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Don’t worry dad

Harry Rasmussen, a 1936 graduate from St. Mary High School in Sleepy Eye, Minn., had been a student at the College of St. Thomas for three years before leaving school to join the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Camp Callan, Torrey Pines, in the San Diego area when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The following day, the U.S. Congress declared war against Japan. That  same day, Rasmussen wrote a letter to his father, A.E. Rasmussen, who was living in Winona, Minn.  The letter was postmarked Dec. 8, 1941.

Harry J. Rasmussen

Dear Dad,

Well it looks pretty tough doesn’t it? Here it is, Sunday night and all the soldiers are listening to the war news. San Diego is a town of activity -- ships are at seas all around us. We are restricted to our post until further orders. The radio around here called all the Marines, sailors & soldiers back to their base. Tomorrow will tell the story and I don’t think we’ll back down.

The boys here are taking it very well -- they’d all just as soon get into it rather than wait for 2 1/2 years. Our training will be complete in about four weeks and then we’ll be shipped out -- if not sooner. It’s a great life isn’t it -- but don’t worry if any thing turns up. I can always take care of myself.

Perhaps this letter will be censored. I imagine it will be -- and here’s hoping I said nothing wrong.

If things get much worse -- I mean actual war -- you can forget the camera as it wouldn’t be much use to me.

My roommate in school last year is here is California someplace and will be shipped to Alaska from here.

Well I’m certainly glad the R.R. didn’t go on strike as it would be rather tough at a time like this.

You’ll read the news in the paper more than I could write -- believes some of it, but not all. 

Take care of yourself. I won’t be seeing you Xmas -- but have the car ready as I’d like to take a trip to Rochester sometime.

As Ever, Harry.

P.S. I’ll bet you  that your ears are glued to the radio right now.

Four days later, Harry mailed his father a postcard noting that troops from Coastal Artillery were on the move.  He wrote...

Dear Dad,

They’re placing them along the west coast. So hard telling where I’ll be. The last bunch went to Washington. Hope they stop there and don’t go to Alaska.

They’re splitting us all up again, just when one makes friends.

You’ll hear from me again -- we’re leaving tonight for someplace as new men are already coming in to camp.


Harry Rasmussen went on to serve in the Pacific during WWII and stayed in the Army four and a half years, achieving the rank of first sergeant. His last duty was with Headquarters Battery, 48th Coastal Artillery Battalion. he was discharged from the Army in October 1945. He returned to St. Thomas and graduated in 1947. 

Information for this story was submitted by Barbara Roetzler of Buffalo, Minn. Harry was her cousin. According to Roetzler, Harry’s mother died of tuberculosis when he was about four years old and he and his brother were raised by their grandparents in Sleepy Eye. Harry has since passed away. Roetzler said that Harry had a daughter, Katie, that has lost contact with the family. If she sees this article, the family would like to get in touch with her (email:

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