However, I will continue my research to catch up with the people featured in the letters, for they aren't imaginary characters, but in fact real, live people.
Women marry and change their names, so finding men is always easier. I googled Vic's name, and the first thing to come up was a facebook link. At first, I thought to myself, "Vic would be at least 80 years old; he won't have a facebook account!" But then I remembered that Sal, who was the same age, had a facebook account himself. Throwing caution to the wind, I sent a message with the subject, "I think I'm looking for you," and sure enough, it was indeed our Vic, alive and well, living in New Hampshire!
Asking someone to relive the experience of being left by his fiance for another man might have been an awkward proposition, especially after informing him that letters, of which he'd been a subject, had been posted on the internet! But Vic is, not surprisingly, a friendly, gregarious guy who was more than happy to answer any questions I had about the letters.
He sent me this photo of himself and Chris, before they parted ways after boot camp. They look like happy friends:
Vic was able to answer questions (from Letter 2) I raised about poor old Phil, and his supposed bad luck in having to spend another year in Africa. Well, we don't have to feel sorry for Phil in that regard. He loved his job in Africa delivering mail to the the fleet. He loved it so much he didn't want to come home! Vic regaled me with stories of getting into trouble with Phil, Sal, and "the gang" (as Sal called them), nude swimming in the Charles River of Waltham, Massachusetts. They often had the railroad police, the river police, and the regular police after them all at once. On one particularly memorable day, when the boys got busted for swimming in the river, they each ran in a different direction. Phil, the unlucky one, was caught, in the buff. In a moment of quick thinking, he smacked his captor in the head, and took off, running down the street in his birthday suit! The scene was complete with people pointing, ladies screaming, mothers covering the eyes of their children. He dashed into the five and dime, threw on some clothes, and made his way home, only to discover the cops waiting for him.
The "Joe S" in Letter 2 was not, as I had hoped, Joe Z, but that's ok. Vic told me a few other things as well, but I think I'll wait until more comes to light from the letters to Sal...
Many, many thanks to Vic for entertaining me and my little project.