Robert Lackhove papers  1915-1946 (bulk 1942-1945)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection primarily consists of around 500 letters that Lieutenant Robert N. Lackhove of Altoona, Pennsylvania, wrote to his girlfriend and future wife, Myrle Hoffman of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, between 1942 and 1945. Lackhove, a bombardier with the United States Army Air Forces, described his training at camps throughout Texas and his experiences while stationed in Lavenham, England, where he flew combat missions.

The Correspondence series comprises the bulk of the collection. Three letters pre-date the war, including one letter from 1915 and two letters that Lackhove wrote to Myrle Hoffman in 1938. The bulk of his correspondence with Hoffman began in January 1942. He occasionally wrote about his work in York, Pennsylvania, until December 1942, when he joined the United States Army Air Forces. Lackhove corresponded regularly with Hoffman throughout his military service, and often wrote once every two or three days. He provided his initial impressions of military life and described his daily routine at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center in San Antonio, Texas, which included frequent interactions with upperclassmen, drills, and classroom work. He continued to write after his transfer to Bruce Field in Ballinger, Texas, and during bombardier training in San Angelo, Texas. He participated in practice bombing runs and often mentioned his flying time and other activities. Some of Lackhove's letters from this period include drawings of his uniform, bombing targets, and additional subjects. Lackhove was promoted to second lieutenant in January 1944, and attended a training course in Laredo, Texas, until around March, when he was assigned to Tampa, Florida; Avon Park, Florida; and Georgia, where he awaited overseas deployment.

In July 1944, Lackhove reported his arrival in England, where he was based throughout his time overseas. Though censorship prevented him from sharing many details, he mentioned his participation in bombing runs and recalled hearing German radio propaganda aimed at English speakers. He also provided detailed descriptions of people and occasionally mentioned trips to London. On August 6, 1944, he enclosed Icelandic currency in his letter to Myrle. After flying his required number of missions, he returned to the United States in early 1945.

Lackhove was briefly stationed in Miami Beach before being transferred to Midland, Texas, where he remained until June 1945, when he moved to Childress, Texas. He continued to attend navigation classes and to comment on daily camp life. His leisure time became more frequent, and he attended movies and played golf with his friends. Lackhove increasingly mentioned his feelings for Myrle, and urged her to make preparations for a wedding; the couple wed during one of his leaves in May 1945. After V-E Day, he began to anticipate his return to Pennsylvania, and after V-J Day he looked forward to a discharge. His final military letter is dated September 11, 1945, and he wrote one additional personal letter to Myrle in July 1946.

Though the vast majority of the correspondence consists of Lackhove's letters to Myrle, occasional letters from other family members and friends are interspersed throughout the series. Lackhove's parents, Louis and Mary, occasionally wrote letters to Myrle, and she also received letters from other acquaintances. Lackhove also enclosed letters from his parents and, on at least one occasion, a friend, in some of his letters to Myrle. A small number of letters that she wrote to Lackhove are also included, particularly after his return to the United States in 1945. She discussed her feelings about their upcoming wedding and her life in Camp Hill.

The Poetry series contains three typed poems relating to love and separation.

The Ephemera series contains 21 greeting cards that Robert Lackhove sent to Myrle Hoffmand and to his parents, celebrating birthdays and other holidays. The series also has an invitation, an announcement, and a thank-you card. Additional items include a photograph of a small girl named Vickie holding a telephone, a document regarding Robert Lackhove's military salary, and stamps.

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