As we approach the 75th anniversary of D-Day, it’s a great time to reflect on the contributions of our military service members — especially those of the Greatest Generation. Professor Rebecca Daniels has authored a book about her father’s contributions as a Utilities Engineer serving under Eisenhower entitled Keeping the Lights on For Ike (Sunbury Press, 2019).

Professor Daniels spent many months researching her father’s unit and transcribing the letters between Captain Daniels and his wife, her mother, Mary. The result is a window into those difficult times when two lovers were separated by an ocean in the throes of war.

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About the book:

Keeping the Lights on for Ike: Daily Life of a Utilities Engineer at AFHQ in Europe During WWII; or, What to Say in Letters Home When You’re Not Allowed to Write about the War

Most people don’t realize that during the war in Europe in the 1940s, it took an average of six support soldiers to make the work of four combat soldiers possible. Most of what’s available in the literature tends toward combat narratives, and yet the support soldiers had complex and unique experiences as well.

This book is based on personal correspondence, and it is primarily a memoir that creates a picture of the day-to-day realities of an individual soldier told in his own words [as much as he could tell under the wartime rules of censorship, that is] as well as giving insight into what it was actually like to be an American soldier during WWII.

It explores the experiences of a non-combat Army utilities engineer working in a combat zone during the war in Europe and takes the protagonist from basic training through various overseas assignments—in this case to England, North Africa, and Italy as a support soldier under Eisenhower and his successors at Allied Force Headquarters. It also includes some reflections about his life after returning to Oregon when the war was over.

The soldier involved is Captain Harold Alec Daniels [OSU, Class of 1939, ROTC] and most of the letters were written to his wife, Mary Daniels [attended U of O in the late 1930s]. They are the author’s parents, and she inherited the letter collection, photos, and all other primary source materials after her mother’s death in 2006.

About the Author:

Rebecca Daniels has been a university professor for many years who has also simultaneously had a vital creative career in the theatre. Throughout her career, her work has always been a mix of performance, teaching, and her own writing. Her groundbreaking book on women directors and the effects of gender on their work is currently still in print [Women Stage Directors Speak: Exploring the Effects of Gender on Their Work, McFarland, 1996], and she has been published in several theatre-related professional journals over the years as well. After her retirement in the summer of 2015, she was finally able to focus all her energies on this book.


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