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SALT LAKE CITY — The letters of a World War II pilot were returned to the man's children after a year-long nationwide search.
Salt Lake City native, Roy Gee, was a fighter pilot during World War II and during his years of service he chronicled his experiences in letters home to his mother. Gee flew fighter planes in the Pacific before eventually being shot down by enemy guns. He was awarded the Navy Cross and the Navy Marine Corp Medal.
Gee died in 2009 at the age of 89. The letters ended up in the West Valley home of a distant relative, Kathleen Duran. Duran's daughter, Pat, works as at KSL and she decided to put the story of Gee's letters in the news, hoping to locate his children and give them the letters.
Word of the World War II letters, photographs and newspaper clippings eventually reached Gee's daughter, Ann Nunez. Nunez has lived in San Diego for years and didn't realize that her father still had belongings in his mother's Salt Lake City home.
"It was either Scott or my brother who told me about this thing they did on TV in Salt Lake City about finding these letters, his letters home to his mother," Nunez said. "And when I saw that it made me cry."
Nunez said that she had heard stories of the war from her father and mother while she was growing up, but that the letters added many additional details to her father's experiences.
"I opened them all up one day and just started reading them," Nunez said. "I was amazed about all the things he was talking about."
Gee had written detailed accounts about everything he did during his years of service between 1940 and 1955. He wrote about his days at flight school to his assignment as a fighter pilot on the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet.
"Gosh, it certainly is a swell ship," Gee wrote in one of his letters. "It's very big. Everything is just wonderful."
In another letter, he assures his mother that he is alright.
"Now mother, this war business is not very good, but every single American has got to defend our country," Gee wrote. "Please don't worry about me because I'm safe."
Nunez said she is still able to still hear her father's voice when she visits the USS Midway, now a museum in San Diego. Captain Gee recorded his voice, for the audio tour of the ship, talking about the planes he flew during the War.
After he retired from the military, Gee and his wife settled in San Diego to be closer to Nunez and her family. When he died in 2009, a memorial service was held on the flight deck of the Midway in his honor.
Nunez said she has always considered her father a hero, and all these letters and photos only confirm that for her. She also said she wants her father's grandchildren to know him better, and what he meant to the family. The letters will certainly help do that. Her brother is in the process of putting together a family chronology.
"He's doing a project," she said. "He's got most of my dad's things with him now because we sent them back east to him. But he hasn't seen these, and he really wants to get his hands on them."
Gee was attending the University of Utah when he joined the navy, and he served in World War II, the Vietnam War and the Korean War.