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 “Radio Tokyo [Tokyo] Calling” shortwave radio 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“.
      –Quotes taken from Letter from Hazel Scudder Letter, 1943

In 2012 a friend said, “I have something to give you.” I called her and arranged lunch. She walked into the restaurant with a battered old suitcase and set it on the table. When she opened the case, a stack of 327 letters wrapped with red ribbon, 5,000 messages written on 3″ x 5″ coarse notepad paper were neatly bundled with string, and several folders that contained information about the life of a woman that died many years prior – were carefully placed inside the valise. It was a gift that forced Val Burgess to learn about Pacific War history. These letters represented seven Brigadier Generals, 67 Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, Majors, and Naval Commander. Also included were letters from families of enlisted Naval personnel from the USS Houston, USS Pope and USS Perch, a 1930’s submarine. Additionally, represented were member of the 131st field artillery that disappeared on the Death Railway in Burma. Many had not been hear from since they were taken at Java some three and a half years earlier. 

Cora and George listened to the short-wave radio messages for months on end, 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

Earlier, Cora’s son, Dane Warren from a previous marriage, came to live with her and her husband George. He was a bright and talented 17 year old and a junior at Sheridan High School when he caught pneumonia and died on 28 January 1936. It is believed that her interest in aiding mothers to learn about their sons held as POWs, was due to the loss of her only child, her son, Dane Kenneth Warren.