Thursday, January 28, 2010

Requiscat in Pacem

Jerome David Salinger

01 JAN 1919 - 27 JAN 2010

A 1936 graduate of the Valley Forge Military Academy and College, where he managed the fencing team, Mr Salinger was drafted into the United States Army when America entered World War 2.

Trained as a Counter Intelligence wonk, Staff Sergeant Salinger used his fluency in the French and German languages to interrogate German POW and defectors until 1944, when he was attached to the 4th Infantry Division -- in particular the 12th Regiment, where on June 6th, Staff Sergeant Salinger landed on a bit of sand called Utah Beach.

Later that same year Jerome Salinger -- and the 4th, as part of the US Army's XII Corp -- found himself in a bit of a scuffle in a place called Hürtgen Forest, which led up to the famous Battle of the Bulge.

After the end of the war, Staff Sergeant Jerome Salinger was briefly hospitalized for "battle fatigue", then found himself a quiet career writing short stories, as J.D. Salinger.

Rest in peace, sir.



Old NFO said...

And fantastic short stories they were... RIP Sir, RIP.

Matt G said...

He had a marvelous mind.

Sadly, after the publication of Catcher, he experienced fame and wealth that apparently insulated him from reality to the extent that he became slightly insane.

I have long maintained that we all will become insane, given enough fame and/or fortune to insulate us reality. The goal, of course, is to find that spot just below the brink, isn't it?

Drang said...

Well, the SIGINT geek in me wants to assert that HUMINT pukes are all weird, at least, to start with, but, nil nisi bonum and all that...

I had no idea about his wartime service. Of course, I was always more interested in Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Kornbluth, De Camp, etc.

RIP, Sarge.

Anonymous said...

Salinger insulated himself from the public and reality long before the fame and fortune of Catcher in the Rye. Still, he had a sharp instinct for human nature, despite taking himself out of exposure to it as best he could. Some theorize that his experiences during WWII caused this. However, given his history, he was always probably a bit of a loner.

ebd10 said...

My study of the battle at Hurtgen Forest leads me to conclude that anybody that suffered through that campiagn came away at least a little addled.

Friedrich Lengfeld of the Wehrmacht, must have seemed at least a little crazy to his comrades.

Kansas Scout said...

Well done sir!
I don't agree with the "slightly insane" comment.

Rob De Witt said...


Thank you for an eloquent reminder of this man's courage, and his profoundly earned right to live his life however he chose.

The day after his death was announced, the Canadian David Warren published a piece on the consequences of The Catcher In the Rye, which inspired the attached post. I have absolutely no doubt that Salinger viewed with dismay the adoption of his work by the '60s generation, nor that their veneration of him for the wrong reasons contributed to his apparent life-long depression.

Not his fault. Nonetheless:

Thanks again. Comments are welcome.

B said...