Lt. Reichard’s WWII Diary – Will Seippel’s Introduction

Introduction by Will Seippel, CEO – WorthPoint.com

Tom Brokaw called them The Greatest Generation—and they were. They lived through the greatest changes a generation has ever seen, from horse-and-buggy days to men on the moon. As children, they struggled through the Great Depression. In their teens and 20s, more than 16 million of them marched off to war in Europe and the Pacific to save the world from fascism.
Some 400,000 were killed in action. Today, World War II veterans are in their ’80s and ’90s.

Photo from Lt. Reichard's album

Photo from Lt. Reichard's album

Nearly a 1,000 a day are dying, and they are taking their memories with them. Most of them never really talked much about the war. Having grown up in a military family, and having never really understood what my dad did in WWII or Vietnam, I have always been intrigued reading other soldiers’ stories. Thus, when I learned of a group of WWII papers available at a local estate sale, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase them.

Diary Cover Diary inside cover Note to Diary

Finding my way to the sale was an arduous task in Atlanta’s northern suburbs. Twisted roads and limited signage, and I was running several hours late. I did manage to get to the sale and was amazed that most of the items I was interested in were still there and priced quite reasonably.
It was a sale that you shake your head at and question the pricing logic as many of the better WWII items were priced fairly and some of the Korean- and Vietnam-era items were priced way too high, as the sellers assumed all of the late officer’s items dated to WWII. In such a sale, there is no chance to keep the collection together unless you overpay.

I also found it fascinating that a Lt. Reichard, to whom the items had belonged, rose to the rank of captain in the war and later became a flourishing artist in Atlanta. He obviously was interested in photography, as I found his photographic work throughout the house.

Lt. Reichard's Photo Album

Lt. Reichard's Photo Album

Coincidentally, at the time I bought his diaries, I discovered what looked like some of his photos of the 1944 Mt. Vesuvius eruption, which ended up unattributed in a National Geographic article. I attribute the connecting of the dots on this to fate as I never read the magazine. (I never even knew I had a subscription.) Something made me pick up and look at a copy my older son had left on our kitchen counter. It opened right to the page where they showed a picture of a WWII army bomber trying to fly around the ash cloud that was eerily similar to one in Reichard’s dairy. I went on to read his diary entry for that day in which he writes vividly about the experience.

wwii148photo wwii048photo wwii123photo

Other questions that I have may never be answered, as this was an estate sale, with the former owner of the goods being deceased. Although Reichard left us a detailed record of these years, many questions screamed at me, including:
• Why wasn’t his family interested in the items, and who are the remaining relatives?
• Another soldier’s gripping postwar diaries were with his. These discussed the return to civilian life and praying to God that he is not wiped out by floods or crop disease as a farmer with consistent bad luck. How were these men related?

Lt. Reichard began writing in his diary on January 1, 1943. In February, he bought a camera and began taking some photos. For the next three years, he wrote almost every day. When I started reading his diary, I thought it should be shared and that perhaps WorthPoint’s community of collectors, people like me who are intrigued by the past, might find the diary as fascinating as I did.

So we decided to have the diary transcribed. Kathleen Long, a producer from Los Angeles, is transcribing the diary. Our Peabody award-winning editor, Alison Harder, is working with teacher Jeremy Goldson and the students in Mountain Vista High School’s Theatre Department in Colorado to record the first few weeks of the diary. Using those readings and photos of the diary, Alison produces a short daily diary video.

On January 1, we’ll begin posting Lt. Reichard’s diary, one day at a time. In February, if there is still interest in the diary, we’ll begin adding his photos. Our newsletter editor, Greg Watkins, will soon begin posting a few lines each day about what was happening in the world in 1943. We’d like to find a high-school history class or a group of veterans that would be interested in taking on that aspect of this project. If you are interested, contact Mary Brenneman at news@worthpoint.com, and put Lt. Reichard in the subject line.

If you are a veteran, a member of the Greatest Generation, or just interested in history, drop us a note, and let us know what you think of Lt. Reichard’s diary and our project. We are fairly sure we’re not the only ones interested in what one soldier was thinking 65 years ago when the entire world seemed in turmoil, and our young men and women marched off to war to save the world for future generations.

This project is our way of acknowledging our debt, appreciating our freedom and saying thank you to the men and women who fought on the battlefield and also to those who stayed home and helped save the world by supporting the war effort.

Will Seippel

Additions/corrections:  Since we began this project we have been lucky enough to find Lt. Reichard’s sons, Bailey and Scott. Thanks to their generous offer to help with the diary, we now know that Lt. Reichard’s middle name was Funk. We also know that he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel. We know that although he was a photographer, his wife was the artist in the family and the paintings I saw in the home when I bought the diary were created by his wife. The diary is now being produced mainly by volunteers: Shari Seippel is translating the diary. Alison Harder continues to post the diary on the Internet.  Scott and Bailey Reichard are joining us as consultants.  We would still like to identify the men in the photos if possible.  We know that man behind the desk is Lt. Reichard. Thank you all for your help and support.  Please read the notes from Scott and Bailey below.

To view all the diary entries, click here.

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  1. […] Interesting usaaf diary being posted Not fully explored, but looks like a worthwhile venture by a US antique dealer… Lt. Reichard’s WWII Diary – Will Seippel’s Introduction | WorthPoint […]

  2. Imogene Lee Porter says:

    The diary of Lt. Richard sounds wanderful,
    I had three brother’s in WW11 , one in the Army, navy, Marines and a brother in-law who was in the army, he was hospitalized for several mo, from the dromas of war, my biggest regret, that I didn’t find out more about what all they did .
    The one in the army drove a havy truck taking supplies to the fromt lines, The one in the Marines also drove a heavy truck,he had malaria and almost died , was missing for 3 days, they made S/sgt.My bro-in-law was a foot soldier, I have been readind book about WW11 for some time , look forward to reading the Richard’s diary.

