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Theme 3: Toledoans in Foreign Wars

Foreign wars have impacted the lives of many Toledoans. Most studies of U.S. Involvement in wars abroad have concentrated on the causes and politics surrounding wars. It is easy to forget the impact of war on individuals soldiers. The firsthand accounts of soldiers from the Toledo area recorded in their journals, letters home, and keepsakes provide documentation of how these wars changed their lives, and impacted those at home.

Being overseas allowed Toledo soldiers to experience new places and cultures, and created opportunities that would have been impossible otherwise. Herbert White would sneak off from his battalion to experience French culture during his service in World War I. William Barlowe, who served in the Pacific theatre during World War II, had a more cynical view of his surroundings: “Nothing but jungle here,” he wrote. Dr. Max Schnitker, a Toledo neurosurgeon, used his war experience to further his professionals skills, operating on some of his most challenging cases. While stationed in India, he took many photographs of exotic animals and native inhabitants. Steven Pecsenye did not photograph what he saw, but instead completed detailed artistic drawings that he included with his letters back home.

Many of the letters home described both the boredom and exhilaration of service. Kenneth Colthorpe, who was a pilot in the dangerous China-Burma-India campaign, flew 144 crossings over “the hump.” “There are moments when I am sure I had enough of flying, but I guess I never really will,” he said in a letter back to his parents. Gordon Deye could not help feeling angry about the enemy: “I wish they’d develop a bomb that would sink the how string of Japanese islands.”

Some Toledo soldiers paid the ultimate cost of war. Carl Joseph was one such man, who was killed by a German sniper on D-Day. But his family never forgot him, and honor his life yet today.

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Exhibit Case 6

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