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Alice Nelson Korean War correspondence

 Collection — Box: Korea 1, Folder: 9, Folder: 1
Identifier: 2015-035-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains correspondence to Alice Nelson during the Korean War. Alice went by the nickname "Allie." The two correspondents were Private First Class Thomas G. Spangler, United States Marine Corps and Corporal Herbert Nelson, United States Marine Corps.

PFC. Thomas G. Spangler was a pen pal that Alice never met. He was a truck driver in a motor transport unit in the 5th Marines. He was from Knoxville, Tennessee. He writes that he finds her letters very interesting and enjoys her sense of humor. He signs his letters "Gerry."

The other letters were written by Alice's brother, Cpl. Herbert Nelson. He was a supervisor for an automotive school. He was promoted to Cpl. in December of 1954. In his letters it is clear he is homesick and anxious to get home: "It sure is different 8500 miles from home amongst people that you can't stand the sight of. (Letter dated July 10, 1954).

Around the holidays, he seems to have even lower spirits. In his letter dated December 27, 1954, he laments the lack of Christmas spirit in camp and his desire to get home:“It is hard to hard to try and get a spirit that is inspired by friends and loved ones when the loved ones are missing. If I’d had at least one person here that meant anything to me I would have felt better…We had a Christmas dinner but that only filled the stomack. But I have that one thing that no one can take away from me and that is the conslation that in exactly 47 more days my time will be up and they will have to ship me home." He also writes of his opinions of the Korean people, which aren't very good. He believes the Japanese are much more modern and similar to Americans. He uses the term "moose" frequently to describe Korean women - it is unclear if they are prostitutes or not.

In his final letter dated January 30, 1955, he says he is depressed and is drinking a lot. He is growing a moustache just so he has something to do. When Alice Nelson donated these letters, she stated that her brother ended up killing himself at age 42. Although he doesn't mention it in his letters, she says he was on the front lines and believes part of the reason he may have killed himself later was from PTSD - a concept that wasn't heard of during the time.


  • 1953 August 11 - 1955 January 30

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions. For further copyright information, please contact the archivist.


0.025 Linear Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence written to Alice Nelson during the Korean War. The letters were written by two soldiers: her brother, Herb Nelson, USA, and a man she never met, Thomas Spangler.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Alice Olson (née Nelson).
Finding Aid for the Alice Nelson Korean War correspondence
Lauren Menges
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States