Korean War letters show father's love

By Erin Prater Updated: December 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm • Published: December 28, 2013 | 4:20 pm 0

A collection of Korean War-era letters from a deployed Army doctor to his young daughter have been compiled and published by a Denver lawyer.

"Letters to Ann," a collection of more than 100 letters from late Army physician Capt. John Hughes - of the 7th Infantry Division's 7th Medical Battalion - to his daughter, Ann, was self-published in October by Ann Marie, sister-in-law of Hughes' daughter.

Hughes' daughter died in 2006. Nearly three decades before her death, she gave Marie photocopies of the letters, hoping that Marie or another family member would publish them.

The family had long intended to publish the letters "because we all realized that they were very different," Marie said. "From the moment I saw them, I thought, 'Holy cow. This is such a different perspective of the war.'"

The vast majority of the letters are only a few lines long. Nearly all feature cartoons hand-drawn by the captain.

Some give young Ann insight into her father's daily life. One cartoon shows a crudely drawn self-portrait of Hughes with his hands in the air as a helicopter drops packages from above.

"Airplanes dropped food and medicine on parachutes for me when I was way up in the mountains. Love, Daddy," the letter reads.

Other drawings are the captain's attempt to care for his family from afar.

Another cartoon features a young Ann helping her mother with a short letter that reads, "If Mamma . gets her hand operated on, don't let her get the bandage wet! Love, Daddy."

"There was such a bond between father and daughter," Marie said. "He was parenting while deployed, and he did it, I think, very successfully."

Interspersed between the letters are photos of Hughes in Korea, photos he took of Korea, and historical photos from military archives.

With the help of a Korean War veteran, Marie researched the war and wrote a historical context that accompanies many of the letters.

All told, the book took about two years to complete.

"It was truly a learning experience for me," she said.

"Like many Americans, I didn't know much about the Korean War."

The self-published book has sold a couple of hundred copies.

Marie said she's more concerned with the book's impact than she is with the number of copies it sells.

"I see so many stories about troops who are still deployed," she said. "This is an example of how one deployed soldier found his way home and parented from afar."

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