Two weeks before Raymond and his crew left to join the war, his co-pilot Joe Ward married Kay, a sweet and pretty young lady from Arkansas. Along with Raymond and most of the crew, Joe died when their B-17 went down in a fiery crash. When Kay stopped receiving letters from Joe, she wrote to his parents in New Jersey to see what they knew.
Joe’s parents were shocked twice within days. The first blow was when they received the telegram informing them of Joe’s death. The second jolt was the receipt of Kay’s letter. On October 11, 1944, Joe’s mother sent a letter of condolence to Raymond’s mother in Ohio. In part, the letter read:
Dear Mrs. Stephenson,
I wish to extend to you and your son’s wife my deepest sympathy, because I know just how you feel at this time.
Mr. Ward and I were shocked to hear of Joe’s marriage. We received a letter from Kay a few days ago telling us of the marriage and inquiring if we had received any notification of Joe’s death. Under the circumstances we did not know how to react.
Joe has never mentioned or even hinted that such an event took place. I cannot understand why my son did not tell me as it is only natural for a boy his age to anticipate marriage. We feel very sorry for this poor girl and we will do everything possible to help her.
I, like yourself, have asked God to give me strength to carry on for the rest of my family. I have two boys in the Navy and a boy and girl at home. This war has caused so many heartaches. Let us hope and pray it will soon end.
Yours Sincerely – Mrs. J. Ward
Photo – Far right kneeling, Pilot Raymond Stephenson and Co-pilot Joe Ward to his right.