USO on Wax: Seven Decades Later, Man Finds Uncle’s Wartime Recordings

This will make you smile.

Three years after the USO’s inception, troops were moving fast and furious into the Pacific theater to fight – and eventually win – victory over Japan. But in between those deployments, they were sending messages back home, too.

Yes, a few generations before the now-popular USO/United Through Reading Military Program relationship came to fruition, the USO was facilitating the recording of troops’ messages back home on 78-rpm records.

And according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, two of those records – created in 1944 – were discovered recently at a rummage sale in Milwaukee by a local musician named Steve Cohen:

As he went through them, he made a startling discovery — a mailing envelope that showed his grandmother’s name, Estelle Cohen, as the addressee. In the upper corner it said this was a “living letter,” and Uncle Neil was listed as the sender. …

And here’s the good news: Neil Cohen is 86 and very much alive. Steve visits him once a week at the Milwaukee Catholic Home.

You can find out how Steve Cohen shared the surprise with his uncle – and hear the audio from the record – by clicking here.

–Story by USO Story Development