  3. Rosie Win says:

    This is a wonderful project and hope you are successful in getting history classes involved. I finally learned to love history when I became involved with family genealogy and began to associate all those “dry” dates and facts with their lives. I hope you will continue the daily entries. I only just discovered your site.

  4. Judy Couvillion says:

    I just discovered this site—-wish I had seen it when it first went up. I have my father’s handwritten diaries beginning July 5, 1944 as they loaded up to cross the English Channel for France and ending on 9/26, 1945 when leaving Europe to return home. They are wonderful reading and I have transcribed them myself (father’s handwriting was attractive to look at but difficult to read). I’ve often wondered how I can preserve these for others so I think your project is wonderful!

    • Mary Brenneman says:

      Judy,
      Harry Rinker wrote a column about just this subject not too long ago. Here’s the link. http://www.worthpoint.com/editorial/preserving-precious-letters
      Is it possible for you to share maybe one of these letters here.

      Please share this project with your friends and those you think might be interested.

      If for some reason, you don’t want to share a letter publicly, I’d be interested in reading whatever you felt like sending and I’m sure Will, our CEO would be too as would the rest of the team working on this project.

      Mary

  5. Lawson Scott Reichard says:

    I have only had a little time to review some of the introduction, history and pictures you posted for Lawson F. Reichard WWII Diaries. I am very impressed with this project and appreciate the professionalism you have displayed. I’m glad Dad’s WWII belongings found a great home vs sitting in boxes in our homes for another generation or two and gathering dust. I can’t imagine a better resting place than what you have produced. It is even cooler that his story is being told and available for folks to read about.

    Lawson Funk Reichard was my Dad. He rose to the rank of Lt. Cornel after the war before retiring. He passed March 28, 1980. My Mom continued to live in their home in Fulton and Dekab County in Dunwoody,GA until her death June 17, 2007. She was the artist. At that time I had to put most of their belonging in an estate sale. My Brother and I kept what meant most to us and we sold the rest since we could not begin to ship (to Bailey-Anchorage, AK or me-Salt Lake City, UT) and store much of their belongings.

    They are true heroes of “The Greatest Generation”. Thank you very much for this wonderful effort. It truly has touched my Brother and I.

    Scott Reichard

  6. Bailey M. Reichard says:

    I am his son. My brother and I read through much of his diaries and often talked with him about it. Why were we not interested in taking the material with us? We had little time in the years after he died to go through the material. We asked many questions about war when we were kids. He answered what he could. Both my brother and I think what you are doing is great. Please feel free to contact us if you need more information. Keep up the great work. P.S Nancy Reichard (Wife) was the artist. Dad gave up art and went into the business world. Thank you once again for what you are doing.

  7. Bailey M. Reichard says:

    Dad did try to run the family farm when he got back from the war. He, his brother Charles,and their mother Doris tried to make a go of it. Dad left the farm to go into the business world where he faired quite well.

  8. Eremita says:

    Will there be no further postings of the diary? We have been enjoying the adventure and the history.

  9. Richard says:

    Stumbled on this earlier today, and will have to take more time reviewing it, but being here in Somerset County, Md., I am curious as to where Riverside farm was in Westover? Did he write much in his diary when he was on leave? There was a German POW camp in Westover, and prisoners were often working on area farms – did he mention it, or have an opinion about it?
    I certainly appreciate all parties who are helping to get these words out to today’s generation. Thanks

  10. Hello,

    I was searching for other WW2 diaries and came across yours online. My Grandfather fought in the CBI Theater and saw much

    combat in Burma and China and in the taking of Myitkyina AF. Recently my Aunt sent me a copy of his diary he kept during that

    time and I have published it to a couple of my websites. Here is a link to it if you are interested. I do not have it all up

    yet but you can read what I have so far.

    http://www.midlothianshopping.com/index.php/feature-stories/142-granddads-war-the-cbi

    I have had this diary published to my sites for a little over a month and have already had over 1500 people read the diary.

    Many are waiting for me to put up the last chapters.

    I am publishing his diary to several of my websites using a flash based eBook program of mine that will allow my grandfather’s

    diary to be read but protects the digital copyrights. I have worked a lot with the several Veteran organizations, the DAV being

    one, and I have a great desire to help tell the stories of the men and women who served in World War II, Korea and of course

    the Gulf wars.

    I would like permission to publish your diary to my websites using my flash based program to my web sites

    http://www.waxahachiejouranl.com and http://www.midlothianshopping.com

    We would not change any of the text and there would be no charge to you for this and you are welcome to link any eBook diary

    directly to any website you wish.

    Through my search I have found other online diaries that I would like to include in my WW2 Diary section which include diaries

    from Japanese soldiers, German, British, Australian, Italian and Russian diaries.

    Most of this these online diaries do no appear to have been formally publish and have been done in HTML which does not protect

    the author’s work from being copied or downloaded. Using my eBook program we would be able to protect your copyright and

    digital rights management as no one would be able to copy or download any of your work unless you authorized it.

    We would also help in getting these diaries submitted to the Library of Congress, as these historical diaries are very

    important documents of eyewitness observations on our history.

    Sincerely,
    Charles Flowers