Cora’s Legacy

Dedicated shortwave radio operators Cora and George Reed lived in Sheridan, Wyoming during World War II. George spent his days working at the Sheridan VA Hospital; Cora was a homemaker. Together they served hundreds, possibly thousands of families throughout the US, by forwarding messages heard via shortwave from American Prisoners of War (POWs), or read by Japanese broadcasters. These messages included the men’s name, rank, brief message and family contact information.

To catch the messages, 16 of which were broadcast in 10 minutes, Cora invented her own brand of shorthand. “Because the Japanese announcer mixes his l’s and r’s and because traffic to and from the construction shops across the street cause static, the names are difficult to understand“.
– Sheridan Press,  1943 – Copy of Article

The messages were broadcast via Radio Tokio (Tokyo) Calling. . . Cora wrote letters to the families allowing the POWs to “reach out from a deep vacuum, as it were,” to their family. Cora then received letters back from the families of the POWs. Some had not heard from their loved one, or the US government for over a year. Many believed the men were dead. Others continued to hope and pray for “the men in the real life drama that was being enacted in the lives . . . of those courageous men of the tragic Philippine struggle“.
–Letter from Hazel Scudder, 1943

The letters, found in a battered old suitcase, were given to Wars’ Voices in 2012.

Cora and George continued to listen to the radio messages for months, until the War Department forwarded Cora a letter.

Dear Mrs. George Reed,

The  Provost Marshall General directs me to reply to your letter in regard to prisoner of war shortwave radio messages.

The list of names of individuals forwarding such messages that you enclosed have been referred to the government agencies interested in shortwave broadcasts.

This office is grateful for your cooperation in withholding the transmittal of such messages.

Sincerely yours,

Howard F. Bresee
Colonel, C.M.P. 
Chief, Information Branch