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Friesz Brothers Second World War and Korean War correspondence and clippings

 Collection — Box: WWII 146, Folder: 16, Folder: 1
Identifier: 2018-041-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains three correspondence from LCDR Robert P. Friesz, USN to his mother and sister Jennie during the Second World War, as well as four photocopies of clippings and two book jacket flaps pertaining to his death. Also included are correspondence from Johnny R. Friesz before the war, Lt. Elmo W. Friesz, USMCR during the war, and SSgt. Walter E. Friesz, USMC during the Korean War, all to their sister June. The envelope for one letter from Walter has Robert's name written on it in red pen by the donor by mistake. Two of the clippings include a sketch drawing of LCDR Robert Friesz.

Johnny wrote to his sister June in 1936 and discusses her growing up and helping their mother.

Walter wrote to June in March 1943 from San Diego expecting to move out soon, thought unsure where. He wanted to go to Los Angeles and Hollywood to see Harry James, a musician, but will be leaving the next morning. He then wrote from Camp Del Mar in June 1951 during the Korean War while training. He had been to Camp Pendleton and was soon to go to San Clemente Island for maneuvers. It was June's Birthday.

Elmo, or "Buddy," wrote to June from Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida on January 2, 1944. The postage stamp says June 10, 1946, though his handwritten date is 1944. He mentions getting a haircut and compares his look to that of a black man. He also mentions receiving a letter from Robert who said he had just returned from 55 days out.

Robert wrote his mother in March 1942 from Bombing Squadron 8 on the USS Hornet. He left San Diego "some time ago" but cannot say much else. He likes the new planes, though they are a little "trickier" but says he will not be able to write for a while and cannot say why. He tells her "beware of bad news + keep your mouth shut...," continuing on in a seemingly paranoid manner.

In November 1942, there is a photocopy of a typed letter, unsure if transcribed, that Robert writes Jennie explaining the story of the USS Hornet from its commission in Norfolk, VA until its sinking in the South Pacific. Included is its travel, the Battle of Midway and the heavy losses experienced by Torpedo 8 (VT-8). He has high regard for the Hornet as the fastest ship with the best crew, compared to "Grandma Battleship [that] didn't know much about this kind of fighting." They returned from repairs in Pearl Harbor after Midway to the South Pacific, a place they called "Torpedo Junction" where the Hornet was sunk because of "mistakes and promises" and the disaster "could have been averted." The Navy, he says, "has 30,000 aviators but 600 are fighting the war - so we stay out here," referring to the lack of reinforcements. He also discusses at some length the problem with the administration of new plane manufacturing, blaming in part Harry Truman.

In March 1943, Robert writes to his mother again from aboard his new ship, the USS Bunker Hill docked in Norfolk. He is bitterly writing about needing young men to fight the war, but does not want those that want to "hang back." If he does than "he is not my brother...they value their necks too highly." He then briefly discusses the weather changes in port and how he likes his new squadron and skipper.

The clippings are all photocopies and include:

"The Hornet Near its Last Hours," with picture, The Kansas City Times, January 12, 1943.

"The Friesz Brothers," an article on the three brothers' experiences, including photos, from the Chariton Courier in Keytesville, MO, April 6, 1945.

Two obituaries for Robert Friesz from different papers, attached to one sheet.

Two book jacket flaps, front and back, from Helldiver Squadron: The Story of Carrier Bombing Squadron 17 with Task Force 58 written by Robert Olds, Dodd Mead and Company, 1944.


  • 1936 March 16 - 1951 June 4

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.

Biographical / Historical

The Friesz brothers were born in Keytesville, Missouri to Arthur L. and Mabelle Voss Friesz. They moved with their family to Salisbury, MO shortly before the war. The brothers who served, in order from oldest to youngest, are as follows:

  • John Roy "Johnny" Friesz (12/21/1914 - 12/19/1991)
  • Lieutenant Commander Robert Pershing Friesz, United States Navy (5/18/1918 - 11/20/1947)
  • Lieutenant Elmo Wallace "Buddy" Friesz, United States Marine Corps Reserve (12/19/1922 - 9/14/1992)
  • Staff Sergeant Walter Eugene Friesz, United States Marine Corps (12/11/1924 - 12/1985)

They had an older brother named Bradley, and sisters Jennie, Eleanor, June, Nancy, and Carolyn.

LCDR Robert Friesz graduated from Keytesville Hight School in 1940 and enlisted on February 7, 1941 in Kansas City and in 1944 married Elizabeth Hanna Johnson. He trained at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida and later in Norfolk, Virginia. He served on the USS Hornet and USS Bunker Hill and earned a Distinguished Navy Cross. He was killed in a plane crash in November 1947 testing a jet plane for the Navy in Maryland.

John "Johnny" Friesz served with Company 1721 of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s. Lt. Elmo "Buddy" Friesz served as a naval aviator for the Marines in the Pacific and in the Philippines flying Corsairs with the "Flying Deuces." SSgt. Walter Friesz served with the Marines as an electric turret maintenance man, training in several locations before being stationed at Cherry Point, North Carolina. According to the his sister he also served in the Aleutian Islands and China. Later, Walter served during the Korean War with Marine Ground Control Intercept Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 3 at Camp Del Mar, California.


.025 Linear feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence and clippings pertaining to the Friesz brothers of Keytesville, Missouri during the Second World War and Korea, including: John R. Friesz, LCDR Robert P. Friesz, USN, Lt. Elmo W. Friesz, USMCR, and SSgt. Walter E. Friesz, USMC.


This collection is arranged by material type and chronology. The correspondence is arranged chronologically, regardless of author, and the clippings are arranged separately in chronological order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of June F. Glaser.

Condition Description

Red ink pen with names written on each letter envelope, possibly by donor.

Finding Aid for the Friesz Brothers Second World War and Korean War correspondence and clippings
Andrew Harman
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