Elden Duane Rogers died on March 19, 1945, one of the eight hundred who perished on the aircraft carrier USS Franklin that day. It was his nineteenth birthday.
Write home often, the navy told sailors like Elden, thinking it would keep up morale among sailors and those waiting for them stateside. But they were told not to write anything about where they were, where they had been, where they were going, what they were doing, or even what the weather was like. Spies were presumed everywhere, and loose lips could sink ships. Before a sailor’s letter could be sealed and sent, a censor read it and with a razor blade cut out words that told too much.
So Long for Now reconstructs the lost world of a sailor’s daily life in World War II, piecing together letters from Elden’s family in Vega, Texas, and from his girlfriend, the untold stories behind Elden’s own letters, and the context of the war itself. Historian Jerry L. Rogers delves past censored letters limited to small talk and local gossip to conjure the danger, excitement, boredom, and sacrifices that sailors in the Pacific theater endured. He follows Elden from enlistment in the navy through every battle the USS Franklin saw. Flight deck crashes, kamikaze hits, and tensions and alliances aboard ship all built to the unprecedented chaos and casualties of the Japanese air attack on March 19.
“So long for now,” Elden signed off—never “Goodbye.” This moving work poignantly confronts the horrors of war, giving voice to a young sailor, the country he served, the family and friends he left behind, and the hope that has sustained them.
“With a brother’s lasting love and a historian’s precision, Jerry Rogers recreates Elden Rogers’s personal story within the monumentality of war. Juxtaposing Elden’s letters with the life of his family and friends in small-town Vega, Texas, Rogers masterfully reveals a young man’s hopes, dreams, and sacrifice against the tensions and ironies of military life during World War II.”
author of Walking the Llano: A Texas Memoir of Place
“So Long for Now is a thoroughly researched account of the danger and boredom that World War II sailors endured, and of the sacrifices of those on the home front. Rogers illuminates the circumstances that led to the attack on the USS Franklin in March 1945 and depicts the fog of war and loss sailors suffered that day.”
author of Ralph W. Yarborough: The People's Senator