Your Kin or Friend Missing in Action?

 

 

This article appeared in the Erie Dispatch-Herald on February 11, 1945
 
Your Kin or Friend Missing in Action? 
Ohioan Is Trying to Find Him for You!
 
     DAYTON, O.__ In her Alabama home a mother wept silently, slim fingers clutching a letter from a pilot in her son’s squadron who had seen her boy’s plane crash in flames.  No one in the squadron had seen a parachute blossom out from the stricken plane.  There appeared to be no hope.
     Then her telephone rang. It sounded again before its insistence penetrated her grief.  Finally, she picked up the receiver.
     “This is E. E. Alderman, of Dayton, O., the caller said.  “I’ve just picked up a short-wave broadcast from Tokyo reporting that your son is a prisoner of war.”
     Eleven hours a day for three years Alderman has sat at the short-wave radio in his home at 434 Grand Ave., in Dayton, monitoring prisoner-of –war broadcasts from axis stations and passing on to families in every state in the union the joyous news that loved ones who had been reported killed or missing are alive—though in enemy hands.
 
“Just a Hunch”
 
     Usually Alderman relays his welcome messages by letter or card.  It was “just a hunch,” he said, that made him use the telephone to call Alabama so that the good news reached a mother in time to save her hours of heartache.
     The cost of that long-distance call, like all of Alderman’s other expenses, came out of his own pocket.  His pay has come in the form of the heart-warming gratitude of the 9,000 families to whom he has been a bearer of cheering news.  Each day the postman drops some 20 to 40 letters of thanks through the slot in the Alderman front door.
     Alderman carefully files those letters, not so much because of the appreciation they carry in every line but because almost invariably they include a plea for additional information.
     Sometimes they ask for further word of the prisoner of war from whom Alderman has heard.  Often they give him the names of other missing men—the boy who lived down the block or Cousin Joe—and beg him to watch for word about them, too.
     Occasionally Alderman finds himself the bearer of bad news.  When he intercepts an axis broadcast testifying Americans killed in action and buried by the enemy he tries to get word to someone in the slain man’s home town who can break the tragic news tactfully.
     Alderman, a former sales manager, stumbled on his unique public service shortly after Pearl Harbor as an outgrowth of his hobby—short-wave reception.
     The Daytonian used to listen regularly to programs broadcast from Berlin, Rome, Tokyo and other distant cities and he continued to tune in axis broadcasts after war broke out.
     Soon Alderman began to hear information about American prisoner-of-war programs carrying axis propaganda as distasteful as would any patriotic American, but he realized that relatives of the men named in such broadcasts would be happy to hear of them.
     Alderman copied a few of the messages on his typewriter as they came through his earphones and dropped them in the mail.  The reception his notes received was so stirring that he found he “just didn’t have the heart” not to keep on sending them out.
 
Plenty of Drama
 
     There is a drama in every one of the letters of thanks Alderman receives.  One woman wrote that she was on her knees praying on Christmas Eve, for the safety of her son, missing since the fall of Bataan.
     “She wrote that a knock interrupted her prayers,” Alderman recalled.  “It was my special delivery letter, reporting receipt of a message from her son.  She said that no mother ever received a more welcome Christmas present.”
     The families of generals and those of privates are equally grateful to hear from him.  Alderman notified the wives of Maj. Gen. George Fleming Moore, commander.