From an article in The Madison Daily Leader, Madison, South Dakota, November 11, 1993.
Gordon Gerling of Rutland (South Dakota) brought home a Japanese silk parachute from his experience in the War. Gerling's experience began on August 14, 1945 - V-J Day. He and his 3,000 comrades left San Francisco on board a troop ship that day. They all believed they would be turned around to come home, because the War was officially over. They weren't turned around, and in fact went to the Philippines, where 1,000 of them split off into the 32nd Division also called the Red Arrow Division. Gerling was among them as a medic.
They were sent to a Japanese port, then took a one-day train trip to Yamaguchi where they were to be stationed. While they were there, Gerling was assigned to be the driver for a captain who was also a doctor. One of the captain's friends somehow acquired a Japanese silk parachute, which ultimately came to the unit in which Gerling was serving. The unit decided to use the parachute as part of their holiday decorations, so they draped it behind the Christmas tree.
After the holiday leave, the unit members decided to have a drawing for the parachute. Gerling was told that his name had been drawn to receive the parachute.
The parachute was sent home to Gerling's mother in Lemars, Iowa, where it stayed until Gerling and his fiance Shirley Herzig began preparing for their wedding after the War.
Gerling suggested to his bride-to-be that she might use the silk of the white parachute to make her wedding dress. Mrs. Gerling said, "1 was honored that he suggested using the parachute to make my dress. It was something special from Gordon's time in the service so it was wonderful for me to get to share in that."
Mrs. Gordon Gerling
Rutland, South Dakota
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.