Return to sender' push rekindles WWII memories; 1,000 letters from soldiers a 'history treasure chest'

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They were all good Lutheran men and women, happy to drop the pastor a line.

"Dear Pastor," Army Pvt. Edmund C. Lust wrote on Jan. 25, 1944, while stationed in Kansas. "Hope & pray our church doesn't have any more casualties. It's so hard on the families & if there is no Holy Spirit present the grief is very much harder to take."...

And Pastor Oden safely stored away all of his precious letters.

Last fall, two members of Irving Park Lutheran Church, Lloyd DaMask and Darcie Wadycki, discovered a tattered old cardboard box in a second-floor storage area of the church, at 3938 W. Belle Plaine. In the box, they found more than 1,000 letters written by 239 of those 388 church members who had served in World War II.

The letters had been posted from around the world, sent back home to Chicago by neighborhood kids who had never seen much before. They were posted from Pearl Harbor and Africa, Italy and Australia, England and New Guinea. Even from a submarine.

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