Second World War: Wedding Dress From Silk Parachute

Medic brought home a Japanese silk parachute, which was turned into a wedding dress for his bride.

| Good Old Days

  • homemade wedding dress
    One bride wore a very unique wedding dress.
    Photo by Dreamstime/Olga Vasilkova

  • homemade wedding dress

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."

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