About Here's My Heart

A Legacy of LOVE and WAR

doylekwhittenburgLieutenant Doyle K. Whittenburg served in the 2nd Platoon, Battery D, 639th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion in World War II, which defended towns, bridges, and ammunition and fuel depots against the Luftwaffe.

Supporting the 99th and 30th Infantry Divisions among others, the young lieutenant and his men witnessed many historical moments of the war, including the “friendly fire” bombing of Malmedy on the northern shoulder of the Bulge, the collapse of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen on the Rhine, and the horrors of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp soon after its liberation.

Throughout his service, Doyle sent home letters containing his eye-witness accounts—“word pictures”—of experiences in the Battle of the Bulge (follow link to Army Signal Corps video), the defense of the Remagen bridgehead and the victorious push through Germany. The recipient of his letters was Juby,Juby a beautiful young woman who became his bride shortly before his deployment.

A classic coming-of-age tale threads through Doyle’s letters, revealing the private thoughts, hopes, uncertainties and fears of an ordinary young man brought up in the difficult years of the Great Depression, then drafted and thrust as a green young officer into frontline battle on foreign soil.  

Writing home up to three times a day, Doyle sent Juby over 400 letters from 1942 through 1945—and Juby meticulously preserved every one. Together they created a treasured family archive, a chronicle extending from Doyle’s boot camp bachelor days until his return to his bride as a seasoned frontline combat veteran.

 

Inside-Cover

 

Leigh Callan, Doyle and Juby’s daughter, lovingly presents her father’s letters in Here’s My Heart, documenting her father’s daily life as a soldier as he prepares for war, undergoes his baptism of fire, and learns how to lead under fire, all the while longing for home and his new bride.

The resulting story is an emotional one, both unique and typical of a great many soldiers in World War II—or any war, for that matter—the loneliness of separation and the fear of failure, fierce bonds between brothers-in-arms, the constant potential for danger and death in unfamiliar territory. 

But it is equally a story of a growing love and how the exchange of words can create closeness, inspiration, openness and trust, albeit from opposite sides of the ocean.

Like so many descendants of “the Greatest Generation,” Leigh Callan first read her father’s wartime letters after his death. Thus began the long adventure of discovery and self-discovery resulting in Here’s My Heart, an intergenerational storyLeigh and Her Mom which brings together selected letters and photographs with the history of her father’s unit and campaigns, excerpts from his memoir of the war years, and her mother’s recent reflections on her experience as a young war bride.  

All combine with Leigh’s personal voice as she reflects on the creative process and recounts an “In His Footsteps” tour to Europe, where Leigh and her brother trace the path of their father’s war, informed and inspired by the “word pictures” he painted for their mother so many years ago.

In so doing, Leigh Callan, too, offers a classic tale of voyage and discovery that will surely be familiar today to the friends and relatives of former generations who discover eyewitness accounts of war—be they by V-mail or E-mail—in closets, attics, garages, or hard drives, and ask themselves: What did my loved ones do in the war, and how can I preserve this personal account in honor of their memory and for the sake of future generations?