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Robert P. Ebersole Second World War correspondence

 Collection — Box: WWII 33, Folder: 16, Folder: 1
Identifier: 2023-054-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains one letter from Lt. Robert P. "Ebby" Ebersole, USA to Agnes Heil née Wright during the Second World War. The letter was written in condolence of her son 1st Lt. Robert J. "Bob" Heil, USA of Ohio who served as a liaison pilot in the Pacific Theater and was killed in a car crash. The letter was evidently copied for family after the fact, as he mentions writing it illegibly while sitting up in bed.

The letter was dated May 21, written by hand in his hospital bed at Fort McKinley in Manila, Philippines only hours after the death of Robert Heil. It explains that Heil had come to visit Ebersole in the hospital, whose plane had crashed in the water just the day before. Heil visited and then honked as he drove off, soon after being thrown from the jeep from a possible collision with an amphibious vehicle; though Ebersole admits nobody was sure what happened.

Heil was given a bed next to Ebersole and apart from some head trauma and being knocked unconcious, appeared largely unhurt. He later awoke and explained that he was not in pain, but the doctors understood he had at least a concussion and perhaps other complications and wanted him to lie still where he talked a little with Ebersole. He passed away later that night after his pulse dropped in his sleep, apparently painlessly.

The letter details the day's events and how Heil sought religious comfort from his Catholic rosary and a priest, giving confession and being given last rites in the night before he passed after midnight, in the early hours of May 21. Ebersole consoles his mother in the letter by extolling the virtures of Robert Heil and explaining his lack of pain or suffering.


  • Creation: 1945 May 21

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

Lieutenant Robert P. "Ebby" Ebersole, United States Army (7/29/1922 - 10/1/2005) was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa to Glen and Dora Ebersole along with three siblings including his younger sister Dorothy, mentioned in the letter. The family lived in Arcadia, Florida and Robert was a college graduate who served in the Pacific Theater during the Second World War as a Liaison Pilot for Headquarters Battery, Field Artillery Battalion. He lived in Florida for decades with his wife Barbara (married 1951) before he moved to Walnut Creek, CA where he passed away in 2005 at the age of 82.

First Lieutenant Robert J. "Bob" Heil, United States Army (1923 - 5/21/1945) was born in Hamilton, Ohio to Agnes and Clifford Heil. He served with the 655th Field Artillery Battalion in the Pacific Theater. He died after an accidental car crash in Forth McKinley, Manila, Philippines in May 1945.


0.01 Linear Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection contains one letter from Lt. Robert P. "Ebby" Ebersole, USA to Agnes Heil née Wright during the Second World War. The letter was written in condolence of her son Robert J. "Bob" Heil, USA who was killed in a car crash overseas.

Custodial History

This collection was found by the donor amongst the papers of their grandmother Winnifred Parsons née Wright.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Linda Holtorf.

Finding Aid for the Robert P. Ebersole Second World War correspondence
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, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States