In 1943 a young boy at the age of 18 from Petersburg Indiana decided to enlist with the U.S. Army during a time of war. Knowing his family could use financial help, he chose to be a paratrooper and found himself with the 101st Airborne Division. He was later attached with the Five-O-Deuce, and soon after was part of the first wave of paratroopers to land in Normandy on D-Day. David Clinton Tharp was a WWII hero who endured the horrors of one of the worst wars in history, yet got by everyday by writing letters to his loved one back home who was waiting on his return.
Comes a Soldier’s Whisper is a collection of the many letters David Tharp sent to his love Betty back home in the states. This is a book like no other book I have read, and within minutes I truly felt I was right there with David as he shared just about everything, from his days of training at Lowry Field, Colorado, to experiencing the affects of war.
“Honey, you seem to think that there is lots of tough work down here. Well there is. It is tough. But don’t make it too bad. I’m getting along okay and am pretty sure I’ll make it. Darling, my chin is up very high, and as far as my training goes, I’ll keep it there until they knock it down.” Lowry Field, 9/20/1943.
It wasn’t until a few months later, January 21 1944 that David would soon send his love the letter he wish he didn’t have to.
“Hon, the time I called you from Fort Benning and said I wasn’t going across. I said that because I didn’t want you to worry. I was so mixed up when I called you, for I knew my number had come up. I knew it meant leaving you behind.”
David would eventually find himself on the battlefield of a war that would cause well over millions of military and civilian deaths. His unit would be sent to Carentan (Purple Heart lane), Holland (Operation Market-Garden) and the Battle of the Bulge for which he would receive the EAME Theater Ribbon with 4 Bronze Battle Stars and 1 Arrowhead, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf cluster, Presidential Unit Citation for Normandy and Bastogne. However, his love Betty wouldn’t know much about the operations and locations of where he would serve to keep her from worrying, and for the sake of censorship.
In time though, David would share with Betty in a letter dated January 25 1945, the real reason for winding up in a hospital and share a little of the affects of battle.
“As long as I’m not around any gunfire or explosions, I do okay. Otherwise, I get nervous as heck and just about go nuts. I haven’t told you before, but the real reason I was sent to the hospital from Bastogne was the fact that I was shell-shocked.”
Comes a Soldier’s Whisper is a collection of letters telling us firsthand what our WWII heroes faced in war through the eyes of David Clinton Tharp. This wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the author, Jenny La Sala who is the daughter of David Tharp. Jenny has taken her father’s letters to not only share them about war, loneliness, hope, and love, but she has made her mission to advocate for today’s’ veterans who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Jenny saw firsthand how Shell-Shock (what is was known back in WWII) became a part of her father’s life after war, and speaks about the importance of services and support for our troops today.
Comes a Soldier’s Whisper is a book I highly recommend reading. You can also see some of the original letters on exhibit at The Military Museum of Kissimmee in Kissimmee, Florida April 8th 2014.
As a veteran, I am truly honored to have been given the opportunity to write a review for “Comes a Soldier’s Whisper”. To me, this is a book of history, history that will always remind future generations what past veterans have endured fighting for not only freedom for this country, but for the world. I have made it a mission to always do a little something to show my gratitude for our past veterans and I can only remind veterans of today, to never forget their stories and memory. -Steve
In Memory of David Clinton Tharp and a Special Thank you to his daughter Jenny La Sala for sharing her fathers letters.