Woman Finds Slain Beau's WWII Diary—70 Years Later

Young Marine's journal was dedicated to Laura Mae Davis

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted May 27, 2013 9:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Before Cpl. Thomas "Cotton" Jones was killed by a Japanese sniper in the South Pacific in 1944, he wrote what he called his "last life request" to anyone who might find his diary: Please give it to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved. Davis did get to read the diary—but not until nearly 70 years later, when she saw it in a display case at the National World War II Museum. "I didn't have any idea there was a diary in there," said the 90-year-old Mooresville, Ind., woman. She said it brought tears to her eyes.

Laura Mae Davis Burlingame had gone to the New Orleans museum on April 24 looking for a display commemorating the young Marine who had been her high-school sweetheart. "I figured I'd see pictures of him and the fellows he'd served with," she said. She was stunned to find the diary of the 22-year-old machine gunner, who described it as "my life history of my days in the US Marine Corps ... and most of all my love for Laura Mae." A curator let her take a closer look; it was the first time in his 17 years of museum work that someone found "themselves mentioned in an artifact," he said. Click through for the full story, or read about another WWII "reunion."

Pages from the diary by 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas “Cotton” Jones.
Pages from the diary by 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas “Cotton” Jones.   (AP Photo/National WWII Museum)
A photo of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas “Cotton” Jones.
A photo of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas “Cotton” Jones.   (AP Photo/National WWII Museum)
A page out of the diary of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas Jones featuring a photo of his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Davis Burlingame.
A page out of the diary of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas Jones featuring a photo of his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Davis Burlingame.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Pages from the diary.
Pages from the diary.   (AP Photo/National WWII Museum)
The first entry from the diary.
The first entry from the diary.   (AP Photo/National WWII Museum)
In this Thursday, May 23, 2013 photo, Laura Mae Davis Burlingame, 90, holds a photo of herself from high school.
In this Thursday, May 23, 2013 photo, Laura Mae Davis Burlingame, 90, holds a photo of herself from high school.   (AP Photo/ Michael Conroy)
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