Heroes: the Army
"...Do you remember the night before we were married? I said terrible things to you, but you didn't say a word. I wanted you to despise me so much that you wouldn't marry me, a soldier, might ruin your life..."
Nicholas T. Bonilla
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: 502nd PAR, 101st Airborne
- Dates: 1942-1944
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1914
- Entered Service: New York, NY
Love, Honor, and Cherish
A love letter written by a soldier, a member of the 101st Airborne Division to his wife in 1943, is but one of a number of letters between two people who met during the war, fell in love and were married.
Nicholas L. "Nick" Bonilla was one of the many thousands of young men caught up in the great upheaval of the tragic events that we know today as World War II.
He was a young recruit in training, when he met the love of his life, Opal Keith, a young Southern beauty from Alabama. They fell in love and were married before Nick went off to war.
Nick served with the prestigious "Screaming Eagles", the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Infantry Division. He made his first combat jump into Normandy on June 6, 1944 and survived D-Day.
He later jumped again into combat in the campaign known as "Operation Market Garden". This operation took place in the Netherlands. This operation ended in disaster for the Allies with their having to retreat under tremendous pressures by the German armies.
On the 22nd of September 1944, Nick was killed in combat. He now lies in peace in the American Margraten Cemetery in the Netherlands. The cemetery is one of the most beautifully kept military cemeteries in the world. Many of the grave sites are cared for by local residents from the surrounding area. The care of grave sites has been passed down from one generation to the next. This is their way of saying "Thank You" to the young men who came across the ocean to free their country from Nazi tyranny.
The love letter below is but one that is included in the new book by the daughter of Mr. Nick Bonilla, Sandra Bonilla Thompson.
Ms. Thompson collected the letters that had been exchanged between her mother and father during the war; then organized and edited them.
The results are a moving tribute to two lovers who kept a bond of love tied between them during the dark and tragic days of World War II.
The resulting book, Love, Honor, and Cherish is the culmination of this labor of love.
If you would be interested in reading more of these poignant letters, you can do so by checking out the link below.
the web master
Cover of Love, Honor, and Cherish
Courtesy of Sandra Bonilla Thompson
August 21, 1943
My darling Wife,
The news we have been waiting for has come. Please, for our sake, and for the baby's don't worry. I'll write as soon as possible, but keep writing to me at the same address, and my mail will be forwarded.
As I write, I am remembering when we first met. When I saw you, I thought heaven was missing an angel. I asked you for a date, and you said no because you were going to a party. Then I asked you for a date for the next Saturday and you said yes. I came by Romeo's and you had almost forgotten our date. After you finished work, we played miniature golf; then we went for a nightcap. That night I knew I was in love with you, but you weren't sure.
I will never forget the night I cam back from New York. I took you to dinner at Tom's Steak House, and you said that you were hungry, but you didn't eat a bite. You just looked at me. Then I knew that you loved me as I loved you. The next time I came to Birmingham, you met me at the train, and you were blushing.
Do you remember the night before we were married? I said terrible things to you, but you didn't say a word. I wanted you to despise me so much that you wouldn't marry me, a soldier, might ruin your life. And then you loved me enough to forgive and marry me. I thank God for that. Our wedding ceremony was simple but sacred, and I'll always remember it. I will love, honor, and cherish you for the rest of my life, just as I vowed.
Remember when you knew you were going to have a baby? You were upset, afraid that you might not be a good mother. Well, the little bugger will be here in a few weeks, and you and I will be the happiest parents in the world. Send me a picture of you and the baby as soon as you can. If it's a girl, name her Sandra Maureen.
Darling, until you hear from me, be brave and true, and when I return, I will be the best husband I can be. I love you dearly,
Nicholas L. "Nick" Bonilla
Born: 7 January 1914
Taps: 22 September 1944
502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne
United States Army
If you would be interested in reading more of the many letters written by Nick and Opal, you can do so by checking out the link below. This excellent collection of World War II letters -- a time capsule of the lives of two lovers caught up in the epic events of World War II -- is available through Airborne Books of Savannah, Georgia.
Check out the page below dedicated to Ms. Sandra Bonilla Thompson's book...
Love, Honor, and Cherish
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
101st Airborne Division, Division Matrix
Saving Private Ryan: 101st Airborne Division
U.S. Army in WWII
101st Airborne Division Association
History of the 101st Airborne Division
National World War II Memorial
World War II Causality Search
The letter above is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the the daughter of Mr. Nicholas L. Bonilla, Ms. Sandra Bonilla Thompson. Our sincerest THANKS is extended to Ms. Thompson for allowing us to share a portion of her book.
Original Story submitted on 2 March 2005.
Story added to website on 4 March 2005.
September 5, 2002.
Would YOU be interested in adding YOUR story --
or a loved-one's story? We have made it very
easy for you to do so.
By clicking on the link below, you will be sent
to our "Veterans Survey Form" page where a survey form
has been set up to conviently record your story.
It is fast -- convenient and easy to fill out --
Just fill in the blanks!
We would love to tell your story on
World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words.
WW II Stories: Veterans Survey Form
© Copyright 2001-2012
World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words
All Rights Reserved
Updated on 16 February 2012...0848:05 CST
Please Sign Our Guestbook...