About Home Fires:
This story was born on a whim in 2008, grew, developed, and then was lost due to life changes. However, I return to finish now, in 2012.
While watching historical accuracy, I am going to warn of some slight inaccuracies that will occur to smooth out plot. Only you history buff's will notice, but my Allied invasion timeline is going to be a few days off the mark, as is the approximate location. Additionally, Hammelburg, Germany will be moving to a more convenient location. Then again, changing historical details is in the cannon...
Finally, I do not own Hogan's Heroes, or any cannon characters or plot thereof. However, the Hogan family and additional OCs are all my own.
I am well, I am safe, and I love you. I am now permanently stationed at LuftStalag 13 until the war ends or I escape, whichever happens first. But don't worry Mom, I won't try anything risky. I am the only officer here at camp, which means that I am responsible for the morale and well being of several thousand men. I think that will keep me busy enough. They are a very international and good spirited lot – even the little Frenchman in my barracks – and I very much...
Your loving son,
I am well, I am safe, and I love you. Christmas is fast approaching us here at Stalag 13. It isn't quite like Christmas back at the States and not quite how I imagined spending this one. I'm sure you didn't imagine spending it this way either. But all is fair in love and war, right? However, some men and I are working hard to keep morale up as many of the soldiers are spending their first Christmas away from their families. I remember how Newkirk made my Christmas in England special for me and am doing my best to return the favor. (1) Did I ever tell you that story, Dad? It was late December...
Do not fret, Dad. Enjoy Christmas as much as ever with Mom and Greg and Emma...and that boy of hers Danny – if they haven't broken up or tied the knot by now – and be merry. That's what Christmas is all about.
I am well, I am safe, and I love you. I finally received your letter from this summer about your wedding. The Germans must have thought wedding was code for tunnel. Congratulations! Danny is a wonderful man and I know the two of you will be very happy. I have no gift to send you other than the kisses I am planting on this paper. You are constantly in my thoughts. The happiness of you and Danny makes plowing through a German winter in a POW camp nearly bearable. We fight for you, dearest Emma. In the long nights as we huddle close under our blankets, I tell the men of you as if it were a motion-picture film unfolding before me. Do not worry unduly about me though. The conditions, while not Hilton standards, are respectable, and our Kommandant – although a German – is reasonable and responsive to our concerns. Therefore...
My love to everyone, especially you.
Greetings to my fellow brother in arms! (2) I just found out recently from Mom's letter that Uncle Sam more or less dragged you into this European inferno. For that I am very sorrowful – you were always the healer; healers and soldiers seem to be mutually exclusive professions. I am far more sorry that I can no longer conceal the horrors of war by being painfully optimistic in letters. You too have seen the bloodshed and know, as a only a doctor can, that it is nothing beautiful, or valiant, or victorious.
I grow dark, I apologize. Perhaps it is the gloom of the search lights which penetrate my barred window. I have stared at them so often in the past year and a half that my mind plays their patterns in my dreams. But I am alive. I am safe. You are also alive and safe on your hospital ship. The war cannot last forever, and I look forward to the day in when I will beat you in baseball again or tickle Emma until she cries. We have it so good, Greg. The war will not last forever. And from from my Stalag...
All my love,
April 15, 1945
Regina Hogan placed this last faded letter covered with her son's spidery writing on top of the small pile. It was a sad collection – just over two years of Robert's painfully cheerful letters from a Stalag in far away Germany. Still, it was her last and only link to her eldest. Sometimes, in rereading the words, she could almost hear his voice echoing over her shoulder.
Hand shaking slightly, Regina placed bound the letters with a pink ribbon and slid a rose between the paper and the bow. Then, she returned them to the desk drawer. She knew that when evening came her husband would be thumbing through these very papers and she wanted to them to appear untouched. Although she and Rodger never spoke of these readings, they were both very aware of the other's activities. Sometimes, it was easier to say nothing.
The front door slammed. Regina smiled slightly. Greg was home from the office; he never did master the art of closing the door quietly. His tour of duty had came and went and deposited him safely home again. For that, Regina would be eternally thankful to whichever deity watched over her family. One son in the war was more than enough.
"Greg dear, would you please turn off the oven on your way to the radio?" Regina called sweetly to her son.
Below, a voice chuckled. "How did you know it was me?"
"Everyone else in the Hogan family has the manner to shut a door gracefully, especially if that family member comes unannounced. This isn't your permanent home anymore you know."
Regina zipped up her sweater and walked downstairs to join her middle son. She was just in time to see Greg switch off the oven and plop down by the radio. He looked up at her and smiled.
"If you want me to leave, why don't you just say so?"
They shared an impish grin for a moment, then Regina sat down next to him on the sofa. "You really should get a radio at your place," she said, tuning the dial. Then she added, "but I would be okay if it didn't happen that quickly."
She found the news station and their grins quickly faded as the broadcaster reported the latest war news. Greg was quiet, all traces of their earlier banter gone from his face. Ever since he had returned from the army, he was much more serious in all aspects of life. For Regina, it was just another painful reminder of what the war had cost her family.
"And now our reports from the Eastern Front. As you have been hearing, the Russian forces are now deep into Germany. The Nazis are throwing everything they have at the rapidly approaching Soviets, but it is clear that they know they are beat. From what our intelligence can gather, everyone and everything is fleeing the Soviets leaving only ghost towns. The German army is retreating further towards its capital, and taking everything they can with them, from priceless art to prison camps. Furthermore -"
Regina snapped off the radio and found her son staring at her. "From priceless art to prison camps," she echoed dumbly. Her thoughts spun rapidly. Did "taking everything" mean relocation of the prisoners, or did it mean mass executions? Surely even the Germans wouldn't execute POWs? But then again, she wasn't even sure Robert was still alive. The last letter had come in 1943. Two full years ago. Much could happen in that time – much had happened.
"Mom, it's okay. Breathe." Greg placed his large hand on her shoulder and Regina pulled her emotions back in check. Listening to her middle son made things easier. "We don't know if what that means. We don't know if Rob is still in that LuftStalag. We don't even know..."
Greg trailed off. Now was now the right time to ponder the morbid implications of Rob's silence. Regina appreciated her son's tact. Although they both had those same thoughts, if the thoughts weren't spoken they were easier to fight.
She sighed, and Greg pulled his hand from her shoulder. "Tell you what," he said. "I'll call in some favors with a few of my army friends. They owe me. I'll have them check on Rob's status again. Maybe something has come though this time."
Regina smiled up at his long figure. "What would I do without you?" she asked, more to herself than Greg. Her son only smiled, tussled her hair as if she were but a child, and hurried off to the telephone by the front door.
Alone on the sofa for a few moments, Regina cuddled against the pillows, wishing Rodger was at home instead of at the office. Or even Emma, with little Bryan playing at her feet. Her grandson always made things better, although Regina wouldn't admit to herself that she was old enough to have a grandson.
A few minutes later, Greg returned. He leaned in the doorway, his face impassive. Immediately, Regina knew. She asked anyway, hoping she was wrong.
"Any news?" she asked cheerfully.
Greg stared at her then shook his head in disbelief. "Colonel Robert E. Hogan is reported dead."
(1) See War and the Home Front Chapter 4 for a detailed explanation of the events.
(2) Again from War and the Home Front. Greg Hogan is drafted to serve as a medical officer on a hospital ship (historically accurate) for a tour of duty. Although no profound events occur while Greg is on the ship, the experience leaves him a changed man.