Loyd Leatherman took his job as a Navy sailor seriously during World War II — but just as important was his job delivering the mail.
Leatherman, now 90, was one of about 56,000 postal personnel who served in the U.S. armed forces during the war.
From 1944-1946, his home was the USS Oglethorpe, a massive Navy cargo ship. He still remembers his captain explaining mail’s crucial role in building the sailors’ morale.
“He said, ‘I want you to understand, from my point of view, the mail is the most important thing on this ship,’” Leatherman recalled last week in an ABC News report.
Sailors looked forward to receiving the handwritten letters from loved ones that Leatherman delivered.
“Every time I got back to the ship with all this mail, they could hardly wait for me to get it sorted and get it out to them,” he said.
Although Leatherman never fought in battle, he was constantly surrounded by potentially dangerous situations.
A Japanese spy plane once shot and killed his friend as they were walking on the ship’s deck, he said.
“He got a bullet in his heart and his heart exploded. He was dead before he hit the deck. And I never got a scratch,” Leatherman said.
After the war, Leatherman applied for a postal position in his hometown of Rand, CO. The Post Office wasn’t hiring at the time, so he found another job as a jewelry salesman.
Today, Leatherman, a widower and father of two children, lives in Denver, where his small apartment is filled with mementos and cherished memories of his wartime contributions.
“We delivered the good news, basically,” he said.