Obediently Yours, Orson Welles
This is the story of a young Marine's struggle through unwanted separation from friends and family caused by the consequences of the Great Depression and by the demands of World War II. During the twenty-two plus months my brother, Cpl. Buel Wesley Bray, served as a Marine in World War II, he wrote more than sixty letters to Bobbie Waren, a young woman whose sister had married his older brother. Bobbie saved fifty-seven of those letters and made them available in 2007.
The substance of his letters and the recollections that emerged from a number of conversations with Bobbie formed a theme upon which to build an account of Buel's military and nonmilitary experiences, both factual, as well as fictional. In addition, his military personnel records, obtained from the National Personnel Records Center, included a schedule of movement and location of training and combat during his tour of duty.
Utilizing information from these sources as the story unfolds, especially from the letters, relationships were encouraged to develop and grow, attitudes were permitted to surface and change, and events were identified and described.
The places Buel and his Ordnance Company visited for training and combat duty are valid. While the events that occurred at these various locales are largely fictional, the activities in which the characters of the story engaged were those experienced by marine trainees and later on, when trainees became combatants.
Perhaps the merging of facts with fiction can best be exemplified by the equator-crossing activities that occurred when his battalion sailed into the South Pacific war zone. Buel's personnel records document his initiation as a Shellback on 20 March, 1943, therefore the last part of Chapter IX describes this ship-wide event that included activities that were prevalent during the late 1930's and early 40's. Research validated the participation of polliwogs (inductees) in assisting ship's company crewmen in preparation for the "mutiny" and in the construction of initiation obstacles. This was a necessity aboard ships carrying several thousand troops. However, polliwogs were barred from the final stage of preparation. They discovered that when they mastered the obstacle themselves.
While all individuals referenced in Buel's letters were real people influencing his life, the only other person who actually played a role in the story is First Sergeant Charles V. Bomar, the author of the final letter in the book. All others are fictional.
Ulmon C. Bray
November 11, 2009
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