The late Norma Jean Cone wrote to her parents, sister and brother during a tour as civilian member of the U.S. forces occupying Japan right after WWII. She was the first American woman to be part of a team inventorying the assets of the Bank of Japan. Letters Home author Earle Kirkbride married Jean in 1961. Many times they discussed writing a book or screenplay about her experiences in Japan and later in the Philippines and Europe where she had worked prior to their marriage. They hadn't gotten to it when she died after a short illness in 1983. For years it was too painful for Kirkbride to even think about reviewing the many things Jean had done and the places she had traveled, but finally, telling the story in her own words seemed like a tribute, and perhaps a contribution to knowledge about the U.S. occupation – about which little was written, even as it was occurring. He also discovered there was little formally documented about the cache of jewelry, gold, silver and platinum in the vaults of the Bank of Japan at the end of WWII – but Jean had left so many clues. Letters Home, unintentionally, became a piecing together of an all but forgotten period in American history.
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