This collection consists of over 85 handwritten letters and 3 photographs. It documents the final year of World War II (1945) from the perspective of a United States Navy parachute rigger stationed at U.S.N.A.S. Klamath Falls in Oregon. W.A. (Wilfred Allen or Al) Fountain wrote to Evelyn Ruth Lanphere, who lived in Coupeville, on Whidbey Island, in Washington State. Few letters are dated; envelope postmarks detail the letters’ chronology.
The end of World War II is often discussed. Fountain writes about the cessation of fighting in Europe and “German treasure” discovered by the Allies. The Pacific theater is frequently mentioned, as Fountain watches air force preparations to attack Japan. Fountain also laments Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s death, comments on Harry Truman’s presidency, and acknowledges V-E Day celebrations.
Fountain describes Klamath Falls Naval Station and his work as a Navy parachute rigger with Carrier Aircraft Service Unit (CASU) 68. His rank is Seaman, and he details his responsibilities at the float shop. Fountain primarily works on the station, though he does mention being off shore in May 1945. Lanphere is on Whidbey Island, where she first met Fountain when he was stationed there before Klamath Falls. Much of the correspondence details leisure activities: movies, dances, drinking socially, family time and photography. Fountain sends Lanphere camera film, purchased at the station, to take photographs with her camera. Fountain also discusses his brother, Douglas Fountain, who is with 640th Bombardment Squadron, 409th Bombardment Group (later 9th Army Air Forces) in Europe.
The photographs depict Evelyn as a baby, circa 1928; as a young girl in 1934; and her parents’ home in Coupeville, Washington.
Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.
Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.
W.A. (Wilfred Allen) Fountain was born in Milligan, Florida and worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps before World War II. During the war, he was a Navy Seaman parachute rigger at the United States Naval Air Station (U.S.N.A.S) Klamath Falls in Oregon. His letters mention his mother Kate and an older brother Douglas. Evelyn Ruth Lanphere is the recipient of Fountain’s correspondence, though the collection does not include her letters. Lanphere was a high school student who lived in Coupeville, Washington (located on Whidbey Island). On July 25, 1945, Fountain and Lanphere were married in Coupeville. When Fountain retired from the Navy in 1963, he and Lanphere returned to Whidbey Island. Fountain died in 1994; Lanphere died in 2018. Both are buried in Coupeville, Washington.
0.5 Linear Feet
Gift of Gary Barranger, class of ’73 Law ’76.