Texarkana, TX 73° View Live Radar Sat H 74° L 40° Sun H 61° L 36° Mon H 62° L 43° Weather Sponsored By:

Letters keep couple's love alive

Letters keep couple's love alive

As the ship crossed the Pacific Ocean, Aleene had already penned a letter to her husband, the two notes crossing in the mail. When his wife's letter arrived, Bob read her words and was stunned.

November 11th, 2017 by Tri-City Herald in Features
Aleene and Bob Bush were married almost 65 years before her death in 2008. Their World War II love letters were a vital link during those difficult years. (Bob Bush family)

In the early 1940s when a teenage boy deftly flung the newspaper to front porches in Twin Falls, Idaho, little did he know that in a few short years he would be part of the news. Nor did he know how words on a page would be a lifeline.

"Pearl Harbor happened smack in the middle of my senior year," Bob Bush of Richland, Wash., recalled in 2013 before his death slightly over a year later.

But at only 17 years old and with high school graduation ahead, the patriotic student knew he would have to wait to join the war effort. And like a typical teenage boy, his eyes were more focused on a pretty girl in his class rather than on the distant war.

"I had dated one of her girlfriends," the then-89-year-old reminisced. "But Aleene had first noticed me earlier because I delivered the newspaper to her parents' house."

In time, the two connected, passing notes in school as their romance blossomed.

"The study hall monitor caught it, and I had to get up in front of the class and read the note," Bob said in 2013, recalling with a shudder the embarrassment he felt. "It was a short note, like, 'Where are you going to meet after school, maybe at the ice cream parlor?' It wasn't 'I love you,' just innocent puppy love."

Little did the high school couple realize how note writing would prove to be a vital link during the difficult years of World War II.

"We wrote to each other every day," the Army veteran said about his bride of only six months before being deployed. "It took about two months for the mail to get there. Everything went by ship."

Life was harsh at the distant homing outpost in Assam province, India, where Bob led his three-man team in directing planes from missions over China back to the airstrip. Not only was there a high degree of isolation where he was stationed, but the daily meals were C-rations and everyday necessities were scarce or nonexistent—even toilet paper.

To pick up mail and supplies, it meant a long trek from their tents through tea plantations to a docked U.S. ship. Aleene's letters always included writing paper, another item in very short supply.

What the young military man wrote to his wife on her stationery was always scrutinized.

"Where we were located was a secret," Bob said, reflecting on the danger of "loose lips." "If we tried to slip anything that was valid information, it was censored." Then he commented with a smile, "I wouldn't even put anything like 'sweet nothings' in the letter because the censor would see them."

Nevertheless, his love was understood and while he sacrificed a comfortable life to help defeat the Japanese, Aleene worked stateside to save her allotment of his Army check. On their first anniversary, a gold wedding band engraved with both of their initials arrived in the mail, the same initials they had signed on their high school love notes.

The couple's deep love rose above the stressful war years, staying constantly strong until they reunited at war's end. Their beautiful life together came to a close just short of 65 years of marriage when Aleene died in 2008.

"We were very close from the beginning," Bob said, reflecting on their years together, noting they knew each other four years before the wedding. "We shared everything in our married life, even had a joint retirement in 1987 from Hanford."

On lonely days, Bob would visit Aleene's, grave where a picture of the two of them is on her headstone. And on quiet evenings, this man of deep faith would ponder one specific message they exchanged during the long war.

"While overseas, I had a very memorable dream about Aleene one night where she lovingly said my name," Bob remembered with reverence in his voice. "I immediately sent a letter to her to tell her about it and when it had happened—a letter I knew wouldn't reach her for two months."

While Bob's letter was in transit across the Pacific Ocean, Aleene had a letter on its way to Bob. When Aleene's letter arrived, Bob was taken aback by the message.

Aleene had described a vivid dream in which Bob lovingly called her name.

The dates both dreams occurred? The same.

Perhaps true love always finds a way to stay in touch.


(Lucy Luginbill is a career television producer-host and the Spiritual Life editor for the Tri-City Herald. In her column, she reflects on the meaning of her name, "Light Bringer." If you have a story idea for Light Notes, contact her at lluginbilltricityherald.com.)

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com