My father Pfc. Nicholas L. Bonilla became a Qualified Parachutist April 11, 1942. In this early photo, he wears the patch on his cap on his left. Later the patch would be worn on the right. He was in the 101st Airborne Division, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment. I was born September 13, 1943 as my father was in transit from the United States to England. He sailed aboard the HMS Strathnaver. It ship encountered many difficulties and was in transit for 44 days. Here below a letter Nicholas wrote to his wife.
August 21, 1943
My darling Wife,
The news we have been waiting for has come. Please, for our sake, and for the baby's don't worry. I'll write as soon as possible, but keep writing to me at the same address, and my mail will be forwarded.
As I write, I am remembering when we first met. When I saw you, I thought heaven was missing an angel. I asked you for a date, and you said no because you were going to a party. Then I asked you for a date for the next Saturday and you said yes. I came by Romeo's and you had almost forgotten our date. After you finished work, we played miniature golf; then we went for a nightcap. That night I knew I was in love with you, but you weren't sure.
I will never forget the night I cam back from New York. I took you to dinner at Tom's Steak House, and you said that you were hungry, but you didn't eat a bite. You just looked at me. Then I knew that you loved me as I loved you. The next time I came to Birmingham, you met me at the train, and you were blushing.
Do you remember the night before we were married? I said terrible things to you, but you didn't say a word. I wanted you to despise me so much that you wouldn't marry me, a soldier, might ruin your life. And then you loved me enough to forgive and marry me. I thank God for that. Our wedding ceremony was simple but sacred, and I'll always remember it. I will love, honor, and cherish you for the rest of my life, just as I vowed.
Remember when you knew you were going to have a baby? You were upset, afraid that you might not be a good mother. Well, the little bugger will be here in a few weeks, and you and I will be the happiest parents in the world. Send me a picture of you and the baby as soon as you can. If it's a girl, name her Sandra Maureen.
Darling, until you hear from me, be brave and true, and when I return, I will be the best husband I can be. I love you dearly,
On September 17, 1944, my father parachuted into Holland for Operation Market Garden. He fought in Holland until September 22, 1944, when he was killed.