetings. He explained how he got to France and that they would soon be on their way to the Pacific.
There is a handwritten list, in chronological order, of the locations and units PFC Cook had been assigned to. One photo of Elizabeth, Verna, Kieth, and Margaret Cook dated September 1945. One pamphlet for a dedication service of the memorial in honor of armed forces from Baugo Township and of Baugo Township School, dated October 06, 1945.